Most marketing directors will have to manage a corporate rebrand at one point or another in their career. Trouble is, they often don’t have the benefit of their experience dealing with something similar because of the infrequency that companies undertake such initiatives. Navigating uncharted waters when it comes to what is normally a company’s most important branding exercise can be a bit daunting.
The 10 tips below will help marketers to not only survive a corporate rebrand but to come out of the process with the best design that makes a mark on the industry and captures the company’s corporate identity.
1. Create a process and facilitate buy-in. Establish a process to create comfort and predictability among the corporate team. The process outline should be defined in the request for proposal so that your supplier will be aligned. If you are unsure about how to achieve this, a good place to start is by creating a stakeholder map to identify who needs to provide approvals and at what phases of the project. You may want to pressure test your process with a design firm to make sure you haven’t left out any key milestones.
2. Research, research, research! Conduct a thorough brand discovery and define your brand positioning clearly before starting the design process. Be sure to do some research on what matters to clients. A good brand discovery process will include conducting qualitative and quantitative research. Doing this part right will give you the tools you need to guide and defend the direction ad you go through the process.
3. Be clear with your objective. Know what you want before hire a designer. Spend time creating a good design brief that outlines what it is you want to achieve and which emotions you are looking to evoke. Ask your designer for a creative brief that relays the information back so objectives are aligned.
4. Take time to select the right designer/agency. If you don't start with the right people you won't get the right results so take time to look into the background of potential partners. Review media coverage, awards, web profiles, and professional biographies. Determine if you are looking for a long-term relationship of a one-time partner. Be sure to ask for portfolio/presentation or even a creative paid pitch.
5. Take out the subjectivity. Branding exercises can often be a matter of the loudest and most persuasive voice setting the direction. A process where subjective opinion rules the day can result in a bad design. Focus on the facts, and refer to your brand strategy as a guide. Watch out for the people who push their personal opinions. ‘I don’t like it’ or ‘my wife thinks pink would look good on this,’ aren’t good reasons to change or scrap a design.
6. Pressure test your designs. There are a number of core elements of design that should not be compromised. Ask yourself, is it: memorable, meaningful, distinctive, simple, timeless and does it evoke emotion? If the answer is no to any one of these, go back to the designer for revisions.
7. Cover your bases. Make sure you aren’t infringing on any trademark or copyright issues. Consult a trademark lawyer before testing the logo so that your bases are covered before investing further in the design.
8. Keep focus groups, focused. If engaging in focus groups for testing designs or names, keep them small and focused. One-on-one opinion gathering on names or designs is usually preferable as it helps to avoid bias.
9. Plan for implementation. A lot of people focus on the design of the logo but they forget about the implementation. Start thinking about the implementation plan early which would include aspects such as how to wind down the inventories of old materials. You may want to consider working with a design firm that does both design and implementation to make things easier.
10. Be prepared for criticism. Make certain that you know how to manage criticism and don’t take it personally. Even the best designs will have a critic. If you have followed these guidelines you will be able to handle criticism, as you will be confident that the visual identity has met the design objectives of being meaningful, appropriate, distinctive and timeless.
Udo Schliemann is the principal creative director at Entro Communications. With over 30 years experience in the design and branding industry and has led the development of many branding initiatives including the logo for Germany’s bid for the Winter Olympics ’92OMERS, corporate identity programs for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLGC), Toronto Community Housing, the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, Aquatopia Aquarium in Belgium, the Toronto Financial District BIA, and many others.