When you consider the way your community is perceived by the public, both in terms of prospective customers as well as your broader audience, it’s your brand you’re thinking about. “Brand” can seem like a nebulous concept, but in general, a good way to frame it is this: it’s what comes to mind (and to heart!) when your name is mentioned.
A brand has a lot of different parts, and the word “brand” is often used interchangeably to mean many different things, which is why it can sometimes be hard to have a clear discussion about it!
“Your brand exists in your prospective customers’ minds, and is both the factual information they know about you, as well as the emotional reaction they have when your name comes up,” says Rachel Fox, Creative Director at Sage Age Strategies. “Many different things, from your logo, your website’s appearance,your coverage in the media, to your actual physical location, has an impact on how your brand is perceived. Luckily, you have control over many of those things, and can make changes to accomplish better results.”
One of the clearest and most powerful ways we can control our brand is through what are known as “brand elements.” These are things like your logo, the colors you use, the packaging of your logo and brand-related materials, your messaging and taglines, and other related materials.
Rebranding is a pretty intense undertaking, and shouldn’t be done haphazardly. That said, refreshing your brand is a great way to reap some of the benefits of a rebrand, but without the same time or effort invested. That’s not to say a refresh isn’t a serious undertaking, but it’s definitely not as intense as a total rebrand!
What is a brand refresh, exactly, and how can it help your community and business? Let’s dive in!
Is a Brand Refresh for You?
Not all brands need a refresh, so embarking on one may not be in your organization’s best interest. Here are some questions to ask to guide whether or not a brand refresh is a good choice.
You’re behind the times. It happens to the best brands: you turn around one day, and your logo, colors and everything else just feels outdated. Brands should, however, reflect the times in which we find them. So if you look at your logo and related branding and think it looks like something straight out of the 80s, it might be time for a refresh.
You’re inconsistent and confusing. If the logo on your stationery and letterhead doesn’t match the logo on your website, or if the colors you use range from robin’s egg blue to cobalt to turquoise, it is worth taking the time to refresh for consistency’s sake. Consistency in branding is key to building trust with your audience.
You have news to share. Is your product and community offering different now from what it was when you first developed your logo and related branding? If so, it might be that your logo and brand image is inconsistent with who you are today. In that case, a refresh makes good sense.
Your audience is confused, or you aren’t reaching them at all. If your logo doesn’t seem to be resonating with the audience it needs to resonate with, that’s a strong indicator that it could be a good time to examine things with a fresh eye.
Refreshing your brand is an exciting proposition, but it shouldn’t be done just for the heck of it. Your brand is a living, breathing thing, and keeping it fresh and exciting is important, but a refresh should be done within the proper context.
How to Take on a Brand Refresh
Let’s take a look at the steps you should take to execute a successful brand refresh!
Research and background. You don’t know where you’re going without knowing where you are and where you’ve been. You need to know how you are perceived by your audience, how your internal stakeholders see you, and so much more, before you can go about making changes.
Persona development. How can you create a brand that resonates with your audience if you don’t know your audience intimately well? Persona development can help with this: by knowing what your ideal, iconic customers look like, you can create branding that speaks directly to them.
Competitor research. How awful would it be if you updated your brand and logo, only to realize you fundamentally copied the competition? Know who your competitors are – and how they brand themselves! – before making any updates to your brand.
Positioning and key message development. Once you know more about what makes your brand and offering unique, you can create statements and messages that reflect your differentiating factors.
Look and feel development. Depending on why you are updating your brand, this may be the most critical part of the process: it’s where you choose the imagery, colors and related creative elements that make up your brand. Even a subtle change here (and honestly, it probably should be subtle – this is a refresh, after all) can have major repercussions.
A brand audit. Now that you know what your updated look is, and the messages you want to share, it’s time to get a complete picture of where your brand is visible, so you can make changes effectively across all touchpoints.
A rollout plan. You know what you want to update, and you know where – now all that’s left is a plan for execution!
Your brand is your calling card; it tells your audience what to think about you, and how to feel about you. It’s intangible in many ways, but the things you have control over – like your logo, colors, messaging and related elements – can have a profound, perception-changing impact on how your audience sees you. If you’ve determined a brand refresh is necessary, move forward with excitement, but also with caution!