As a fledgling startup, you probably didn’t have the slickest brand identity from the word go. And that’s perfectly understandable. Your attentions were no doubt mainly focused on your product – as they should have been, seeing as no startup without a kick-ass product is going to survive more than a few months. Money was probably also pretty tight, so you had to be discerning about how to invest it. When it came to designing your brand identity, you just wanted something serviceable that wasn’t going to break the bank. So you asked your friend/university acquaintance/cousin twice removed, who had dabbled a bit in graphic design, to throw a logo together for you at mates’ rates.
Now it’s several years later, and your brand has gone from strength to strength – but that logo probably hasn’t come along for the journey.
As a tech company, this can be particularly dangerous. If your brand identity is not keeping up with the times, then people might assume your product is not either. And in the tech space, that spells certain death.
Unless the situation is drastic, you probably don’t need to opt for a complete brand overhaul. After all, as outdated as your brand identity may be, it has developed a lot of equity after all your years of hard work, and you don’t want to just throw that away unless you absolutely have to. Instead, maybe a brand refresh is in order – a slight facelift, a nip and tuck here and there, to have your brand looking like a hip, young startup once again.
Here are 5 signs you might be overdue for a brand refresh.
1. Your product or services have changed.
Your company may have evolved significantly over the past few years – maybe you’ve broadened your offering, or scaled it down to cater to a niche market. If so, your brand identity is probably now delivering a few mixed messages, and a refresh is sorely needed to keep your brand identity consistent with your company’s mission.
One example of a company that underwent a brand refresh for this reason is DAS. Formerly Document Access Systems, they had branched into services outside of document access, such as analytics and enterprise content management. So Document Access Systems became simply DAS, and their logo was broadened and an additional colour was added to the palette to give the suggestion of dynamism and wider offerings. However, they still maintained a strong link to their old logo so as not to lose the recognition they had already cultivated.
Before and after
2. You are no longer reaching your target audienceIn the beginning, you would have had some idea about who your market was, and what their needs were. But as time went on, you might have found those ideas changed and became much more refined – or they were completely off-base in the first place.
Buyer personas are an excellent way to make sure the stories you are crafting and disseminating will resonate with your target audience. If you don’t yet have detailed buyer personas, or if your personas haven’t been updated for a little while, this is a great place to start. Once you’re confident your personas are an accurate representation of who is buying your product, you can look at your brand identity in this context, and assess whether or not it is truly speaking to the needs of your target audience.
In the end, it’s not about a cool design or a nice colour palette; it’s about what messages and stories you are putting out there. What is your current brand identity saying?
3. You’re preparing for growthIf there are big changes on the horizon – maybe you’re expecting business to increase significantly because of a big marketing push; maybe you’re rolling out a new product or service; or maybe you’re about to sign a merger deal – then a brand refresh could also be in order. A refresh is a great way to enhance and clarify the changes you’re undergoing, and what these changes mean for your customers.
A refresh may even help with the change itself. Not only does it signal to your target audience that you’ve evolved as an organisation, it also helps your internal staff get on board by aligning them around a strong, progressive identity. This will reduce growing pains, and keep your organisation moving in the right direction.
4. You are not communicating your company’s value
If your customers have ever described your company as a ‘best-kept secret’, this is a definite red flag that your brand identity is not sufficiently communicating your company’s value.
Think about what it is that makes you stand apart from your competitors, and do some research into your company’s market perception. Are you putting out the right messages?
Your brand identity should not simply communicate who you are and what you do. It should also communicate the why and how: why your product is the best and how it benefits your target audience. Again, using buyer personas is a great way of crafting your identity for maximum impact.
We recently did a brand refresh for Edge Environment, a consultancy that spots commercial opportunities for clients that are also sustainable. While Edge was doing a great job communicating the scientific rigour with which they worked to create sustainable benefits, there were key benefits that were less obvious, but even more compelling to their buyer persona.
We worked closely with Edge to profile their key buying and brand personas and recraft their brand messaging. However, once the new, compelling brand message was conceived, it was obvious that the Edge identity was no longer accurately representing the business.
We looked into concepts and symbols surrounding anthropology, earth and prehistory. The logo design has a little extra meaning behind it. The minimal lines represent a modern and forward-thinking organisation, as well bringing different elements (lines) together to connect and reveal a strong outcome: namely what happens when you merge sustainability with commercial acumen.
Before and after
5. You need to distinguish yourself from your competitorsIf you want to stand out from the pack, you need to know what everyone else is doing first. A high-level understanding of the competitive landscape is crucial to knowing where exactly you fit in, and what it is that makes you different to – and better than – the rest.
Perform a competitive analysis, looking into your competitors’ messages, logos, websites, social media and content marketing to get a full picture of their brand identities. And now look critically and honestly at your own identity – how does it measure up? Are you clearly differentiating yourself, or floundering in the middle of the pack?
Your target audience needs to know exactly what it is you, and not your competitors, can do for them.
Do you think you have one (or more) of the signs?
When thinking about doing a brand refresh, it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to start. A marketing agency can help to develop or refine buyer personas, perform a competitive analysis, and really get to the heart of what it is that makes your brand special. They can then zero in on what aesthetic changes will best reflect your identity. You might be surprised what some small tweaks – an adjustment of the size or scale, a slight widening or narrowing of the font, or changing the shade of a colour in your colour palette – can do to make your brand identity fresh again.
A great first step towards a successful brand identity refresh? Picking a marketing agency that’s right for you. Our 7-step checklist to choosing your inbound agency can help – check it out today!