After writing a few case studies about projects we photographed for the purposes of rebranding, I thought to myself, what are the other components of rebranding? As I reflected on that question, more questions came up. What goes into a company rebranding strategy? Where do you start? How do you determine what’s important vs what isn’t as important during a rebrand? How do you launch it? And ultimately, why does a company rebrand?
I reached out to Asia Dizon, a client we worked with on a massive rebranding project to ask those questions. Asia Dizon is a Business Owner at asia&design and Creative Director working in Toronto, Ontario. She has rebranded countless corporations in her years working in the creative industry, and has seen the power a quality rebrand can do for a company. Asia specializes in consulting, creative direction, graphic design, digital & traditional marketing, brand development, retail merchandising & window dressing, and campaign build-out. In this article, she discusses why companies rebrand in the first place and then breaks it all down for us in 5 steps. Let’s dive in below:
Why do companies rebrand?
Who remembers the branding behind McDonald’s, Pepsi, or Mercedes, circa the 80s? At that moment, these top-tier brands’ overarching esthetic was forward thinking and aspirational; well suited for those times. Looking back now, the same brand esthetic in today’s market would be doomsday for the brand (to put it bluntly). Rebranding is a vital component of staying market relevant, evolving your brand image, and driving growth internally and externally. So what goes into a quality rebrand? See my top 5 steps below:
Step 1 – Competitive Analysis
Most companies (or those with educated, progressive creative leaders) spend time analyzing both their direct competitors and global leaders, while running comparatives on where they stand and where they want to go. Cross-referencing whether their current brand essence aligns with their target audience’s wants and needs is crucial – you can’t attract bees with vinegar, you need honey, after all. A competitive analysis is an essential part of the creative strategy, and vital to the development process.
Step 2 – Creative Vision
Once an analysis is set and you are aligned on your demographics and target audiences, the creative team develops a rebrand storyboard, inclusive of aspirational photography, inspirational brand identities, taglines, colour stories, and anything else that inspires your team of creatives. This is your rebrand ‘bible’, and what is presented to the executive team, what the creatives build from, and your inspiration for all initiatives moving forward. Without a rebrand storyboard, your vision will get muffled.
Step 3 – The Fun Stuff
This is where the real fun begins. Depending on what is required for your rebrand, the creatives get to work on any and all of the following components:
- Corporate Identities: The face behind the brand! This is an essential piece of any business, and is truly your defining ‘moment’. A bad, outdated logo will demean your brand integrity, repel a chunk of your business, and cheapen your brand essence. A corporate identity should be assessed and reassessed by your company every few years, to ensure it’s relevant, aspirational, and representative of your business. Companies like Apple, Starbucks, and Google are notorious at rebranding, and guess what? They’re still very relevant!
- Colour story: A colour story either inspires your logo, or is inspired by your logo. It doesn’t matter which one, as long as it translates effectively on both traditional and digital formats, is accessible and allows for high contrast and readability, and isn’t defined by current trends (trends die, your colour story shouldn’t!).
- Corporate fonts: The make it or break it for most designers: a bad font makes it next to impossible to build out quality creative. Ensure you select 2 fonts (more or less, but 2 is my go-to), to use on all creative and marketing initiatives. Fonts should translate on all channels, internally and externally (letterheads included!)
- Photography: Go big or go home. If your area of business is customer facing or direct to consumer, ensure your omni-channel photography is as good as the rest of your rebrand. Say no to iphone photos and hire a photographer to capture the essence of your new brand image!
- Social Media: The new heart-beat of your brand, social has grown leaps & bounds in the past two decades and is THE marketing tool for most customer facing brands. Ensure your new logo, colour story and photography is all over social. Have fun with it: create a countdown for the rebrand reveal, run a contest, hire some target-aligned influencers to get the engagement up for more views and brand exposure!
- Website: The other heart-beat of your brand. Never, ever launch a rebrand without it fully translated on your site. Everything from your font styles, photography, copywriting style, and branding should be updated on your site. It may even be better to build an entirely new website, if budget allows.
- All the other stuff: Don’t forget about the little things, like business cards, letterheads, marketing emails, signage, and anything else that is customer facing. One little miss can cheapen all the hard work for your brand, and we don’t want that after all the time and effort put in.
Step 4 – Internal Communication
This step is important and sometimes gets missed. Ensure your team is aware and trained on your rebrand. The development of a Brand Guidelines document is a crucial part of the rebrand process, and ensures your internal team, as well as all external brand partners share in the creative cohesion of your rebrand. Don’t skip this!
Step 5 – Spreading the Word
And last but not least, scream, share, get excited and celebrate this huge ordeal! You did it, share it with the world (hint hint: press release time!). Rebrands take a lot of planning, endless conceptualization, time and dedication, but boy, are they worth it. A quality rebrand can take your brand from mom-and-pop shop to a forward-thinking, inspirational trend-setting brand. Hire the right people, know your market, share a united vision, and escalate your company all through a creative face-lift.
It’s interesting reflecting on Asia’s thoughts, while reminiscing about the photoshoots we conducted with her. Asia was extremely diligent during this process and her mind was always turning with thoughts and ideas. We would show up on site and her eyes would travel across the area and she would identify if the signage was incorrect or not installed the way it was meant to be. She would take studious notes and ensure that the communication about the rebranding standards were passed to the correct people.
She’s right, Step 4 is a crucial part of the rebrand process. You can create the most stunning assets in Step 3, but if Step 4 isn’t followed and the entire team isn’t up to speed on the roll-out, it won’t translate the way it was intended to. Another wonderful thing I noticed on site was that Asia was extremely involved with the team and took their feedback and comments to improve customer communications with the new branding in mind. It’s more than just imagery, it’s about how you connect with your customers, invoke trust, and utilize your branding to do it seamlessly and professionally.
It’s always exciting for us to learn about a companies rebranding strategy and collaborate on ways we can deliver authentic photography to fit with the fresh new look. We’ve worked with countless client’s to achieve their rebranding goals and it takes really immersing yourself in the brand’s identity to understand what story the imagery should tell. If you are working on a rebranding project, connect with us! We’d love to chat more about your specific projects and goals.
To get in touch with Asia, you can connect with her at asia&design.