by Holly Harper, Blue Bike Communications & Founding Member DCFempreneur
Remember the Mad Men “reveal,” when they were all in the conference room and they took that blank posterboard off of the easel and underneath was Don Draper’s (and Peggy’s, let’s be honest) genius on full display? The clients were on the edge of their seat with excitement, anticipation. Did they nail it?
If you watched the series, you know that sometimes they did. Sometimes they didn’t. And most of the time the entire team played a role developing a campaign that rang true.
That “wow” moment we all want is often a combination of a creative director, artist, and a team of people digging into the story of a brand and how you want people to feel about it.
For those of us in marketing, this is called the basics of branding. For those of us business owners who do all of our marketing in-house, this is called a nearly impossible challenge.
You Think You’re Getting a Logo, but You’re Actually Getting New Perspective
First of all, your corporate identity should probably not be “designed” by you, your BFF, your child, or iStockPhoto. Ok, I will admit that I have clients that have designed their own logos, and they’re not bad.
I, in fact, designed my first logo and got quite a few compliments on it. But it was a placeholder for a business that I wasn’t taking seriously. I just drew it in Illustrator one day, knew it looked good from a drawing perspective, and I had a logo. My process in DIY logo design was a key indicator that I wasn’t taking my business as a brand seriously. I might as well just stayed “Holly Harper, Freelancer.”
Building a brand takes deliberation and perspective, so you can move beyond solopreneur and into an organization with brand value.
If you’re thinking about starting a business or rebranding a business, you need to make sure you find a branding consultant. If you are well established in your business, that branding consultant may very well be a graphic artist or a strategic marketing consultant, and the process can be comprehensive but quick.
If you are in a period of change or transition, then the “logo” part of your brand will be the last thing you and your consultant talk about. Instead, you’ll dig deep into what this business will become in the world, with or without “you.”
Let’s assume we have an established business with a track record of growth, but in need of a new corporate identity that will reflect company better. In this case, make sure your branding consultant is doing these 5 critical things to ensure your rebrand nails it.
- Your Branding Consultant Demands to Pry Into Your History. As business leaders talk about their businesses, they disclose sometimes subtle clues about their fears, obstacles, hopes, staff, pain, vision, dreams, ideals, and values. Every good branding consultant will want to speak to the leadership of the organization in a conversational, interview setting to really get a feel for the person or people this new brand will be representing.
- Your Branding Consultant Makes You List Your Values. Values are not things like “modern and cool,” values are like “innovation” and “collaboration.” Values are the things that we promise to live by as we do our work, hire our employees, sell our products, and engage our clients. Values tell branding geniuses what you believe and what you stand for. If they don’t ask about your values, how can they make a picture that reflects them?
- Your Branding Consultant Needs to Know Your Mission and Vision (and if it’s not defined, she will write a draft version so you have one at the end of the process). Why are you in existence and where are you going? A brand identity is like a road sign. It has to convey a lot of information in a very short time. Vision and Mission are crucial to understanding the brand as a signpost, inviting people on a journey alongside you.
- Your Branding Consultant Makes You Do Homework. You should get a pretty extensive survey from the consultant. It will have values, mission, vision, and a whole bunch of other questions about colors, tone, competitors, collaborators, admired brands, and unique selling propositions. If you don’t have this on-hand already, then you probably should consider updating your business and marketing plan in addition to updating your brand.
- Your Branding Consultant Sternly Warns You That THIS is Just the Beginning. Your new logo likely isn’t going to make waves, go viral, or even be noticed by your clients. Even if you roll out a new brand with swag and an email campaign, no one really is going to respond in any meaningful way because they don’t know what they’re looking at. You new brand is just the beginning of your efforts to live your values, fulfill your mission, reach your vision, and bring everyone else along for the ride.
Now that you’re prepared to rebrand, be prepared to invest in strategic communications, too!