We talk a lot about branding — how important it is to establish a brand, how you need a coherent message and image when you talk about your company, and how a good brand can elevate your business to a new level.
But marketing agencies like us need branding, too. So this time, we thought we’d spell out what a rebrand looks like and why you might need one, from the perspective of just having done it ourselves.
Why Branding Matters
Branding isn’t just a logo and a color scheme — though that’s part of it. The appearance of your website, social pages, and physical materials, even down to the business cards you hand out at trade shows, are all important to maintaining a consistent image.
But the consistency of your image isn’t as important as what that image is. Your brand is your company’s reputation. It’s the way you present yourself to your colleagues, your clients and customers, and everyone else. It’s the entire background of who your company actually is.
A brand encompasses what your company does — not just “sell X for a fair price,” but the change you’re trying to make in the world. It’s about why you get out of bed in the morning, and what drives you to keep doing what you’re doing.
Why Pursue a Rebrand?
Recently, we at MTM decided to change our outward branding to a newer, more vibrant look. We’ve adapted our company and the way we operate in the last few years, and our brand didn’t reflect who we were anymore. Everything grows and changes — people, businesses, industries, and customers — and as we grew and evolved, we decided that we needed to update the way we presented ourselves to the world.
The new branding gives people a better look at who we are at this point in our history. As we continue to grow and change, our branding will grow and change with us — that’s just the way things work.
What Are the Challenges of Creating a Brand Identity?
The hardest part of communicating who you are is identifying it for yourself. You need to dig deeply into the core of what makes your company or your business what it is. There’s a marketing concept called “The Golden Circle” that comes into play here.
The outermost ring of the circle is your “what” — the product or service that you offer the world. This is the easiest question to answer. You sell software, or you clean carpets, or you make clothing. The next layer is the “how,” which is what makes you distinct from your competition. Maybe your product is faster, cheaper, more durable, or more fully-featured than the rest.
The final and most important layer is the “why.” The why isn’t as simple as “to turn a profit.” It’s the reason you founded this company, the reason it needs to exist. You didn’t get into this game to piggyback on a money-making trend, you did it because you have something unique to offer. That’s the “why.”
Remember not to just copy what you see that’s working. It’s easy to see something cool and want to imitate it, but you have to resist that impulse. Take inspiration from the successes you see in the world, but don’t just copy them. Make them your own.
The Importance of Branding
It takes time to make an impression on people. Customers almost certainly won’t remember you from the first time they see you — they need to interact with your brand a handful of times before you stick in their minds — and brands that are consistently presented are three to four times more likely to experience brand visibility than those that aren’t.
Consistency is key. Whether it’s color (which increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent), language, layout, photography, or shared values like environmental consciousness or personal freedom, your brand needs consistency to make an impression.
Finding Out Who You Are
Remember what we said about how your brand is like your reputation? Here’s the thing about a reputation: it’s not entirely up to you. The people you work with, the way you do business with them, and the perception they have of you will all inform your brand. You can’t just tell them what to think — you have to listen, too.
The simplest way to do this is to ask people. Talk to your clients, your competitors, your employees, your consultants, and everyone else your company works with. The more perspectives you can bring to bear, the better.
Then, go to the experts to bring that image to life. The story you want to tell is one thing, and it matters — but so does the story you’re actually telling. Incorporating the two is a delicate balance, but it’s an important balance to strike.
Branding can be an emotional business. When you founded or took over your company, you doubtless had a vision of what that company would be, and it can be extremely difficult to realize that it’s not turning out exactly the way you planned. You find yourself invested in your branding, not just financially but personally. You like things the way they are and you don’t want them to change.
That’s how you know that you need to stop back and let the perspectives and expertise of others take over. Your story isn’t entirely your own, and neither is your brand.
The Bottom Line
It’s easy to think of branding as window dressing — after all, how important can fonts, colors, and logos really be? But branding is far more than that. A consistent, coherent brand is how you attract your customers, how you tell them who you are, and how you keep them around.