16 May 2017

Five simple rebranding rules to believe in

Over the past 17 years I’ve been part of hundreds of rebrands, brand identity projects and worked on thousands of projects involving brand in some way, shape or form. In this time I’ve seen approaches change and evolve, buzzwords come and go and I’ve dealt with thousands of different people in the branding process.

Everyone understands or perceives the branding process differently and, overall, everyone adds value along the way. On the other hand, sometimes clients devalue their brand experience and its potential commercial benefits through lack of trust, or through simply not having enough experience in the rebrand process.

The reality is, that’s part of life and part of this game that I’m in, every day. It makes work really interesting, as understanding people and their branding needs is probably just as much about psychology as anything else. In my experience, sometimes clients find it really hard to know who to believe, what certain words mean (as everyone interprets different meanings) so I thought I would help demystify, clarify and suggest some golden rules to consider when going through a rebrand.

1. First concepts are always the best concepts

I would say nine times out of ten, the creative concepts in the initial phase have always been the best work. Even when more concepts are requested (and in our process, that is always completely welcome), clients usually go back to the initial design thinking. Give initial concepts the time to breathe and sit with you and remember you are buying a future look and personality that may not seem clear in your mind yet, but is actually in your interests. It’s why you hired an agency – we do this every day.

2. Less is more: quality wins over quantity

Over the years we’ve gradually reduced the amount of concepts we provide a client. We’d rather spend more time on showing how these quality concepts could be brought to life. Showing more than four concepts simply confuses and provides too many options. Too many concepts also show a lack of focus in the brief: there’s no way you can have ten different concepts that each claim a unique position or strategic marketing outcome.

3. Letting go of your personal wants in favour of your target market’s needs

From all my experience in rebrands, this stands out as the biggest issue in the identity development process: clients who ignore their target market needs and replace with their own subjective views about what ‘they like’ or what someone else in the company (who is not even near the target market) thinks. I’m not saying their views are not valuable, it’s just more important to focus on your audience and test concepts with an ideal or target client.

4. Could you tell your story in an elevator ride?

When asked on the spot, very few people can articulate their brand promise and point of difference in about 30 seconds. I call this the ‘elevator pitch’. Of course, we are there to enable clients to do this, but it’s essential when rebranding or evolving your brand that a concise story can be told to support the visual assets. Clear copy, content and story (all of which are the forged from the same idea) are often undervalued in the branding process. In fact, they lead everything and drive the creative expression.

5. Trust the heart surgeon

Second-guessing or disputing which valve your heart surgeon should work on would be fatal and the same happens in what we do. Trust your brand agency to do its best work. Clients may not understand how a lack of trust affects brand projects, and it hurts them down the track. In these cases when our pleas fell on deaf ears, we became mere ‘yes men’ in the branding process, letting it be led by people with very little experience in branding. It’s a fine line sometimes, as the agency is often labelled as ‘protective’ and ‘unwilling to change’ but from our point of view, we just want to make sure your brand doesn’t die an early death. If you go through the process of selection and settle with your brand agency, trust them: that’s what you are paying for.

For branding by Bellman

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