Five key things to think about when commissioning a re-brand

A re-brand might be a costly mistake for your business. Make sure that you avoid the pitfalls by bearing these key points in mind...

Do you really need to rebrand now?

Why now? Assess what's already working for your brand - maybe your organisation is well known but the brand identity doesn’t reflect who and what you are. Make sure that the people working on the re-brand all know what the mission and vision of the company are - and what the aim of the re-brand work is.  

Founded in 1903, the WEA is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of adult education, delivering over 9,000 part-time courses for over 60,000 people each year in England and Scotland. Jenny Tyler is Head of Marketing and Communications and has recently been involved in re-branding the charity, to help increase awareness of the organisation and the transformative work that it does within communities.

"We needed a brand refresh that took into account not only the changing landscape we work in and one that jumps out and works on building our brand awareness because it helps to tell our brand story, but we also needed it to work practically for its users and ensure that we were responding in an appropriately considered way to accessibility needs."

Work with a designer or agency that you can trust

If you already have an agency or designer you trust, work with them. If you need to find a designer or put the re-brand out to tender, then first talk to people who might be in the same boat, about their experiences and recommendations. You may need different designers for different parts of the re-brand, and they also need to be able to work in harmony too. Make sure that you give them a clear design brief; but while you should be open to suggestions, don’t let a designer bully you into something that’s wrong for your business. 

Jenny Tyler worked with Matt Jenkins of OD&A to bring the WEA’s new brand to life; "I did work closely with a designer who was fantastic. Budgets were very tight but this design piece was a labour of love.

"In the past we weren’t focusing on the emotional dimension of our charity - we hold such great success stories but we don’t spend enough time telling people about it. But the charity also didn’t have a brand that responded well to its brand story or brand awareness - no transparent strapline; no recognisable font; no hero colour; and no distinct photography or illustration style."

Read: How to manage a brand crisis

Research the competition

Jenny checked out smart brands Cancer Research UK, Mind and Stroke, as well as educational competitors, when doing research for the re-brand.

Consider the visual aspects of your brand as well as what the brand story is. What colours, fonts and type of imagery would make your brand stand out? Of course these are things that the designer will be coming up with, but if you already know what colours are used by your competitors, then you won’t make the mistake of using the same!

Take a holistic approach to your re-brand

A re-brand isn’t just about re-designing the logo, or changing the name. If that’s what you want, then maybe a full re-brand isn’t actually what you need - you might be better off just refreshing certain elements.

As well as the immediate graphic elements of the re-brand, think about your various web presences, whether partner websites will need to be supplied with your new logo, update social media icons, and company stationery. Does the re-brand mean your office needs a paint job in the new company colours? Don’t forget external signage and internally, things such as templates for letters and press releases, screen savers and your intranet.

Make sure that every key stakeholder understands why you’re re-branding

One of the most important pieces of advice to follow when re-branding is to let your employees and external stakeholders know why, and when, it’s happening. Can you get them involved in scoping out the project at the beginning? In order to avoid the fear and confusion of changes being imposed, can you run seminars or workshops on why the brand is evolving and training on any new templates, and make a new brand handbook available to everyone? Maybe you have a small budget for some new item of branded merchandise just for staff to celebrate the change?

And finally, keep some elements of continuity in your brand identity - your customers and staff might hold a fondness for certain elements your business, you don’t want to lose all that goodwill by becoming completely unrecognisable.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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