So, you buy a brand new car. For the first few years you lovingly polish it every weekend, ban the kids from eating in the back seat and even vacuum the boot. Over time, the rules relax a little – the waxing becomes less frequent and a few dents and scratches start to appear on the bumper. It’s either time for a new car or time for a little bit of a spruce up – it’s the same with brands.
Change – it’s inevitable
It all starts so well. The zealous marketing manager ingrains the brand in the soul of every employee. They live and breathe it to the point where it becomes second nature. But, in time, that manager moves on. The company grows and new competitors enter the market place.
Those brand guidelines drift from the desk to the shelf, a keen intern writes a paper on social media – which everyone loves but no one really gets – and before you know it, people start asking “what do we really stand for?” Stuff changes. It’s inevitable. That’s why it’s important to have a little brand audit every three to five years.
Let’s quickly skip back to the car analogy. If you look at the evolution of the BMW 1 Series, this year’s model looks pretty similar to last year’s and last year’s pretty similar to the year before. But if you place a 30-year-old BMW alongside the latest model, they’ll look significantly different. It’s still a BMW, built with all the precision of German design and engineering, but it’s evolved, very slowly, to embrace the needs of today’s drivers.
Brands are the same. You need to stay current otherwise you’ll look like the 30-year-old banger next to your very up-to-date competitors. Sometimes the change required is huge, for example if there’s a merger or an acquisition. Often it’s subtler. Companies grow and with that growth comes more complex systems and processes, a wider portfolio of products or services and a whole lot more people to try and fit in. Your brand needs to be tweaked to reflect that growth and embrace it as part of your ongoing story.
Technology also changes. A landing page with a phone number on was all most companies had as a website until about 20 years ago. Now, the majority of business is done online, social media is where your customers want to chat to you and every one wants everything done instantly.
Food for thought
The million-dollar question is whether you need a brand refresh or not. A good litmus test is to take out your current brand guidelines, dust them off and see if they are still relevant to who you are as an organization and where you are heading. Think about:
- Your market. How has your audience changed over the years?
- Your messages. Is what you’re saying still relevant? Is your tone consistent across all your communications?
- Your medium. Where are your customers? What are they reading? Are they online?
It’s often hard to see the wood from the trees when you are so engrossed in the day-to-day management if a company. A fresh pair of eyes can be all it takes to tweak your brand, freshen a few things and give you the edge for today’s market. At ifour we’ll gladly be that second set of eyes. Take a look at a few of the brands we’ve been helping out and send us an e-mail or give us a call if you’d like to chat a bit more.
If you’d like to find out more about how our design and consultation services can help you get the results you want