Recently, I was talking to one of our client’s about updating their logo. Their company has been around for close to 20 years, and from the day the doors opened, the look and feel of their company identity remained the same. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
However, their business was undergoing some changes. The original owners, a husband and wife team, were gearing up to retire in a few years, and their daughter, a recent graduate from college, was being groomed to take over the business.
Their biggest competitor was a nationwide and popular brand whose identity is modern and refined. Our client’s identity? Not so much. While their existing branding served its purpose well, it was apparent that a refresh could take our client from looking like a small mom and pop business, to a much larger one that could give this national brand some competition.
Even though our clients were on board with redesigning the identity, there was still some concern.
How would our existing clients feel about changing the identity that they’ve grown to know the past twenty years?
It’s a valid concern, and something that should not be taken lightly. Most people aren’t fond of change, so it’s important to handle a rebranding, or an identity update, with care to make sure your current customers stay with you throughout the entire process.
First, we must make it clear that a brand isn’t considered a logo, stationery, or a package design. A logo is simple in definition: a mark or symbol that companies use to promote their business to help with visual recognition for existing or potential customers. A brand is different, because it is the total package; the promise that you make to your customers and the feeling they get when they hear your brand’s name. For example, when someone thinks of Subway, they tend to think of a quick, healthy option to fast food that publically displays fresh toppings and meat available for sandwiches or salads, hence the tagline “Eat Fresh.” The brand wouldn’t have the same feeling if you walked in and noticed the veggies were soggy, the cheese was sticky or had mold on it, or if they served your food in a brown paper bag. Instead of white wrapping in clear plastic bags.
Now, back to our client’s story. Yes, it’s always a gamble to change a company’s identity, and there’s a good possibility that customers might leave once the switch has been made (remember that fear of change thing?). However, as long as the original brand promise is still in tact, and being met, it’s a much easier process.
Here are a few ideas to consider when changing your identity:
- Bring your clients and employees in on the process. Survey them before you change anything to see what they thought about your old identity. What was it they liked? Was there anything they didn’t like? Look for similarities between answers to see what can be improved upon or what features or feelings need to stay. Then, after the new identity is created, show them the final result to get any feedback. There will always be something that someone doesn’t like (i.e. “I hate orange”, “That font isn’t exactly what I would have chosen”, etc), however, getting feedback can also point out things that might not have been noticed before. If you’re interested, Google “Sun Rise Sushi” and you’ll see how customer/staff feedback probably would have been a good idea!)
- Get personal. Personal connections keep customers happy. Take the time to reach out to customers and personally talk to them about the identity change. Assure them that although the look of your company might be changing, they can still rely on the same level of customer service, personalization, fair pricing, etc. Ensure the brand promise they’ve grown to love will remain the same no matter what the new identity looks like.
- Repetition. Most people need to see things more than once before they commit it to memory. Make sure all follow up correspondence, social media graphics, envelopes, packaging, etc. contain your new identity. Check analytics to make sure your messages are being read, or follow up with customers to make sure they’re receiving, and reading, your correspondence. Until the new design is committed to memory, you don’t want them missing out on an important email, letter, or package.
Remember, there’s a difference between refreshing an identity and refreshing a whole brand. Rebranding is a longer, more complicated process. As far as our client’s story goes, we haven’t finished our client’s new identity just yet, but we’re well upon our way and things are already looking promising for them! Keep tuned to this blog to see their final product, or, if you need help with your own identity refresh or rebranding, give us a shout! Tweet, Facebook us, or comment below!