So you’re a heart-centred entrepreneur and you’ve been in business for a while. You have a small and dedicated tribe of followers and clients. And now it’s time to scale your business so you can spend more time serving that tribe and less time worrying about your bank balance.
That means it’s probably time for a re-brand. And this is the point in time where we (‘we’ being us here at Swish Design + our friends at Ugly Duckling Communications) see our entrepreneur mates following a well-trodden path to online design marketplaces where a brief is loaded in as a design ‘contest’ … and designers in that marketplace submit their entries in that contest. The next step in this process? Our entrepreneur mates share the results of these design contests and ask us (and their other friends) to choose the one they like the best.
And this is where we start to tear our hair out.
Mainly because the logos produced by these design contests never accurately represent the brands our friends have spent years building.
Have you found yourself in this position?
Are you wondering ‘is there a better way’?
The answer of course is ‘yes’.
And while that better way does cost more money than a design marketplace contest, it’s an investment that will absolutely pay for itself over and over again in the years to come. It will pay for itself in the fact that you will go back to market with a consistent and well-thought-out brand and identity that accurately represents what you bring to the table. It will pay for itself in the fact that you won’t find yourself having to do another re-brand in 12 months’ time when you realise that initial re-brand is not allowing you to scale in the way you imagined. (Gah!) So what does the ‘better way’ look like? Well, before we get into processes, let’s take a quick walk through history.
The evolution of ‘brand’
You’ll probably have heard that a brand is more than just a logo. No arguments here. BUT, back in the old days, a brand really WAS just a logo. It was about creating an identity and packaging that could ‘shout’ the loudest at a potential customer: “Pick me, pick me!” Back then, brands dictated to their audience; told them what was best for them. There was no flexibility or choice (highlighted famously by Henry Ford when he said: “They can have any colour they want – as long as it’s black.”).
How times have changed!
As competition became greater, shouting at people and offering little choice didn’t work as well as it did previously. So businesses large and small began to think wider, to focus on what made them different. They started selling themselves to the consumer rather than dictating to them. And that worked well … for a while.
As more and more businesses entered the marketplace, it became harder to set oneself apart from the competition.
Companies began to realise that it was all about the emotion. They started asking themselves things like “How does that perfume make the customer feel when they spray it on?” It was at this point that aspiration became the order of the day. (Think Nike and its ‘just do it’ campaign – everyone wanted to be Michael Jordan, so they bought the trainers to try to emulate him.) But it was still a very one-way conversation. Big companies still chose when and what information to give to the consumer.
Then came the internet.
Suddenly companies needed to reinvent themselves again. There was so much information out there, businesses no longer had any control over what was being said about their product in public. Anyone could read about the service other customers had received, about whether the latest mascara really did lengthen your eyelashes by 50%. Consumers started to mistrust what companies were saying, preferring instead to glean their information from their peers.
So where does this leave us all today when it comes to building a brand?
Well it’s a far cry from simply putting a logo on a bottle, that’s for sure (although amazingly some companies still think this is all it takes to build a strong brand). Today, the businesses that get it right understand it’s all about the consumer. The power has shifted into the consumer’s hands. The consumer is now the most important part of the relationship.
And it IS a relationship now.
It’s all about two-way engagement. Businesses now have to:
- Provide consumers with valuable information,
- Show consumers why they do what they do, AND
- Involve consumers with their brand story and journey.
In return, the consumer feels that someone is listening and responding with something that they need. They feel valued, loved. Social media has made this engagement even more dynamic: there are more dialogues and debates (albeit online) with more people than ever before. People have real relationships that are thousands of miles apart; yet social media has brought us closer than we could have possibly imagined.
This is why we believe there has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur who is building a passionate, purposeful, people focused business.
Why? Because in this modern age, the brand you are building is the kind consumers are most likely to resonate with. Let’s take a quick look at the four kinds of businesses being built today:
At one end of the spectrum sit the Faceless Corporates (Karen and Sarah from Ugly Duckling used to work with these guys a lot). It used to be great to be a corporate – they were the brands that everyone aspired to. However, today it’s not so rosy. Their sheer size combined with the number of stakeholders involved in the simplest of decisions make operating in today’s fast-paced environment tricky and awkward. There’s no passion, no original values. They talk ‘corporate speak’, you can’t name who’s at the helm, they’re faceless.
At the other end of the scale there are, what we call, Brand ‘Moi’s. These individuals are great at personal branding and raising their profile and can be found expressing their opinions on a wide range of subjects, most of which are irrelevant to their main business. They believe it’s enough for them just to turn up and be present. But when it comes down to the nitty gritty, no one actually knows what they’re all about, what their purpose is and what they are doing it all for. Brand ‘Moi’s are easy to spot: you’ll find them on Periscope or Blab (or whatever the latest social media trend is) offering nothing of major value to their customer base. They seem to change their business every other week and are then left wondering why they’re not gaining any traction.
Then there are the Standard SMEs. Most do their due diligence when it comes to branding and are quite happy to throw some money at an agency or consultant to create a mission and values statement and define their USPs. Boxes ticked! These are the people we hear say: ‘OK, branding done, now where’s the return on our investment?’ They don’t get that there needs to be some engagement with the people they’re targeting; that it’s all about creating a community, building the trust by getting to know each other.
Which brings us to YOU.
If you’re reading this, it’s because you’re an entrepreneur building a passionate, purposeful, people focused business.
- There is real emotion behind everything you do, and you can’t wait to share it with your ‘tribe’.
- You understand that personal branding is important, but know there must be purpose too.
- You know that the key to building your business is to build a community that adores you (and that the way to achieve this is through sharing your infectious passion for what you do).
The ironic thing is, folks like you have an amazing brand in the truest sense of the word where:
BRAND = what people say about you when you’re not in the room.
But your logo, marketing collateral and website aren’t an accurate reflection of the great things people are saying about you. And you know this – this is the reason why you’ve decided if it’s time to scale, then it’s also time to re-brand. Given we’re imploring you to ‘don’t go near those online design marketplaces’ we obviously think there is a better way, one that will give you great results and allow you to truly take your business to the next level.
So what’s this better way?
It’s one where you combine marketing brains that really get your business, with designers who understand the importance of a well-thought-out brand, and can bring that brand to live on paper. Here’s what that process looks like (it combines the best of what the team at Ugly Duckling do with what the team at Swish Design do). We’re not saying you have to follow our processes exactly, we’re just saying “this is the level of thought that needs to go into your re-brand”.
Stage One – Leaving the farmyard (developing a brand)
This stage is all about clarity. It’s where Ugly Duckling work through their unique brand strategy process using their ‘Four Ps Philosophy’ (purpose + point of differentiation + pack + personality) to enable you to understand what your brand is all about, how it stands out from your competitors and who your target market is. They’ll look at your brand story – your reason why – and then identify what it is you want to be known for. They’ll also work on identifying your personality, and how to verbalise your passion and purpose in a meaningful way which appeals to your target audience. At the end of this process, you’ll be clear on your why, who, what and how.
Stage Two – Looking at your reflection (creating your brand)
At stage two, Karen and Sarah take you through the process of turning your strategy into something tangible. They’ll produce a set of brand guidelines for you which will not only confirm what your brand will look like, but also how it sounds, your personality and your key messages. You’ll get an all-encompassing guide covering every aspect of your brand communications. This is also the stage where they bring in designers. The following process (the one Swish Design uses to create a logo – the element that will represent your brand in the marketplace) illustrates the difference between submitting a logo brief to a design marketplace competition … and working with designers who’ve been briefed by an amazing marketing team.
STEP 1: THE BRIEF
The first thing we at Swish want to do Is get a great understanding of you, your business and your expectations. We dig deep to find out:
- Who your target market is,
- What story you’re trying to tell, and
- What’s on your mind with regard to your brand Identity.
(So if we’re working with someone like Ugly Duckling Communications, then we’re super happy because they’ve done the hard work for us. They tell us everything we need to know in regard to the above!)
STEP 2: SKETCHES
Once we have all the information about you we need, we sit down with pencil and paper and start sketching concepts. This sketching process ensures every logo we create is 100% original.
STEP 3: DIGITISATION
After showing you our sketches and seeing which ones resonate with you the most, we then digitise your favourites and bring your desired brand colours into the equation.
STEP 4: TWEAKING
We then tweak the logo designs according to your feedback. It’s likely we’ll go back and forth with you a few times here.
STEP 5: FINAL OUTPUT + BRAND GUIDE
Once we have approval on a final logo design we output that logo In all required file formats (eps, pdf, png, jpeg) as full colour, reversed colour, black & white, and reversed black & white. Most logos will have both square and landscape formats too.
Some of our packages also allow for a full brand guidelines which documents correct usage of all the branding elements to allow consistency of application.
Does the above sound almost too easy? Well, to be honest, when you’ve done the work to fully articulate what your brand Is all about before starting on your logo design, the logo design bit CAN and almost SHOULD be easy.
It’s at this stage (if we were operating in the perfect world and you were working with someone like Ugly Duckling Communications to assist you with communicating your brand to the marketplace) that we’d hand things back over to them for the final stage in their process.
Stage Three – Getting noticed by your flock (promoting your brand)
The traditional world of marketing is no more. Consumers fast forward through TV adverts, often ignore magazine advertising, and skip banners and buttons when surfing online. Content marketing has become the new way for marketers to reach consumers. But what exactly is content marketing?
It’s the creation of relevant and valuable content, communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering consistent, ongoing valuable information, and in return the reader will reward you with their business and loyalty. So, this stage is all about getting valuable content out there. The Ugly Duckling team will look at your customer journey as well as various marketing and PR tactics to work out what’s right for you, and they’ll come up with a plan to suit your needs. They can work with you to provide advice and support as you work through your plan, or they can implement the activity, whether that’s writing blogs, producing press releases or managing your social media platforms.
And that’s that. Yes, it’s a fairly involved process. And yes, we know why entrepreneurial types balk at it. After all, they’ve gotten pretty far Into their business journey doing things the ‘lean’ way so it’s pretty hard to justify the outlay required to go through the above. But as we mentioned above, we’ve seen it play out time and again: the costs of not doing things properly at this stage of the game are huge in that a sub-par re-brand will stunt your growth.
Why does this matter?
Because if you’re a passionate, purposeful, people-centred entrepreneur who’s been around for a while and is currently considering a re-brand, it means you have some serious momentum built up. What a shame it would be to waste that momentum and have to repeat the re-brand process in a year’s time. Right?
Have you ever undergone a re-brand and been underwhelmed by the results?