Archive for June, 2010

Branding: A “How To” Guide and Some Notes On Our Experience

June 30, 2010

Now that we’re a few months past our own rebranding, here’s a recap on how it went down and some ideas for yours.

First off, we confidentially started working on alternative names a full year before we actually changed our company name. We rejected about 100 names during a six month review process.

We chose Vibrant because we felt it was what we truly brought to our clients and community, and it also fit our company culture.

We based our name selection on these seven criteria:

BREVITY

APPROPRIATENESS

EASY SPELLING/PRONUNCIATION

LIKABILITY

EXTENDABILITY

PROTECTABILITY

DISTINCTIVENESS

While our former name, GrafiQa, met many of these criteria, we were stronger on some more than others (which is common). From the above list, two minor issues with our new name are possibly protectibility and distinctiveness because there are other companies in the national market whose names use some form of the word “vibrant”

Another tangible challenge we faced was our inability to secure the domain name “www.VibrantCreative.com”, which would have been much better than what we settled for (www.VibrantCompany.com). This was probably the biggeset drawback to our selection. However, in this day and age, the domain you want is often not available.

It’s important to recognize these concessions to illustrate that a new name will probably not be 100% perfect and that’s okay; just try to be 90%.

A great logo for our new name.
Once the name was selected, we wanted a great logo, obviously. We went through several versions which were rejected and then I became inspired by my daughter’s toy fiberoptic light.

I took this picture, did this sketch, sent it to one of our designers, and told him my concept. Below is the first round of logos.

We continued to work on these for weeks. The original designs had faded edges and some other features that looked good but would have been difficult to reproduce.

Our final logo has 15 acceptable variations including black and white, greyscale, one color, no burst, etc. We developed our brand book which lays out specific rules for the logo for anyone’s use.


Now that the creative and identity parts were over, we needed to move on to deployment of the brand. We’ve implemented this process for many clients. But each organization deploys in a very customized way.

Deployment
1. Choose a date to launch and make sure EVERYTHING changes on that day. Organizations run into trouble when they try to deploy a brand over a year or a month. Pick a day and stick to it. (This isn’t to say you can’t have some overlap, like “The company formerly known as GrafiQa” in small font at the bottom of a letterhead or on your website. It just means don’t use the old letterhead for two months until it’s gone because you’ll confuse people. See point 8 below for more clarification.)

2. Keep it a secret. Secrets are fun and build anticipation. But keeping your secret will also protect your new brand from scrutiny until the launch. We only shared it with top employees and staff prior to the launch day. We didn’t tell clients. We didn’t tell friends. Beware of uninformed opinions. Your name/brand are not open to uninformed opinion. For those you do share the secret with, instead of asking them what they think of a name or logo, ask them “what does this make you think of?” or what type of organization do you think this name belongs to?”. These answers will be much more useful and help you make decisions rather than vague open-ended questions.

3. Make a list of everything with the old brand. On launch day everything that had your old name/logo is officially garbage. You and your employees should not use it any longer for any reason. Switch over your voicemail, website, checks, e-Newsletter, letterhead, invoices, and email addresses. Everything needs to change over. We made a long list of these types of items three months in advance so we could have everything ready and in-hand by our launch date. See the below pic for all our old branded stuff now that went in the garbage or became kindling. This stuff was probably worth $5K. It was painful but necessary.

5. Budget for this; a rebrand is not cheap. You need to factor in reprinting things like stationary, brochures and signs, as well as running ads, having an event, etc. Depending on your organization size, the cost will vary. But even a small organization should expect to pay at least $10-20K to do it correctly. A larger organization or business can spend significantly more.

5. Develop a mail campaign to make your constituency aware of your rebranding. I recommend a teaser card letting them know change is coming, followed by a launch day event invitation, and finally a post launch announcement. Pick dates for these to go out before and after launch and have them all printed and brought to a mailhouse ahead of time.

6. Party down. On your selected change day, it’s a good idea to have some sort of event for staff, vendors, clients, politicians, or other constituent groups. It’s also worth pushing on PR for a a media blitz. We hosted two events: one in Binghamton and one in Oneonta. We invited clients, politicians, employees and friends (basically anyone that would come). We had about 50 people show up to each event and had a lot of fun. We also got media coverage throughout our region.

7. Use some paid media to get the word out – even media you may think your constituency does not use. We advertised our brand change on radio, in four newspapers and with signage.

8. After launch day, it’s good to mention your old brand for a year as a sub line (just look above at the header of this blog). This is for anyone that missed your announcement because, despite your best efforts, some people on the fringe will not know your changed your name. Also, make sure to feature some type of video or written announcement talking about why you changed your name.  You don’t want people inferring you were sold or went out of businesses.

9. Make sure to include your staff on the entire process. These valuable people will be your first line in executing the new brand and should not be overlooked. Give your staff instructions on how to answer the phone after the launch, not too wear or use old branded items, and to take down or look for things you might have missed.

10. Don’t rush it. The process takes at least 3-6 months. It’s great that you have a 50th anniversary party coming up in 30 days but you can’t rebrand your whole organization that fast if you want to do a good job. Push the celebration out three months or have another celebration in a year. If you rush the process, you will miss things and items wont be converted in time, which will dilute your new brand and get it off to a poor start.

Results
I’m very happy with the amount of people that were aware of the change. As a bonus, we also got several clients and projects from the process, which made it pay for itself several times over.

When you do it right, a rebrand is a fantastic excuse to communicate with the world. Rebranding is one of the most fantastic excuses to get eyeballs on your brand and make a fresh impression.

To get help with your rebranding or renaming, contact me at chris@vibrantcompany.com.

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Blast from the Past – Steve Jobs on Working with Paul Rand

June 24, 2010

I was meeting with Mayor Miller of Oneonta, NY and he mentioned having known Paul Rand from a previous career which had me do a fresh search on this famous designer and I stumbled on this Video which I found extremely interesting and relevant. It has me re-thinking about how we do things around here and how we communicate with clients.