A Rebranding Story

The Creative Firm

As a creative design firm, we offer services that enhance the visual image of a company, personality, brand, etc. Recently, we have had the opportunity to offer a complete package full-redesign for a local company based in Cork, Ireland. I must say we simply love working on a blank canvas and our client gave us the go ahead to ‘do whatever you think is best’. These are the words that most if not all designers want to hear. This meant that the client placed a great trust in our ability as the designer, but it also raised the standard as we didn’t know what the expectation was going to be!

The pressure is on. Not as a time constraint but as the final product delivery; to create something aesthetically relevant, applying all that we know in relation to design and best practice. In this short piece, I’m happy to share with you some of the process and how we took it from point A to an ongoing point B.  As a full re-brand, there are many aspects to it besides the visible company mark.

A company’s brand is the visual representation of what the company is about; their ethos, philosophy as well as their products and services.  Placing this blank canvas on us was a challenge but in a very good way. We had full liberty – and we took a stab at it.

The Client

The company in question is PV Generation, a solar photovoltaic (PV) systems provider (I know very technological) and they transform business and residential premises into green energy consumers by kitting them with solar panels and energy management systems. A rebrand implies that they had an existing brand which they did, however, it was less than optimal. I could critique on how it wasn’t effective in the least, but I’ll hold off on that.

Now, how does a good graphic designer approach this? Well, what we did first was ask the client the question?

The Design Package

We wanted to know from the company’s perspective and what made them think of it?

In short, their response matched what we thought about their existing ‘brand’ and that was sufficient to kick-off our design approach.

As our client, they understood early on that this step was an investment and none of the stakeholders were sceptical or in need of convincing that rebranding is more than a new suit of clothes. This made it easier for us as the need to overcome reluctance was eliminated at the beginning.

We began our process. Armed with all relevant information, we had sufficient understanding what was required.

The Design Package

One word that should come hand-in-hand with branding identity is – consistency.

Typically, we think of company name, logo, tagline, colour scheme, marketing material designs, etc. when we hear the word branding identity, and you’d be right. Theses are definitely important elements that frames the structure and strategy of delivering a brand. However, these are not the brand. The brand is the company’s reputation and their visibility not their logo or name. 

Their brand as a company is the reputation they had built up by delivering good and quality work. PV Generation’s reputation preceded them and our job was to translate that visually.

The full package proposal included:

This list crudely outlines the main deliverables however, the work to undertake this was wide and varied. Each aspect warrant a whole book on its own! We applied the principles of design as well as the technical know-how to implement it and that allows us to deliver a successful rebrand.

All in all, our client was well-pleased with what we came up with. It must be said though, that this partnership was made seamlessly possible because the pros were left to do what they do best. There was always room for discussion and inputs. But these weren’t your ‘pretend creative director’ type who would constantly watch over your shoulder and micro-managing the design.

Why you need a design custom tailored to your business identity

It is often said by many businesses that developing a brand strategy can be one of the most difficult steps in the marketing plan process. I previously talked about the importance of brand and why it should be considered very early on in the business development. After all, once you’ve successfully grounded this major step, your brand identity will be communicated repeatedly throughout the lifetime of your business in more effective ways than one.

It is crucial therefore, to decide on how you want your business to be perceived and experienced in the marketplace as this will have effect on your customers as what is known as emotional impact. Let me flesh that one out a small bit; your customers need to connect with you in an emotional level, whether your brand is associated with excellent customer care or high quality or that extra mile you are willing to take. However, it can also be associated negatively which can stick far longer than any positive aspects in memory. How often has anyone bought a car for example?, not because of the car itself but because the accommodating salesman whose ethos represents that of the company he or she works for. A brand strategy certainly helps connect that experience with their ethos.

Okay, so now that we’ve established that a company’s brand can have significant emotional impact, ‘how do I develop my own one that’s effective long-term?’, you might be asking. You certainly can do that by knowing exactly what your business is all about. What I mean is that you should have a clear ‘manifesto’ that is the source of your objectives and defines your purpose. You, as a business owner, have surely ventured in this business direction because of what you can offer and having a unique way of delivering that.

Leave it to the Pros – if you want to avoid the cons

The next thing you should do is to leave the visual design work to the professionals. If you do not have any graphic design background or any clue about how to use the tools that can achieve it, dabbling is one of the worst things you can do. I’ll tell you at least two reasons; one, your time can be better used in activities that you know best to do and that is your core business. For those who might be hesitant in allocating initial capital on a branding strategy, trust me, you will lose much more if you choose to do it yourself. Focus on your business and the well-designed brand can offset the cost later on and have a great return-on-investment. It will save time and time is money. The second reason is, having a designer can mean having a mirror, a feedback provider that will ask fundamental questions which will compel real answers relevant to your business growth. This kind of exercise can be invaluable in terms of learning which paves way to the evolution of your business. The true value generated from this ‘brainstorming’ environment if you like, comes not in the form of just good visual graphics and ‘slick’ platforms at the end but also gaining a better understanding of the road map to success and of course, high revenues.


Find a good design company

A custom-tailored, branding design will sure to shape not only the visual aspect of your business identity but in that process, achieve far more long-term benefits. Of course, most of what I just said is subject to partnering with not only a competent creative design firm, but a one that has a willingness to learn and one that values their client.

We as a creative design firm, not only will we produce aesthetically and visually pleasing graphics, the development of the brand itself would have undergone extensive research on our part as the designer, we also position ourselves in a consultative role by learning through your business objectives, your target market, what’s effective communication and other unique traits of your chosen business area. A successful partnership therefore, does not end in a project end-date but rather continue to provide strategic services which benefits both parties.

Why Startups need Branding Identity

What digital branding isn’t

Digital Branding isn’t all about visual identity, although it must not be overlooked. After all, this is what the consumer first interfaces with. It creates a perception of what you as a company is all about; the product or service your business revolves in as well as what your whole ethos is all about.

Startups

Start-up companies aren't really companies - well at least not yet, maybe. It's more of an experiment, a project that is teetering on a thin rope between potential success and never taking off. According to Vitaly Golomb, a venture capitalist, serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker and author, the key activities of the company all takes place in the first years of its inception which happens at a rather fast pace. However, I think an important aspect of this is the visual identity of the core idea which could become a key player in its own niche market. The product or service must be the primary driver for the start-up's incorporation. After all, it's key offering is what determine the market share and therefore further business development which really is the ultimate goal of a company. Therefore, in the midst of all the other important activities, be it product/ technology development, inventory, ideation, strategizing, etc., do not neglect the visual counterpart of what you, even as a start-up, represents in this visual, online, marketing saturated world. In other words, consider a branding identity strategy during the early stages.

Why a brand?

A brand is more than just artistic logo and typography. More than colours and creative composition. It's a company's identity and it should communicate to the world the very purpose of the company's existence. People do not remember people's faces, well, not as well as its brand. Unless of course your brand is your face! The brand carries what you offer to the market world. It is the front of what you as a start-up is proposing and a well-designed brand conveys what your company is all about. The ideal end goal is for your brand to be remembered and well-associated with success. This why some brands are never changed, some are sold and bought for millions. The true value of your company can be reflected in the value is the customers’ perception of your visual brand. If a start-up's unique offering has potential market value, then it must have its visual counterpart. The earlier this is established in the process, the better and this does not need to cost a lot. It does, however, need to be well-designed. Many good designers need to have extensive knowledge on the subject in order to produce a work of art that has been engineered to represent the company effectively. A lot goes into designing a brand. According to Alina Wheeler, author of Designing Brand Identity, "the brand identity process demands a combination of investigation, strategic thinking, design excellence and project management skills"

For an example of a good branding design, click here.