Mark Bower explains how a rebrand must always start with the right question.
Branding means different things to different people. At the most trivial level people talk about colours, typography and company logos. To some, a rebrand might involve nothing more than a bit of visual tinkering. That’s one approach, and you may see some minor benefit from this kind of surface-level activity. But to affect significant organisational change? That takes something way more fundamental.
In reality, a brand encompasses every aspect of what an organisation does, stands for and believes in. It's analogous to business DNA. As an organisation grows and develops, these core beliefs permeate and influence everything from the kind of office you inhabit to the people you hire, the way you dress to the way you answer the phone. Even if you don't think about branding a great deal, you still have one. It's an attitude as much as anything, and, critically, it's also about how others perceive you.
Obviously, something so deep-rooted cannot be changed overnight, no matter how small and 'bought-in' the team. We are talking about a change of core identity. Imagine waking up tomorrow as a different person, as someone barely recognisable - a new face and body, a whole new style, outlook and belief system.
To some this might sound very appealing; to others it may be terrifying. It's still you, but a new, updated, rebooted, and very different you. Kind of scary, but exciting, too. You get to be who you really are. Throw off that old baggage. Sure, you've learned from all the past wrong turns and dead-ends and now it's time to let the world see your true self - who you are today - and move forward. That's the opportunity rebranding offers.
It was with all this in mind that we started to contemplate rebranding INK Digital in early 2017. We felt the time was right but were well aware of the challenges and risks associated with such a tumultuous undertaking. We didn't want to lose all the things that had made INK great, but at the same time we realised we'd become a very different business. It was time to shed our skin. But to do so, we would have to get fundamental.
So we dove deep into what made INK Digital tick: what we were doing well, what our clients liked about us, the strengths of our team. Then we asked where we wanted to go in the future: what our ambitions were, did we need to grow our skillset, what kind of clients did we want to attract, and what did we want to be known for.
That kind of deep insight is the foundation upon which every rebrand should be built. The new name, logo, website, business cards, tone of voice... that all comes after. In the words of Simon Sinek, it’s definitely about understanding why that gets you to understanding how and what.
If you don’t identify the reasons behind your rebrand before you start, you’ll not only end up with a confused brand identity, but the motivating reasons behind your rebrand will go unresolved, leaving you exactly where you were when you started.
Except, of course, you'll be in a shiny new (expensive) suit. But, chances are, it will be an ill-fitting one, that you will be destined never to feel entirely comfortable in.