If there’s anything that’s been learned in the wake of the pandemic, it’s the importance of having an up-to-date online presence that represents your brand just as well as a face-to-face meeting. Your brand is a lot more than just a logo and some copy. It should be an experience.
As a digital marketing agency, we help our clients explore new strategies to elevate their brand via web design, creative, content, and more every day. However, just as we encourage our clients to explore new ideas in their digital marketing, it’s only fair that we take our own advice.
While our brand refresh started in a seemingly “regular” world, it certainly ended in a changed one. In early 2020, as we dove into redesigning our site, content, and digital assets, our team was suddenly scattered. On top of that, most (if not all) of our regular routines were paused.
In spite of everything, we successfully elevated and reached our goals. Here’s the “why” and “how” behind our recent brand refresh and some tips you can apply to start your own along the way.
Rebranding vs. a Brand Refresh
Before digging in, it’s important to understand the key difference between a brand refresh and a rebranding project. The idea behind a brand refresh is that you’re reimagining the feeling of your brand using what you already have. It’s primarily a visual process where you adjust your assets to keep your business looking current.
Rebranding your company successfully is a much larger project where you get rid of everything you’ve done previously and start from scratch. This can include creating a completely new brand voice and tone, trying to break into new markets, and completely re-doing your company’s image.
Starting on the Ground Floor
Our previous website was from 2017 and was due for a redesign, knowing it’s optimal to update your site every 3 years. Plus, it was clear it didn’t match the direction our company had evolved into as well. However, the catalyst for updating your digital branding shouldn’t always just be an “older design.”
As soon as your online branding feels out of alignment with your business strategy or vision for the future, it’s an indication that it’s time for a refresh. Sometimes that can just be minor tweaks to what you have, while other times more drastic action is required.
For Tower, we saw a need to elevate our own branding to match the shifts we’d undergone in the past few years. While we didn’t need to do a complete overhaul, we found a lot of opportunities to push ourselves beyond what we had done in the past.
Why a Brand Refresh Matters for Your Business
Your business is making progress every day. As you move forward and scale your company, it’s important to also continue refining and evaluating your brand to keep it sharp. This doesn’t always require designing a completely new logo or color palette. Refreshing your brand can include updating content on your service pages or replacing old, outdated images.
There’s no set time frame for how often you should be doing a brand refresh. However, the industry you’re in can have a hand in how often you make these types of changes.
If you’re a brand rooted in history, stability, or security (like a financial institution or college) you shouldn’t have to refresh that frequently. However, if you’re in a fast-growth industry like tech, your business will likely need a brand refresh more often to compete in the digital landscape.
The Key to Re-Doing Online Branding in Digital Marketing
When it came time to approach this project, our team found it extremely helpful to establish some simple ground rules and then outline a process before digging in. Our ground rules throughout the whole process were to:
- Keep our signature green color
- Keep our current logo
- Keep Cabrito (our main typeface we created internally)
From there, we then completed a visual audit of all our materials including our website, business cards, previous campaigns, social media posts, and much more. Our team sorted various assets into two categories — one for assets that “work” and one for those that “don’t work.”
While this part of the process required a lot of back and forth between our broader team, it spurred useful conversation. This audit allowed us to pair down the elements we liked and the ideas behind them, as well as see what areas needed the most attention. From there our team got to work redesigning creative, strategizing SEO, experimenting with dev, and drafting new content to match our updated brand voice and tone.
Think Outside the Logo
For any business diving into these types of changes, the biggest pitfall is thinking your brand is just a logo. At Tower, we encourage you to take a holistic marketing approach. Ultimately, your business is conveyed through everything — fonts, type treatments, colors, patterns, layout compositions, photography, written content, and much more.
The goal is to make sure all these elements are cohesive to the point that even when viewed separately, they still clearly portray your brand in the same light. When you take the time to do this, the benefit is that your brand becomes recognizable for consumers. It sticks.
For Tower, we started by pinpointing the areas we wanted to change and then got to work fine-tuning every single element. In the end, our goal was to make sure everything fit that holistic approach.
Finding Your Inspiration
Our office has a saying that first came to light when our team brainstormed for a campaign a few years ago — “elevate.” Over time, it became a crucial part of how we approach marketing for clients and, ultimately, ourselves. We took that concept and we ran further in terms of this brand refresh.
“Elevate” was behind every decision we made in the process. We went as far as taking pieces we thought were good and working to make them even better.
Anything that wasn’t working and had even become dated or cliche was scrapped altogether. The idea of “elevating” became our litmus test for all design, content, and development choices.
Staying Inspired in the Unexpected
While the state of our clients and our business had to rapidly evolve to respond to the pandemic, our team still continued pressing forward with our brand redesign. If anything, the pandemic opened up interesting opportunities to look at the idea of collaboration differently.
Collaboration is certainly the key to creating, however, there is also great value in having a chance to actually retreat from distraction and do the work itself. Being remote gave us a chance to become fully immersed in the project and our ideas without any interruption. Working in this hyper-focused manner was actually a huge benefit to developing the more difficult and complex elements.
However, our team also balanced working remotely by supplementing our progress with check-in meetings and plenty of video calls. Doing this allowed us to clearly communicate and stay on the same page.
Ultimately, here’s the biggest takeaway — it’s important to build in pockets of time to collaborate on refreshing your brand with others, while also balancing it with uninterrupted time to work individually on it.
Staying One Step Ahead of Your Competition
With any brand refresh, it’s crucial that you’re aware of the competitor landscape. You want to make sure that, in the end, your outcome goes far beyond what they’ve done so you can carve your own unique spot in the industry.
Make sure that a part of your project includes investigating your competition. Ask yourself the following:
- What are they doing?
- What are they saying?
- What is their user experience like?
- What can you do better?
You want to avoid doing or saying the same message. Otherwise, you won’t stand out. You need to be refreshing your brand not not just to “look good” today, but to ensure you stay relevant in the months ahead.
Develop Your Unique Value Proposition
As you’re working, make sure you take time as a team to be introspective of your company. Clearly define what makes you different. In our case, it was the idea of “elevating.” However, that won’t be the differentiator for every company, and you’ll need to decide what makes yours unique.
It’s worth devoting the time to sort this part out during your brand refresh process. Knowing your unique value proposition as a business will keep your strategy clear and brand refresh work cohesive. Plus, that differentiator can even become the very hook that draws in your target audience to choose you over your competitors.
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