First impressions count. A lot.
Imagine you walk into a glamorous party, everyone seems impossibly impeccable – styled, smooth… perfect. But you didn’t have the right kind of outfit, so you made something yourself, you tried your best but you aren’t very good at sewing. It’s a little skewiff. You did your hair and makeup in a rush and you just know it’s not showing you at your best. And the colour of your handbag is just, well, a little dated.
Now, we know, we know…. These things are superficial. They shouldn’t matter right? But they do. We are visual, perceptive creatures. All the little details form a rich tapestry of how we view the world. Is this person my person? What type of person are they? How can I categorise them? What do they like? What are they into? Do they belong?
“That’s like so five years ago.” ― Cher Horowitz, Clueless
What if we weren’t talking about you. What if we were talking about your brand? It’s exactly the same. Every time someone sees your brand it is speaking volumes to their subconscious (and sometimes loud and clear to their conscious too).
Does everyone need a modern, sophisticated, perfect brand? Hell no. But everyone does need a brand identity that speaks to all the nooks and crannies of who they are. Maybe it’s a hippie brand and the handcrafted look works. Maybe it’s an eco brand and it wants to feel more authentic, less polished. Maybe it’s for kids and loud and colourful is the way to go. Really the point is your brand identity needs to be a direct reflection of what your brand stands for, what it believes and its brand personality and brand values.
KNOWING WHEN IT’S TIME TO REFRESH
- Transition point. If you are shifting in terms of your target audience or positioning of your brand it’s time to revisit your brand identity. Does it mean throw it all out and start again? Not necessarily. It means clarifying the strategy first, and then reviewing the identity in line with that. Maybe the logo can stay, but be modernised. Maybe the colours are good, but the imagery is too stock. Assess each element in consideration of the personality and values you are trying to portray.
- Levelling up. When you first start a business there are so many expenses and it can take quite a while to get the revenue flow coming in. Often there isn’t much of a budget for branding. But once you have that tricky first year or two behind you it’s often time to get some professional brand help. Whilst you can ‘get by’ on sub par branding if your offering and personal networks are strong, it takes you to new heights when your identity reflects the quality of what you do.
- Mature business. Maybe you’ve been going for a long time, 5 years or more, and stylistically your identity could do with a little modernising. Just to maintain that leading aesthetic. Often this can be minor refinements that just bring back that little something something!
Now, of course there are many types of brands, and many types of businesses. It’s not one size fits all. But this does give you a good idea of key points where you may need to reconsider your identity. Some business owners may just get a feeling that something is not quite right, not quite serving them anymore. But on the flipside many business owners become so familiar with their brand, that they become quite attached. In these cases it becomes hard to get a sense that it is time for change.
GET SOME INPUT
You might be thinking about asking other people for feedback – for what they think about your identity and whether it needs a makeover. But be careful here. Unless they have strong brand experience, or are a good cross section of your actual target audience it can be misleading. Of course your mum still thinks your brand looks awesome. Bless. Don’t listen to her!
WHAT ACTUALLY CHANGES IN A BRAND REFRESH
When refreshing a brand identity the key elements that may change are:
- Logomark. Does the logo need to evolve? Or maybe it needs a complete overhaul. Or maybe the logo is absolutely fine as is, and the changes can come through in other ways.
- Colour palette. Do the colours reflect your brand positioning? It’s not about what you like (sorry), it’s about what your audience likes. How can they be shifted to create a better impact?
- Typography styles. The impact of the nuance of fonts should not be underestimated! They come in all different shapes and sizes and add a lot to an impression of a brand.
- Image style. Imagery is so, so important. Don’t scrimp here. If possible invest in a photoshoot. If not a very carefully curated set of stock imagery.
- Graphic elements. Changing graphic elements, or maybe just exploring how they are used can dramatically change your brand.
Tone of voice. How your brand speaks is just as important in conveying who you are, as how your brand looks.
Or maybe the elements are fine, but you need to shift the way they are used. Remember, if you wouldn’t walk out of the house looking fab, then don’t let your brand loose without it looking schmick.
Hopefully some food for thought. Just make sure you have your brand positioning nailed before you worry about how anything looks!
Jodie + Em xx