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When you hear someone talk about branding, what comes to mind? Do you automatically think of a logo? What about the messaging? Trust us when we say that the only thing more disappointing than bad branding is branding that misrepresents what a company actually does.
Step One: Start Talking
We believe that in order to have successful branding, you have to build a strong foundation. At KM&A we understand that you need to spend a lot of time and energy with both the client and your team in order to create a brand. For us, we purposefully kick things off with our clients by having a discovery meeting. This meeting allows us to spend intentional time with our clients to gain an understanding of who they are and how they want to be perceived.
Although a meeting like this can sound a little overwhelming, it’s always a great way for us to start a relationship and identify key messaging for our clients. This allows us to determine their visual and verbal tones – something that we use as a compass for making all branding decisions.
There isn’t a perfect order to building brand guidelines and there are certain processes that vary for each team. Our creative lead, Torrey, tends to start with collecting photographs that speak to the organization’s determined tones and then proceeds from there.
Step Two: Evaluate What You Have
When developing a new brand, it can be tempting to start from scratch, but this is not always the best decision. If your brand has any sort of recognition, keeping elements for long-term clients or customers to recognize is important. Our advice: hold on to any brand equity that your organization may have so that you don’t make things harder on yourself. If something has been developed over the years and then taken down completely, it can become jarring to both the customer and organization.
When integrating an old brand identity with new ideas, try to bring the parts that have worked for the client into your new brand. Does the organization have an interesting color palette? Keep the most recognizable color. Has the organization used the same logo for 75 years? Don’t throw it away completely. Try to take favorite details and put them in a modern perspective without losing the brand equity.
Step Three: Look Towards the Future
The branding framework should be flexible enough that it can be built upon and strong enough to stand on its own. Even the perfect brand does not last forever, so it is key that organizations understand when they need a refresh. A lot of clients don’t know when this needs to happen, so having an outside opinion is so helpful. Torrey suggests that you might need a refresh if you haven’t relooked at your brand in the past three years or if you aren’t getting the brand recognition you should be getting. If you also can’t explain your brand in one sentence, then you may need to start a conversation about a refresh or refocus.
All great brands stand on a strong framework, so investing time and finances will ultimately lead to a lasting ROI. If your organization is in need of reframing your brand or questioning what your branding framework will need, reach out to KM&A and learn how we can help.