Legendary designer Milton Glaser once said, “in the lifetime of any brand there must come a time when said brand’s identity must go under question.”
Here’s the deal. Milton Glaser didn’t really say that, I just made it up. But that does not make the statement any less true. It is important to revisit your brand identity regularly and determine if it is representing your product appropriately and effectively. If it is not, then it is probably time for a brand redesign or refresh (if that makes it sound less intimidating).
I know that a brand redesign sounds scary, but it does not have to be. A brand redesign does not always mean that a brand needs to be ripped to shreds and built again from the ground up. Oftentimes, a redesign will identify what aspects are working well all while refining the things that are not. We aren’t in the business of totally scrapping a brand’s logo, we are in the business of identifying what is working well and what is not. With that, we can then take those key pieces and begin to enhance.
For example, in 2018 Dunkin Donuts kicked off a major brand refresh when they dropped the second half of their name and rebranded simply as “Dunkin”. Despite the name change and some major repositioning, they carried over many key elements of their original identity such as their pink and orange color scheme and heavy rounded font. Since Dunkin already had a strong well recognized brand identity, this strategy made much more sense than scrapping everything and starting over from scratch.
While many brands have creative material that can be repurposed in the redesign, sometimes during the discovery process it can lead brands to realize they DO need an overhaul and find it necessary to rebuild. Take this example of a larger change that has happened. In 1977, Apple Computers dropped “Computers” from its name and changed from their overly complex and dated logo to the now iconic half bitten rainbow apple logo that most of us cherish dearly.
It’s important to approach a revamp by meeting the people behind the business and understanding the values they want their brand to be built around. It can often be helpful to write down what the brand is or is not, and to imagine who the brand would be if it were a physical person. Our team calls this the “discovery meeting”. This meeting allows us to get to know this information on a personal level and gives the redesign an inspirational foundation on which to build creative ideas and concepts. This way, all of the creative choices within a brand identity have meaning and a personal connection to the business rather than randomly picked colors and logos.
Research. Research. Research. It can be helpful to look at a brand’s competitors or similar businesses in the market. Actually, we highly suggest tuning in on competitors to ensure your brand is standing out against competition. Which is ultimately the goal, right? Consumers to choose you over your competition. Research which ads of theirs are working and which ones are not. Understanding what makes one brand different from another can help a brand avoid making similar mistakes and better identify their audience.
After the brand research is complete designers (such as myself) take on the very important task of building a style guide (also known as a brand book or brand guidelines). The style guide is the trademarks personalized How-To directory to their creative identity. It should contain logos, a color palette, fonts, patterns, shapes, or any other visual design element that are important for designing future material. It should also give the brand a direction on how to use those elements as well as verbal and visual tones. The style guide is the one-stop-shop for answers to a fresh revamp.
If you are considering making a change, understand that does not mean the current design was done poorly. We often find a refresh necessary because a company has grown or changed its positioning in the market since the creative work behind the product was developed and the identity needs to follow the lead. So, if you are embarrassed to hand out your company’s business cards because they are out of date, do not represent your company well, or they are just in Comic Sans, then it’s probably time to give your favorite marketing agency (KM&A) a call, and ask your favorite graphic designer (me) for the brand redesign of your dreams.