Considering a refresh of your brand or need to develop a completely new brand this year?
Before you delve straight into the creative graphic design side of things, do some research so that your creative brief is the best it can be and the creative process delivers a brand that represents exactly what your business stands for.
Your research needs to include:
- A complete review of the physical representation of the brand (stationery, website, collateral, advertising etc).
- An internal brand audit – conducting employee workshops and management interviews.
- An external brand audit – conducting external market research ie customers, target market and stakeholders from whom you want to find out how the company is spoken of, it’s current positioning and perceived culture.
You need to go over a wide range of areas including:
- Typefaces & colours: are these consistent across your stationery, emails, website, marketing materials, uniforms & signage
- Imagery: do the photos/illustrations you use all have the same hue and framing and characteristics
- Email tagline: does everyone in the company use the same one, or do some not use one at all
- Tone of voice: do your sales material, website, emails and letters all use the same tone of voice and same language style?
- Reception area: is it in keeping with your brand?
- Name tags: are these consistent in typeface, colour & quality?
- Packaging: is your product’s packaging distinctive and in keeping with your brand?
- Communication: is your phone answered in the same manner every time? Is this first introduction to your company in keeping with your brand?
- Advertisements: Do you chop and change your style regularly or is your advertising instantly recognisable based on its theming?
- Employees: do they feel the same way about the company’s values or is there a wide disparity in views? Do they treat customers in much the same way, or are there huge discrepancies? A mystery shopper program can be useful to determine this.
- Customer: What would a customer tell a colleague it is that you do and deliver? Do all customers say a similar thing or is the inconsistency in how you’re seen in the market?
During an audit you might realise your company is promising one thing to your customers but delivering something else. This destroys customer loyalty, and hence makes the need for rebranding even more important. You might also discover your brand has lost a sense of direction and what it stands for. Either way many unexpected positives can come out of an audit, in understand where the brand stands. Whether it’s only a few tweaks that are needed or developing a brand from scratch, the outcome will be more specific and ‘on-brief’ following an audit. Wherever you are on the scale, an audit helps give you an important perspective on your business.
After completing a review of the business and auditing internally and externally there are a few questions that are important to answer as part of the creative brief when considering rebranding.
- What business are you actually in?
- What are the key values of the business to express as part of your brand?
- Who is your target market?
- What are the ‘hot buttons’ of those target clientele – what are they looking for?
- Who are your competitors and how are they positioning themselves?
- What’s different about your business, is there a unique benefit to be derived from your product or services?
Another important element of research is finding out what people think about your business. Gathering feedback from a range of different people associated with your business is the best way to get a truthful and helpful image of what your brand is perceived as. Ensure that the types of questions are not derived from a ‘client satisfaction’ questionnaire. You need to ask questions like:
- If you were to describe our company to a colleague what words would you say?
- What services do we provide?
- How are we different from our competitors?
You’ll need to interview a cross section of:
- Current clients
- Long terms client
- Recently acquired clients
- Disgruntled clients
- Target clients
- Key influencers of your market, such as media or government bodies.
Once you know how and where your business fits within the industry, you can plan how you want the market to see you in the future. Part two of this blog explains the important steps to creating a creative brief and ensuring your business is heading in the right direction with a new and strong brand image. Outsource to Us provides brand workshop if you’re still unsure where to start.