I love design and photography for its ability to engage and delight. It's why I wanted to run my own business, to create brands that engage effectively and make customers unbelievably happy. I launched Martin Sully Design (now Snapper Studio) in 2014 — leaving a flurry of cartoon dust in my wake! In the first five years, I learnt approximately five million new things about branding, which I didn't know when I launched.
Here's a couple —
- Branding is how your staff answer phones and emails.
- Branding can be the soap you put in your customer bathrooms.
- Branding is even the thickness of toilet paper for those bathrooms.
Your brand's not just your logo, your website or a name. It's every little detail!
All your decisions affect how you're perceived by potential customers. Positive reinforcement of your brand is vital for returning customers, they'll come to expect the same great experience each time they engage with you.
I like to think of a brand as an avocado. Its got layers — a seed that holds all the info for growth — the brand positioning. Delicious flesh that customers return for again and again — the brand experience, and skin that holds it together — the brand appearance. Answering the questions relating to this gave me all my answers. Ready to find out how you can plan your rebrand?
Step 1 – Brand Positioning
Now before you dismantle your website, change your social media and hand out your last business cards, you need to know what you do well and what you don't.
This is the DNA of your brand — its your mission, your vision, your values. It's how you position yourself. When you peel back all the visual identity, there needs to be a solid strategy to back it up. It's what gets your brand out of bed, brushes its teeth and puts on some sparkly thongs, just to go to the postbox and back.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Who are/n't your ideal customers? What problems are you solving? Why do they come back for more?
- How do you want your customers to perceive your brand?
- Are they able to explain to friends what you do? Can they relay your values without confusion?
- How would you like your customers to describe what you do? What words do they use to describe your brand?
- How do you want your brand to make your customers feel?
- What is your why (your vision)? Why are you in business?
- Who's your competition? What sets you apart?
Step 2 – Brand Experience
You need to think about the experience customers have when they interact with your brand. It doesn't matter if you sell online or you have a physical shop. You need to break down each step in a customers journey, from stranger to best friend who shouts out how awesome you are.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Do you, or your customers struggle with any parts of the customer journey? Are they confused? Are there delays?
- Do you need to alter your processes to improve the brand experience?
- How are complaints handled? Is it always for the same product/service?
- Can you streamline your internal services/improve products?
- Why do customers choose you? Do they come back?
- How do customers feel when they interact with your brand? What emotions do you want customers to feel?
- Are customer touchpoints consistent? Can they be improved?
Step 3 – Brand Appearance
The final step is to analyse how you communicate – visually, verbally and in writing.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Use a combination of descriptive and visual words to describe your visual identity.
- How would you describe your brand voice?
- Do you and your team feel proud of your visuals/brand voice? Why?
- Are your visuals and brand voice consistent across all your brand touchpoints? What can be improved?
- How can you make the visual identity/brand voice consistent?
- How do customers respond to visuals/brand voice? Make a note of comments (good and bad).
- How do you want your brand to be described by customers?
- What visual identity assets do you have? Logos, fonts, colour palettes, graphic elements, icons, patterns, photography styles, illustrations etc.
- What marketing assets do you have and use? This is anything to promote your brand — website, brochures, social media templates, email marketing templates, adverts, business cards, email signatures etc.
- Are there any visual/marketing assets you wish you had?
- What visual identity/marketing assets do you need to move the brand forward?
A successful brand identity merges together strategy with design and implementation.
Without clarity on your positioning, you won't understand who your targeting and giving a brand experience too. And when you are targeting people, they'll be less interested in what you have to say and how you look.
So think of your brand as a avocado. Each layer is really important. Neither can exist without the other. Once you are clear on each step, you can work out a plan of how to evolve and improve.
- Who is your target audience? What do they need?
- What will your brand experience look like?
- Do you need to invest in, create or organise any new processes to keep the experience consistent?
- How will your brand voice sound? Pick out words and phrases you would like to use. Make a list of all the phrases to exclude too.
- Will you create your voice and tone? Side note: you always have the same voice, but the tone is different to reflect the emotional states of the audience.
- What will your visuals look like? Think about building a mood board on Pinterest — logos you like, colours, typography, photography, and other visual elements to inspire your brand. Think about how they will make customers feel, and the goals of your brand.
- How will you create a consistent visual identity? Will you create your own visual identity? Will you hire a designer to help?
- What visuals and marketing collateral do you need to create or refresh? Think about your logo, brochures, business cards, letterheads, website. Create a list of all the items you use to speak to your target audience.
- Make a rough timeline to plan the launch. Taking into consideration how long it may take to recreate marketing collateral, update the website and how long anything will take to print. Give yourselves a generous amount of wiggle room, so you can ensure everything is ready. Nobody likes egg on their face.
I'd highly recommend reaching out to professionals for guidance on any areas you are stuck on – the clearer your thoughts on the direction – the better the results! A creative team is only as good as the research. So get all your ideas out of your head onto paper.