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Creating a new brand?

Creating a new brand is an exciting milestone in the life of a company. The rebranding process itself is challenging and rewarding, but it is just the beginning of an evolution.

The rebranding process itself is challenging and rewarding, but it is just the beginning of an evolution.

A company’s name and logo lives on countless platforms, from its business cards to its vehicle fleet. For an existing company, it is almost always unrealistic to “flip the switch” on a new brand and change everything simultaneously. Yet, it’s important to roll out the branding within a reasonable timeframe to avoid confusing the target audience by using multiple versions of the brand in the marketplace.

So, showing the shiny, new brand to the world requires careful planning, implementation and additional expense. With a prioritized checklist and budget as a guide, a company can implement its new look in a manageable way, while still making a splash. Use this checklist as a guide to consider how to tackle the conversion.

Announcement

Start with client communication. Tell existing customers the reason that the company rebranded and what the new brand represents. Loyal customers deserve to be the first to know, so the different look does not confuse or concern them. They want to know that it’s still the company and service they trust.

Direct Traffic Solutions is a Graphic D-Signs client that unveiled its new brand earlier this month, in sync with the launch of a new website. A blog post, also emailed to Direct Traffic Solutions’ customers and partners, introduces the fresh start.

In addition to the company blog, spread the word via email (don’t forget to update the logo in the email template, if the company has one), and even consider a standard mailing if it’s a good way to reach relevant folks.

A news release is another consideration, if the new brand is announced in conjunction with something newsworthy that’s of public interest, such as celebrating an anniversary, moving into a new office, sponsoring a community event or fundraiser, partnering with another business, expanding services, or adding positions on staff.

Business Cards and Stationery

Signage

Though it’s costly, for a retail operation, it’s important for signage to match the brand. Resist the urge to modify the logo’s proportions to fit the available space. Instead, modify the sign accordingly to accommodate the logo, and use the space as effectively as possible. Remember, it’s less important to prominently display a website URL and phone number on signs when the customer is already on site.

Vehicles

Uniforms

Since employees are a company’s brand ambassadors, putting the new brand on their uniforms should be a top priority. Ensure that they are dressed neatly and professionally. Brand colors must be integrated into the design, and avoid adding details like the phone number and website address—just the logo will do.

Website

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Replace the logo on the company website as soon as the new brand is introduced. Full brand integration should follow soon after, with a website redesign that implements colors, icons and typography that coordinate with the new logo. The new website should relay the company’s brand promise, making the brand shine. Treat the website like the virtual front door most prospective customers enter the first time they interact with the brand.

Social Media

Ensure that the new logo is plugged into social media graphics when the brand launches, because social media networks will be an obvious place to announce the change. Remember to update the company’s presence on all of these channels, and consider starting an account with the new brand if one doesn’t already exist and it’s a relevant place for the company to communicate. Social channels include, but are not limited to:

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What is branding?

Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does “branding” mean? How does it affect a small business like yours?

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer.

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.

Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can’t be both, and you can’t be all things to all people. Who you are should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be.

The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials–all of which should integrate your logo–communicate your brand.

Brand Strategy & Equity

Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too.

Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company’s products or services that allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products command. The most obvious example of this is Coke vs. a generic soda. Because Coca-Cola has built a powerful brand equity, it can charge more for its product–and customers will pay that higher price.

The added value intrinsic to brand equity frequently comes in the form of perceived quality or emotional attachment. For example, Nike associates its products with star athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. For Nike, it’s not just the shoe’s features that sell the shoe.

Defining Your Brand

Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable. It requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below:

  • What is your company’s mission?
  • What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
  • What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
  • What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?

Do your research. Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. And don’t rely on what you think they think. Know what they think.

Because defining your brand and developing a brand strategy can be complex, consider leveraging the expertise of a nonprofit small-business advisory group or a Small Business Development Center .

Once you’ve defined your brand, how do you get the word out? Here are a few simple, time-tested tips:

  • Get a great logo. Place it everywhere.
  • Write down your brand messaging. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes.
  • Integrate your brand. Branding extends to every aspect of your business–how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls, your e-mail signature, everything.
  • Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand.This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. You get the gist.
  • Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.
  • Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don’t need to be fancy, just consistent.
  • Be true to your brand. Customers won’t return to you–or refer you to someone else–if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.
  • Be consistent. I placed this point last only because it involves all of the above and is the most important tip I can give you. If you can’t do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.