It’s time. You’ve got the go-ahead to proceed. You’ve rolled up your sleeves, assembled your team, and gathered materials for a brand audit.
It’s time to redesign your company’s website and logo...and you’re both excited and scared to be entrusted with this project.
Relax. We’ve got you covered. Before putting pencil to paper or clicking open your graphic design program, take a deep breath. Then review these 15 “must ask” questions before any brand redesign project.
Brand identity is part art, part science
Ready? Let’s go!
The 15 Questions to Ask Before Your Redesign Project
- Why are we doing this brand redesign project now? It’s important to understand the reason behind the rebranding project. Is it simply to refresh the look and feel of your logo or web design, or has your company changed in some fundamental way so that a brand redesign is necessary? Knowing the reason why you’re undertaking this project now is an important first step in a successful brand redesign because it will help you focus your efforts on the ultimate purpose of the new web design and logo.
- Who are our current customers? The most important person in the entire brand redesign project isn’t the CEO, the marketing director or the designer. It’s the customer. Your logo and website redesign must appeal to your target customers. You’ve got to know who you’re speaking to with your design or else your message will fall flat. Define your customers’ perspective, age, interests and more. Create a fictional customer who can represent all of your customers to help your team better envision who their design must appeal to in order to help them focus. The customer must always come first, especially in a logo or website design. Customers must see what you see in your new logo or it can backfire. Airbnb, for example, launched a new logo to great fanfare, only to have customers poke fun at it for resembling a body part. Which body part, we’ll leave up to your imagination, but the end result is that Airbnb didn’t ask customers what they thought of the logo. Their current customers are reading into the logo all sorts of things they didn’t expect. Sharing it with a small sample group prior to launch may have saved the company a great deal of heartache.
- What are their wants and needs? Your products or services must speak directly to the wants and needs of your target customers. Your brand redesign needs to reflect this. Understanding their wants, needs and desires is an important step to creating a brand redesign. When Uber launched their new logo, customers reacted negatively to the symbol because they saw nothing in it that resonated with their own mindset. It was all about Uber, and not about the customers,. The new logo was just sort of dumped on the customers without warning, and customers didn’t like that at all. Take note, all those working on a redesign. Keep your customers in mind at all times.
- Have our customers changed over time? Even if you think you know who your customers are, talk to your company’s sales, marketing and service departments to better understand your current customer demographics. Customers can change over time. Your company may attract older or younger customers, for example, and each group may respond differently to a logo or brand redesign. Make sure your customer profile is accurate and up to date.
- Do we have research to back up our assumptions? Sure, there are people in your company who know a lot about your customers. But sometimes what they know is tempered by their own personal experiences, aspirations, and duties. Talk to the marketing, sales and other departments to find out if any market research exists. If so, gather all the research you can and read it through to get the big picture.
- What are our core values? Core values are what moves your company to action. They’re your company’s stake in the ground, the values by which you live. These must be expressed through the look and feel that you present to you the world. During a brand redesign, understanding and articulating your company’s core values will help you choose the appropriate expression of them in the colors, fonts, images, and words that comprise your brand.
- Who are our competitors? Next up is to understand your company’s place in the big picture. List your company’s direct competitors, those firms or individuals who your customers can choose for nearly identical products and services. Then make sure you include indirect competitors, the companies or people who offer similar but not identical substitutes for what you do or sell.
- How do we stack up against the competition? It’s not enough to know who your competitors are; you’ve also got to know how your business stacks up against them. What’s your market share, and theirs? What are you strengths and weaknesses, and theirs? Sit down with your team and brainstorm ideas.
- What is our company story? Companies, like people, have a family history. Find out why your company was founded and by whom. What unique niche did it serve? Why was it started? Write down the company story. Within it you may find gems to add to your redesign ideas.
- What five words describe our company? Like a company story, brand attributes or descriptive words can help you refresh your logo or brand design. Ask people on the design team to come up with five words that describe the company, but ask others within your company in other departments to complete this exercise too. If you can ask customers, so much the better, since they reflect your ultimate audience for your brand redesign.
- Do we need to complete this project for a specific event? Some logo and website redesign projects are completed on their own timeline, while others are set in motion by a specific future event. For example, your company may be celebrating a special landmark anniversary, or you may be launching a new product. These events may set a fixed deadline by which all deliverables are due. Know ahead of time your timelines and then plan around them.
- What are we expected to produce? As with any project, it helps to narrow down exactly what you’re expected to produce as the end product. A logo and website redesign may call for a full brand guideline to be created and implemented, along with refreshing other materials. Gather as many details as you can ahead of time about the expected project components so you know what you’re expected to deliver.
- Are there any “must haves” as part of the brand redesign? Some companies have a list of specific items or elements they want as part of their logo or website redesign. An established, respected company may wish to incorporate elements of an existing logo into their new logo. Certain colors may be required if they’re tightly associated with the brand, like Tiffany & Co.’s blue or Coca-Cola red. Find out if there are any requirements before embarking on a brand redesign.
- Is the brand launching in one culture or across multiple cultures? Some brand elements may be taboo in specific cultures or countries. Cultural associations are specific and often unexpected. Learn ahead of time whether you anticipate that your logo or brand redesign is going to be specific to the United States or needs to be flexible enough to accommodate disparate cultural contexts.
- What should we avoid? In addition to a list of do’s or must-haves, a list of don’ts or things to avoid is equally important. Perhaps you need to avoid anything that smacks of a competitor's brand, or tradition is the hallmark of the company and anything avant-garde will turn customers away. Gather your list of don’ts to have alongside the list of do’s before embarking on a redesign project.
Is a Complete Redesign Necessary?
Some companies embark on logo and website redesign projects as if they want to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. That may be a good idea if your company has weak visibility, recognition or marketshare, but if you’ve already got an established brand, a radical change may not be the best thing.
Instead, look for elements that can serve as a bridge between your old brand and your new one. A similar color family, font or concept may be enough to link the old with the new so that a complete redesign isn’t necessary.
Brand Shelf Life
Before embarking on your brand redesign project, one final and important question to ask is how long the company expects the new brand to be in place. Is this going to be a “once and done” project, with the goal of a long-lasting brand that will gain recognition over time? Or does your company anticipate rebranding every five years or so to keep pace with changes?
Brand Building Resources
As you start your brand identity project, there’s a lot to learn. The following resources may be helpful to you as you learn more about brand redesign, identity creation, and the value or brands.
- Lois Geller, Forbes: Why a Brand Matters
- Guy Kawasaki: The Art of Branding (presentation)
- The Economist: What Are Brands For?
- Measuring Brand Value
- 9 Branding Podcasts to Listen to Right Now (audio content)
- TED Talks: 3 Ways to (Usefully) Lose Control of Your Brand
Branding must take into consideration many factors, with perhaps the most important factor how a redesign or rebranding effort will communicate new information and speak to your customers. How will you approach branding differently now that you know these secrets? Let us know!