What makes a brand a brand? What differentiates a brand that fosters recognition and engenders feelings of trust and goodwill from what is simply a clever design? The brand reflects the soul of your company and is the tool with which you communicate your passion to the world – it should not be trivialized — especially if, like Acentech, your work is design-centered. Our work, whether for AV Design, Vibration Control, or Acoustical Consulting, seeks to optimize the human experience, enliven a space, or control environmental elements so that the mission of a space is not negatively impacted – spaces that are as varied as a residence, Symphony Hall, or a 200,000 SF business school.
So how does one take the work and mission of an organization in all its nuanced complexity, and translate that into a brand that is thoughtful, succinct and memorable? Well, I can tell you from experience that it’s not easy and requires a sustained effort over many months.
Next week, I will be speaking alongside two incredibly accomplished professional colleagues and mentors – Anne Nason of Haley Aldrich and Janet McGee of Stantec. Together we will share each of our firm’s unique brand stories – how we started, the hurdles we encountered along the way, and the sweet successes, too. If you are beginning to think about a rebranding process for your firm, I strongly encourage you attend. While each story is unique, there are common threads among our “lessons learned” that will provide valuable insight into the branding process.
In case you can’t make it and because this election season I’ve missed David Letterman’s Top Ten lists, here are my top ten tips when preparing a roadmap for a rebrand:
1.) Set a timeline and don’t forget to include time for production and setbacks!
2.) Set a realistic budget
3.) Determine how much you are going to tackle “in-house” and set up a tracking number for the hours
4.) Know your firm inside and out – interview your staff and a cross section of clients
5.) When hiring consultants to assist with the rebrand, place a high priority on those that are flexible – this will be an emotional, exhaustive and rewarding process
6.) Include your firm in the process and celebrate its completion together
7.) Rebranding without brand ambassadorship is not a rebrand – it’s a graphic identity change
8.) Plan for training of your staff
9.) Don’t forget that change isn’t easy for anyone – even necessary change
10.) Share the “why” – If the firm doesn’t understand why the rebrand is important, garnering support will be a major challenge