Evolving Your Brand? Look Inwards.


No brand is static. Even if key elements, such as a logo, remain familiar over the course of decades--think of the iconic Nike swoosh, which has been around since the early 1970s--it must still change, even subtly, in order to stay fresh and grow.

Change the Context and Everything Changes

Instead of changing your logo, consider changing its visual environment and context, i.e., how the brand is used:
• Look at the palette and see if it can be expanded; add or change the colors
• Modernize the use of white space in the elements around the logo
• Take a fresh look at the images/photography
• Refresh your messaging so it is more relevant to the moment

With less investment of time and money, and with fewer political issues and emotion (such as stress), you can refresh your brand while keeping the recognized, familiar logo in which you've invested so much.

Take an Uncomfortable Look Inside

What is working, and what isn't? Evolving a brand is much easier said than done: you need to exhibit a certain degree of self-examination in order to determine what needs to be refreshed. Ask yourself the following questions:
• What does the brand need to evolve successfully in a changing world?
• How do new customers currently approach you?

You have to take a hard look at your current process, and allow your company to try a new way of looking at things:
• What is the competition doing better?
• How can you improve on what they're doing

Look Through the Eyes of Your Clients

Picture a customer experiencing the brand for the first time--will they find it useful, seamless, and attractive? If not, what are the key issues to solve? Picturing this interaction from the perspective of your customer requires a lot of empathy, which is essential in order to get a firm grasp on what needs to be done.

Be an Expert

Are you a commodity? What is your value? Why is that important?

In a recent lecture at >Guggenheim Partners for the WBENC, Sharon Melnick, PhD, and CEO of Horizon Point, Inc, discussed the importance of being seen as an expert.

Ask yourself: what do you do better then anyone else in your field? In a world in which multiple brands offer similar products, the completeness of the user experience--in which all brand elements interact in a coherent whole--can mean the difference between success and failure.

Once you've figured out how the client initially approaches the brand, take yourself on their journey. What do they see and experience as they interact with your firm, whether it's an e-commerce experience, a quarterly report, or a new app? What specific elements can you adjust in order to improve the perception?

Reinvent Yourself Continuously

Think about how you can get better every day, in every day, whether you're trying to improve your own brand or working with a client to refine theirs. Implementing necessary changes requires an aggressive and entrepreneurial mindset: you must take concrete steps in order to move forward. Look at how Apple Computer is continuously innovating and reimaging themselves.

The Right People on the Bus

As your brand evolves, make sure you have the right people on the proverbial bus. If you have someone who is unwilling to embrace change, it is a good idea to get them off the bus as soon as possible. To be successful, you need an engaged team that believes in your mission. When making a change, you must engage stakeholders in the process throughout, and gain buy-in; they must be involved in living the brand and communicating it to your clients.

Develop a process to engage your people in understanding the goal, as well as the steps in the journey. Ask how they might get involved in embracing the mission.

It's Work, But It Pays Off

Because our world is constantly changing, so must our business--no matter how good we are today, tomorrow is always a new game.

Janet Odgis is the President and Creative Director of Odgis + Co, an award-winning certified woman-owned design firm based in New York City. For 30 years she has worked with some of the world's most prestigious corporations reinventing ways to define and express their brand. We Make Business Beautiful.