October 12, 2015

Rebranding a blog, is it all alchemy?

By Paul Laughlin

iStock photoYou may have noticed the new look to this site. It’s the result of a rebranding to achieve three goals. Many of you, kind readers, have given feedback on potential logos and a new visual identity. Thank you for that and I hope those who voted for this version are pleased.

Hope you like your new look blog and find this site now simpler, clearer & easier to navigate.

Having previously only been party to rebranding exercises within large corporates, it’s an interesting learning exercise to take a DIY approach. That experience has made me rethink about a lot of the brand consultancy lingo that often goes unchallenged within such businesses.

Perhaps you have heard consultants and marketers use terms such as:

  • Brand equity
  • Brand essence
  • Brand personality
  • Brand soul

Standing back now, away from corporate life, it feels fairly obvious that creative marketing types have got a bit carried away here. No wonder, perhaps, that  they are the very people who tend to get exasperated by people wanting a precise definition of the above. However boring they may find definitions, in today’s marketing+science world, measures need to be defined if they are to be analysed. This is especially relevant given the number of studies which have to some extent debunked the great brand success stories. Much of the growth accredited to brands can actually be explained by growth through share of market & the momentum that tends to follow.

Now, before you call for a lynching, I do recognise that brands exist. Plus studies like blind tasting between Pepsi & Cola have proven that brand perceptions can cause consumers to override their senses in making purchases due to brand preference. Brands are a visual and/or verbal way of identifying your goods or services from those of competitors; which is valuable. Experience from years of research surveys has also convinced me that the associations consumers make with your brand and the attitudes they have towards it, both matter. Beyond that, perhaps there is fools gold amongst all the fast changing of slides.

So, stripped back to the bare resources of one blogger and his site, what did I see as essential. Well, for this exercise there were three objectives:

  1. De-clutter and simplify the visual appearance of this blog site;
  2. Publish a visual identity (including logo) that is both different from Laughlin Consultancy but also overly related to that business;
  3. In both the above be led not just by what is favoured internally (i.e. what I see as aligned with internal principles/purpose etc) but equally by my customers (you).

Working with a freelance graphic designer, we quickly managed to create a range of options to achieve 1 & 2. To achieve 3, I took the low tech approach of a combination of depth conversations when at different events/meetings and emails to gather and record quantitative preferences. Email also proved more useful that a formal survey for 3, as it prompted more conversation and proactive suggestions from readers/customers on what worked and what did not.

Thanks again to all of you who participated in those email conversations. In the end, as many readers voted for the logo I have used as voted for all others variants combined.

So, apart from being able to tick a job off the long ‘to do list’ which is the life of every SME, what have I learnt about my “brand” through this experience?

The first point is perhaps that you were bothered. Some of you had very strong opinions one-way or another. Practically everyone I contacted replied with at least a vote. In conversations too, I saw people become animated about a visual way of distinguishing Customer Insight Leader. It seems appearance really does matter & provokes emotions.

Secondly some of those associations & attitudes emerged through hearing the “rationales” for your suggestions or votes. A clean, simple, uncluttered look to this site appears to accord with a desire for clarity, truthfulness & independence. The red human character in the centre, was felt important by a number of you, to stress the human-centred philosophy they want here. Some also feeling that it’s more modernist interpretation reminded them of the fusing of analytics & research that we often discuss. Finally, not surprisingly, words associated with customer focus, deeper insight & leadership responsibility were used. So the verbal “brand name” appears to be clear to the principles of this site as well.

Now, my approach will seem awfully low-tech and perhaps a bit Heath Robinson to professional insight teams in large corporates. But think for a moment. Is there a way you can get closer to you customers perceptions & preferences for your brand? Despite the risk-adverse nature of internal “brand police“, could you even risk letting your customers redesign your brand in a co-creation approach? Some companies talk about their customers owning their brand, but would they go that far?

Can you get closer to you #customers preferences for your #brand, dare you #cocreate? Click To Tweet

Hopefully that openness has at least sparked some debate. I’m sure many of you have passionate views about branding or your brand. So, what do you think?