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Our Rebranding Recipe

27 June 2016
Colin Devroe & Kyle Ruane

Last week Jeff Sheldon's Ugmonk published their rebrand and redesign. This week, Mike and Megan Gilger published their redesigned, rebranded, and refocused The Fresh Exchange.

If you've never rebranded a company or redesigned a web site that is full of content, features, and dark, hidden corners — then perhaps you are not able to fully comprehend how much work is involved or how nervous they were when they finally hit “go”.

At Plain we've helped companies rebrand and redesign. You can see some of this work in our portfolio. It is our business. (Please get in touch!) So when we see these two smaller companies, just a few people each respectively, do it on their own we know how much work has gone into it. Add to that the trepidation of putting something that you’ve made yourself out into the world and, well, Sheldon and the Gilgers have an entirely different battle on their hands.

When Plain helps a company to rebrand or redesign there is one advantage we have and that is being an outsider. For Ugmonk and The Fresh Exchange it would be "off brand" to have someone else tackle these activities. But for some companies it is far better to have someone outside of the organization take a swing at it. Why?

Our suggestions and feedback come with no internal bias, no politics, no fear of losing our jobs, and certainly no fear of sounding stupid. We’re experts at dumb ideas. Out of dumb ideas come fruitful discussions, fun tangents, and exhausting possibilities. We’re often told by our customers that before they started talking to us they never would have had many of the discussions they ended up having with us. And, they never would have taken the time to work through many of their company’s internal issues, marketing messages, and sales materials if we hadn’t helped them through that process.

How do we help a company start from scratch with their brand? Here is our recipe… slightly simplified and digested into a short list of questions one could ask themselves if they wanted to rebrand their company.

  • Where do you see your company being in 3 years? We suggest building a brand around where you want to be, not where you are now. If the brand doesn’t fit just right today it will in 3 years.
  • When someone sees anything at all with your brand on it, what feelings or thoughts do you want them to have? Some examples: Luxury, Personal, Homemade, Industrial, Happy, Professional, Global, Hyperlocal, Unicorns!
  • What is the full history of your company or idea? Sometimes pulling elements from the past can inform the future.
  • What best describes the way your company services its customers? Examples: Hands-on, hands-off, over-the-top, one-on-one, one-to-many, B2B, B2C, etc.
  • What market does your company generally serve?
  • Will your company offer any new products or services in the next 3 years? If so, please describe their markets.
  • Will your company discontinue any of its current products or services in the next 3 years?
  • Onto what mediums is your brand currently put? Vans, billboards, airplanes, t-shirts, shopping bags, No. 2 pencils, etc.
  • What is your least favorite color? When dealing with a single point-of-contact at a company we generally ask a question like this just to avoid the first round of hate if we use purple.

You might immediately ask; why 3 years? Depending on where a company is in its timeline we generally pick 3 or 5 years. Most of our customers are going through their first real rebrand in their company and so their companies have only existed for less than 10 years. In fact, this may likely be the first time they spend real time and money on their brand — whereas before, “their nephew who has Photoshop” may have done the work in the past.

So we don’t aim too high (say, 30 years) because small business owners simply do not focus that far out. And they shouldn’t. We find many small business owners are focused too close in. They are so busy worrying about this quarter they don’t take the time to worry about the next 3 years. That is where we step in and walk them through that thought process — usually with awesome results.

If you or your company are looking for a new brand or a new, fresh web site. Please get in touch.

Congratulations to Jeff, Mike and Megan. We feel you.

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