Posted by on Jan 29, 2021 in Brand Strategy and Design, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Website Strategy | 0 comments

The Messaging Platform and Why It’s Essential for Your Marketing

by Deb Harrsch

Marketers talk a lot about messaging platforms. They talk about the need for one, and how to use it in marketing. But, not everyone understands what a marketing message platform is or why it’s an essential part of your marketing strategy.

What is a Messaging Platform?

A messaging platform empowers you as a marketer, and it empowers you as a business. It is the basis of everything you need to communicate with your buyers. Your integrated marketing plans are built from the information in your message platform.

Any message platform should include:

  • Your target audience and their needs
  • A position statement
  • A long elevator pitch
  • Your brand (or product) pillars and headline benefits
  • Support examples
  • Tone of voice

It doesn’t sound like much, but it delivers deep ongoing value to every area of your business – from the C-suite to sales to marketing. If you think about your business today, each department is likely delivering different messages about what you do and what benefits you give customers. In addition to those mixed messages, each person is probably using different language and support examples to demonstrate your value. They may even be chasing customers outside of your target audience. None of this is helpful to growing your company – or its revenue.

A marketing message platform gives everyone in your company very clear language, proof points, and positioning – ensuring that your brand is consistent in every engagement with a potential customer. It tells everyone in your company:

These are our brand pillars. This is how we talk to our customers. This is what we do.”

That’s what a messaging platform is.

Developing a Message Platform

The six elements of a message platform are the basis of all communications and they do take some significant upfront work.

Who is involved in creating a message platform? Everyone.

  • Your C-suite needs to be in the room
  • Sales needs to be in the room
  • Marketing needs to be in the room
  • Every department with customer-facing communications needs to be in that room

This may sound like there will be too many cooks in the kitchen, but what actually ends up happening is this: it brings your entire team together. It is an outstanding exercise for your company, and everyone ends up on the same page.

No, it’s not a bing, bang, boom, five-minute conversation. It’s a process. I’ll be honest, it can take weeks to get this done right.

Developing this platform gets to the core of what your company does, what you want to be, and how you want your customers to perceive your brand. Those are big questions, and you may think you know the right answers, but when you dig down deep everyone may have different viewpoints.

I understand that as a marketer you need to move fast and it’s hard to take a step back, to spend time and money on messaging. But, you can either set yourself up for success by focusing now and getting it done right, or you can go on about your business and find out that your messaging isn’t right and lose your audience.

Your messaging is critical to your business. If you don’t follow a solid proven process and develop the right messaging, you’re going to lose out.

How do You Create a Message Platform?

Every messaging process starts with discovery. Whether you’re working on a company brand messaging platform or a product messaging platform, you need to have a discovery session to begin figuring it out. What are you going to talk about?

The discovery process digs deep into your business. Here are the areas that you’ll explore to create your platform:

  • Define the background of the product or in the case of a brand platform the company. What are your business goals for your company or product or service?
  • Ask what exactly does the company or your product or service do. You’ll work on listing out all features and benefits and how they solve customer pain points.
  • Talk about the target market and your buyer. This is where you’ll spend considerable time. You want to confirm who your target markets are. Who’s your audience? Who are your buyers? If you haven’t developed your buyer personas, do it now. You’ll look at what their roles are and what their individual journeys are in moving from awareness, to consideration, to buyer. Analyze your customer’s pain points.
  • Develop competitive positioning. Where do you fit in the marketplace and where do you want to fit? Explore your business intelligence. Look into anything that you can get from third parties or marketing trends or information you may have inside.
  • Explore why your product or service or company is different from your competitors. What makes you better at addressing your customer’s pain points? Develop your SWOT analysis. What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? What makes your company or product/service special?
  • Determine the value you offer. You need to know what the value proposition is for what you’re doing – whether it’s for a product or service or your company. The value could be all wrapped into one proposition, or there could be multiple value propositions. For example, big companies tend to have multiple value propositions for multiple products or services, while smaller companies may be much more integrated. Develop a short value proposition and a long value proposition.
  • Figure out what the brand pillars and benefits are for your messaging – what’s important to your company and customers. For example, if one of your brand pillars is security, what does that mean? Is the benefit reduced risk?
  • Each of your brand pillars must be substantiated with support examples. Use cases are a good source for this information. These support examples are what sales and marketing will use to talk about your company or products and services. In the case of the brand pillar – security – above, the support examples could be end-to-end solutions, or geographic diversity, or an alternative supply, or all of the above. All of this supports your security brand pillar and you’ll need this information when you develop your content.
  • While everyone is in the same room working on the big vision for the company, it’s also a good time to figure out what the sales strategy is and what the marketing goals are. Sometimes the marketing goal is just developing a message platform or web copy or a brochure, but you need to figure out what your marketing goals are for the near-term and long-term.

For brand platforms, the process does deviate somewhat and is much more visionary in nature. You need to develop clear vision and mission statements. Everything else remains the same in terms of your target audience, value statements, brand pillars and benefits, as well as the support examples.

If you have a messaging platform from a corporate standpoint, the information in your brand pillars needs to flow through all of your content and assets, including your graphics. We also work on the tone of voice, which ties directly into content development. It skis into your social media and into your website copy. It skis into ads and all your marketing collateral. All of this work is done in service to your buyer personas – to get them from awareness, to consideration, to buy.

What Does the Application of a Messaging Platform Look Like in Practice?

We had a recent example where a client was developing a sell sheet. The copy was essentially a bullet list. When they showed it to me, I said, “Wait a minute, we just did a messaging platform. Tell me, how does that sell sheet relate to the message platform we just worked so hard on?”

Can you guess the response? It was, “Oh, my, it doesn’t.”

My next question was, “What does that mean?”

“We can’t use it.”

Ouch. No one wants to spend time and money developing collateral that doesn’t meet the needs of customers.

Messaging platforms give you a way to be consistent in your content and how it is used. It does everything from give you the keywords you need in your copy (especially digital copy) to how you build your integrated marcom plan.

A messaging platform that everyone in your company has weighed in on and worked together to develop is essential to your sales and marketing efforts. Yes, it takes work, but the ROI far outweighs the investment.

Sometimes it helps to have an impartial outside firm facilitate the discovery process and develop the platform. At Brandwidth Solutions, we have a proven approach to building an integrated marketing plan – one part of which is a brand or product messaging platform.

Our approach takes your team from discovery into strategy development. After those two critical steps, we build the plan and implement branding and marketing tactics. Give us a call to learn more about developing your marketing message platform.

Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, technology, and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – that want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.

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Posted by on Oct 1, 2021 in Marketing Strategy, Website Strategy | 0 comments

Why UX is the Key to a Website That Converts

User Experience Image

by Debra Harrsch

In today’s world, your digital presence is even more important than ever before. Looking into the future, your website and other digital channels will remain critical to your ability to win business – even as in-person events come back online. In fact, in-person events and meetings now play a supporting role instead of a leading role as 57–70% of prospects research their purchase decisions online before engaging with your sales team.

Now that you see how vital your website is to your business’s success, take a look at it and see whether it’s time for a refresh or redo. In the past, we’ve talked about how to build a B2B website: Who Owns Your Website?, Should You Build a Website in Phases? and How to Redo Your B2B Website. This article will help you understand why user experience (UX) is critical to a website that converts, and how to begin the process.

What is User Experience?

User experience, at its core, is how someone feels about your website – at the time they’re using it. As they move through your website they encounter your words, your images and the functionality of the site. All of those things are either going to relate to the site visitor’s needs…or they won’t. Website elements can be easy or be hard to use – or they may be frustrating for the visitor.

What you want as a website owner is to make it easy to do whatever it is you want a prospect to do. This is what creates a satisfying user experience.

User experience is not a discipline, like coding a website. UX is an all-encompassing understanding of what a customer needs, what they want, and how they think. It includes:

  • Findability – by search engines, and search within the site itself
  • Usability – how easy and intuitive it is to use
  • Usefulness – how relevant the content is

Why You Should Prioritize UX

Think about the last time you visited a website. You were there for a reason, weren’t you? You were focused on a task, and you wanted answers as quickly as possible, didn’t you?

Well, your prospect is visiting your website for the same reason. From the user’s perspective, they’re very task-focused. They want to get in and out and not have to think about process. So, as you can imagine, if there’s any kind of hesitation in flow or even a broken link, then that is going to degrade the user’s experience.

Why does it matter?

People are very loyal to a good user experience. In fact, after a bad user experience, 88% of visitors are not likely to return to a website. Further, 75% of a website’s credibility is judged on aesthetics alone!

The point is, while you could be the absolute best at what you do, if your website serves up a terrible user experience, people aren’t going to stick around to find out how wonderful your product is – and their experience will translate to your brand.

For example, you could make the best widget on the planet, but because of a negative experience on your website prospects will think your widgets are substandard. I’m not making this up: 67% of users say that a poor website experience negatively affects their opinion of a brand.

While it’s not often that your website’s UX alone will win new business, it can definitely cause you to lose business. If you’re in a competitive situation (and who isn’t?), a bad user experience will knock you off somebody’s shortlist.

It may not seem fair, but this is why website UX matters so much.

When Do You Start the UX Process?

Very simply, you start the UX process right after you think, “Oh, I need to redo my website.”

As I’ve mentioned, your website is for your customers – not your sales department or your marketing department or your product departments. UX is a practice that starts with research about your user, and it fits in perfectly with the messaging process.

It’s all about digging into what is unique about the users for your products or services. You want to make sure that the content and the functionality that you’re providing on your website aligns with your users, with how they specifically want to interact with you, and with their decision-making process.

Crafting an effective UX starts with doing customer research upfront. It’s necessary to talk directly to your audience (really – they don’t mind and are frequently happy someone asked!). It’s also important to talk with stakeholders in your organization – particularly those who are on the front lines, like your customer support people or salespeople. The people that are answering the phone are your front-line workers – they’re getting all the questions and the complaints.

At Brandwidth Solutions, we start with customer personas. From there we dive more deeply into UX research using a unique framework called an empathy map, and then we create a customer journey map.

How to Do User Experience Research

An empathy map is a little bit different from the customer personas that everyone is used to because it focuses more on how your customers and prospects are behaving and feeling at the time they realize a problem. It lays out their motivations, their expectations and what influences their decisions, as opposed to their demographics such as how old they are, what their salary is and whether they have 2.6 kids.

You might think about the empathy map as a set of life stages. For example, if I tell you that the target audience is a new mom, you automatically apply all the experiences that go with that, right? Sleepless nights, doing everything with only one arm because there’s a child in the other, not being able to wash their hair for a week, and so forth.

BUT…what if I were to tell you that the new mom is 14? Or if I told you that the new mom is 50?

You immediately have very different thoughts about that person. Your bias kicks in and you assign things that don’t matter to the situation. What is important is that they still need sleep and they still need to shower. The basic issues a new mother has don’t change.

We focus the empathy map on the point in time when the prospect realizes they have a need or an issue that your company can solve.

Once we have completed our empathy map, the second framework that we apply is a customer journey map.

We explore every stage of the customer journey. We typically talk about the customer journey in the

abbreviated terms of awareness, consider and buy. But, a customer’s journey is more complex than these 3 steps.

The decision-making journey map starts at the point where the prospect has awareness of an issue. Then they decide to take action and begin researching solutions. In their information gathering stage they might find 20 different solutions. After that, they enter an evaluation stage in which they edit those 20 options down to three or two.

Once they’ve streamlined their possible solutions, they are in the decision phase. This is the time where they make the decision to do business with your organization. After that, there’s a review or validation phase where they review what they think about the product they purchased and what the experience was like. They examine if they have issues and how they can follow-up with your company.

For every stage in this customer journey, we work to identify all of the questions that your prospect has during the process.

Keep in mind that at every stage this prospect is likely sharing their user experience with colleagues and their external network. They may be sharing whether their experience is good or bad, and how that colors their view of your product or solution.

With this clearer understanding of UX, next month we’ll talk through how to implement what we’ve discovered through our research – and the keys to a good user experience. Stay tuned!

If you’ve got a website refresh in your future plans and want to explore UX further, give us a call!

Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, technology, and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing who want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.

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Posted by on Apr 30, 2021 in Advertising, Brand Strategy and Design, Digital Advertising, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Automation, Marketing Content, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Website Strategy | 0 comments

How to Implement Integrated Marketing in Your Organization

How to Implement Integrated Marketing

by Debra Harrsch

Marketing covers a lot of territory these days, and it’s easy to get confused about what you should do and when – never mind the abundance of tools to help you execute your ideas. Perhaps more important than making all those individual decisions is launching your marketing activities with an integrated marketing approach.

An integrated marketing approach ensures that you provide a consistent experience with your brand to your customers. Think about it. If you deliver multiple messages across marketing channels, you’ll confuse your customers instead of achieving brand awareness or the leads you need to meet your revenue goals.

Integrated marketing always starts with your messaging

Whether you’re selling a product or a service, marketing always starts with your messaging. Your messaging must be targeted and remain consistent across every marketing channel from your website, to email marketing, to advertising, to social media, and across all of your content assets. It’s not until you have the messaging for all your buyer personas nailed down that you build out the engine to drive your marcom plan.

Building an integrated marketing plan

I love analogies, and I think about integrated marketing plans in terms of a car engine. There are many moving parts in a car engine, and we all know that a car will not work if a part of your engine is either missing or not working properly. You can’t move forward if every part of that engine isn’t running smoothly.

The same thing is true of integrated marketing plans.

You’re building a marketing engine to accelerate your business. In creating your marketing engine, you’ll need to assemble all your marketing choices and assets into a cohesive plan. You want to make sure all parts of that engine – from your social media and website to your white papers, case studies, videos, and podcasts – are working together to propel your business forward.

And you need to remember that while you can build an engine, you can’t expect it to drive anywhere unless you maintain it. It will need oil and gas (or electricity), and it will need to be monitored and tuned-up periodically.

Marketing is the engine that will take your sales team to where they need to be

You’ll maintain your marketing engine based on shifts in market trends and on what your sales team is saying. The business development team is closest to your customers. Because the marketing department isn’t always in the room when sales is doing their pitches, it’s essential to have ongoing conversations with them. Open communications allow you to understand what sales is seeing and what kinds of questions the customers are asking. One of the most beneficial moves any marketing department can make is to work together with the sales team.

(I find that going to trade shows with our customers and listening to them pitch is incredibly important, and it helps laser-target their marketing campaigns.)

Engine building sounds complicated

Do you need to build a turbocharged marketing engine to get started?

No. I think the best integrated marketing plans start simple and grow from there. We don’t start with a Lamborghini. We begin with a little Honda Fit. Marketing engines need to start simple, and then you can keep upgrading the plan. We do get to the turbocharged engine, but that level of work isn’t going to happen in a few months.

As you are building your marketing plan, you’ll need to keep in mind that you may need to create multiple engines. This will be the case if you sell into different markets or deliver products or services with a complex buying process (for example, many people in a company are involved in the buying decision). In these cases, you’ll need to build engines that speak to the different personas involved in that process. For instance, if the chemist, the IT department, and procurement are involved, you’ll want your brand messaging to address each of those people and their unique challenges or concerns in your marketing.

The point is to put the most efficient and robust lead-generating engine together. To do that, you need to review your assets, figure out where you are, and figure out what has to change. Ask yourself if there is anything that needs fixing, if you need to add assets to your mix, or if you need to repurpose older content?

What’s in a plan?

We know that the engine parts include all your marketing elements like social media, website, white papers, blog posts, case studies, videos, podcasts and ads, etc. But, it doesn’t just include the elements themselves. It also includes where you are placing those elements.

For example, you may decide to use print and digital ads to target that chemist I mentioned above. The marketing action isn’t just a matter of developing the creative for the ads.

When you use an integrated marketing approach it means that the ad in question has the right messaging for the chemist’s stage in the buyer’s journey, along with a landing page which completes the marketing message in the ad – and drives the chemist through to a back-end asset (such as a white paper) that moves them forward on their journey. It also means that the ad creative may be used in social media, and that the white paper may be developed into a blog post and organic social media content to drive the chemist to the landing page and white paper.

Do you see how by keeping your messaging tight and assets working together, you are able to explain the full story of your product or service to your customers and help them in the journey to buy? You’re also able to re-use and repurpose your marketing assets, which can help your budget stretch further.

Everything works together and drives leads

Let me share a case study with you. We have a software client who has seven distinct vertical markets. Those range from highly regulated pharma to oil and gas (O&G) to food and beverage (F&B). We need to build integrated plans for each of those verticals, so we treat them as separate engines.

When we built the plan for the pharma vertical, for instance, we didn’t just look at building ads. We built a messaging platform for the personas in that vertical. And then we built the assets for that vertical. In this buying process, there are multiple personas. They have a chemist and a senior lab director who both need to solve a scientific problem. There is an IT department that has to integrate the software with other internal systems. And there is the procurement office which is not intimately involved in the science.

Expanding this thinking across their business for each vertical’s plan, we created ad campaigns to use across all of their marketing opportunities – from Google display ads to digital and print publication ads, to podcast and webinar sponsorships. We also created videos, white papers, case studies, brochures, tech sheets, and PR based on new offers that have been launched in each vertical. We made sure that all of these elements worked together across every channel, from advertising to social media to trade journals to audio and visual media.

When we built their campaign for the year, that campaign flowed throughout all six verticals. It looked slightly different for O&G than it did for pharma, but it has the same theme and the same energy driving it forward.

(You may not realize it, but ad campaigns have longer legs than you might think. You don’t have to change your ad campaign every year. I know people will say to me, “oh, you know, we’ve seen that for a while.” Yes, maybe you’ve seen it for a while, but your customers/prospects may not have.)

The result?

Last quarter we generated more than 1,600 leads with 55 requests for demos and an RFQ from our digital pharma campaign. In addition, we had 64 Google search phone calls last quarter requesting demos.

Keep it running and producing leads

And just like tuning up an engine – to keep your plan operating smoothly and getting you everywhere you want to go – you need to run diagnostics on your marketing actions and measure performance.

When you’re measuring your ROI, keep in mind that the challenge in marketing is people need to see things six to eight times before they react to it or remember it. Your ROI may in fact be attributable to several of your activities. For example, you may not know if the first ad you ran made the difference or if it was the non-promotional thought leadership article that ultimately drove the lead conversion – or if it was a combination of four or five different marketing actions you took that made the difference in your prospect’s mind. This is why it is called a buyer’s journey, moving from “aware” to “consider” to “buy.”

Drive your business forward with integrated marketing

Marketing’s job is to produce leads to help propel your business forward. But, to drive anything forward, you need an engine. That engine is your integrated marketing plan.

If you need help developing an integrated marketing plan to drive your business forward, give us at call.

Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, technology, and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – that want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.

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Posted by on Apr 2, 2021 in Brand Strategy and Design, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Website Strategy | 0 comments

Big Rebrand Versus Small Brand Refresh: A Look at Two Brands

A Big Rebrand vs. a Small Brand Refresh: A Look at Two Brands - From Brandwidth Solutions

by Debra Harrsch

If you’re thinking it may be time to revisit your visual branding, there are two ways to approach your update. You may only want to do a brand refresh or you may need a complete rebranding.

But, what do these terms actually mean?

The complete rebranding of a company is a large-scale project. It includes an entire overhaul of all the elements of your brand identity – your logo, tagline and potentially even your company name. Most often a full rebrand occurs when a company has changed significantly – for example, perhaps they’ve expanded services or gone through an acquisition or merger. A full rebrand typically pays homage to an old logo while delivering new branding aligned with the company vision that will take them into the future.

A brand refresh is a smaller-scale project. You might think of a refresh as a facelift. In these cases, the company has an existing identity and tagline that still fits the company and its vision, but needs modernizing. Brand refreshes usually consist of new font selections, color palette expansion or updates, and visual design tweaks to stationary, collateral, and digital assets.

Whether you choose to rebrand or refresh your brand, the strategy and the creative process remain the same (we discussed the creative process for re-branding last month here).

Two Brands: What to Expect When Rebranding or Refreshing a Brand

The LGM Pharma Rebrand

LGM Pharma is a client for whom we recently completed a full rebrand with a new creative platform. The drug intermediate and API sourcing company had expanded dramatically through acquisition, adding contract development and manufacturing capabilities. Their change in service capabilities and company vision meant that a full rebranding was in order.

LGM Pharma's New Logo - From Brandwidth Solutions

In LGM’s case, while their name remained the same, they needed a new tagline because their offerings had changed. In addition, they went through a full messaging platform exercise and development to match their “new” brand.  After the logo and tagline rebrand process, we began developing the core assets the company needed to launch a new brand. When we do this, we break the project into a couple of buckets. The first bucket includes all corporate communication materials – the stationary suite which is comprised of letterhead, envelopes, business cards, email signatures, and PowerPoint templates.

LGM Pharma's New Brand Assets - From Brandwidth Solutions

The next bucket is all of the marketing tools. This bucket is more in-depth, covering everything from collateral like case studies, white papers, product sell sheets, brochures and trade show booths to digital assets such as email templates, landing page designs, icons, the photo library, and the website. The website is a huge critical component of a full rebranding.

When your company implements a new creative brand platform everything changes and that change needs to be driven across your company at the same time. This is not a project for the faint of heart. It is an immense undertaking, and it means digging out every single asset and changing each and every one of them. This is the time to make sure your collateral and content match the updated messaging, tone, and value proposition of your “new” brand. It’s also an excellent way to review all of your content – giving you the opportunity to decide what to keep and what to update.

The Brandwidth Solutions Brand Refresh

There were two main visual reasons we decided we needed to refresh our own brand. The first was our tagline. We knew it worked. We knew that when our market saw it they immediately understood what we can do for them. We had trademarked it, but it wasn’t integrated into our brand. The second reason that drove us to refresh our brand was our services graphic. There simply weren’t enough spaces to cover everything we provide anymore. Overall, our brand was solid – the logo and the colors still worked for us, but the logo type wasn’t aging well.

Even though we’ve worked together for years, we decided to put ourselves through the same creative process we take our clients through. Everyone was involved in the discovery process to refocus on who we are, what we are, and where we are going. The process is important – whether you do a refresh or a rebrand.

During a brand refresh, we work with some of the pieces that already exist and eliminate those that don’t fit in anymore. Then we go to work refining and reshaping those pieces – essentially giving the brand a facelift.

For Brandwidth Solutions we knew that much of what we had was going to remain. The logo, the color palette, the tagline, and name all stayed. We refreshed the logo with new typography, and changed the scale and relationship between the company name and the mark. We also chose a new color and typeface for the tagline.

Logo Refresh for Brandwidth Solutiions

These refinements to the brand meant a fresh new look for all of our key communication tools – from our stationary, proposal covers, and PowerPoint presentation templates to our business cards and blog masthead. Typically, a smaller scale brand refresh also means a reskinning of the website. This is when the new visual brand platform is applied to a current website without changing architecture or rewriting the content. In our case, we’ve chosen to reskin our site for the short-term while working on a larger website revamp to roll out later in the year.

Brand Refresh Elements for Brandwidth Solutions

Whether you choose a small refresh or a rebrand, all of your communications materials must change. Everything from the most basic email signature to your website gets a new breath of life when it is updated with your new branding.

Need a brand refresh? Or a completely new creative brand platform? Give us a call to talk through how we can help you bring your company into the future.

Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, technology, and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing who want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.

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Posted by on Feb 26, 2021 in Brand Strategy and Design, Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Website Strategy | 0 comments

Is it Time to Rebrand? What to Expect from a Rebranding Process

What to Expect from a Rebranding Process from Brandwidth Solutions

by Deb Harrsch

How do you know if you should rebrand your company – or whether it’s time to refresh your brand? Rebranding your company isn’t something you do simply because you’re bored with your current look. While I know that can happen, a brand refresh (or an entire rebrand) should only occur when you ask yourself the following questions and the answers are no.

  • When you look at your brand, does it represent who you are?
  • Is your brand consistent across all divisions and regions, as well as marketing collateral?
  • Does your brand deliver on the value and vision that you have for the company right now?

The reasons behind starting a brand refresh or rebrand process all come down to this: your company has changed. You aren’t who you were when your current brand was developed.

Maybe you’ve grown, adding new divisions along with products or services far beyond what you used to offer, or maybe as you look around at all of your communications properties you found that every department or division has been doing their own thing – creating chaos and inconsistency across assets and digital platforms.

If any of these have you saying, “Yes, that’s us.” Well then, it is likely time for either a brand refresh or a full rebrand that will take your company into the future.

Consider Pfizer’s recent rebrand, for example. The former blue pill-shaped oval representing the medications they have made for 171 years has been transformed into a fresh new logo representing the new vision for the future of the company.

What Drives a Company Rebrand?

I’ve seen companies do brand refreshes without a major need to do so. To me, that is a waste of your budget. This is why the people inside your company are so important. You can be with a company for many years and not realize that a change is even needed until everyone gets in a room (virtually these days, of course!) and starts talking.

Because it starts with the company’s vision for the future, leadership needs to drive the process. They are responsible for executing on the vision and mission of the company. It’s critical to have everyone involved, and that means the entire C-suite. The CEO, CFO, COO, CMO, sales and anyone who interacts with your customers – because it all comes down to your customer. They should be at the forefront of your mind throughout your branding exercise.

Before the creative process can start, however, you’ll need to go through a strategy-setting exercise in which you’ll answer two overarching questions and develop the key information needed for your graphic design team.

You’ll first answer:

  • Who are we?
  • What do we want to be in our market?

From those answers, you’ll develop your company’s:

  • Mission statement
  • Vision statement
  • Values
  • Core attributes

The Rebrand Working Group

When it’s time to get the rebrand process rolling, the same critical players at the table for the strategy-setting will be back in the room. Everyone who will be involved in the sign-off of the new brand must be engaged from the start.

Why?

What do you suppose would happen if the CEO, CFO, COO and sales and marketing all need to approve the new branding, but the CEO wasn’t engaged from the start and throughout the process? What if the CEO was only presented with the final versions of the creative work then turned around and said, “Oh no, this isn’t right for us at all?” I’m fairly certain you can imagine the turmoil, wasted time, and resulting budget overruns to redo the work!

None of the C-suite needs to manage the project. A rebranding project is typically managed internally by marketing, but involves key players from every critical part of the company.

What Should You Expect from the Rebrand Process?

It can be challenging to grasp the full scope of a rebranding creative process. There is significant upfront work which involves understanding the company’s customers and goals, in addition to the visual work.

To the creative team, the input of every individual in your working group is incredibly valuable. All of our work is developed using the mission, vision, core attributes, and values. For instance, if innovation is identified as a number-one priority, then that will be worked into the visual and brand delivery – but creative needs to know that innovation truly is the number-one priority and that everyone agrees with that assessment at the very beginning of the process.

The development of the visual aspects of the creative brand platform is an iterative process. Typically, creative presents two to three distinct visual directions for the client. We always want to ensure that what we present can be utilized across all the company’s different communications platforms, both print and online.

We’ll pull together all the different components of a brand platform, including a color palette, typography, imagery and photography styles, icon styles, an overall look and feel, and tone and mood to set the foundation for all those different elements.

Then we typically apply all of those elements to a couple of select marketing tools to show proof of concept. Most of the time we’ll choose tools that are print-based, digital-based, and social media-based so that the client can clearly see how each visual concept would look in use. We find it’s easier for clients this way and they are able to say, “Oh, so this is what my business card would look like if we use this palette of choices. This is what my website’s home page would look like if we used this brand platform.”

We do all of this in two or three very different, distinct directions and give the client the ability to “try” things out and see a broad range of the options in action. Then the client will select one of those directions, and creative will go through the necessary refinement until we get brand platform approval.

We always deliver “the logo house.” This includes the logo and the tagline in all of the different files and formats for both print and online use. At the end of the process, the client always has that as an asset.

Creative works in tandem with the content writer so that what is being developed visually resonates with the messaging. We always conduct internal reviews before presenting any work to ensure that it aligns with strategy and we’re showing our best work.

Every client is different – some can be very definitive in their review process, while others need more back-and-forth. Moving each client to a brand that fits them now and for the future is what is most important.

What Timeline Should You Assign to a Rebrand Project?

As you plan for a rebrand you’ll need to factor in time for roll-out. A complete creative brand platform development process could range between 12 and 20 weeks (3-6 months), while a smaller brand refresh could be done in about 4-6 weeks. Much of the timeline will depend on your working group and how quickly and clearly feedback is provided to the creative team.

Next month we’ll explore the difference between a brand refresh and a complete rebranding effort and share stories of two we’ve recently completed.

Ready to rebrand or need a brand refresh? It can be difficult to do the entire process in-house. An outside agency can provide a valuable outside perspective, as well as proven strategy and creative processes to guide you through the project. Give us a call if you’d like to explore how we can help.

Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, technology, and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – that want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.

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