Going public with this process begs a simple question: Why bother? Why, after 8 years of organic growth, are we embarking on the challenging process of brand refreshment? To put it simply, our public face no longer represents who we are as a company. When we started, we were a one-man web development and IT shop that specialized in building sites for law firms and health care providers. While we are still focused on the professional service market, we now help them with much more than just websites and fixing computers (Editor’s Note: We don’t fix computers anymore).
Like many companies, our business grew more out of happenstance than strategy. With the birth of our first child, I saw an opportunity to get out of the rat race and create something for myself that enabled the ever-elusive work-life balance that most of us strive for – and unlike many startup mompreneurs – I was fortunate enough to have a thriving business I could join, right in my own house, that also happened to require the use my specific services. Whether luck or fate I’m not sure, everything fit perfectly and my husband and I became “lifestyle entrepreneurs” (which I’ll explain more in another post).
When we first started our company it was run as two separate consulting agencies under one name. Kalvin ran the web and technology area of the business and I was focused on marketing and strategy. While these disciplines naturally go together, our client base was separate. My first client was actually a previous boss of mine from my stint at a large media company. He wanted to hire me on as the marketing director at his new company; I worked hard to convince him that it would be cheaper in the long run for him to hire me on as a consultant rather than as an employee. I’ve never looked back.
This brings us to the matter at hand – why are we deciding to rebrand now? When we started our company we made many of the same mistakes that most small business owners do – we didn’t have an overall plan and didn’t make sure our message matched who we are. We weren’t focused. Although we knew better, we still didn’t do better. We were too busy doing it for our clients rather than ourselves. A litany of mistakes, really. This is our attempt to rectify those errors.
Anyone who has worked with me knows that I won’t often recommend to a company that they should rebrand themselves. I believe that changing a corporate image based on whim, boredom or happenstance is ineffectual. The only time a rebrand should be considered is if there is a shift in business and, even then, the rebrand should be supported by a clear strategic direction.
For us, at this point in our business cycle, we are looking to take control of our image, refine our focus and put forth a message that clearly articulates who we are and why our current (and hopefully new) clients continue to choose us over the sea of other marketing firms in the GTA.
How did we figure out that we needed to refresh our brand?
- We grew to despise our business cards. (I’m not sure what I was thinking when we created them.)
- We hired staff and expanded our capabilities but realized no one knew except us.
- We have a niche – professional services marketing – and that was not reflected in our brand.
- We learned the hard way. We got passed over for business that we knew we could handle (we’d refreshed and/or rebranded over a dozen companies over the past two years alone), but were so busy doing for others, we hadn’t bothered to keep up our own image.
So, what exactly is part of our brand refresh? Well, I’m taking our company through inherently the same process that I take a client through when they come to us for strategic advice, branding and/or or website redevelopment. Our procedure is comprised of four phases that we affectionately refer to as the 4D process:
- Discovery – This initial phase sets the ground work for all design and development choices made in latter phases. This stage is used to identify business requirements that will be used to build a strategic plan for marketing the firm/company/practice to all relevant target markets.
- Decide – Using the information gathered from the Discovery phase, we will develop the key messaging and positioning statements that will highlight the company’s points of difference.
- Design – Once the planning and strategy are in place we begin designing the necessary collateral – in our case, a new logo, imagery, website, tradeshow materials etc. – to properly position the company’s brand identity.
- Delivery – The Delivery phase is used to translate the brand into awareness. This can be through PR, advertising, social media, search engine marketing or other identified avenues of brand building.
We do all our due diligence to create a brand and position for a company that is professional, sustainable, credible to their clients and highly distinctive. We not only want to differentiate the firm from their competition, but also motivate new and existing clients to contact and keep the firm top-of-mind.
The challenge will now be doing the same for us, especially since we’re so close to it. To see how we do it, keep checking out http://www.publicexecution.ca/.