Our New Brand Promise: Simplify + Elevate

It’s time: our new Brand Promise is Simplify + Elevate.

Our goal starting in 2019 is to make a transformational impact on brands — not inch forward.

We are evolving away from fragmentation and toward unified, cohesive imagery, words, and messaging.

Here, we’ll give you a bit of insight into what a Brand Promise actually is, what it means to us to elevate, and why this.

What is a Brand Promise?

Before we talk about why: what is a Brand Promise?

It’s the single unifying idea behind everything your brand does. It’s also the why and the how of your brand’s behavior.

In traditional media, it was simpler to keep messaging controlled and unified. With digital, it’s challenging to keep everything – social media, content, visual – on the same script.

But a Brand Promise keeps your message clear and consistent. It guides every part of your brand’s vision, presence, and communication.

What does it mean to elevate?

“Simplify” is a verb with a clear meaning. And, there’s sophistication in simplicity. But “elevate” is more abstract.

The answer is: we raise brands to a level above their own market. How that happens isn’t the same across the board. It takes effort on both parts toward that same goal.

We work with brands that share the desire to reach that raised point to help them realize their goals.

More importantly, we work with you to clarify exactly what it would look like to achieve your goals. What your marketplace looks like. Who your audience is. What they respond to.

Knowing each piece of your landscape on a high level creates clarity and purpose.

Why Simplify + Elevate?

Up until now, our Brand Promise was “Performance Fueled by Creativity”. That was an idea that reflected a different time and vision.

We’ve done performance. We’ve embraced creativity. It’s time to get back to the center of why we do what we do.

And now, taking a look at ourselves as an agency, our strengths, our weaknesses, our audience. With all that in consideration, it’s time to create a future for ourselves and our clients that’s uncluttered. Direct. Easy to understand.

If this sounds like you, we’d love to hear from you.

Rebranding in 2018: 5 To Watch

Lots of big brands decided to undertake rebranding in 2018.  Cultural shifts have made updates to messaging critical. Keeping up with trends, bringing renewed energy, and displaying a forward focus are all reasons brands are rebranding in 2018.

There are lots of great examples, but some of the most notable examples of rebranding in 2018 are older, bigger brands ready to let the world know they’re making changes and keeping up. Here are some to watch.

 

WW (Weight Watchers)

With diet culture under more scrutiny than ever, how does a brand like Weight Watchers stay relevant? By revising its name to match a new, modern message. To pivot from a focus on numerical weight, they’re removing it from their name. The shift to “WW” leave room to reinterpret the old diet standby as one focused on wellness and overall well-being.

 

Dunkin

New England natives have referred to Dunkin’ Donuts as just “Dunkin'” forever. The brand decided to shorten their name officially and add more modern products, like cold-brew taps and digital ordering. This is supposed to be the future of the chain, and all locations will drop the “donuts” by January.

 

ACLU

In 2018’s political climate, the American Civil Liberties Union is more prominent than ever. In order to reflect their robust past and vital importance to America’s future, their rebranding includes modeling what they say by creating a “new standard of accessibility” and inclusion in their choices in UI, text, color, and language.

 

Tupperware

That classic stalwart. Vintage is hot, but Tupperware’s image had cooled. They needed to catch up to the modern marketplace. To regain consumer confidence, they created a new image, new messaging, utilized new fonts, and created a new logo. You can see the complete rebrand here.

 

 

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport

DFW’s new brand idea, “a clear path forward” is the crux of their new brand identity. “We’re in the best position of any airport in the U.S. to compete on the global stage. We just need to go do it.” stated DFW’s CEO, Sean Donohue. The new image and idea were received warmly by customers and stakeholders, elevating DFW to a world-class airport experience.

 

 

Those are some of our “rebrands to watch” for 2018—what are yours? Let us know in the comments.

Rebranding: the “Should you / Shouldn’t you” guide

Rebranding can revitalize a company… But should you do it?

 

Have you ever thought about rebranding?

If you’re like many business owners, the answer is a resounding yes.

After all, in the face of stagnant sales, incessant competition and changing markets, the idea of becoming a new, “different” company can be alluring.

But rebranding isn’t a walk in the park—and if you do it wrong, the consequences to your business can be dire.

Should you consider rebranding?

Here are some scenarios where overhauling your brand might make sense.

  • New product. If you’ve recently launched a new product or service that has the potential to confuse your customers, you might think about rebranding that part of the business. We don’t often recommend this approach, though. At BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE, we feel it makes sense most of the time to create one Master Brand and then roll out sub-brands underneath it.
  • New mission. A shift in your most basic reason for being definitely merits a rebranding conversation. For example, if you’ve been providing services to clients and now want to focus exclusively on teaching them, a rebrand is probably in order.
  • New image. If you’ve had a PR disaster—or an actual one—and you’re trying to distance yourself from it, rebranding may help you achieve your goal. This is difficult to do though, especially in a world where the internet can help even the least savvy customers see through your efforts. Witness tobacco giant Philip Morris and their attempt to rebrand as Altria.
  • New customers. If you’ve managed to attract a new market—whether by choice or by accident—rebranding may make sense. In the early 2000s, for example, Andersen Consulting split from its parent because its best clients wanted only consulting services. It then rebranded to Accenture to further distance itself from the accounting giant. (Good thing, too, as Andersen collapsed over its ties to Enron.)
  • New needs from current customers. The Canadian arm of Radio Shack, after being bought out in a consumer electronics deal, initially rebranded as The Source by Circuit City. But when its new owner began to falter, it became simply The Source—a move whose timing couldn’t have been better. Circuits and radios are things of the past, and the new name suggests that no matter where electronics go in the future, The Source will be there to provide that tech to its customers. (And both Circuit City and Radio Shack are now distant memories.)
  • New competition. To say things were different in the 90s than they were in the 50s is an understatement. But through that whole time, Kentucky Fried Chicken had the word “fried” right there in its name. 1991 saw a move to KFC, however, in a move away from that F-word. Too many healthy restaurants were giving the chicken giant a run for its money—so the move made sense. (Unfortunately, they handled the rebranding poorly; rumors persist to this day that they switched to KFC because they were no longer legally allowed to claim their product was “chicken.”)

When shouldn’t you rebrand?

Occasionally, businesses undertake a rebranding for the wrong reasons. Here are three.

  • New management. If all you’ve changed about your company is the management group—and the same problems you’ve always had continue to exist—your rebranding will never work.
  • New whims. Department store Macy’s lost a staggering amount of brand equity when it moved to a “one-brand” policy and renamed iconic brands like Chicago’s Marshall Field’s and Memphis’ Goldsmith’s. At the time, the decision was seen as foolish; Macy’s seemed to have recovered by the beginning of this decade but is struggling again.
  • New internal issues. If you’ve identified that you’re having trouble connecting with your market, is that a branding problem? Or is it because your marketing is horrible, or your customer service is poor, or your services aren’t delivered well? Be careful—not every issue is one that rebranding can solve.

Takeaway

In a perfect world, your competition would never change their strategy, your customers would stay loyal forever, and you’d see exponential growth year after year. This is obviously not the case—and while you don’t want to be too hasty with a rebranding exercise, don’t discount the power of reinventing your brand, either.

 

 

Why Blogging is Essential to Your Brand

It’s near the end of 2018, your business is running smoothly, your branding is on point, and you’re doing what you love… but you’re wondering: do I need a blog, too?

This is a common question from entrepreneurs, who usually have the same three obstacles: time, money, and not knowing what to write about.

The short answer? Yes, your business needs a blog.

You can skate by without one, but ultimately, the reasons to have one outweigh the time, effort, and money you might save by skipping it.

The basic reasons? You need to establish authority with two parties: Google and your target audience. Basically, it’s not enough to be an authority in your field. You need to make sure people know it, too.

At any given time, people are out there looking for information. And if you have it and you’re not making it available, you’re losing out!

Let’s Talk About Google

Google is one tool to get in front of an audience. Basically, to make use of it, you need to make yourself available, and that means putting out content that people are looking for.

Your goal with Google is to put out “lures” in the form of valuable information your target audience actually wants. This helps you to rank with Google, which rewards you with gradually higher and higher search result placement. The more valuable Google deems your info, the higher you’ll rank, and the greater audience you’ll reach.

Blogs are also great to use as part of your social media strategy, which also direct traffic your way. If you’re an authority in your field, you can also benefit from inbound links, which are simply when others reference your work. You can buy this kind of traffic, but building your reputation and attracting quality inbound links is key.

Your Brand’s Personality

You’ve spent so much time and effort designing your brand’s personality, and blogging is a great way to let it shine. “Humanizing” your brand to an audience helps make you more likeable, more authoritative, more relatable, more human. And that’s what resonates with customers and builds trust.

As you build trust, you gain authority. Think about where you go to find info you need right now, and why you go there. Is it a friend? A trusted mentor? A brand with history, authority, or pizzaz? It’s the same on the other side.

So What Do I Write About?

You’re a subject matter expert. You might be a good writer, too. That doesn’t mean you have to spend your own time writing. But you do want to mine your own experience for subjects or topics that will be relevant to your audience.

You may already be bursting with ideas. If you’re stumped, start by thinking about something you’ve explained in detail recently. How would you break it down simply for an audience?

Alternately, you can just jot down topics related to your discipline and come back to them a bit later. You can read other blogs for inspiration. You can imagine your platform as a way to talk about current events.

Really, the sky’s the limit.

Are you blogging now? Let us know how it’s going in the comments!

Is the latest Uber rebranding enough?

If you follow branding trends, you undoubtedly heard about the most recent Uber rebranding. They’ve replaced 2016’s odd, blue circuit board pattern with a simple, clean font, and in doing so, invited the opinion of every branding professional, designer, and enthusiast.
According to Fast Company, one of Wolff Olins’ primary goals was legibility. The old logo had caused problems both being viewed at higher rates of speed and distance and across languages. They wanted something clear and visible. They developed a typeface for the brand with this in mind. It’s worth reading into the thought that went into its creation with respect for these points.
But it’s difficult to see this rebrand as separate from the controversy the company is already well-known for. From “Boober” to spying on Beyoncè, to Trump ties, to sexual harassment, to a Google lawsuit, to Travis Kalanick, Uber has a significant reputation problem.
The question is, is yet another Uber rebranding—this rebranding—enough to help Uber move past it’s short, dramatic life? Maybe.

It’s a strategy.

It may appear like simply a bid to shed an old persona when the old one no longer serves, but there is a method to it.

“We tried to kick out all the micro-moments where trust was eroded,” says Forest Young, Creative Director at Wolff Olins, the agency who did the rebrand. This meant every moment where a rider couldn’t reconcile the old, atomic logo with the vehicle in front of them had to go. They had to re-create trust with customers in a tangible way, not from a high tower.

It’s not immune to criticism.

Our own creative team had mixed reactions. Some felt the changes were too safe and even safe to the point of disingenuous.  “The logo seems to get safer as their reputation gets worse”, one person said. “Design saves, but not if your vision and purpose are polluted by your actions” was another.  Some felt exasperation over the frequency leading to customer confusion, and some were disappointed they abandoned the old design. At the end of the day, it’s indisputably well-done. But whether or not it changes minds or eases suspicion is hard to predict.
Uber has an uphill challenge to undo the damage to their reputation. This rebrand may represent a step in that direction. It’s certainly clearer, less confusing, and more visible. But at the same time, rebranding too frequently may raise questions of credibility and instability.

Our 7 most popular branding blog posts

Fonts, mood boards, touchpoints, attributes: branding can be a complex process. If you’re new to branding, we’ve put together a list of some of our most popular branding blogs from the recent past to help you on your way.

How to make a mood board

Mood boards can be elusive. Most people more or less understand what they are, but are less clear on why they need one and what they can look forward to in the process. This post explains what a mood board is and what it does, when you should make a mood board, and how you can do so. This is a great starting point for those who are looking to crystallize the “mood” of their brand and a reference for those who are starting the Visual Identity process.

How to find a font that matches your personality

This is a fun, visual post breaking down 23 fonts you may or may not know. Fonts are critical to brand identity, and you need to know what kind of message your fonts might send. If you want to create an effective brand, you need to create a cohesive, comprehensive experience for your audience. Knowing fonts is a key element.

Building a brand of affordable luxury

This post both explains the concept of affordable luxury and teaches you how to achieve it. Michael Kors, Tory Burch, and other fashion names used the concept to propel them toward massive profit from slumping sales. We detail some of the key takeaways you can use in your own branding and brand messaging.

Branding vs Design

These two concepts can be easily confused, especially if neither is what you do. This post helps to break down the finer distinctions between the two. Think of the brand strategist as the architect of the brand, and the designer as the contractor who puts that design into physical being. Learn more about why it matters to you.

Are you using your archetype?

Jungian archetypes come up frequently when we talk about branding. They help provide a framework for bringing your brand to visually, in writing, and in presence. They’re an essential part of branding, plus… they’re fun!

Here a touchpoint, there a touchpoint, everywhere a touchpoint!

A branding touchpoint is more or less exactly what it sounds like: the points where you come in contact with your target audience. This post outlines strategies for both making those points happen, and what to do at those points.

Brand Attributes

This post has everything to do with the perception of quality. Brands of similar or equal value need to set up ways of differentiating themselves, or risk being seen as the inferior product despite the raw quality. Learn more about what you can do to create a perception of high quality.

Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!

Five Quick Productivity Tips For Working At Home

How to stay on track and not go nuts when you work from home.

Something you might not know about us at BRANDING FOR THE PEOPLE is that like many entrepreneurs, freelancers, small business owners, and other similarly free-spirited folks, we work mostly virtually. It can seem like the ideal setupbut as any work from home veteran will tell you, it’s easy to go off the rails.

So we have a quick list of things to watch out for if you’re leaving the corporate world and it’s offices, rules, and structure behind. This post is for the individualmanaging a team remotely is a whole other post.

 

Is working at home… good for my mental health? Is it bad? What gives?

If you do a basic Google search, you’ll find a lot of opinions out there on this topic. Not going into an office saves you the time and stress of a commutebut if you’ve grown accustomed to using that time to read, listen to podcasts or audiobooks, call family and friendsyou might notice you miss having that outlet. Going into an office can sabotage your healthy eating efforts with office snacks and having to grab fast food because you forgot lunchbut being at home can mean sitting in front of a computer all day with endless access to your own snacks.

Ultimately, it depends on the individual. What it comes down to is identifying what positives you got from going into an office, and what  you’ll need to be mindful of when those things are no longer built into your day. If most of your socialization is through work, you’ll need to figure out other ways to meet this needMeetups, social media interaction (especially with groups and spaces oriented toward your interests), or reaching out to someone in your field to get lunch or coffee—these are all great ways to both socialize and network. What’s great about working from home is that sure, you have to put in some effortbut you can really curate your interactions to be the best for YOU.

 

Feeling… blah or uninspired

This happens to the best of us, office or not. The upside to being in an office? Lots of other folks around to talk through the blahs. The upside to work from home? The entire world is your inspiration. And so is your space.

Similar to socializing intentionally, when you’re at home, you can plan your space however is most inspiring to you. Even if you’re not likely to have clients or coworkers in your workspace, you don’t want to be stuck staring at institutional-looking walls all day, so be creative! The sky’s the limit, from painting everything Baker-Miller Pink to any number of sophisticated options. Try adding productivity-boosting music (check out this list from HubSpot). There’s no shortage of home office porn online, so have fun with it!

 

Watch out for time-suckers

Coworker chit-chat is almost definitely curbed when you can’t just walk into your neighbor’s office (although instant messaging can work similarly). We suggested social media for productive networking and socializing, but of course there’s the risk of finding yourself three years back in your cousin’s Instagram feed to find a picture of an impressively-sized squash for… reasons.  

 

Have you moved today?

We all know that sitting in front of a computer for eight hours (or more) per day has major health drawbacks. There can be fewer “natural” interruptions when you’re in your own home, so if you’re feeling distractedly stir-crazy, get up and get out! A quick walk or a change of scenery can help reinvigorate you and improve focus.

There are lots of other strategies you can incorporate into your day to break up time AND get movingthe important part is that you do it.

 

S T R E S S

What stress? I work at home!

But of course some stress is unavoidable. A big source when you aren’t in an office can be time and project managementyou have deadlines, timelines, etc., but the only person really monitoring progress is YOU. In fact, sometimes you can spend a TON of time on a project, only to scrap it and change directionbut if nobody sees the original work, did it even happen?

The solution, for the most part? You need to plan and track, and you need a strategy for checking in. We’ve all had the experience of being incredibly busy last week, and then trying to document what exactly you were busy doing. Which is stressful in itself! Do yourself a favor and investigate options for setting and tracking goalswhether using apps or manually with tools like Bullet Journal or or BestSelf.

And finally? Have fun! Enjoy the benefits your work from home setup offers.

 

Thoughts or insights? Let us know in the comments!

Let’s Talk About: Moodboards

Feeling frustrated? We’ll help you avoid some common moodboard pitfalls.

We published “How To Make a Moodboard” about a year ago, but it’s such a popular topic, we thought we’d revisit it—this time with some pointers on how to get inspired, and some moodboard pitfalls to avoid.

As we discussed, moodboards aren’t intended to be a definitive, final look or identity for your brand. They’re a starting point, meant to give your ideas some physical characteristics and make sure it’s communicating ONE visual moodnot many interpretations of the same mood.

 

When is it time to make a moodboard?

Once your brand’s messaging has been determined, you’re probably ready to get into visual identity. It’s a good place to start before you begin logo explorations, fonts, or other more tangible aspects of your visual identity. Your moodboard will help define what the whole brand looks like. Without  this in place, you run the risk of haphazard or mismatched ideas (which will come back to haunt you later on).

Sometimes this can seem like a fluffy activity when you already have a logo in mind, you know your colorsmaybe a couple of colors, and you have your font picked out. But similar to really pausing to spend time on your messaging, truly visualizing each element together will help you avoid annoying conflict further down the road. We’re going to go over some pointers and common moodboard pitfalls to help you along the way!

 

Pointers

Be fearless! This is a time to be creative behind the scenes, so nothing is off-limits. Do you have a logo you absolutely love? Here’s your chance to see what about it might fit into your brand image without worrying about copyright.

Think outside the box (the box is a Google Image search). Again, nothing is off-limits. Do you have a favorite Instagram account, an image on your phone, a famous photograph, a statue, an exhibit? Is there a person or place that evokes your brand’s message? No matter how disparate, any of these can serve as inspiration.

It’s not just color. The term “moodboard” might bring to mind carefully curated, monochromatic Pinterest boards. We get itpink, pink, pink. This is also a place where you can play with something that can be overlooked: pattern. Some of the most famous brands in fashion make exquisite use of patternthink of a brand like Burberry’s iconic check pattern. You don’t need any more visual information than that pattern to know exactly what you’re looking at (and they’re aiming to keep it that way).

 

Moodboard Pitfalls

Being overly detailed. Sure, you want to capture as much as you canbut this isn’t the final, definitive iteration of your brand’s image. True to its name, the moodboard is helping establish you brand’s moodnot its technical intricacies. That comes later.

Speaking of technical… this isn’t the stage where you want to take your brand platform and create a literal visual interpretation. Your goal is to try to capture “attributes”things like “wise” or “graceful” as opposed to, say, a Caretaker avatar. This is an abstract processwhat does “wise” look like? You can see how this is easily open to interpretation, which makes solidifying that image all the more important.

Limiting your scope. There are lots of tools out there (we mentioned some in the previous article) for creating moodboards, and they can be helpful tools—but recognize they have limitations. You can easily assemble something on a site like Canva or Pinterest, but to truly put it together, you may be best off enlisting the help of a professional. In the same vein, you want to be aware of your target market and competitorsbut you don’t want to mimic them too closely.

 

Moodboards are an essential place to get creative juices flowing, but not at all a final product. They may even surprise youwhen you begin to put your ideas together, It might not look like what you expect

We hope you found this helpful! As always, let us know in the comments.

Are you brand building —or baiting?

Is your brand lying to your customers?

To over-sell or under sell? That is the questionright? We want to get our brand to the widest audience humanly possible, but we don’t want contort our brand so much that it’s unrecognizable. Or worsethat it looks like something it’s not. Properly branding your company helps you avoid what we’re calling “brand baiting”, or, bluntly, branding lies.

Here’s the thing: have you ever bought something that you THOUGHT was cashmere, only to get home and discover that it was polyester? Have you ever bought something from a company that LOOKED like your favorite brand, only to discover later on that it was a cheap knock-off?

Us too!

…it sucks.

Think for a second about how you feel when you realize you were duped. Mad, sad, evaluating whether or not it’s worth trying to get your money back. The company got the sale, right? Right.  Are you going to spend another penny with that company?

A b s o l u t e l y not. And you’re probably not going to stay quiet about itwhat might have once been a low-key gripe to your friends and family can now be broadcast instantly and LOUDLY across social media.

You could go viral for all the wrong reasons.

This practice is the exact opposite of brand building. We call it brand baiting, and it’s a terrible idea for anyone that wants more than a one-night-stand with their customers.

 

So, how do you know if you are doing it? Here are the top 5 ways to figure it out…

    1. Your sales jump then slump. Did you start out strong and full of promise, only to see your revenue dwindle? That could mean you’re promising something people really want, and not delivering. Which leads to the second point.
    2. Your social media is full of complaints. Social media is a goldmine of informationpeople do not hold back. They’ll let you know through poor ratings, and will often detail their experiences with the product itself, their experience with customer service, billing problems, you name it. If you’re seeing a lot of “NOT what I expected!” or “LIES!”, it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy.
    3. Your top Google results are poor reviews.Similar to social media, if your product is on Amazon with poor reviews or any other third-party site, pay attention. People might be buying into one thing but dealing with branding lies.
    4. You’re kind of a one-trick pony. Imitation and deception aren’t long-term strategies – you will be discovered. Even if not, the zeitgeist will change, and you’ll have to change too.
    5. Customer service is overburdened with confusion and complaints. Your customer service will be hit HARD with complaints if your brand is pulling a bait and switch. Customers are incredibly savvy, and, similar to social media, they’ll make their voice known. Listen!

 

If you suspect you might be dealing with branding lies, accidentally, on purpose, or in-between, it’s time to take control of your message. Discover what you can do to make sure you’re putting the right message into the world.