Adapting to change is a necessity in business and life.
As I write this, a year ago today was our last day working in the Centare office. Of all the highs and lows of the last year, I am excited to share one of the highs – leading our internal brand refresh.
Two catalysts led to our brand refresh: a shift to working remote and a reaffirmation of our mission, vision, and values. Working fully remote highlighted the importance of our digital brand assets. It was essential for our brand to convey who we are and differentiate our skill sets in a virtual world. With this change in mind, our company Mission, Vision, and Values were updated to reflect who we are and where we are going.
There are many ways to complete a brand refresh, however, my hope is that sharing our experience will provide guidance and inspiration to those who also find themselves on the brand refresh journey.
In the case of our brand, we spoke with a wide range of our colleagues, from the leadership team to product managers and engineers. All of these users have varying levels of engagement with our brand, both internally and externally. The conversations were insightful and highlighted one main pain point - our current brand is usable but it doesn’t feel like us.
Collect all the foundational visual elements of your brands’ current state. The logo, color palette, iconography, and typography. Make sure to include all the versions of your brand elements that are in use, especially if they deviate from the existing brand guidelines.
The goal of this step is to see where your brand is today and to help you recognize visual consistencies and inconsistencies. When we completed our visual audit, we found inconsistent use of our brand fonts and a color palette that constricted our internal users’ ability to create assets.
With the main pain point(s) identified and all the brand assets gathered, the next step is to gain alignment with your decision-makers. We did this by hosting a series of leadership team branding workshops over a span of 3 days. These workshops provided a place to discuss everything from our current brand state, addressing brand gaps, and clarifying the design direction. Our workshops were conducted over zoom and lasted no longer than 2 hours per session.
Here is an outline of our sessions:
Now that you have a clear understanding of your design and business goals, the path is clear to start hands-on design work. Our key to success during the visual design stage was to balance design iteration with stakeholder conversations. We took the lessons of the workshop sessions and iterated on 3 different color palette options to start to bring our company’s personality into the brand.
Discussing these options with our leadership team provided further clarity and alignment, creating a space for more collaboration, which in turn allowed us to narrow in on our final solution faster.
Refreshing all of your company’s brand elements at one time can feel like a heavy weight (I’m speaking from experience here!). This is where the magic of prioritization comes into place. As a team, we prioritized the design elements with the most impact to be completed first. For our team, this meant starting with the brand guidelines. We revised the document to be a brand companion that empowers fellow Centarians to be creative and express themselves, while staying on brand and independent of the design team.
For those of us short on time (or only scrolling through to look at images), here are the high-level takeaways:
Do your research: Speak with the people who are using your brand day in and out. Listen to your users and make a list of themes to discuss with your decision-makers.
Alignment is key: Facilitate workshops to create alignment with your stakeholders. This can be a challenging step, but it is one of the most important pieces of refreshing your brand.
Iterate + Collaborate: Balance creating visual designs with stakeholder discussions. This will allow for collaboration and a better understanding of the decisions that were made through the design process.
Evolution not Revolution: There will always be more elements to refresh and redesign! Prioritize your list to start with the elements that will have the most impact and then deliver incremental design elements over time.
Refreshing your brand is a pivotal initiative to create alignment and build excitement for where your company (or product) is headed. Whether you need to gain alignment after a restructure, such as moving to a fully virtual environment, or your product is in need of an update we hope these steps will help you on your way.
We’d love to hear from you! If you’d like to talk more about your brand you can reach us at email@example.com.
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