We always talk about the ways companies can improve their branding, but rarely does anyone ever mention what happens once a brand has, for lack of better words, “made it.” No brand is perfect, there’s always room for change and improvement, but for many brands, the day does come when they reach a comfortable level of success.
This is a great accomplishment and evidence of a well thought out design and marketing plan. If this sounds like your brand, congratulations! Give yourself a pat on the back, or a solo fist-bump or whatever.
But now what?
It would be ill-advised to drastically overhaul everything and lose all the recognizability and clout your brand has accrued over the years. There’s absolutely no reason to throw a successful brand out the window, but it’s also important not to get too comfortable. We all know what happened when the hare got comfortable and overconfident. The tortoise eventually caught up and embarrassed the hell out of the hare for sucking at long distance races. (Pro tip: don’t ever be the hare.)
The good news (in case “your brand is doing awesome!” wasn’t enough), is you’ve earned the ability to take bigger risks. Think back to the beginning, when you were first trying to establish a look and feel to represent your company. Odds are there were certain things you avoided because you didn’t want to stray too far from your brand’s carefully curated image.
Well here’s your chance!
Break it Down:
You don’t have to be Nike to run with an iconic symbol. If your brand has truly reached a high level of recognizability, you should have no problem going “symbol only” sometimes. There’s something really impressive about a company that can eschew text altogether. That level of confidence seems to say “we know you know us.”
Testing out this minimal approach will feel strange at first, so it’s ok to roll it out slowly. If it makes you feel any better, humans have been recognizing symbols since the Stone Age. You manage to visit your desired public restroom every time without issue. Your customers can handle this.
Clean it Up:
Just because we established your brand is good doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Sometimes a few tweaks to a design can make a huge improvement. These small changes don’t require a huge branding reveal and it’s totally fine if they go largely unnoticed by the public. Cleaning up typography and spacing issues, or maybe even slightly adjusting the color palette can refresh a design and help it stand the test of time better.
Since branding success generally takes awhile, times have probably changed somewhat since your company was started. This includes branding rules. Maybe when you began your designer suggested sticking to a palette of only two colors, or a certain style of photography. These choices weren’t necessarily wrong, and it’s often a good idea for new companies to keep it simple.
You’re playing in the big leagues now though. Adding additional colors and design elements likely won’t hurt your image. In fact, in today’s technology filled world, you’re most likely finding your branding used in ways it never was before, so these additional elements can help you stay relevant.
Incorporate some additional accent colors, fresh typefaces and a mobile-friendly icon set and you have easily taken your already impressive brand to the next level.
The vaguest tip is rarely the most exciting, yet here we are. Maybe your next web redesign should be something completely different than anything you or your competitors have done. Maybe your team has been sitting on a clever ad campaign. Now is the time to roll these things out. Odds are your target market has become extremely familiar with your brand, so if you shake things up a little you can be at the forefront of their minds again.
What all of the above tips have in common is the idea that a brand shouldn’t remain stagnant, even once the initial goals have been met. If you find yourself in charge of a well-respected and easily recognizable brand, consider yourself fortunate, and then keep building on it.
Roundpeg is an Indianapolis graphic design firm.