I recently sat down with three business owners who have all undergone a brand refresh or rebrand project with us and asked them what telling signs indicated change was necessary.
Have you ever had a pair of shoes that you loved and wore to death? The soles wear down, but you can take them to a cobbler to be resoled. The laces wear but are easily replaced. You know they’ve seen better days, but they’re bloody comfy, you’re attached to them and there are probably better things to spend money on than new shoes.
One day you book an important meeting with a great new prospect and as you sit in the meeting you become uncomfortably aware that the aspect of comfort and familiarity for you is an impression of cheapness for others.
While I’ve never necessarily had shoe issues to this extent, we’ve all found ourselves in situations where our representation isn’t reflective of reality. You can patch things up, keep things working and persist in comfort but you need to consider what perceptions that could generate.
It often takes someone else you respect to point these things out. Once they do, it truly magnifies it. You may know it’s not the best, but it isn’t a priority. Then someone you admire comments on your crappy website or sees you emailing a Word document proposal, and it becomes priority number one to fix it!
For Scott Davidson, Managing Director of QMC Logistics, it was not having the right collateral for happy customers to pass onto their bosses. QMC had an army of loyal supporters at the coal face, but high level key decision makers in large companies weren’t connected to those in their organisation enjoying the QMC service. When it came time to appointing suppliers for jobs, QMC – despite being well loved by users and over-delivering on service – would be overlooked for other transport companies with shiny marketing collateral and an online presence that ticked all the boxes.
QMC Logistics’ website and sales collateral. View full project.
For Guy Vedelago, Director of Cubo Constructions, it was missing out on a tender to a competitor with a fancier pitch deck. “I wanted to give people looking into warehousing confidence that we were the right people to speak to. I wanted to look the part and build a strong first impression.”
Cubo Constructions’ site hoarding and website. View full project.
The moment of realisation that something needed to change for Advanced Truss Systems’ (ATS) Managing Director, Mark Osmand was a lack of image presence in the market. “Our product would arrive on site, and builders would have no idea they were our trusses, as there was no branding. Our products have become so commoditised, people think a truss is a truss is a truss, however it’s important to explain to the market our clear difference and value proposition. I also wanted something I could be proud of. In the 30 years I’ve run ATS, I’ve never worn a company branded shirt. I now wear a uniform, have three branded utes and we are now spray painting our logo onto our products.”
Advanced Truss Systems’ brand refresh. Project showcase launching soon.
While there may be plenty of signs it’s time for a refresh, I’ve shortlisted the 7 most common ones we see:
1. Even your own people don’t know what you do and what you stand for. If you quickly surveyed your employees and asked them to explain what your business does, your “BBQ Pitch”, how different would their responses be? If you asked them to describe what your business stands for and what your long-term goals are for the business, would they know?
2. Your marketing touchpoints are like a patchwork quilt. They may have great intentions, but there’s no consistency. The colours are all off, the fonts don’t match, the messaging is inconsistent. There are multiple iterations that have been hacked together by each fresh sales team. For a lot of our clients, these consistently inconsistent errors are what sets them off. An internal email chain with six different iterations of email signatures, multiple coloured fonts and someone with an old address is a sure sign for an overhaul!
3. Your lack of digital presence means you’re overly reliant on word of mouth and referrals. And even those are drying up. We work with a lot of great business owners who built their companies on the principle of flying under the radar, under promising and over delivering. With a near global reliance on search engine optimisation and the fast approach of an age where artificial intelligence dictates what we see and use, the days of flying under the radar seem to be swiftly evaporating. Without a presence, you lose your chance to throw your hat in the ring. A basic, up-to-date website with even a little information can work much harder than no presence at all. You want to be the one who controls what appears when people search out your business, otherwise it could be Yellow Pages or some other outdated classified containing your business name and outdated address. Studies have shown that it takes just 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like your site or not, or whether they’ll stay or leave (source).
4. Your brand image is holding you back. It’s not representative of the growth of your business. Your business is operating as a slick and streamlined outfit, but your image represents barely a fraction of that. Like issue #3, the days of “I’m actually a really good guy, once you get to know me” are gone! You need to follow up a great first impression with great future touch points. Are you embarrassed to hand out your business card? Do you hesitate to tell people your website address?
5. You’re not getting the right type of enquiries. This would be like a commercial builder receiving heaps of requests for residential work. Yes it’s traffic, but it’s not the work you want to focus on.
6. People are surprised when you tell them your price. Perhaps they thought you were going to be cheaper. Or much more expensive. Either way, there’s a disconnect in what they expected and what you said. Question is, how many potential customers never bothered to pick up the phone or enquire in the first place?!
7. Your competitors are outperforming you. It often takes the neighbour riding around on their brand new John Deere ride-on mower to realise that your push-around Victa just isn’t cutting the mustard. A competitor’s shiny new website and sales collateral, even if only a cosmetic change, can have a dramatic effect on your business.
With all of this refresh talk, some may be thinking, “hang on, I like my logo, it means something to us. We’ve had it for decades.” That’s cool! We don’t need to change it. We can evolve it, enhance it, modernise it, or sometimes leave it exactly how it is.
A logo is a symbol, it represents your brand, and it should be simple enough for a kid to remember and draw. A good symbol will have such a strong idea behind it, so that if a kid re-draws it from memory, and even if the logo gets a refresh, people will still see the same logo.
But your brand is more than just your logo. Your brand is your promise, your reputation, and there’s always room for improvement when it comes to consistency and execution of that.
Speaking of logos evolved over the years, take a look at how some of the world’s most recognisable brands have updated their image over the years. How good is that ‘metal’ inspired Microsoft one from the 80’s?!
In a future article I’ll share advice from the company directors mentioned above about what to expect during a brand refresh.
If you know a business who’s brand image has seen better days, feel free to pass on our details 😉.