It’s not just about a change of clothes, you know…
Although you’d be forgiven for thinking so. After all, the changing of your company’s clothes, skin, packing – whatever metaphor you like – is the most obvious result of a rebrand. The immediately noticeable thing about Apple’s rebrand strategy in the late nineties? Its sleek, silver new logo. Or what about 2016’s revamp of football’s Old Lady, Juventus? It went through a full identity redesign, but what caught everyone’s attention? The change of its sigil.
But rebrands aren’t just skin-deep. They go much further, requiring systemic changes of company goals, brand values, and ways of thinking.
Put it this way, if you want to make your car faster you don’t just put a new chassis on it. You replace the spark plugs, improve the air intake, reduce the weight. Whack on some nitrous oxide if you have to, Fast & Furious-style.
But even before all that?
You ask why you want the faster car in the first place.
So, Mark, why did Woven want a faster car?
We know a thing or two about the art of a successful rebrand, having transformed from INK Digital to Woven in 2017. So, to get more of an inside track into what a successful rebrand strategy needs, we spoke with Woven’s Client Services Director, Mark Bower.
“We changed because, after 14 years as INK, we didn’t fit our skin anymore. So we took a deep dive into what was making our business really tick and where we wanted to go in the future.
“We felt our identity as INK was too parochial, too Yorkshire-focused. And we felt our name – INK Digital – pigeonholed us.
“As INK, our business wasn’t reflective of our geographic reach, the international stature of our clients, or the breadth and range of services we offer. Not to mention what excites us most or where we can best add value. As such, we knew we had to realign our brand and its values to match our ambition and capabilities.
“Obviously, there was an element of attracting new clients, but this felt like something we had to do anyway. We just weren’t INK anymore.”
What’s in a name?
So, if we weren’t INK, who were we? Mark continues:
“We undertook a long – and, at times, painful! – process of gravitating towards a cluster of names thrown up during our brand personality exploration. We did it properly, getting the whole team involved in a series of brainstorming exercises.
“We wanted something that felt warm, approachable – not cold, not digital. We wanted something that recognised the craftsmanship that goes into what we do. We wanted to bring our heritage along with us – Halifax is our home and was built on cloth manufacturing – but we didn’t want this to dominate the brand. We recognise our past but we’re defined by our ambition, our forward-thinking approach.
“Having worked all this out, the name came quite naturally: Woven. A nod to the past and a refection of our full-service capabilities on which our future will be built. Warm and evocative, not cold and clinical. And a hinting at the interconnectedness that underpins notions of communication, networks and community.”
A new visual wardrobe, a new tone of voice
As we said earlier, the most recognisable facet of a rebrand is the change of aesthetic it inspires. A rebrand is about repositioning yourself, and one of the clearest ways of doing this is through changing your outward appearance, both in terms of how you look and how you sound.
Mark explains Woven’s approach:
“We wanted the new branding to reflect the focus on quality and creativity with which Woven’s work has become synonymous. We wanted the brand to fundamentally focus on simplicity and great design principles, as opposed to using gimmicks or digital trickery. In many ways, we wanted to let our work come to the fore and allow the brand to take a back seat.
“As such, Woven’s look is clean, elegant, and confident in its simplicity.
“To complement our visual transformation our tone of voice has changed, too. As our copywriter, Ben, is always saying, pictures and words must work in harmony, so changing how we talk to the world was essential – if just to keep Ben quiet!
“Just as our new design is less parochial and a little more sophisticated than INK, so, too, is our tone of voice. At the same time, we’ve retained the warmth and personality that seemed to resonate so well with our clients.”
A team effort
Your rebrand may have all these lovely things like redefined brand values, a new aesthetic, and a refreshed tone of voice, but without a fully committed and on-board team backing things up, it won’t succeed. As Mark says:
“A full rebrand is a pretty drastic and fundamental change for any business. As such, it’s something that’s always going to take time to permeate the organisation. That’s why it’s so important to get everyone involved as early as possible.
“Having the Woven team engaged from the first step has helped tremendously. Everyone has a deep understanding of our objectives and how and why we arrived at our chosen solution, making our transition pretty much pain-free and quicker to implement.
“It’s also worth mentioning that the whole team felt ready for the change. I think we all knew it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it. That gave us a lot of positive momentum to make this happen.”
Telling the world
So, you’ve realigned your brand values, given yourself a swish new look, and have a team that’s fully behind the new vision. How, then, to go about telling the world? Of course, you’ll want to shout about your new selves on your (visually updated) social channels and rewrite your online profiles. Sending out a press release to industry magazines and newspapers is a must, too.
But, at least with our rebrand process, the key was remembering that your current clients come first. Back to Mark:
“Apart from the obvious things like building a new website, printing business cards, and amending your social media channels, it’s mostly been a case of talking to our existing customers to explain the rebrand’s rationale and making sure they’re comfortable with the new direction and focus.
“Because it’s not just about attracting new clients, it’s about ensuring your existing clients are happy with your new identity. Reassuring them that it won’t change your ability to deliver and, in fact, will improve your service offering.
“In truth, Woven have been so busy servicing existing accounts and developing the rebrand that we’ve not been particularly proactive in seeking new business. But we do have some interesting things in the pipeline, including launching a couple of new services that will really cement the new positioning in the minds of our target customers.”
So, if you’re about to embark on your own rebrand process, remember: it’s not just a change of clothes you’re after, it’s an underlying change of ambitions, values, and processes that are fully understood and championed by all members of the team.
And before all that, don’t forget to ask why you’re rebranding to start with.
After all, you’ll build that faster car all the quicker if you know why you want to build it in the first place.