Island Brand ID

I’m deliv­er­ing a national webi­nar on Jan. 21 for Soci­ety for Mar­ket­ing Pro­fes­sional Ser­vices (SMPS) about rebrand­ing A/E/C firms. Below is my pre-webinar inter­view with SMPS on this topic.

How does a com­pany or orga­ni­za­tion know when it’s time for rebrand­ing?
The time to rebrand is when your firm is known for what it used to be, not what it aims to be. Island Archi­tects used to be known for design­ing tra­di­tional homes. In 2008, we designed a brand iden­tity update to reflect their aim to also be known for con­tem­po­rary archi­tec­ture. A brand audit and/or per­cep­tion study can help a firm decide if/when to rebrand.

rebranding evolution of the Island Architects logo

How would you define a “˜tired’ brand?
A tired brand doesn’t rein­vest in itself. A tired brand looks, feels, and sounds dated. A tired brand isn’t aligned with the strate­gic direc­tion of the firm.

What com­pa­nies and orga­ni­za­tions have you helped when it comes to rebrand­ing?
Our firm, Lecours­De­sign has a nar­row focus of brand con­sult­ing for the Architecture/Engineering indus­try. A few brand­ing clients have included Tucker Sadler Architects, International Park­ing Design, Vasquez Mar­shall Archi­tects, MA Engi­neers, Schmidt Design Group, Kirk­patrick Archi­tects,BSE Engi­neer­ing, Island Archi­tects, SMPS San Diego and USGBC San Diego. Some of these are view­able here.Sustainable Nametags for USGBC-SD

Can you describe a suc­cess­ful rebrand­ing project you were part of?
I sat next to Glen Schmidt, Prin­ci­pal of Schmidt Design Group at the firstSMPS lun­cheon I attended. He men­tioned an impend­ing 20th anniver­sary and rebrand for the firm. After being hired, I first helped refine a new brand posi­tion­ing of “bal­anc­ing artis­tic expres­sion in design with envi­ron­men­tal sensitivity.”

After pre­sent­ing new logo design explo­rations, Glen asked me to dupli­cate my pre­sen­ta­tion to the entire firm. This was a smart move because rebrand­ing requires change, which employ­ees and stake­hold­ers often resist. By shar­ing the think­ing behind the new logo explo­rations, the entire firm felt part of the process. Employ­ees shared their opin­ions, but the Prin­ci­pals made the final deci­sion on which logo to refine. The new logo led to a new color and typog­ra­phy palette as part of a brand style guide.

I sug­gested a 6″ square gift book for atten­dees at their 20th anniver­sary party, and to have a mar­ket­ing life beyond the party. I designed a 48-page book titled 20 Years of Ser­vice, 20 Lessons Learned. The lessons fell into one of three themes: life, work, and design. A Schmidt Design Group client told Glen that she keeps the book on her desk. If she’s hav­ing a bad day, she looks through it for inspi­ra­tion. This is when I knew the project was successful.

schmidt_ext_book_54020th Anniversary Book

What do you like most about work­ing on brand­ing projects?
I tell clients “Don’t try to be dif­fer­ent. Sim­ply acknowl­edge that you already are (dif­fer­ent).” It’s grat­i­fy­ing to help firms clar­ify who they are and what makes them most rel­e­vant to prospec­tive clients. Mar­ry­ing this strat­egy with cre­ative expres­sion becomes real when a client is incred­i­bly proud to hand out their new busi­ness card.

How involved is the client dur­ing a brand­ing project?
Clients involve­ment in brand research and plan­ning is essen­tial because they know their busi­ness best. A good brand­ing con­sul­tant asks the right ques­tions, gains con­sen­sus on the prob­lem to solve, and guides the client in deci­sion mak­ing. After research and plan­ning, the best clients trust their brand­ing con­sul­tant to present great cre­ative solutions.

How is rebrand­ing dif­fer­ent with A/E/C firms than with other pro­fes­sional ser­vices or product-based com­pa­nies? And, will you pro­vide insight into this dur­ing your webi­nar?
Rebrand­ing A/E/C firms and other pro­fes­sional ser­vices firms is sim­i­lar if the firms are business-to-business (B2B). Product-based com­pa­nies are often business-to-consumer (B2C) and the process is dif­fer­ent. We’ll dis­cuss this in the webinar.

What would be the biggest take­away for peo­ple attend­ing your webi­nar?
Atten­dees will learn WHY to rebrand, WHAT a rebrand project really involves, and HOW to man­age a suc­cess­ful rebrand.


Rebrand­ing Your Firm: Why, What and How Webi­nar
Jan­u­ary 21, 2014 at 2:00 PM EST, 1:00 PM CST, 12:00 PM MST, 11:00 AM PST

Your firm should con­tin­u­ally grow its exper­tise and capa­bil­i­ties. In the last 5″“10 years, you prob­a­bly added new mar­kets and new ser­vices. You may have an entirely new strate­gic direc­tion. Is the pub­lic per­cep­tion of your firm keep­ing up, or is it stuck in the past? It could be time for a rebrand.

Rebrand­ing is not a panacea. But done well, it can ener­gize a tired brand. All A/E/C firm brands go through a life cycle. So it’s nearly guar­an­teed that, at some point in your career as a firm owner or mar­keter, your firm will go through a rebrand. From gain­ing Board of Direc­tors’ approval, to bud­get­ing, man­ag­ing the process, man­ag­ing expec­ta­tions, and rolling it out, this is a del­i­cate process. Just ask Yahoo, The Gap, and UPS.

This webi­nar will help you nav­i­gate the process of why (or why not), what, and how to com­plete a suc­cess­ful A/E/C firm rebranding.

Dur­ing this Webi­nar, you will learn to:

  • Assess why and when a firm should con­sider rebranding
  • Clar­ify the con­fu­sion among rebrand­ing, refresh­ing, and sim­ply design­ing an anniver­sary logo
  • Nav­i­gate the process and allo­cate the resources (time and bud­get) required for a suc­cess­ful rebrand
  • Eval­u­ate the pros and cons of hir­ing an out­side consultant
  • Gain a real­is­tic expec­ta­tion of the ROI of a rebrand

LecoursDesign is a branding and digital marketing agency helping A/E/C* firms attract clients and talent.
* A/E/C = Architecture / Engineering Construction (but you already knew that)
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