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.
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.
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.
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