Reviewing your brand and where necessary giving it an overhaul has become an essential tactic for increasing or holding on to market share in a challenging and diverse market place. It’s not just about price, it’s about target audience, position, distinction, relevance and sustainability.
You may have noticed that businesses are reviewing their brands’ visual codes more frequently. Most noticeably in recent years, speed to market with a pack refresh appears to play a larger role in overall brand activity. Advances in technology and social networking expose consumers to new ideas at a rapid pace; people expect some level of change on a regular basis. Rather than keeping the same brand language for years, or even decades, many are acting more nimbly, balancing the need to maintain familiarity with the need to remain relevant by introducing change.
More frequent brand refreshes brings into question return on investment. While return is difficult to measure, the price you pay for standing still over time can easily outweigh the cost of regularly reviewing how to connect with your customer.
A brand’s language should not be considered in isolation as a one-off piece of work but should be a continually evolving project driven by relevance. Revitalising how your brand looks, feels and presents itself provides huge scope to break out of the visual clutter and let your identity shine, whether the brand is a new or an established one. Many companies evaluate this only when a brand is declining or when faced with a new competitor; in other words, it becomes a distress project. Don’t think of the brand refresh as a project with an end date but rather an ‘evolution’ that involves regular conversation and is a fundamental part of your brand strategy.
Think laterally when looking for inspiration
Trends in the market play a key role in assisting designers to be mindful of what is relevant and current today, and this means looking outside your category for inspiration. For example, if you are a consumer packaged goods brand, architecture could bring ideas on how structure might bring a package to life, and fashion could inspire patterns, textures and colour. Layering trends with your core ‘equities’ is a way to help keep a brand relevant.
Leverage those ownable equities
Redesigning a piece of brand packaging or point of sale requires brands to be very clear about their ownable equities (and those they wish to own) so they can remain consistent at the core and drive consumer relevance at the same time. Packaging structure and graphics go hand in hand and sometimes offer the only points of differentiation for a brand. Getting help from a branding or packaging consultancy can help identify and strengthen ownable equities.
Whether this includes evolving your brand mark or just those equities that bring your product’s benefits to life, a collection of signature elements can help you stay true to your brand’s core while injecting a fresh aspect into it.
Keep it simple and understandable
Consumers don’t have time to figure out your brand. If your communication is complicated, the consumer will move on in seconds – customers better understand simple ideas. To start, outline priorities of communication. This will help the design
team establish a hierarchy of graphic elements.
Research tells us that consumers take in only three levels of information, so make sure you prioritise the most important aspects of your brand. You can share all of the other information in other media sources.
Make it consistent and seamless
Last but by no means least, make the brand identity consistent and seamless across your visual assets. It will help to build association and affinity, creating devotees and followers of your brand.
To show how these concepts work in practice, take a look at how we helped refresh REN Skincare. Initially, the design team reviewed REN’s core values by identifying what was important to the brand, how it was different to the competition and how it wasn’t.
REN is continually evolving, stretching into new territories and launching new product lines. For an established brand, a packaging refresh may seem like a daunting task. We identified REN’s ownable equities and saw an opportunity to dig deep into the background and personality of the brand to find visual territories that would bring the brand story to life. Meanwhile, our team of designers explored various ways to enhance and strengthen the visual identity.
For REN the high quality of the product was not in question, and its core attribute – ‘clean’ – was the springboard for the tone and feel of the brand.
Gaining momentum, creating consistency and building brand awareness has liberated REN to further explore change. This led to a new approach to gifting annually, which devotees of the brand consider collectables.
Given the investment involved in undertaking and delivering any new initiative, understandably any business will want to see a healthy return on investment. Since 2011 REN has extended its global reach and is now selling in 50 further countries,
seeing a very healthy increase in sales close to 100% over the past three years.
Time for a review?
At the point of engaging a design agency, it’s prudent to be absolutely clear on what you want to achieve. The vital point is what part of the business strategy has changed and how is this linked to the way you want your brand to look, feel and
Business vision and brand vision should be absolutely mutually supportive in driving business forward. Today, businesses need to continually advance to remain relevant. If you think of your brand as the living and breathing way in which your products are brought to life, then to continually evolve makes good commercial sense.