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At the beginning of projects we ask our clients all sorts of questions. It’s the way we learn the design objectives and the heartbeat of the project—whether it’s a book, an interpretive panel for a zoo, a tourism exhibit, or packaging for tea.
There’s generally a pretty close parallel between the commercial “purpose” of a product and the goals our client articulate for its design. A tea importer, for example, wants their tea packages to be evocative; a travel tour company promoting Rome will likely want to showcase the attractions of the Eternal City. But sometimes, there are surprises—and they’re frisky and fun.
“Fun” is a particularly difficult concept to define. And one that has an arguable association with safety. Sometime things we think of as fun don’t always keep us safe. What’s fun for one person may be fear-inducing for another. But none of these caveats came into play (pardon the pun) because our ultimate client, in this case, wasn’t a person.
It’s a dog.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one who’s sat at a stop light and cringed, watching the dog hanging halfway out the window of the SUV. Probably “fun” for the dog, but safe? It was this relationship of fun and safety that inspired the invention of BreezeGuard® car window screens. Custom-made, designed to keep pets safely inside your car while allowing in cool breezes—especially important on warm days. In our initial conversations with BreezeGuard® owner and inventor Sue Stipanovich, she noted, “Safety is definitely the #1 priority, but folks who use my product get to travel with their fine, furry friends and have fun!”
We’ve designed a new website… FOR OURSELVES! It’s a new mind-set about keeping our friends and clients in the loop of design crusades.
Partners in Design is all about making GOOD graphic design for over 30 years, including branding programs, logos, print, books, posters, electronic media, interpretives, signage and exhibit design.
The biggest change you’ll notice on our new site is at last we’re admitting that we do more than traditional graphic design. A fact of life. Over time, you just become more expert, seasoned and proficient. Now with our graphic design, we also offer writing and editing. Our team does illustrations and photography, too. We’re also doing color consulting, book design and publishing. And we create original art, selling cards, posters and a few other tchotchke.
Some companies and organizations pride themselves with the successful longevity of their branding. A good brand indicates stability and confidence. But when does this all go sour? Case in point, may the Sherwin Williams Paint emblem depicting our mother earth being douched with petroleum-based paint be out of date? What a toxic clean up… it would put BP to shame.
Your brand can define the basis of your corporate and institutional culture, your philosophy, origins and strengths. When Partners in Design was creating a new brand for a nutritional school program in Washington State we knew that the public’s view of school meal programs was dismal. International food expert Jamie Oliver had just pronounced that America was poisoning its children. Our response was go back to basics… the food groups, be honest, and put a good face to it… the food icons are smarties and laughing (see below).
What rebranding does for your company internally is a watershed of benefits in itself. A great amount of self-discovery happens in the process of identity-finding. Rebranding pinpoints who you really are, what you stand for, and understanding your business culture. It also observes whether people see you, as you want to be seen. If there’s disparity, you need to change your brand to better target your market.
If your well-established brand still resonates with current and prospective customers, don’t change for the sake of it, or because it might help generate more sales. Don’t tinker with your brand of relevance for fear of losing customers who might no longer recognize the new you. Partners in Design has helped rebrand and create original brands for neighborhoods, retail villages, school districts, all sorts of services and widgets, so we have a few tips about when is a good time to rebrand, and how to look for the best branding team, process and implementation.
A brand is the sum total of what people see and feel about us when they see our institutional image, our marketing materials, and when they decide to interact with us. Now if you look at the example of Sherwin Williams perhaps this paint company should ask how their audience emotionally feels about this graphic… nostalgia or environmental global fear.
4 Good Reasons to Rebrand
You Need to Reposition The most important reason to rebrand is when your current brand is confusing, or worse, misleading your current or prospective customers. If your goals, products and positioning have changed, rebranding will send a clear message. Rebranding is not something you do because you want to, it’s because your customers don’t understand you.
Brand Confusion and Brand Promise Disappointment If people don’t recall your brand, or confuse you with your competition… you are then losing money and influence. Your identity should be unique and memorable. You may see your brand as representing you well and working, but how does the customer see it? Is this a shared perception? Not being on the same page may be economically disastrous.
Your Brand is Outdated Look at our example of the eager paint seller who sadly wants to encase the world in oil. A 50s perspective probably doesn’t work today. Engage in research to determine your brand’s relevancy. If your product range or services change significantly, ensure your existing brand matches the new reality. The same applies if you are targeting a new market — is your brand still effective in the new environment? A new brand that reflects this change would give your profile a massive boost.
Your Market Position has Shifted Many businesses still have the same brand as when their company started… is it still relevant? If it was done in a rush and on a budget, it may no longer represent your business. Markets change constantly, as do customer expectations, so brands can become outdated. Another good time to give your brand image a kick in the pants is during an economic downturn when competitors are tightening purse strings and the industry is talking doom and gloom. Rebranding at this time shows you are alive and kicking, and, more importantly, optimistic about the future.
Nutella was created in the 1940’s by Pietro Ferrero. War rationing meant that cocoa was in short supply across Europe, so Pietro Ferrero mixed cocoa with toasted hazelnuts, cocoa butter and vegetable oils to create an economical spread of chocolate. Reformulated in 1949, this variety was both inexpensive and spreadable, which was a great plus-point. It enjoyed enormous success and in 1964 was renamed ‘Nutella’ and marketed outside of Italy. Nutella comes in an oval-shaped jar. The bold label contains both black and red letters! The “N” is designed to draw attention to the nuts in Nutella! But look how this solution draws so much attention to the name and makes this mark memorable. So why is this on our mind today… well today is “World Nutella Day”.