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Corporate Rebranding: Understand Your Needs

If you're a company thinking about a corporate rebrand, then you're in the market to hire a creative agency for a new visual identity. Deliverables of a visual identity makeover could include choosing a new set of corporate colors, fresh typefaces or defining a specific photo style that best represents your brand. More complex goals could include all of the above plus a messaging rewrite or a complete pivot in corporate direction. Reasons for a visual identity makeover include attracting investors, your company has scaled, an upcoming IPO, a restructuring, packaging for a sale or you're simply in need of a new look.

Before embarking upon this exercise, understand what you're contracting a creative agency to perform for you by providing a tight scope of deliverables. Some creative agencies are contracted to provide exhaustive brand guidelines encompassing brand messaging and visual identity including everything from Web site design to how your email signatures appear. Others may be contracted for limited deliverables on purpose. And some will deliver only half the job based on vague direction and a loose scope. Awareness of what you're buying with creative agencies is up to you and your own awareness of what you need.

Allowing for a loose scope generally amounts to a creative agency providing style over substance. When a creative agency delivers a stylish ad campaign, for example, and you have a plethora of various marketing execution needs, the legwork of adapting the advertisement style to inbound marketing formats falls upon a mix of outside vendors and overworked in-house designers, should you have any. This introduces a layer of confusion and additional costs as marketing managers struggle to direct teams of de-centralized designers and content providers into deciphering a direction from inapplicable advertisements. 

The process goes something like this: Brand specialists will perform research into your industry. The research is used to audit and assess the messaging, market position and visual identity of your competition. This process looks much like a funnel, collecting the performed research at the top end, and combining it with your own company's DNA further on down. The final output at the bottom spout of the funnel produces distilled, topical, and industry-ready messaging in the form of brand pillars and a brand story. This can further refine into a tagline for your company or a series of headlines that combine with photography, typography and color, forming the look of an advertisement. This is a crucial, necessary step in the process, as advertisements are designed to communicate a brand promise, brand recognition and disseminate information all at once. Campaigns are a good exercise and the most expedient vehicle out there for awareness, yet this is where creative agencies simultaneously fail their clients because this is where they stop.

Some creative agencies are forgetting that there's a second funnel that's upside down in its appearance. It takes the distilled output created from the spout of the top funnel and creates a platform to disseminate your message in all of your marketing formats at the "bottom" of the funnel, otherwise known as "brand activation." This is the unglamorous part of the job after the glitzy work of a top-level ad campaign has been accepted by your company. A loose scope in this matter may result in your agency thinking its work is done, and you being distracted by the well-executed shiny object of the new ad campaign. The application of your newly minted visual identity and refined messaging should parlay into the inbound work of white papers, email templates, data sheets, case studies, infographics, industry reports, information-driven Web pages and even social media awareness. Most of the marketing work you perform will be within the confines of informing your customers and potential customers about your goods and services delivered through longer-form content of this fashion, and these are the types of delivery vehicles that are most often overlooked.

As always, it's the devil in the details. Define the scope by creating a list of deliverables you cannot live without, and list those deliverables as a line item in the contract, and this way you can hold the creative agency accountable for them. If you find that your budget is confining you to only specific deliverables, create a plan for activation up front by providing as much information and resources to outside vendors that you can. In this case, more is more, and you will save precious time and money.

Posted by Scott Shultz on 04/09/2018 at 1:51 PM