[Written by Carly Moir, Creative Director of White Canvas Design]
396 days. That’s how long it took to execute our brand refresh of White Canvas Design – seems a little crazy doesn’t it? I know. In a world where our clients always come first, it’s so easy to let your own business goals find their way to the bottom of the to-do list. When I took this company from a freelancing side gig to a full time venture in January 2016, I knew then we would likely outgrow our original branding. I was fortunate to have a series of amazing referrals and new business relationships form early on, and as the year unfolded I found less and less time to focus on my own company’s marketing and brand execution.
There were 2 events in particular that made me dig in and make time for our rebrand. Event number one: I somehow found time to overhaul my office space before Christmas. In doing so, I came across my 2016 marketing plan that I had drafted over a year ago. I’m a bit of a list crazy gal, so I scanned the paper dramatically to see what I had accomplished since then. Start a facebook page – check. Start publishing articles on LinkedIn – check. Re-design website to be able to blog regularly – negative. Refresh brand and marketing collateral to reflect a studio team environment – nope. I began to realize the two most important things, our brand and our website, had been totally neglected in 2016. And how are we supposed to sell our own services without a transparent investment in our own brand? Long term I knew this would catch up to us. I began sketching ideas out that very day.
The second event was reading a fellow entrepreneur’s medium post this past December, that just hit home for me. He talked about the difference between “working on” his business and “working in” his business, and how the latter seemed to always be taking over his day-to-day. I related this to my own company right away. I was always working non-stop trying to meet project deadlines and elevate other brands – turning out flyers, social media campaigns, advertising – labour hours necessary for working in my business. But what about the working on my business part? It was clear I needed to make time if I wanted to lead by example. I knew the best place to start was that crumpled list I had found a few weeks prior when cleaning out the office.
I took advantage of the christmas “break” to put these goals into action, and now finally on February 20th (396 days after my first thought of a re-design) we are able to bring you our amazing new website. Insert audiable sigh of relief. It feels so good!
You may be at a similar crossroad reading this with your own business’ branding and identity and considering things like; How do I know if I need a rebrand? How long should I keep my logo the same? How much of it should I change? Here are 3 signs that your company may be ready for a brand refresh and how to get started.
1. Your goals have changed.
If you have a product-based company, you likely started out focussing on one thing (or a set of small things), and did it really well. Perhaps your clothing company started out with a few signature shirts and sweaters being sold online through shopify, and now it has grown to a fully evolved label available in-stores across the country. You now have a larger audience, a better understanding of your brand USP (unique selling point), and more resources available for marketing efforts than when you first started.
If you are the owner of a service-based company (like photography, interior design, or other creative industries), your startup story was probably the complete opposite. When you started out you likely tried to be many things to many people in order to expand your network and increase leads. Now here you are a few years down the road and you are specialized, have a well-defined niche, and have identified a targeted demographic of people you are trying to connect with. Whether your company is product or service based this early sign is simple; if your company has new business goals it’s time to rethink your brand story to make sure it’s reaching the right people. Maybe you started out selling one thing and your business journey took you in a completely different direction, and that’s okay. Just make sure your message and brand is still telling the right story.
2. Your team has changed.
At the beginning of 2016 White Canvas Design was still just me. I was the designer, the web developer, and the content creator. By the spring I was fortunate to have a lot of new leads on the table for brand and website development, there was just one problem: all of these leads needed their projects completed at the same time. Cue panic. Being that I hate saying “no” to a new project or opportunity in general, I quickly began reaching out to my network and landed a fantastic developer who now assists me with web projects. My team had now grown to 2 (or 3 if you count our office dog Bella).
By end of summer as I was preparing for my September wedding, I came to the tough (but necessary) decision that I did not want to be working while on our honeymoon to Italy. This was a once in a lifetime experience, and I owed it to my husband to be present for this moment. I reached out to a good friend and fellow designer, who jumped on board so graciously to help out with the workload while I was away. Growing my team was by far the best decision I made in 2016, but now it was apparent I had a website that did not reflect this change.
If you’ve experienced growth in your team, this is also a sign you may be ready to update your brand especially if like our story, you started out with just one person. Showcasing new team members not only helps clients or customers connect with you personally, it also adds a ton of value in the product or service you are offering with an outstanding team standing behind it.
3. It’s just time.
If you haven’t refreshed your logo or brand identity in 5 years or more, it may “just be time” to review your visuals. Although you should never fall into the trap of trends, your brand can adjust and be flexible to emerging design styles without a complete overhaul. The most recent example of this can be seen in the rise of flat, simplified logos in popular consumer brands. Coca Cola for example went from a bevelled, 3D style to refined clean lines by simply removing some shadowing. They didn’t re-invent the wheel, but they did realize the value in staying current with modern design. If your logo feels retro (and not in the good way), it may be time to rethink your visual strategy.
There are many ways to approach your brand and logo re-design. Some companies (take instagram for example) throw out old looks all together, while others simply evolve what they have currently. Both have proven successful in different scenarios for larger household brands, but for the average small business owner we recommend keeping it more nostalgic. You’ve likely been in business for some time, which means you have a loyal customer following. For the most part, people don’t like (big) change. Keeping some familiarity is the best way to show you’re a progressive brand but still sensitive to your audience’s taste.
Did you score 3/3 like we did on the above signs? Start building that brand update into your marketing plan for 2017. None of the above apply to you? Awesome. If it aint broke, don’t fix it!