Is it time to rebrand?

If you’re reading this, the answer is likely to be a resounding yes.

Is your brand suffering from an identity crisis? Perhaps your brand persona is serious and professional but your visual identity is juvenile and hopelessly generic? It’s also possible that your branding no longer represents what you currently offer.

Or maybe it’s just purely superficial– your identity suffers from old age and can use an update. And that’s okay, too.

Your visual identity should show your brand as it is, and also how you’re different from everyone else.

Your visual identity makes a statement about how you choose to represent your brand ideals.

While this can seem like a pretty daunting task to take on, fear not, because we’re working to make the whole design process incredibly simple and infinitely more productive. But for now, let’s begin with this handy guide to all things rebranding.

As you can probably appreciate by now, there’s a lot of reasons to rebrand. So, is rebranding for you?

The Top 5 Candidates for Rebranding

You Attract the Wrong Clients
Do prospective customers expect you to charge offensively low rates for your products or services? If you’re constantly getting low-balled, there’s something in your brand messaging that isn’t lining up.

You’ve Outgrown Your Original Branding and so Has Your Competition
You’re still rocking a logo with Comic Sans, Lucida Handwriting, or Brush Script. Your color scheme is as garish as a box of kids’ cereal. Your branding may have worked 10 years ago but tastes have evolved and you’re behind the times.

Your Branding Is Too Confusing
Can a random person understand your visual branding without your elevator pitch? As a small business, you need to clarify your messaging so that it’s recognizable and understandable in an instant.

Your Brand Is Too Generic and Similar to Others
Does your branding suffers from I-can’t-distinguish-this-guy-from-the-competition-itis? Motivated by competition or admiration for another brand, you can unwittingly water down your own brand by making it into an (inferior) clone.

You Need to Refocus Your Team
Your clients aren’t the only ones who benefit from a solid visual brand identity. This is especially true if you’ve changed your brand philosophy, your offerings, or your management. Your team benefits from having a clear description of how you will present your company.

Additionally, here’s a few things to consider before you rebrand your business:

What Will the Rebrand Involve?
Did you see yourself in one of the rebranding candidates above? If so, that’s great news, because we start creating a rebrand that you’ll love.

Rebranding is not just a visual strategy. Although logos, web design, business cards, and stationery all fall into branding, your rebrand effort can also tackle taglines, name changes, product changes, company pivots, and a plethora of other shifts.

In this article, we’ll explore how to tweak your visual content to breathe new life into your brand.

How Much Will It Cost?
We recently did a market survey of small business owners and managers. We found that a whooping 97% of respondents understood that marketing materials such as signs, menus, and brochures make an impact on a customer’s first impression. However, a lot of brands avoid refreshing or updating their materials because of cost.

We understand that cost can be a mitigating factor between you and a rebrand that you love. That’s the reason we created Canva in the first place– to make it easy and affordable to express yourself visually.

Out templates and stock images are either free or nearly free, and with transparent pricing, you know what the prices will be before you pick. We can guarantee a budget rebrand if you use our professionally designed materials for your visual content.

What Is Visual Content?
Visual content is pretty much anything that you can see. It incorporates all of the following:

  • Logo
  • Icons
  • Social Media Visual Posts
  • Watermark
  • Stationery
  • Business Card
  • Flyer
  • Brochure
  • Mailer
  • Ad
  • Web design

14 Practical Tips for Launching

By now, you may be wondering if you can tackle your own rebrand. Absolutely, you can! Not only will you save money by doing it yourself, it’s actually very easy to do if you follow these steps. Let us know in the comments if you have a question about any of these steps, and we’ll help you through it.

01. Set a Clear Objective

What are you hoping to accomplish from your rebrand?

Do you need a clearer message about what you offer? Has your audience changed and you want your brand to reflect that?

No matter the reason for your rebrand, you should start with a specific expectation. For example, this new brand identity will:

  • Reach a new, specific audience;
  • Show our friendly side;
  • Express how we’re the best choice;
  • Broaden our offerings;
  • Embrace our tagline

Real Life Example: The online payment network Bitcoin suffered from confusing branding. People couldn’t understand what it was and why they should care. So, Bitcoin launched a rebranding to make their brand “warmer and more human.” The result:

A minimal interface that is easy to understand and not cluttered with confusing nerd-speak. The website shares the app’s basic, but well-designed, presentation that makes the site accessible to its target audience of “everyone.”

02. Redesign Your Logo with a Purpose

2014 brought us a lot of exciting logo changes from the big boys. Reebok, PayPal, Pizza Hut and more changed their logo design. Some of them wowed us, some of them puzzled us, but all of them made an impression. Take a look at this infographic from Designmantic:

You can see that most brands simplified their logos for a fresher look. The brand 7 Up eliminated unnecessary elements in its logo for a winning effect. However, Pizza Hut’s logo didn’t work as well, because it got rid of the yellow and green colors that made it stand out. As you’ll read about in a minute, yellow is tied to hunger and an effect color to use for restaurants. Green represents freshness. So, Pizza Hut erred when it cut out the color that drives hunger and also reassures fresh quality.

When you’re designing your logo, think of what you want it to say. Are you simple? Consider a simple color scheme:

Font: Cooper Hewitt

Are you feminine? Consider a romantic-type font:

Font: Sacramento

Are you innovative? Go with a bold declaration:

Fonts: Chewy & Rubik Mono One

Curved Wooden Backdrop courtesy of GraphicBurger.com

Need more inspiration? Here’s a few double entendre logos we love:

The Gotham Books logo

The Gotham Books logo
WinePlace by ricardobarroz

WinePlace by ricardobarroz
Web Girls by andresousa

Web Girls by andresousa

03. Determine Consistent Elements

Zig Ziglar once said,

“If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

One of the best ways to get people to trust you is to be consistent, and that extends to your visual content, also.

Take a look at what designer Tanya Stafford did with Tula Tea.

Tula Tea Rebrand by Tanya Stafford

Tula Tea Rebrand by Tanya Stafford

Not only did she concentrate on the logo redesign, she also focused on the stationery and packaging, creating a cohesive design across all visual content.

When you’re creating your visual content, it’s important to reiterate yourself constantly so that your audience will identify your product with your brand. Even on social media, you can create a consistent look to your visual images (such as a special watermark). If you do it right, your audience will instinctively recognize your brand in the crowd of faceless others.

04. Draw Visual Influences Relevant to Your Product

Can your brand be identified with a simple image? For example, as a writer, my brand can be visualized as a typewriter. The audience will understand that a brand represented with the image of a typewriter is either selling typewriters or working with words. So, how would you represent your brand?

Graphic designer Eszter Nyári tackled this challenge in reimagining the branding of Cserpes. The rebranding shows a simple pitcher of milk which perfectly conveys the product.

Cserpes by Eszter Nyári

Cserpes by Eszter Nyári

05. Pay Attention to Your Fonts

Fonts can go bad really quickly.

Sierra Mist font this out the hard way, when committing this sin:

In a rebranding gone bad, Sierra Mist made theirs illegible

In a rebranding gone bad, Sierra Mist made theirs illegible

Sierra Mist went from distinct to generic after its rebrand. The font used doesn’t tell the story of “mist” quite as well as the previous font and effect.

As with all visual elements, your font should also tell the story of your brand. It should harmonize with the other elements.

Is your brand in-your-face and unapologetic? Go for a font like Modern Serif Eroded or Bebas Neue.

Is your brand whimsical or craft-oriented? Consider a font like CF Flowers of Destiny or Neon Lights.

We’ve created a guide for how to use fonts effectively. Be sure to check that out for more information.

06. Don’t Overlook the Small Details

Chances are, you see this element at least once a day. The Facebook “like” button took 280 hours to redesign. It may seem like a complete waste of time, but consider this: the Facebook “like” and “share” buttons are viewed 22 billion (with a b) times a day. Good design is often invisible, but

it makes a difference in how your audience interacts with your brand. Where would Facebook be without the “like” button?

What small elements should you consider in your own visual branding?

As they say, the devil’s in the details.

07. Use Colors to Convey a Tone

Take a look at this wonderful infographic by Ruby Media Corporation for FinancesOnline.Com:

logo-infographic

Logo Infographic via Finances Online

08. Match Your Audience

Design and branding expert Tim Masters shares amazing advice:

“…Your brand is essentially your reputation. The most enduring brands are the ones with great reputations; they’re authentic, they build great messages and they send consistent signals. My advice to businesses when starting out, or thinking about rebranding is to ask yourself some questions:

Who are you, really?

What really makes you different?

Why do you do what you do?

Once you’ve established the who, what and why, you need to ask another question:

Do your customers agree?”

Does your brand suffer from disconnection? Are you seeing the same brand as your customers see? Take a look at your visual content and decide what message you’re promoting. Is it the one you want to promote?

For example, if your brand is serious and uncompromising, why are you posting irrelevant funny memes on your social media accounts? Is your audience there for your humor or would a chart image of facts and figures be more appropriate?

09. Remember That Your Brand is a Story

The legendary brand consultant behind some of the most popular campaigns at Nike and Starbucks, Scott Bedbury, once said:

“A great brand is a story that’s never completely told… Stories create the emotional context people need to locate themselves in a larger experience.”

So, what story does your brand tell about you? Will you use bright colors in your design to echo a sense of happiness and youth? Will the images you share on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram be inspirational or action-oriented?

Every element you choose will say something about your brand. Make sure it’s telling the right story.

10. Create a Style Guide for Consistency

Want to know a secret to being consistent in your visual content? A style guide. Take the time to develop a design template for all the visual elements on your brand. You want to make note of the exact color you choose (not just blue, but the HEX number, too [i.e. #FFFFF]). Catalog your favorite filters, the size of your images, the fonts you prefer, and their sizes, too. Every mundane detail matters in creating a consistent and trustworthy look across your branding.

Check out this article on 4 visual design elements for more information about style guides.

11. Make Your Brand Memorable

How do you want to be remembered?

Here’s a killer tip from Leigh Riley, Lead Creative and Freelance Senior Designer of Rileigh Design:

“I always tell me clients that a good check to see if a brand will be memorable is to get someone to examine the logo for 60 seconds then about 5 minutes later ask them to freehand draw the brand on a piece of paper. If they more or less accurately redraw the logo, it’s memorable. You can then try this after 24 hours also.

Everyone remembers the Nike, Adidas, McDonalds and Starbucks logo’s, they are simple, bold and effective. Simplicity is the common denominator here, the simpler an idea of your brand is conveyed the better. Clever logo’s using negative space to create ‘hidden’ shapes are also very memorable and effective, for example the FedEx arrow hidden within the logotype. Little ideas such as this are brilliant when they work.”

Remember that, in many cases, your logo is the first encounter your audience has with you. It’s often the first thing to load on your website, and the element that pops out from your packaging. Go for a logo that intertwines your business name with your logo art, such as:

Plug & Play by AndreasAngelis

Plug & Play by AndreasAngelis
Crankit consulting by veeroo18

Crankit consulting by veeroo18
New Style by creativehands

New Style by creativehands

12. Create Visual Posts For Your Social Media

After you’ve created your style guide (tip #10), it’s time to start creating your posts for social media consumption. On Canva, you can craft your social media posts from our premade templates. Go to Canva.com and select your desired social media platform. The templates are perfectly sized for each specific platform. All you need to do is drag and drop your images, add in your text, and download or share the image directly from the work area.

13. Don’t Forget To Carry Your Brand Over To Your Social Media

Branding genius and CEO of McKee Wallwork & Co. Steve McKee advises, “The best brands focus most of their energy on fostering relationships.”

Are you creating relationships on social media? Make sure that the visual posts you created in the previous tip are relevant and wanted by your target audience. If you create visual content that they crave, your brand will become more valuable to your audience.

14. Create a Color Palette

Colors are a crucial part of visual content. A color can dictate how a person feels about your brand, because colors hit us in an emotional part of our brains. Additionally, color combinations can create expressive sentiments, whether joyful, brooding, sassy, or unconventional.

If you’re looking for a quick color combo suggestion, check out our 4 Clever Color Combinations guide. Here’s an example of beautiful color combos from that post:

Create a warm balance with the fresh colors reminiscent of Modern California.

Create a warm balance with the fresh colors reminiscent of Modern California.
Happy and springy-- the pastel parfait is perfect for feminine brands.

Happy and springy-- the pastel parfait is perfect for feminine brands.
Desert Earth features muted earth tones in a sophisticated, subdued palette.

Desert Earth features muted earth tones in a sophisticated, subdued palette.
Peachy Green harmonizes feminine and masculine tones for a soothing balance of warmth and freshness.

Peachy Green harmonizes feminine and masculine tones for a soothing balance of warmth and freshness.

15. Go Classic, Not Trendy

Gareth Hardy, Brand Identity Designer of the firm down with design, says this:

“If you ignore all trends and focus upon making design decisions for typography, image and colour that all pertain to the existing (or new) brand characteristics then you can’t go far wrong. This will help to form a basis for a consistent message.”

In other words, don’t get rid of all of your branding for the sake of following a trend. Remember the cautionary tale of Pizza Hut. You may find that keeping some of your old identity (or at least the spirit of it) will help ground you in your rebranding campaign. You may find that a little shift is all you need to push your brand to extraordinary.

Sharing Your Rebrand with the World

After you’ve designed the visual elements of your branding and it’s ready for promotion, be sure to publish yourself on all of your important social media platforms. Do you have audience on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Instagram? Well, now’s the time to unveil your new launch. Here’s a few great ways to get the message out:

Use an Infographic to Show the Evolution of Your Rebrand
No one wants to read a boring, old press release when you can present all the information visually instead.

Infographics are a great visual tool to grabbing attention and getting your audience excited about your rebranding. You can share who was involved in your rebranding effort, how many changes it took to get the logo just right, and the story behind the reason for the change.

Get Your Brand Ambassadors Involved
Do you have top customers who love your brand and tell their friends about you? Be sure to give them the head’s up about your rebranding before announcing to the general public. Let them hit the streets and share your new look on visual social media platforms like instagram and Pinterest.

Here’s a real life example of how American Airlines launched their new fleet and used social media to do it.

Launch an Email Newsletter Drip Campaign to get Subbies Excited
If you have a mailing list, it’s time to get a drip campaign going. Share with your subscribers the behind-the-scenes news of your rebranding. Give them exclusive content. Perhaps get them in on the design process by showing two logos and asking which one they prefer. You’d be surprised by the response you’ll get from customers who are eager to be a part of your rebranding campaign.

Design should be easy. Is it time for a rebrand?

Whew! We’ve made it to the end. I hope you see that visual rebranding is doable. It may not happen overnight, especially if you’re doing it yourself, but if you take it one step at a time, it’s not intimidating.

The most important first step is to understand why you’re doing a rebrand and what you hope to accomplish from it, whether it’s a different target audience, a competition distinction, or a new product introduction, for example. Next, focus in on that goal. Make sure that your visual content aligns with your one goal. Then, tell the world all about it! And be sure to tell us, too.

We understand that productivity is a big factor when it comes to such big design processes like rebranding, so we know that you’ll fall head over heels for Canva for Work. Go ahead, check it out and be sure to pre-register, but in the mean time, stay tuned for more guides and lists to help you through all of your design duties.

Let us know in the comments below why you’re rebranding and what tips and tricks work best for you!

Jacqueline is an award winning writer who specializes in brand development and new media. When she's not writing, she enjoys drawing, Star Trek reruns, and chocolate. Say hello on Twitter (https://twitter.com/kyothomas).