So you’re thinking of rebranding  

Usually, when people talk about a brand, they focus on the visual identity, including the logo, colors and packaging. However, a brand is so much more than a pretty logo. It is your salesperson 24/7. When your brand is in the marketplace, it defines who you are as a company and what you mean to your customers.

What is a complete rebrand?

  • Brand mission and values — This is the heart of your brand.
  • Icon or logo
  • Tagline — This summarizes who you are in the simplest of forms.
  • Brand colors
  • Brand voice — This is everything from written content in your marketing materials, social media and website to the language style and gender of the person doing your radio spots.
  • Brand guidelines.

How do you start this process of rebranding? With discovery.

The brand strategy always starts with a discovery process to identify who you are as an organization: What is your purpose, what are your values, what offerings do you provide and to who, and why should they care about you? Having clear, concise answers to these questions will help you create a brand blueprint to guide all communications. Next, give a lot of thought to what you want people to feel, not see, when they interact with your company brand. What emotion do you want to generate in that person? Finally, it is essential to have conversations with the key stakeholders in your organization, which includes upper management, the “boots on the ground” employees and current customers. The goal is to find out each of  their “whys.” Conversations among these groups will uncover common threads to help you determine who and what your brand truly is and do a checkup to see if you are on track to fulfill your vision for your company.

The result of this process should be a brand book that clearly and concisely articulates your brand in words, so whether you are onboarding a new employee or working with a marketing agency, anyone can quickly get up to speed on who you are and what matters to you.

Taking the time to find the heart of your brand will be one of the best investments in your business you can make. An authentic brand that is well-articulated and embraced by everyone in the organization will increase your marketing effectiveness and build your brand equity.

This is a lot of work, but in the end, you must know who you are before you can explain it to someone else and get them to buy into what you are selling.

Betsy McCloskey is a partner at Plaid Swan Inc. with offices in Cedar Rapids and Dubuque. Plaid Swan is a female-owned and operated marketing communications firm.