What are your options?

In our 50+ rebrands to date, rebrands are driven by one of 5 key people:

  • Founder / Partner
  • Marketing Director
  • Head of Design
  • Head of UI/UX
  • Chief Commercial Officer

We’ve taken some time below to look at the advantages and challenges of working with personnel in each of these groups.

Founder-driven rebrands result in striking work but getting there takes the longest time.

You might expect that it takes longer to rebrand a large company than a smaller one. Our experience is almost exactly the opposite. In small companies that have fewer levels of bureaucracy and layers of management, rebrand projects are often steered by the founders. Under their influence, rebrands tend to go through far more rounds of iterations and revisions, and sometimes even stops and reboots. Founders have the highest vested interest in getting the brand right, and they have the most opinions. It’s their baby we’re dealing with: they have the strongest emotional connection to the company; how it is presented to the world is hugely important to them. Add to this the fact that they likely have many other projects competing for their approval, and the project can often stretch on for a long time. Despite or maybe because of the drawn-out process, in which our team comes to know the company extremely well, the outcomes are inevitably striking and effective.

Rebrands driven by Marketing Directors are the most efficient

In larger companies, rebrands are often assigned to Marketing Directors. These projects tend to look entirely different to founder-driven brands. Marketing Directors typically come to us with an articulated brief, data and metrics, a clear set of deliverables and a timeline. Crucially, they also have a set budget and an understanding of how this will affect scope, having had experience of outsourcing work. Once the process gets underway, it moves like a train. We do two or three visual directions for the brand, the company settles on one, and we execute it. Where founders like to email, text, call, or even Facebook message at all hours of the day and night with ideas for the branding project, Marketing Directors schedule in Zoom or Microsoft Team meetings and make decisions quickly following these. The outcomes are appropriate for the business and efficiently produced.

Rebrands driven by a head of UI / Design result in the most cohesive, integrated brands

In recent years we’ve worked with UI / Design leads at companies we’ve rebranded. This is a fulfilling approach that allows us to work directly on the product in collaboration with our clients. Rather than creating a set of Brand Guidelines and hoping for the best that they’ll be properly deployed, we see the brand effectively implemented right away and it becomes integral to the product experience. The UI/Design leaders in successful companies have a high level of craft and appreciation for creative. They are trusted inside the organisation to make creative decisions, meaning what we produce with them has a high level of buy-in. Inspired by these successes, we now include UI work as part of our offering.

External creative advisors may spell trouble

On a few occasions, our clients have involved a big-name advisor in the branding project to oversee the work. This is often when they don’t have the confidence to make creative decisions themselves and feel they could benefit from the expertise and clout of someone held in high regard in their space. While these advisors are able to offer valuable insight, these collaborations are not without peril. Eccentric characters can come with eccentric demands that don’t allow for practicalities, while other personality types may have experienced such success doing things their own way that they simply don’t see any need to try out something new.

The only project our studio has ever aborted came after we were awarded a job without strong buy-in from a board member who, having founded several hugely successful companies, was an advisor to our client. For decades he had been loyal to another studio, and likely disapproved of our client (who had been happy with our work on a previous project) choosing to work with us again rather than hiring his agency of choice. We quickly found ourselves in a hole we didn't manage to dig ourselves out from. We had the legend sit quietly in meetings, only to say "I don't like any of it" at the end. Inevitably we eventually got fired from the job, the only time it has happened in our last 7 years. The client went on to finish a beautiful rebrand in-house, thankfully making good use of the identity principles we established in the project.

Takeaways

  • Rebrands driven by head of UI or Design lead to the most cohesive, integrated outcomes
  • Rebrands driven by founders will take longer than most expect, but can have striking outcomes
  • Rebrands driven by CMOs are efficient and predictable
  • External creative advisers can be trouble, unless they have bought into the choice of agency

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