When you started your business or soon after you got established, you developed a visual brand identity for the business, including a logo design and, hopefully, a style guide to go with it. Great!
But when did that happen? Ten years ago? Twenty? It’s best to step back and evaluate your brand’s visual identity every so often. I suggest every five years. That is enough time for it to begin to stick with people, but not so long that they become bored with it. I am NOT saying that you need to change it that often, but you should at least blow the dust off the brand book and see what it says.
As part of the evaluation process, here are five questions to ask yourself:
- Has your business changed focus or direction since it was last evaluated?
Does your logo design and brand identity continue to reflect your business, what it is and what it does? Maybe you have shifted your focus from products to service or dramatically changed your product line. Your logo design and brand identity needs to reflect who you are, not who you were. Have you shifted to a more upscale clientele — or reached out to the masses? Maybe your business is perceived as old and tired and you need to inject new life. A word of warning: If the business itself is indeed old and tired, a new identity won’t change that. But if you are pressing the reset button on your business, then a new brand identity is in order.
- Does the identity look old or out of fashion?
This can be rather subjective. The owner of a small business may be emotionally tied to the original identity — it’s your baby we’re talking about, after all. Maybe you even designed that original logo. Try to objectively consider elements. A graphic designer or independent expert can help you with this. Look at type styles. Not only do they reflect a tone or mood, but can reflect a specific era. Cooper Bold was really cutting edge in the 80s, but now it reminds people of big moustaches, big glasses and bigger hair! Colours, too, can evoke a specific era. This may be intentional—or not. In more recent years, we have seen a shift from dimensional art, with bevels, drop shadows and gradients, to the new, ultra simplified “flat design” you see on an iPhone today. Sometimes you simply don’t like it any more. There is some merit in that, too.
- Does it continue to work in all environments
Have you added products or marketing avenues where your identity doesn’t work well? Maybe your identity was developed for print advertising, where you had the luxury of space and the ability to control colours precisely. But, does the identity still work in web ads or mobile apps? Maybe you now need to include your logo on small products, but it is not recognizable when it’s so small.
- How has the marketplace changed
What has happened in the marketplace that will affect how you are perceived? Typical things to consider are: Has your target demographic shifted‚are they aging with you or is it a new generation you need to attract? Is there new technology that affects how you do business? Are you reaching your prospects in new ways? Do you have new competitors and what does their visual identity look like? It could be perceived as more appealing than yours.
- How much equity do you have in your current business identity?
Brand recognition is a coveted thing. You run the risk of losing some of that recognition if you make changes, especially drastic ones, or make those changes too soon. That is why many large corporations will make incremental changes to their logo design or overall brand identity. They may feel a need to update the look so they stay relevant without losing their loyal followers. At the same time, maybe you need to shake off outdated attitudes to your business and have a fresh start.
So, are you due to ask yourself those hard questions? Don’t think you have to do it yourself. In fact, it may be better if you got an outside, objective evaluation of your brand identity. Talk to your graphic designer or marketing expert.