Planning a brand refresh? Six lessons learned.

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Anera has just gone through a rebranding process in recognition of 50 years of impactful work. We are well known and highly regarded – thanks to our great staff – and our logo is everywhere in Palestine and Lebanon.

So, why rebrand? Anera’s staff and board leadership agreed it was time we entered the modern era with a brand that best reflects who we are today and, most importantly, enables us to deliver more impact in the future. We needed fresh ideas to differentiate ourselves among donors.

Anera hired a reputable DC firm to guide us through the process and create something we knew we could market with pride. While the firm brought significant experience to the table and was an invaluable partner every step of the way, they couldn’t necessarily prepare us for or predict everything that was to come.

If I were to do it again tomorrow, I’d bear in mind these valuable lessons.

Assume people don’t really understand what’s coming.

People are busy with their own jobs and lives. When you say a rebranding effort is underway, it sometimes does not register among staff, board and key stakeholders what that will actually mean. You may get people saying well along into the process, “Wait a minute, I didn’t know we were going to change the logo!” So share widely and early among those close to the brand, the rationale, methodology and chronology of the rebranding process. And, don’t hesitate the repeat it along the way to remind people.

Beware of the feedback monster.

Too much or too little input can delay things. People close to the brand have passionate views on the subject and take very seriously requests for feedback. But it is easy to get overwhelmed if you bring too many people into the process. If people are under-involved, on the other hand, you run the risk of generating unintended feelings of exclusion and you may miss some valuable insights that can make the end result better. When you map out the stages of the rebranding process, think very carefully about the special circumstances and personalities that are unique to your organization and bring people in when you can garner the most helpful feedback and buy-in.

Let your goals and audience guide you, always.

Everything flows from understanding who your target audience is and what actions you want to inspire. For Anera, our rebranding was about attracting more donors and activists so we can deliver more programs in the Middle East. While feedback from staff and board helped us stay grounded in our mission and values, it was the conversations with current and prospective donors about their needs and how Anera is poised to fill them that really helped us create a forward-looking brand that resonates with the kinds of new people we want in our community.

Remember real world applications

Your creative firm will undoubtedly produce a beautiful new logo for you, presented in the most ideal ways. Bear in mind, though, the practical uses of your logo after the exciting rebranding process is finished. Will you be printing a lot of materials? Are you mostly digital? If you are a non-profit that does a lot of printing, you might want to opt for a two-color logo that costs less to print. If you give out a lot of swag, you might want to be sure you have versions of the logo that work well in a single color and exist in different kinds of simplified layouts. Think about these kinds of applications as you envision your brand coming to life. If you don’t have graphic design capacity in-house, you might want to opt for including a variety of practical logo formats in your list of deliverables from your creative firm.

Perfection is the (costly) enemy of the good.

You will never achieve perfection in your new brand. There are endless variants of word combinations, colors, shapes, fonts. A search for perfection can slow you down and cost your organization money. A thoughtful and thorough rebranding process will bring you to a great final product, I promise, but only if you keep it moving inexorably forward to the finish line!

Have fun.

Enjoy learning from your colleagues and other members of your organization’s family. This is a great opportunity to gain all kinds of interesting and valuable insights. And, at the end, your bonus is a beautiful new logo, graphics and messaging that that will inspire and engage audiences old and new.

Anera’s Brand Story

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