Brands in Action: The Big, Bad Re-brand

We’ve seen recently what can go wrong with a re-brand, on a pretty major scale.  But for smaller players, it’s every bit as much of a big deal. Whether re-branding or consolidating brands after an acquisition, it’s vital to ensure that the fruit of the process is a consistent, differentiated and coherent proposition that’s matched to the audience.  And as we know, that means much much more than just a set of visual elements.

Earlier this year, we worked with Delaney Consulting, an IT firm, to consolidate their brand following the acquisition of a biometrics firm.  They started out with two disparate brands, and ended up with two complementary, logical and extendable brands.  Branding in the B2B sphere is fraught with considerations, not least, how to differentiate and be creative while maintaining an air of professional assurance?

Here’s how we approached it:

1. Competitor analysis and brand exploration

We talked a lot about who else provided similar services and the audience for Delaney’s products.  We took time to really understand the main business challenges of Delaney’s clients, to help us establish what Delaney could do to address those, and make to that value clear to the audience.  Messaging exploration led us to develop some critical tools for the branding process:

  • Analysis of Delaney’s brand attributes, differentiators and key words (not the search type)
  • Set of core messages: What Delaney wanted people to know about them
  • Brand lexicon: The language they used to say it
  • Straplines: To add descriptive richness to the two Delaney brands

2. Creative brief

Once we were clear about who and what Delaney was in the marketplace and who they were pitched to in audience terms, we developed a creative brief for our design partners, Drew Creative Branding.  This included: Market overview, Delaney background and offerings, brand positioning, key messages and brand attributes and the core focus of the branding.  In this case, it was to convey “managed complexity”.

3. Messaging pack

While Elle worked her creative magic on the visual identity, we developed an easy-to-understand messaging pack for the Delaney team.  Following an acquisition, and the integration of a new team, this was especially important.  In order for the workforce to feel valued, integrated and motivated, the vision and messages behind Delaney and the new brand needed to be articulated and shared.

4. Creative directions and iterations

Elle provided us with a set of four creative directions, ranging from close to the original brand, to two middle-weight options and a “wildcard” (far from the original brand).  The main concept was built around managing complexity and bringing security and assurance, so interlocking shapes were proposed.

Palette was taken into consideration at this point – we decided to focus on nearly-black (security, boldness, certainty) matched with orange as an accent colour for consulting (positive, differentiated) and green for biometrics (organic, living).

5. Consolidation

We worked through various iterations of the logotype before reaching the final versions used today. The strapline also changed around a little during that process – we felt strongly that it needed to match the final logo.

The brand was finally signed-off and then consolidated with document blueprints, using various treatments of the logo and palette.  We also created marketing assets, based on the brand lexicon and key messages we had established and the strong visual identity. Here’s the final identity:

What made it work?  We think it came down to a few factors:

  • A committed client who understood the value of brand
  • Groundwork to understand the audience, market and everyday reality of the end user
  • A focus on messaging: this helped all of us to never lose sight of the vision
  • A rock-solid creative brief…and brilliant interpretation by the Drew team

Re-branding is a big and scary step, and never more so than when an established audience will be affected.  Understanding them, and their reality, is a key measure – and as Gap found, can mean the difference between re-branding success and failure.

Kate Spiers is founder and director of Wisdom London, a creative communications consultancy.  Evangelical about getting branding right, especially in the B2B world.  Contact Kate to know more: or on 020 7193 9149.

One Response to “Brands in Action: The Big, Bad Re-brand”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by SamJaneMorris and Kate Spiers, Kate Spiers. Kate Spiers said: Brands in Action: The Big, Bad Re-brand: […]

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