By Drew Neujahr
It’s beginning to look a lot like rebranding season. New logos are glistening, graphic packages are getting packaged and, of course, brand positioning in the marketplace is being refined to be more representative of the needs of a shifting consumer demographic that has far more content offerings than ever before. So there’s that.
With so many new voices in the media landscape and so many platforms for content delivery, media outlets and networks are more frequently in need of reinventing themselves to stay relevant. Like politicians who change their stance on an issue as their base fluctuates, networks, too, need to adapt to the changing viewing habits, motivated by a new generation of young parents, maturing Gen X-ers, the elusive Millennials and the crazy Gen Z-ers with their new-fangled tech-immersive upbringing.
At Roger, we’ve had the privilege of participating in two major network branding projects this year: the rebrand of TV Land (right) and the brand launch for Canada’s Family Jr. network. Both projects were very different, yet we employed the same design process: research, brainstorming, experimentation and execution.
Every branding project comes with its own set of challenges and solutions. We certainly don’t have all the answers, but we try our best and along the way we’ve gained a lot of insight.
Here are five things to keep in mind when embarking on a rebrand.
1) Have A Voice
A brand isn’t a Pantone color and a fancy swooshy logo. It’s an identity, a mission statement, a subculture, a voice. A rebrand should be a redirection of that voice. Just like your conservative aunt, who’s come around to accepting marriage equality, brands can evolve. It’s important to revisit who your audience is and what you want them to know about you. If you’re going through the hassle of rebranding, you might as well avoid baby steps and “go for broke.”
As Ian MacKaye from Fugazi once said, “You can’t be what you were, so you better start being just what you are.”
2) Don’t Pander
No one wants to think of themselves as one of the dumb ones, but we all know they’re out there. As a network or non-traditional media outlet, you want to drive and accelerate culture, not be dragged along by its lowest common denominator. As they say in basketball, you want to “dictate the pace of the game.” Don’t shy away from clever thinking just because it might ruffle a few feathers. No one ever won an award for being mediocre; no one’s still water-cooling about Leave It To Beaver reruns.
3) Be Functional
We’ve all seen a lot of carts placed before horses, and they always make for a bumpy ride. It sounds obvious, but knowing what your needs are before you attempt to fill them is generally sound advice. Experimentation is welcome in a design phase, but the elements of a brand’s image are ultimately tangible from a logo to a website to a produced marketing campaign. Don’t set yourself up to fail by not understanding where and how these elements will function, and how they’ll need to be expanded upon in the long term.
4) Have A Flexible Game Plan
Do you know how sometimes you’re watching “the sports” and in the first quarter, things aren’t going so well for the good guys, so they make adjustments? It’s the same players, they have the same uniforms, but they’re trying some new things and it’s working.
A brand strategy shouldn’t be so rigid that you can’t adjust when changes occur. Who knows if one of the stars of your show is going to say something racist or decide to run for president? Who knows if Flickr is going to update their capabilities and make Instagram irrelevant?
Have a strategy that works on any platform. Today’s world is all about being nimble and fast enough to react to trends. Make sure the brand strategy you’re fostering is one that allows for adaptability. People are buying new clothes all the time, so why does your brand have to have a Steve Jobs wardrobe?
5) Be Compelling
There are so many talented artists and designers in the world. There is no reason to turn towards traditional references for inspiration in your research. It’s not just about out-of-the-box thinking for the sake of being different. Attention spans are at an all-time low and no one wants to see the same old approach with a different logo in the middle.
Whether or not you have a direct competitor in the same market or you’re carving out a specific niche, you want to be the trusted source for the themes you’re projecting and your brand voice is your calling card, so make it compelling.
Drew Neujahr is director of business development at LA-based Roger. They provide design, animation, original content, brand IDs, live-action production and post production.