The journey to a new brand
We recently completed our rebranding journey and launched our new brand to the world. We’ve received lots of great feedback and quite a few questions about the process. So, if you’re thinking about changing your brand or you're just curious, this is the journey we went on and our learnings.
There is no point rebranding for the sake of it, don’t forget to ask that golden question- ‘Why?’. There are many reasons why a company might want to re-brand. Some are pro-active, for example you want to enter a new market, target a new audience or re-position to discover new opportunities. Other reasons are reactive, such as in response to a merger or the activity of competitors.
We decided to take the proactive step of rebranding in response to our desire to better portray to the world the business we'd become.
earthware started out as a niche mapping technology company in 2007 but by 2016 we were a fully-fledged digital agency with a particular specialism in healthcare. In addition, the creation of a sister brand (The Technology Studio) in 2009 meant things had become a little confusing. We asked ourselves:
- 'Why do we need 2 brand names?'
- 'Why do we have a globe in our logo when mapping is now only a small part of our business?'
- 'Why doesn’t our brand reflect the agency we are now?’
One of the key activities to do when rebranding is to try and picture the world through the eyes of your target customer. In our case, how do our clients and potential clients see us now and how would we like them to see us in the future?
We are not branding experts so we needed some assistance. After multiple recommendations, and swayed by his brilliant blogs, we decided that Martin Lawless was the guru for us. Martin led us through an interesting, exciting process that could be utilised by anyone looking to re-brand. Here's what we did and what we learned:
Defining the business
It's important to understand your own strengths and weaknesses when developing your brand. Try asking your internal team and most importantly your clients 'What do we do well?', 'Why do you want to work with us?', 'What do we do when we deliver our best work?', 'What is the earthware experience?'.
You'll learn a huge amount about your business by asking these questions. You can learn even more if you can ask these questions in a fun and creative way. This is how we did it:
Ever wondered what random household objects are metaphors for your business? We certainly hadn't until each of our team were asked to bring an object that they felt represented earthware to our initial half day workshop. Here’s a selection of our objects:
- Aero-press- we are elegantly simple, not immediately obvious or flashy, but practical
- Headphones- we listen- no matter how far away you are. We are simple and forward thinking
- Rubix cube- we come together to form something perfect, mess to order. We have a unique, secret way of solving problems
- Magnet- we are a team that always sticks together and looks out for each other
- USB stick- we connect people, share expertise and knowledge, we are handy and portable
- Quirky pencil sharpener- we are practical but fun, human and colourful
We then unleashed the artists inside us, cutting up magazines to create collages and adding our own doodles to explore earthware’s personality further.
The big idea
Every brand needs a big idea. The defining characteristic of the brand. The reason your target customer wants to engage with you. The motivation for future employees to join you.
We found that as we explored our business, a common theme started to appear; at earthware we like to use the question 'Why?'. A lot. It’s our inquisitive inner child that has never really gone away. It's what helps us get to the root of our client's problems.
Fortunately, when Martin spoke to our clients he found that they really appreciate the way we question and challenge them. They believe it's what enables us to understand their needs and deliver the best solution for them.
Perhaps it’s not an approach that will work for everyone, but for companies that want an agency who will do more than just deliver to a brief, asking 'Why?' is the only way of working.
Underpinning 'Why?' Is our three-word mantra of imagine, deliver, together that explains how we create our digital solutions.
Imagine - We seek to understand our client’s problems or opportunities, then we imagine the breakthrough ideas to transform their business.
Deliver - We don't stop at the idea. We pride ourselves on our ability to deliver the solution on time, on budget and to the highest possible standards.
Together - And we do it all together. We do everything we can to remove barriers and really connect.
The brand personality
So you have the Big Idea. How do you communicate it to the world? And how do you make those communications consistent and impactful? The answer lies in creating a brand personality. A tone of voice, a style of communication, a way of presenting your business that delivers the right experience for your target audience every time.
Martin helped us translate our ideas into the personality traits we'd like to display in our brand:
- We're curious. We go further with 'Why?'
- We're principled. It’s about results. What you need, not what you want. The client, not us.
- We're grounded. No gimmicks, no fluff. We give straight answers to direct questions.
- We're proven. Our previous work is our best marketing tool. See our testimonials.
- We're eager. We’re passionate and excited about what we do. Why? Because the solutions we create, might just save a life.
will might do you good...
There is no point changing things for changes sake. There are many examples over the years where companies have invested in huge re-brands, only to reverse the decision quickly on the back of a negative response – remember Gap's $100m re-brand disaster? However, if the reasons are right, a re-brand can inject new life into your brand.
The first decision we made was to put our confused clients out of their misery and retire The Technology Studio brand. We toyed with the idea of changing our name. In fact, we almost called ourselves Black Squirrel (it’s a long story!) but decided against it. In the end, we all love the name earthware, it hints at our roots in mapping, our grounded personality, and our ambition to create breakthrough ideas that might just change the world a little bit.
Our logo, however, did need to change. Martin developed several concepts to reflect our personality but in the end there was one that we felt really hit the mark. Bright, bold and quirky. A talking point. A logo that represents the three words that are at the heart of everything we do- Imagine, Deliver, Together. It’s defined and technical, just like us.
Finally we chose a new font, defined our tone of voice and put together the building blocks of the new and improved earthware brand.
Bringing the brand to life
Once the groundwork is complete it's time to launch the new brand upon the world. This can be a huge undertaking. New signage, new documentation, new promotional materials, new templates, new paint job for the office, new coffee mugs, new pens... the list is endless.
It's well worth conducting an audit of every contact point a customer could have with your brand to make sure nothing slips through the net. We had the advantage that at the same time as we were rebranding we were also working on creating a beautiful new office. This gave us a blank canvas on which we could apply our new brand.
Our new office is a beautiful converted barn in Newnham, Hertfordshire. With a giant 'Why?' on our staircase and our new logo on the front door we've made it our own. There’s even a duck pond! Come and visit us!
The idea of ‘Why?’ has made it onto everything 'earthware'. Business cards, exhibition stands, coffee cups and promotional items. Pop in for a cup of tea or a meeting and see how many you can find. We may even let you take some of them home with you!
Lastly, we needed to update our website. But of course, we are tech geeks and grasp any opportunity to create a new website, so we started again from scratch. The development team were brilliant as always and the website was launched in just a few short weeks. Nothing’s ever perfect so we are constantly working to improve it, any feedback is welcome! Contact us.
The journey never ends
A brand should constantly evolve in line with its target market, see these examples of brands that have perfected the art of this. Only by listening to your customers and acting on their feedback can you make sure you stay relevant.
It's also important to stay consistent. earthware now has clear brand communication and presentation guidelines that everyone in the business has been briefed on. Constantly challenge yourself –"is this 'on brand'?".
We'd love to hear your thoughts on our brand or if you'd like to hear more about the process we went through then please get in touch.
Finally, a massive thank you to Martin Lawless and his team – we couldn't have done it without you!