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Posted By Phase2 on 05/18/2022

A Brand is a Bridge - Not a Burden

A Brand is a Bridge - Not a Burden

Brand is kind of a big deal—and that can make it feel untouchable. It’s how your core values are projected to your audiences, and it’s what makes you stand out in a crowded marketplace. It’s on each of your physical and digital touchpoints, from the name on your front door and the logos on your t-shirts, to the hexadecimal codes and fonts on your website. 

Changing any or all of these key brand elements can be scary. There’s time and budget to think about, proposals to review, and interoffice politics to navigate. Meanwhile, your organization’s bottom line is, well, on the line. 

It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach

Given how important brand is to your business, even a focused tune-up can be effective in helping you reach your goals and setting your organization up for long-term success—all without eating into your budget and staff time. 

It may sound easier to leave your brand just the way it is, even if some elements are outdated, underdeveloped, or no longer relevant to your business’ evolution. Yet this line of thinking is holding you back from building stronger connections with your audiences and solidifying your company’s position in the marketplace. 

Your brand is an opportunity to build connection

We see a brand as a bridge between your business and your target audiences. A strong brand strategy, informed by your business goals and audience research, is like the pylons and metal beams that support the weight of the structure and the people crossing it. Meanwhile, a brand foundation encompasses everything else, from the organization’s story and design to its messaging and voice and tone. It’s this foundation that gets people’s attention, gains their trust, and drives action.

Bridge in profile, spanning water

But maybe it’s been some years since you first built this bridge, and it might be in need of a paint job, work on the foundation, and even a separate bike lane. You might even want this bridge to complement the design of the new parks and buildings in the neighborhood so that it doesn’t feel out of date.   

Does this sound familiar? 

As your business matures and you look to evolve major touchpoints like your digital experience, you should make sure that your brand reflects this growth. Since your customers and employees look to your brand to determine who you are and what you can offer, your brand should reliably and authentically represent your organization. 

Consider small changes, not total transformation 

Instead of demolishing your bridge and starting anew, you can opt to make incremental enhancements and evolve your brand over time.  
Incremental brand updates can look like expanding voice and tone guidelines, refining brand positioning, developing targeted messaging strategies, refreshing existing visual components, and incorporating DEI and accessibility best practices. 

To pinpoint and prioritize the areas that need the most attention, we recommend conducting a brand touchpoint audit.

Case Study

We worked with SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, to integrate its new DEI-focused program, Score For All, into its principal brand. To position this program as an extension of SCORE’s offerings, we drew inspiration from SCORE’s existing brand and developed a flexible visual identity system and supplementary guidelines. These incremental updates elevated the SCORE brand as a whole and created a new outlet to express the organization’s ongoing commitment to DEI.

Find opportunities to bundle your brand updates

Just like trying to renovate a bridge that sees a lot of traffic, there is never going to be a perfect time to redirect your resources and prioritize working on your brand. Instead of waiting for a moment that may never come, we recommend looking for opportunities where you can work on one area of your brand in tandem with a related project.

For instance, while developing a new content strategy for your redesigned website, you could revisit your brand voice and tone guidelines, as they will shape the messaging for your content strategy. Or if you’re launching a marketing campaign to target a new audience, you may want to update your brand strategy to define your new positioning for this market.  

To maximize the benefits of this bundled approach, we have found that entrusting one team to spearhead the entire project, rather than juggling multiple creative or digital agencies, allows you to benefit from an integrated approach from day one. 

In this model, brand and content strategists, digital analysts, and UX and graphic designers, work together in lockstep, ensuring that brand development occurs in alignment with all other workstreams. Instead of operating in silos, each team member can collaborate and build on each other’s work, filling in gaps and eliminating the need for guesswork at the last minute.   

Use your brand as a bridge to the future

Ultimately, a solid brand can help you move your business forward with one vision and one purpose. It can bridge the divide between you and your target audiences, and unite teams and specialties across your organization. 

To make sure your brand “bridge” can support your business and target audiences for years to come:

  • Don’t let fear hold you back
  • Make changes incrementally
  • Tackle brand updates alongside relevant projects
  • Work together as one team

Andreea Gabor 

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