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Redesign: The Guide You Are Looking For
The possibility of going through a redesign might start only as a feeling and quickly become an urge. Here, you will find the guidance to understand whether the appropriate time for it to happen has arrived, and, if so, what precautions should be taken into consideration. The ideas were developed by Isis May, and Tarcila Zanatta, at Scharf studio.
Even the most renowned brands have undergone adjustments and updates that were indispensable along the way — so that its message remains relevant and clear, adjusting both to external and internal factors.
There are also cases where there have never been any branding efforts, to begin with. Companies that have gone through periods of abrupt investment or growth tend to demonstrate this problem: when identified, the incoherence is so deep that it cannot be postponed any longer, and its effects need to be remediated.
It is important to state that, in the same manner as a well-strategized brand’s name, the logo embedded by a concise visual identity system will be crucial to define the continuity of the business.
Taking a step back to move forward
Your brand may need a refresh or to be rebuilt from scratch, it doesn’t matter: along all the process, the important thing is to understand why the redesign is happening and what problems it is trying to solve. Although unlikely, even if the brand continues on the same path, it will be extremely valuable to uncover the reasons behind this decision.
As the brand’s health is clarified, threats, strengths, deficiencies, and growth opportunities will be analyzed. Only then will it be possible to outline strategies and make solid commitments, ensuring that the brand goes through this process with lesser tribulations and maximum benefits.
With that in mind, we can define three major scenarios in which the redesign process is more than welcome:
1. Mission and purpose outgrow
As your brand expands, it is only natural that its proposal matures. Improvement in the services and products offered should not be left behind, since the brand identity must remain true to the company’s purpose.
Example: Starting as an email marketing for small businesses, Mailchimp has evolved to become a more complete platform with more tools to help customers grow their businesses. The redesign embodied strategic decisions, such as making the letter C lowercase to solidify the idea that the brand is no longer just an email service.
2. Target and competition change
From subtle to the most comprehensive, market shifts such as the emergence of new competitors can directly interfere with how the brand aims to be perceived by both old and new customers.
Example: Uber’s success was followed by UberPool, a service that aimed to adjust to the mobility environment by presenting ride-sharing as a viable alternative. The redesign communicated the new service at the same time that it differentiated itself from the mother brand.
3. Outdated or weak branding efforts
Startups are often launched with a raw design of the original idea, and the absence of an identity system can create confusion as time goes by. After years of operation, the Frankenstein effect can also be followed by difficulties to maintain certain elements that make applications in different media rather difficult, such as thin lines and drop shadows.
Example: In 2014, Airbnb still used one of the many logos designed since its beginning. The redesign started along with a moment of clarity, solving outstanding issues of the old logo while portraying the new positioning. Since then, their visual identity system hasn’t gone through major changes.
In addition, complex factors such as mergers and acquisitions may also be involved. In most of these cases, we will be dealing with an even deeper rebranding process embracing the brand’s hierarchy and core values (but this is a subject for an upcoming conversation).
The criteria for successful redesign
A redesign is not about being up to date with the latest trends. Even though external changes can be considered, momentary trends such as the gradient of the month should not be a guidance factor by any means. The result must come from the brand’s message, which is something beyond personal preferences that quickly become outdated.
Mapping out the brand’s iconic elements, whether and how they should be maintained, can be the perfect starting point.
Once in the world, a certain color or shape may have turned into a symbol of emotional identification with customers — and, if they are in alignment with the brand’s core, an intelligent way of maintaining its presence must be discovered and explored. Otherwise, consumers may feel confused and even betrayed, because both the company’s culture and narrative were abruptly interrupted.
As you might notice, knowing what to get rid of is just as important as knowing what to keep. While maintaining the brand’s equity is important in most cases, facilitating its use is also essential. As mentioned before, a period of growth or expansion can bring new platforms and need for use, which will soon demand greater scope and flexibility. At this moment, elements that no longer make sense can be discarded, updated, or translated in a new and clever way.
In general, a good redesign sounds more like an opportunity than an obligation. Past mistakes and successes will be revisited to diagnose the current environment. At the same time, the reason that ignites the process in the first place will be the guide of decisions that will help the brand to tell its story effectively.
A redesign is not a run, it is a marathon
It is only natural that a brand is revisited from time to time, so the focus is always on long-term maintenance. This flexibility will allow your company to continue to improve and foresee market shifts, which will often lead the entire organism to its best version.
If you are looking for an overview, here’s a sharp checklist to help you organize some ideas and put your new learnings into practice:
Investigate evidence of the need
Devise possible approaches
Assess and predict risks
Plan and make it happen
Iterate (again, and again, and again)
In conclusion, this is one of those processes that make the simple look easy, but it is just the opposite: that is why the course itself is as important as the final result. Redesigning your brand is not only a need but also a great chance to be conscious about your message, communicate your story and make both customers and employees understand how they fit into it.
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