Clearing the way for growth
Who are you, personally? How do others get to know you?
Whether we like it or not, studies continue to show that many people make some immediate assumptions about us based on our physical appearance and our sense of style (especially our shoes, apparently).* They understand even more when they hear us speak and listen to what we say. They compare what they see and hear to our actions – how do we behave toward our families? The community? We each shape our personal identities, knowingly or unknowingly, fairly or unfairly, through the choices we make and what we show the world around us.
Similarly, your company’s identity – how it’s perceived by customers, vendors and the community – is in great part defined by its look (branding), its language (communications) and its actions (behavior). It should embody your company’s mission and values. It should also have a memorable visual component and a clear voice.
When you see your company’s logo, read its tagline and core messaging, and review its print and online content, does it all reflect your company well? If it’s no longer in sync with where your company stands today (or where you’d like it to be tomorrow), perhaps it’s time to refresh or recreate your company identity.
Begin with a review.
Take your company’s temperature. Are all your key team members on the same page? A fairly quick way to find out is to ask your team to describe the company’s identity. Then, ask your clients about their perceptions of your company. You can accomplish both tasks with a short electronic or printed survey. Then tally up the results. Where do things gel? (Does everyone see your company as a trusted industry thought-leader?) Where do you find disconnects? (Does the executive team see the firm as a fresh and responsive problem-solver, while a few core clients see the company as an aging, albeit wise, traditionalist?)
Define your company vision.
How long has it been since you went through this process? Talk with your team about your company culture, your motivators and your goals for the future. What business are you in, and why? We find that asking these questions during a workshop-style meeting can yield very good results. Whether we help you facilitate the meeting or not, talking about what defines your business typically uncovers hidden obstacles and new thinking, and can clear the way for more than a new logo – it can clear the way for growth.
Develop a communications strategy.
What’s your business’s history? Who are your clients? What do you do for your clients that no other provider does? Building a strategy begins with asking the right questions and being brutally honest with your answers.
Keep your customers in mind.
No matter where the process of recreating your company identity takes you, ensure that everything you do focuses on your clients and partners. Test your results by asking: Will our ideal client understand our message and tone – immediately?
Case study: New Jersey law firm
Working with a well-regarded, ninety-year-old law firm, Stone’s Throw was able to help guide the process of rebranding, beginning with garnering communications strategy planning feedback from each member of the executive team. We then distilled the team’s contributions into a communications strategy summary that was used to build consensus and set guidelines for the creative. With the strategy approved by the executive team, we worked with a smaller marketing committee to set priorities and keep things moving. In so doing we worked closely with the law firm’s marketing director to create a new company identity, including logo, stationery system and collateral materials (firm overview brochure, practice area brochures and more). We helped foster understanding and enthusiasm among the entire staff by writing and designing communications that clearly explained the new company identity, how it would be implemented and why. Making the link between a new company logo (the company’s public face) and the company’s evolved culture and attitude toward its clients enabled the staff to rally behind the new identity.
* Studies cite height, weight, posture, grooming and clothing as some of the first filters people use to assess someone’s competence and trustworthiness (among other qualities).
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