By Darren Evans, founder of UK strategic brand consultancy The Engine Room
As 2020 marked the beginning of a fresh decade, the chances of organisations pressing the ‘reset’ button in the early stages of the year, were perhaps even more likely.
The challenge during any such period of change – whether incremental or revolutionary – is to firstly define exactly what needs to be adjusted, before establishing and sustaining any newly-conceptualised behaviours so that they become the norm. Different processes can take time to embed, but without making a concerted commitment to stick with them, they will soon fall by the wayside, much like the traditional New Year resolutions we make in our personal lives.
So, what does this all have to do with brand?
The process of reinvention
Firstly – in line with the reset phase outlined above – this could be the turning point when a business decides it needs to almost ‘reinvent’ itself. And, of course, revisiting and either fine-tuning or completely overhauling the look and feel of the organisation, could go some way to supporting this process.
A seemingly simple enhancement to a company’s visual identity may offer the ‘facelift’ a management team is looking for, certainly at first glance. And if the objective is to achieve nothing more than a logo refresh, fine. But, as designers, we know that this exercise would be almost completely disconnected from any ability to bring about company performance improvements or cultural change.
‘Version2.whatever’ of a logo will not suddenly make a colleague more energised to come to work. It won’t address any ongoing customer service complaints. It won’t help to seriously attack market share or drive better competitiveness. It probably won’t even make employees or customers that much more excited about the business.
Yes, like a campaign, it may capture some initial attention. But it risks feeling an empty gesture. So, if the premise of a new year reset is to bring about a strategic shift on any level, far more work is required. It is imperative that anyone driving the ‘reset’ is aware of this.
The link to attitudes
If the reset is intended to help reposition the organisation or reframe the opinions that exist surrounding its existence, the process must delve much deeper and ideally involve a wide spectrum of stakeholders who can really add value to what happens next.
The 3Ps form the bedrock of brand – and arguably organisational cultures on the whole – and these same 3Ps have a crucial role to play here. If fresh brand-related thinking is to really help shift in-house attitudes, or external ones too for that matter, the organisation must truly revisit its sense of purpose, the principles which guide how the business is run, and the personality which defines how the company is known.
A human-centred approach is crucial in this respect. Good design is about understanding people, after all, so it is important to get closer to the needs of both customers and colleagues – not just management teams – during any problem solving process.
This exploratory process itself takes time, and any changes implemented as a result will only add to this. The reset project may look at external manifestations of brand such as language, visual assets and even the physical characteristics of the working environment. But elements such as team structures, operational processes, service design and company values could also be evaluated.
The greater the magnitude of the change, the longer it could take for any real attitudinal shifts to consequently take shape. So, January may be the catalyst for the process, but it is unlikely to also be the month that any resolutions are designed.
Darren Evans and Lesley Gulliver of The Engine Room
If you’d like to see more of The Engine Room’s award-winning work and their approach to branding, visit their website: https://engineroomdesign.com/ , or follow them on Twitter: @brand_engine