Weathering the changes

Spotted two articles recently which relate to branding for purely digital products; Lauren Drell covered how to manage a re-brand online in Mashable, and Emily Heyward guest blogged from Red Antler for Fast Company on the importance of getting your identity sorted from the beginning.

What both posts were implicitly talking about was a facet of branding that is key to start-ups, yet also growing in relevance for businesses of all sizes, ages and industries; how a brand lives in – what we call – the “moving world”. We use this term because ‘digital’, ‘technology’, ‘the Internet’, ‘the social web’, ‘SoLoMo’ all feel too limiting, loaded with sell-by dates. ‘Moving World’ encompasses online, offline and everything in between, and ensures that we approach branding through the lens of real people living in the real world. As Heyward puts it, “Building a “brand” means taking the time to figure out what drives your target audience–what they truly care about, deep down, at the most fundamental level–and finding a way to connect with those feelings and needs, through language and design”.

Start-ups, by their nature, are small, agile and native to innovation. And while we’ve had many tech start-ups come to us for our proven experience on some of the world’s largest brands, we’ve also learned a lot from the process. Working with companies like Flipboard, Watermark, Showyou, Ness and 46 Parallels have provided fantastic testing grounds for stretching our strategic and creative approach to branding. In her article, Drell explains how to remain consistent across social networks during a re-brand, but this is just a part of the process. The challenges facing the tech start-ups we’ve worked with mean we’ve had to quickly structure approaches to chiclet design, gestures, and social media strategy. A client may love a certain name, but if its already taken on Twitter, it’s either dead in the water or time to get creative.

Most exciting has been to bring these new approaches back to the table with more established brands. We can help them start to think and behave like a start-up – quick-witted, fast moving, and fresh – even if their business model creaks a little in response to change. Heyward is right to assert that branding should be done early, not often, especially for new businesses. But if you’ve been around for hundreds of years, and weathered the changes of this moving world, then it’s never too late to do it right.