A step-by-step look at creating a new brand, for a new audience, with a 100-year old product
Sabrina Seccareccia, Gracious Living Corporation
The decision to rebrand a product line can be a difficult one for a company, especially when it has a long history and/or strong affinity in the marketplace. You risk alienating customers, creating confusion, and investing significant resources in an initiative that ultimately may not yield the desired results. However, when done successfully, you can reach new audience(s), better differentiate yourself from the competition, and increase sales and revenue. Recent re-branding successes that illustrate the benefits of a rebrand on the consumer side are Apple and Old Spice.
At Gracious Living Innovations, we began this journey more than two years ago with a brand that was purchased by our company. There were a number of considerations that drove our decision, most notably, our desire create a brand that more closely aligned to our company, which is an open, forward-thinking, innovative and modern company and brand. We also wanted to remove any association with the previous manufacturer, and position the new brand as a more retail-driven product. We needed to develop a brand, essentially from scratch, that created a positive feeling with end consumers. The previous brand was centered around a contractor base and we believed that the awareness was concentrated within that audience.
Due to the smaller size of our company, I had limited resources to work with for this project. Everything we did was kept in house. While this allowed those of us with the greatest familiarity with our company and its existing brands to drive the project, it was a time consuming endeavor. Any company that is considering a rebranding initiative should make sure they can dedicate sufficient staff resources to each phase of the project – from research to launch – to ensure its success. For those of us that don’t have Apple’s marketing budget, that can mean finding more creative approaches to the same work.
With our product, target audience and positioning defined, the next step was finding the right name. Overall, we were looking for a clean slate that would allow the brand to grow with our rapidly expanding deck tile product line. We wanted it to be short, consumer-friendly, relatable to the business and emitting a fresh and comfortable feel. We also knew that it had to be a word – not an acronym, and would allow the flexibility of adding a brand extension in the future.
I began Googling words, finding synonyms and creating a list based on those criteria. Once a list was defined, we split the entire company into three focus groups, and I facilitated each of them. We made sure that these groups were an open forum for brainstorming, working off the list as a starting point. After the first round, I revised the list based on the feedback I had received, deleting some old and adding some new. I took this updated list to a second round of focus groups, which followed the same format and structure as the first. For the final round of all-company feedback, we brought our entire company into one room to vote on the final list. Using this information, the marketing and executive teams choose the word that would eventually become our brand. The transparency with which we worked through this phase, and the multiple opportunities for everyone to provide input, helped ensure buy-in across the company.
We chose the name Aura. It conveyed light, clean, fresh, comfort and modern. From there we started doing research on the name, trademarks, existing products under a similar or same name, websites, social media and similar uses within the U.S. and Canada. After we determined that there were no legal or trademarking issues, our art director created at least 25 different logo options for that name, with different colour combinations, fonts, imagery and so on. Once the logo and colour schemes were selected, we presented them to the executive team, received necessary approvals and moved along with the design of our marketing outlets (print catalogues, packaging, online, social media, website and so on).
To anyone who is considering a rebrand, I would offer the following recommendations based on my lessons learned. First, having an organized process is critical to its success. Assigning one or two project leads is the best approach. The fewer people that need to be involved in every detail of things, the better. The project leaders can be held accountable for soliciting the input of others as necessary.
Additionally, any focus groups you conduct need to be open brainstorming sessions. That being said, it is also important to manage the negative personalities to ensure that you can continue to allow creativity and unhindered progress and participation. A facilitator needs to be a strong enough personality to guide the process without offering any opinions on the feedback.
Since the rebranded product under Aura Outdoor Living was launched two years ago, and our business with the deck tile program has increased three fold. We are now selling within North America and through a major retailer in Europe. The brand is being received very well on the consumer side. From a marketing and design standpoint, we are developing and creating material that directly relates to our business and our customers. The flexibility of the brand and the brand extensions are huge factors in keeping the positive momentum going.
Brand Vs. Logo
Your brand is much more than a logo. It is a promise to the customer that the organization must fill in everything that it says or does. It is every single touch-point your customers and prospects have with your organization – from your website to customer service.
In fact, the logo and visual identity are usually the last pieces to create once you have assembled the building blocks of your brand, which can include, your vision and mission, brand position, key and targeted messages and name. Once you have built this foundation, you can develop a visual identity that represents your brand and helps trigger an emotional response based on awareness and perception of your brand. Components of your visual identity include logo, slogan, color palette and designs that support it.
Sabrina Seccareccia is a Marketing Coordinator for Gracious Living Corporation and NAWLA Marketing Committee Member