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October 1, 2019| Branding
By Marilyn Heywood Paige
The launch of our new company brand today marks the culmination of an 18-month process in which we got to take the advice we regularly dispense to clients when we are hired to brand or rebrand their organization.
How Did We Know It Was Time To Rebrand?
Mike established Inciting Marketing Solutions five years ago as an internet marketing company and had great success with it. But as Mike evaluated the future of marketing, he realized that automation will take over many of the tasks associated with internet marketing.
He knew the smart move was to shift the focus of the company to delivering marketing strategy, campaign execution, and measurement. While some parts of campaign execution and measurement can be automated, the strategic thinking behind strategy and messaging isn’t going to be automated anytime soon.
Undertaking this new direction, Mike brought me into the firm two years ago to handle the strategy and campaign execution. As we started working with larger companies and delivering more in-depth strategies, we realized that there was a brand disconnect between the work we were doing and the brand we had. We had to rethink our brand from the bottom up.
How We Began Rebranding
Following the advice we provide to clients, we started with market research to discover what our target market thinks about marketing, how they approach it, and what obstacles they have to successfully implement it. And then we sat on that intelligence for many months. We were too busy working for our clients to put it to use in formulating our new brand.
About eight months ago we realized that not only was our branding out of step with who we are as a company, but it was also hindering us from closing business. We were the quintessential shoemaker’s children who had no shoes.
Our website was woefully out of date and under-optimized, but we were so busy with clients, we couldn’t make time to update it. (The downside of being marketers is that we can’t kid ourselves when our marketing sucks.) Eventually, perhaps out of sheer embarrassment, we couldn’t put it off any longer. We just had to update our brand.
Re-Imagining Our Brand
We took a look at our mission, vision, and core values. After all, we weren’t simply creating a new website, we were forming a new partnership, renaming the agency, and reimagining what was now possible with the combined strengths of Mike and I.
Just as we would tell a client to do, we had long discussions about what we wanted to accomplish, the kind of work we want to do, and why we want to be in this business in the first place.
Our Passion For Marketing
We talked about our mutual concern for small and mid-sized business (SMB) owners who were regularly getting marketing advice from myopic vendors whose primary interest was selling them something. We recounted our frustrations at having to mitigate the residue of the bad experiences business owners had with those marketers.
We discovered that we were both passionate about educating SMB business owners on the fundamentals of marketing so that they could make decisions based on strategic directions and not just “shiny marketing objects.”
We created a branding spreadsheet where we placed the brand foundations of name, mission, vision, and values in columns and the results of our brainstorming.
We came back to it, again and again, continuing to refine our thoughts until we settled on a mission and vision that resonated strongly for us both and that could motivate us through the inevitable challenges that lay ahead.
Our MissionOur mission is to give small businesses clarity in their marketing and resolve their marketing challenges.
Our VisionOur vision is to empower companies to do their best work.
Re-Naming The Company
Initially, given our passion for education, the company names we came up with were all based on our marketing philosophy and what we believe are the fundamentals of SMB marketing. None were great options, (The proof is in the spreadsheet.) but all the awesome names we came up with were already being used by other marketing agencies.
Again, taking our own recommendations, we surveyed our competitors. We found that a full third of them were named for the founders. Black Paige sounded too ominous, but Paige Black was strong and concise. It worked.
Our next task was to get a logo that conveyed our brand value. We frequently tell clients who are daunted by the process of acquiring a new logo that it will not make or break your business. Once you are in the hands of a competent designer who can give you relevant options, it is a decision best made quickly so that you can move on with the more important tasks of running your business.
With a great logo designer on staff, we knew we would have great options.
There wasn’t a bad choice in the lot. Any of them are a strong choice, but we ruled out all but concept 2 for various reasons. Number 1 and 3 reminded me of a pregnant lady. Half of the element of number 4 looked like a question mark, and number 5 looked too much like a competitor’s logo. Mike and I both liked number 6, but when we tried it out on the wire frame of a mock website, it didn't translate well.
Brand Color Palette
Choosing the logo was fairly easy. The colors, on the other hand, were another story. We started with these:
But Mike and I couldn’t agree on any of these. The palettes with the orange were too close to Broncos colors. The green and yellows reminded Mike of barf. The palettes without orange or green were too samey-samey. We moved onto these palettes:
We liked the top left and bottom right but when we put the colors into mock websites to see how they would look in context, they fell a bit flat. As in this example:
Finally, we arrived at this palette:
Using the intelligence from our market research, it was time to move on to the brand messaging and creating our own messaging guidelines.
If we were going to put our money where our mouths were, our site had to be more educational than promotional. It had to fully explain our marketing philosophy as well as be a resource for business owners to learn about how to market their business. And it had to incorporate what we learned about our target market from our market research.
The messaging on our site positions us as an agency that is dedicated to educating small business owners and that builds custom marketing systems. Our new brand and website are reflections of who we are as marketers and what we see as the best, most strategic means of marketing your business.
Currently, the site is roughly 25,000 words including the downloadable white papers and case studies. It provides in-depth information so that business owners can make better marketing decisions--no matter which agency they choose to work with. We will continue to add more resources to it, so come back often.
Our Brand Value
We make no secret of the fact that our approach is not right for everyone. We don’t have any quick fixes. We aren’t selling any silver bullets. We are, however, giving businesses clarity, resolving their marketing challenges, and empowering them to do their best work.
We are excited about the next chapter. We hope you will be too.
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