Since the Minneapolis Women in Marketing and Communications’ board retreat in July,
I have been working on answering the call of the organization — it’s time for a Branding Refresh! There are lots of moving parts to consider when refreshing a brand. For those of you new to branding communications, here’s my short list of those parts:
1. Visually convey the personality and values in a meaningful, memorable way that aligns with the organization’s vision and mission. Eyes glaze over whenever we hear about Mission/Visions in the corporate world, but we all need to focus, as individuals, as businesses and as non-profits. Having clearly written prose for both are tools to start either a dialogue between client and designer, if not a launching pad for brainstorming ideas for a branding refresh.
2. Pay attention to all the touch points the brand will be applied, from print, to website, to social channels, to e-newsletters, to signage, to trinkets, (i.e. SWAG) items.
3. Choose a color palette that matches the tone and style of the organization. In this case, bright and energetic wins out, but be sure the design is strong enough to carry the brand in black and white. It’s too painful an OPPS! should a “must-be-in-B&W” application show up and the opportunity for proper visual representation is missed.
4. How will the brand stand up in social channels, such as profile images and avatars? At 32 x 32 pixels square, the brand has to be super clean to stand strong at a small size. It’s best in early stages of brand development to test out a design and see how well it translates scaled down. Seasoned designers know this as the “postage stamp” test.
5. Horizontal verses Vertical. How is the brand orientated? Depending on the design, a brand might need to have both orientations to best adapt to all applications. For example, it’s a horizontal world online and a stacked vertical design might take up too much
“real estate” in a website and e-newsletter headers.
6. Typography. Just as important as the logo element of the brand, typography has personality and needs to align with what was outlined in Item 1. Also consider the merits of san serif verses serif faces — san serif faces might hold up better online and some serif faces may look dated. Consider faces that have extended family members — roman, (or regular), bold, italic, bold italic for more versatility and brand representation, especially in print. Like design, typography can be very subjective, but in the end, you want to have your logo + type look like a happy couple.
If you’re still with me, here’s a quick preview of MWMC’s branding refresh. I presented two different directions to the board:
This first option brings together the core characteristics of MWMC: Connecting, Collaborating, Communicating and Celebrating. Taking the “C” from characteristic forms an elegant emblem that embodies the essence of the MWMC brand. The downside is this look is a HUGE leap from the current logo and it might take a lot of work communicating the meaning behind this refresh. In doing the “postage stamp” test, Option One begins to lose hold at the small 32 x 32 pixel size.
This look really resonated with board members. It answers all the qualities they were looking for MWMC: vibrant, energetic, a “happening” organization. Since the logo uses the mirrored M and W, it’s far less of a leap in members’ minds from the original logo. The mosaic pattern allows for a much more colorful, spirited look, making it memorable and recognizable across channels. Best of all, the hope is the new look will re-energize membership pride, retain members and attract new members.
More work needs to be done to fully flush out the new look for MWMC. But it will be exciting to see where it leads.