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Updating your corporate identity? Read this first…

Imagine your company’s new brand expression is the Sydney Opera House. Designed and built by the professional architects you hired to replace your tired old building, the new structure is a thing of beauty. It’s visionary, one-of-a-kind. It looks great. And it’s memorable. In fact, your employees and customers are already complimenting you on a job well done. But will your Opera House still be impressive 12 months down the track? Or will it have become an eyesore that will have management wondering whether it was worth spending all that time and money?

A year after launch, your once grand Opera House may already be falling apart. The photographic images that worked so well have now been replaced by the best available photos of the installation your company has just completed in China. Taken by one of the guys at the office down there, they’ve got that “holiday snapshot” quality. A new graphical element has been introduced, too. Designed by the managing director’s sister-in-law, it’s a new product logo that’s pretty nicely done, really, for someone who doesn’t do that sort of thing for a living. It was cheap, but it doesn’t hang together with the rest of your visual identity – so it ends up sticking out like a sore thumb on your website. As for the latest texts, well…there’s no need to rub salt into your brand’s now bleeding wounds.

In fact, after just 12 months, your fantastic new brand and the website that carries it are already well on their way to requiring a new revitalization project! Fact of life? Or can something be done to protect your investment with a little careful planning?

Smaller (50-2000 employees) B2B companies often have little more than an in-house marketing coordinator and a few freelance graphical designers and copywriters as their creative team. Every now and then – perhaps every few years – someone at the company decides it’s time to modernize the company’s corporate identity and, along with that, its aging website. Typically, that’s when they turn to an external communication agency to get the job done. A beautiful new visual expression, powerful messages and message platform, and smooth, clear site navigation are the mark of any good agency. If you’re lucky, you’ll find exactly that kind of agency and achieve a satisfying result.

But it’s what happens after the corporate branding agency has completed the revitalization project that’s just as  important. Smaller B2B companies usually send the external agency off with money in hand and thanks for a job well done, then rely on their in-house team, or cheaper local freelancers to carry the good work on from there. And that’s where, all too often, the powerful corporate identity created for your brand quickly starts to erode.

The moral of the story? When your next brand revitalization project is ready to roll, use some time to consider how you can maintain the quality of visuals and text. Talk to the agency doing the job to hear what they may suggest. Perhaps even use them as “sparring partners” at regular intervals to help call attention to where your corporate identity might need some extra care.

And remember: a brand, like any other business asset needs to be maintained if it is to keep its value. Just as you would never let your plant and machinery wear down to the point where they are no longer competitive, so too, your corporate identity deserves to receive proper care and attention.


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Jonathan Winch

I’m Jonathan Winch, partner at cylindr and BBN International and a B2B marketing enthusiast. I've participated as a strategic and creative resource in the marketing and communication sphere for over 25 years, making contributions to the strategies and communications of companies of all sizes, the best known of which include Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, Danisco, GN ReSound, Hempel, Nokia Siemens Networks, LEGO, Coloplast, and Johnson & Johnson. My mission? To help B2B companies make the most of the value they create for the world. My hobby: Nutritional science, particularly sports nutrition.

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