Don’t fear the rebrand

Apr 17, 2022

A rebrand is an opportunity to elevate your firm’s identity and build excitement about where you’re going.

Larson Design Group took on a major brand initiative in 2021 by launching a new visual identity including a modernized logo, bolder colors, and updated fonts. This refreshed appearance has now been deployed across all types of media and both print and digital platforms like our website, social media, proposals, collateral, advertisements, promotions, and events; through our external announcement campaigns; and even interior and exterior signage for our 15 offices across seven states. The initiative has required a lot of time, effort, and coordination across our company – but why all the effort just to change the appearance of something?

Looks aren’t everything – but they are something.

The aesthetic perspective aside (no logo can stay relevant forever), a company should always be aware that there are four equally important aspects of a professional services brand:

  1. Strategy and how you go to market
  2. Messaging and how you tell your story
  3. Your people, how they serve your clients
  4. Your visual identity, which includes logo, fonts, colors, and images

Companies tend to diminish the visual identity component in favor of others, as the line of thinking goes that fonts and colors aren’t relevant in the grand pursuit of contracts and clients.

At LDG, the implementation of a new strategic plan and the goal of expanding our company from regional to national in scope has led to rapid growth in the last several years, which in turn has led us to enter new markets and offer new services. It also forced us to take stock of how the company has changed since the last adjustment to the brand in the mid-2000s. This led us to ask ourselves some tough questions: Does our logo reflect the energy and passion of our current organization and where we’re headed? How is our audience, from clients to employees, evolving and expanding? Which new competitors do we now see and how do we make ourselves stand out in comparison? The answer was that LDG needed a fresh, exciting look to match our energetic growth and development.

In creating our new logo and updating our visual identity, it was crucial to balance homage to our foundation and our legacy of success with our exciting growth and promising future. We enlisted the help of an outside creative agency, who helped us retain the recognizable square shape of our previous logo, and our internal marketing team and an extended group of leadership and employees collaborated on the final design. It was an evolution, not necessarily a revolution, that we believe elevates our identity and builds excitement about where we are going, meant to engage everyone from current clients to prospective clients, new employees, and our industry as a whole.

By the numbers. Obviously, changing your logo isn’t free. There are internal costs, like the time and effort required to scope your project and get internal documents and templates updated; but there are also the hard costs to consider, such as engaging a creative agency, reprinting collateral, and ordering new office signage. As an employee-owned company, it was important to us to be intentional about those costs, so we took a two-year approach splitting final deliverables into Day 1, 100-day, and long-term plans. After the company-wide launch of the new logo, which included some new apparel and promotional items for all employees, we focused on updating client-facing, business development, and recruiting elements first. This resulted in a lot of positive feedback – both internal and external – that we carried into the next phase of addressing more internal-facing aspects. It’s also important to remember that plenty of items can be replaced when due, rather than up front.

Lessons learned. Here are some key takeaways for anyone considering taking on an initiative like this:

  • Network. Connect with others who recently tackled a similar initiative to hear their lessons learned.
  • Be intentional about your project team. It’s not just marketing that handles a rebrand – it takes an army! Get involvement from senior leadership and departmental champions to help conduct a thorough review of all places in which your logo appears. Consider organizing into smaller working groups such as marketing, operations, offices, and corporate service teams – and assign a lead to each.
  • Organization is key. We divided our initiative into three phases:
    • Strategy: Scoping the project and determining a budget
    • Creative: Design iteration and template development
    • Rollout: A comprehensive audit of materials helped us with timing of deliverables to spread cost and internal resources
  • Weekly sprints. With more than 1,000 projects happening throughout the initiative, breaking the plan into weekly priorities helped us stay focused and not overwhelmed.
  • Communicate appropriately. Be sure to have relevant communications for specific audiences like board members, leadership, or all employees. Remember that too many details can be distracting.
  • Use technology to its fullest extent. Tech will set you free! We deployed MS Office 365, especially Teams, for storage, chats, document collaboration, edit consolidating, our draft-to-review process, and more.
  • Lean on good partners. Working with trusted vendors for printing, promotional items, and creative design helped us stay focused on our goals for the initiative and kept the scale in check.

If a rebrand is on your mind, my advice is to go for it. Consider timing it with a major announcement or company milestone so that it gets good exposure – launching a new logo without a story could be a missed opportunity. 

Ashley Heinnickel is chief marketing officer at Larson Design Group. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Click here to read this week's issue!

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.