Investing time in your firm’s brand can have a positive impact for years to come.
Undertaking a creative project such as a logo redesign can be invigorating, inspiring—and potentially intimidating. Outsourcing the project is a viable path, considering the expertise and talent that marketing firms can bring to the table. It benefits everyone to stay in their lane—producers produce, creatives create.
If you choose to outsource, your leadership must still play a role in the rebrand to ensure the outcome is deeply rooted in strategy and authenticity. Otherwise, it's just an arts and crafts project.
We call this process “future-proofing." It's about thinking from a strategic point of view—to evaluate the long term as opposed to the next quarter. A powerful brand can last for years, as long as it keeps customers and employees at its heart and demonstrates it through relevant products and services delivered cohesively and consistently.
Future-proofing a design project, for example, means creating a design that is relevant, unique and enduring. A visual identity—name, logo and tagline—should be crafted so that if you put your hand over the name you still know what the brand evokes due to the typographic style, color palette and tone of voice. Building a toolkit encompassing the logo and conceptual applications—such as website, social media presence and PowerPoint presentations—ensures the identity is useful and enduring.
This is why handing over your logo to a marketing agency and asking them to update it is usually a missed opportunity.
Some marketing firms, if working in a vacuum without ample strategic input from the client, will want to put their stamp on the new visual identity. The result might be dramatic, eye-catching or drastically different from the current look. But at what cost? Will clients recognize it? Is it on message? Does the color exploration work? What personality is evoked? Will your employees feel it's authentic to your agency? Is it just this year's model, or will it stand the test of time?
Independent agency leaders should collaborate on creative projects rather than outsource them entirely. Discuss your core values. Share your personality, your mission, your vision. Evaluate messaging that will resonate with your customers and employees. What's non-negotiable for you, such as your history or a particular color?
It's OK to ask the marketing firm to explore new territory in type treatment and color palette, but be sure they understand the boundaries or it will be like watching a child tinkering with toys: Who knows what you'll get.
Independent agencies also might consider gently evolving a visual identity rather than overhauling it entirely. Coca-Cola is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. The visual identities through the decades very much resemble one another—and it's obvious that new iterations are still paying homage to prior versions. This approach can work well with longstanding insurance agency brands too.
If executed correctly, your firm's visual identity can last for a decade or more. It's an investment of time and resources that should be enhanced by creative professionals—not solely owned by them. Collaborating and embracing a process deeply rooted in strategy will positively impact your firm's brand for years to come.
Laura Packard is vice president of insurance marketing firm Aartrijk.