When to Seek Brand Therapy
Go Media prides itself in brand-building.
We’re adept at tapping into the core identity of our clients’ brands and helping them find ways to reflect their values.
So why would we hire an outsider to help with our own brand?
It ultimately comes down to two key points:
- A process of leadership introspection
- The value of a fresh perspective
As a professional design firm building on nearly two decades of experience developing imagery for companies of all sizes, our knowledge of the brand principle is refined. When we begin a new project, we are viewing the client and their company with fresh eyes. Usually, they understand that what they’re doing is not working. They realize their current branding is either stale or simply ineffective. It is our responsibility to fix it for them.
But we struggled when it came to making this evaluation of our own brand. When we started the company, our look and messaging worked. But as we expanded, the brand grew in random directions. It was like we planted a nice little tree in front of the house. Then the tree grew up and now branches threatened the roof and the power lines! Do we cut branches? Do we uproot the thing and move it? We were stuck on how to address it.
Not gonna lie, we were somewhat neglecting our own landscape maintenance. We saw it day in and day out. We knew we needed something to reflect all the innovation happening within our walls. We pruned it here and there, but we were unable to settle on a single look or direction. And that was part of the problem too. We were moving in so many different directions, and there was a general lack of cohesion.
In 2006, we launched a new product line, the Go Media Arsenal. Those familiar with it will know this is where we sell products to the design scene. However, that market is predominantly not the same as where our design clients are coming from. We reasoned the Arsenal deserved its own separate brand.
Then, we kicked off this here ‘Zine. This was partially corporate with news related to our design services. However, the tutorials offered are primarily to support the Arsenal and design community. So we started to explore a different design here as well.
The bottom line is: We were having an identity crisis. Were we a design firm? Were we a design product company? Were we also artist advocates with our Weapons of Mass Creation festival?
Some of our staff believed we were cheapening our design services by selling stock graphics. On the flip side, the fact that we were a working creative firm fueled most of our product ideas – and bolstered the legitimacy of those products.
We were divided. We had lengthy debates, some of them quite heated. It’s no wonder the brand was off-base. Our whole identity was confounded.
It went on like this for years.
Finally, what we began to realize was, we were simply too close. We were too close to our own concept, too familiar with our own brand, to really address the issues from a standpoint of solid logic. We needed an expert, but we also needed someone who could be objective.
Enter multi-talented brand strategist Jackie Bebenroth. We met her at the 2011 WMC Fest. We were impressed and enamored by her talent from the onset. If anyone could help us solve this branding conundrum, it was Jackie. Fortunately, she was thrilled for the opportunity to tackle the challenge. We went to work immediately.
Over the course of several meetings, we let Jackie in. Everyone in the firm had a say as we discussed the projects we’re passionate about. We showed her our everyday work environment. We allowed her to see our company culture firsthand.
Jackie commented more than once we were doing everything right: Maintaining a robust blog, developing ancillary products, nurturing a unique and exciting culture, promoting our city and the art community at large. Our major malfunction was we simply weren’t touting it. In fact, we were hiding it! She realized despite our multi-pronged efforts, we were a fragmented company. We were one firm and we needed one voice to take full ownership of everything we do.
The new Go Media Website
This was the a-ha moment we needed. What we’ve been internally referring to as “our brand unification” is now fully underway. We’ve styled our print materials with a fresh & clean cut. And the real flagship of this exercise, our corporate website, has just gone live. We’re proud to announce the launch of the all new gomedia.us! The aim was to bring together Go Media’s smörgåsbord of activities into one place, to better say what the heck it is we do all day and night. You’ll see artwork first with a portfolio carousel right at the top of the page. Also note the responsive CSS, allowing the layout to adapt to your screen size on mobile, tablet, laptop, or desktop browsers. Other amenities include a quote request form, social network & content syndication, and a copious footer. We even hired a fanciful photographer to try and make a bunch of beatniks & geeks look presentable for the staff page. Moreover, our new site does a better job of bringing together what Go Media has to offer in a way that is clear and concise.
This will be the first of many redesigns our websites will undergo. New versions of the Zine, Arsenal, Mockup Everything, and Proof Lab are in the pipeline.
As the vice-president and co-founder of Go Media, I take immense pride in making this company successful. In this case that meant listening to and embracing someone else’s perspective. It meant having some difficult discussions about who we are and where we’re going. And it meant stepping aside and temporarily handing the reigns to someone I trusted to take a hard look at us from the outside and show us what we needed to show those looking in. In the end, it made us a stronger, more unified firm.
There’s an old saying, “sometimes you can’t see the forest from the trees”, that might be spot-on for what happened to us. We were so caught up in the details and our own ideas of the way to go, we couldn’t take a far enough step back. We felt like experienced hikers. But pride may have been preventing us from admitting we were lost. Frankly, we might still be wandering the wilderness if we had not run into Jackie who offered a map of the way out.
When it begins to feel like you’re juggling different companies with different brands and different agendas, take a moment to reevaluate.
Here’s an exercise to help redefine your brand:
- Define your company in two sentences or less.
- List all the feelings you want your customers to have when they come to you.
- What makes your firm unique? Are the “other brands” spinning off actually what make you unique? Can they potentially complement each other?
- If you answered #3 affirmative, wouldn’t it make sense to bring those spin-offs back into your core brand?
Obviously if you’re operating an auto garage & a restaurant, they might not be brands you can combine. But even that example leaves room for the imagination. Maybe the restaurant takes on a classic car theme and then they can share a family brand name. Those same diner patrons are bound to need car maintenance sooner or later!
If it seems like your current brands are meandering or you’re spending too much time juggling what could possibly be unified, stop and try to reframe the problem. If you’ve let it go too far in different directions and your team can’t see a way out, don’t hesitate to ask for help. We’re glad we did.