The only thing that is constant in life is change, and this concept is all too familiar within the digital world.
In fact, keeping up with new technology on the ’Net is a full-time job, which can make it very difficult for any brand, including yours, to keep its Web presence modern. It is impossible to incorporate every piece of new technology into a digital existence and bells and whistles aren't really what keep visitors coming back, but it is important to take advantage of new solutions that exist (especially ones that improve the user experience) and to keep websites and social media profiles working alongside evolving brand initiatives. Sometimes, the best way to do this is with a total brand “revamp.”
A brand revamp doesn’t only include a redesigned website, but also an overhaul of a company’s image. But before a single change is implemented, a thorough plan is needed.
When is it time to start thinking about a brand revamp?
There are many reasons why a business might decide to revamp its brand, but according to David Smith, the creative director for B2B marketing agency McBru, businesses will typically refresh their brand prior to a major company event, such as a merger or launch of a new product line. McBru’s 20th anniversary triggered its revamp.
“In part it was that we had outgrown our previous brand," said Smith. "We had brought in some new services that were making us more metrics driven and able to focus more on the end results of our marketing. There had been some desire to update the brand for about a year, but then the final thing that fell into place was our upcoming 20th anniversary, and we thought, 'alright, we don’t need any other reason to go ahead and do this,' because that’s a big anniversary.”
But once the decision to embark on a brand revamp is made, there are still numerous other factors to consider.
How do you begin?
Before any business undergoes a digital facelift, a clear strategy needs to be determined. And the best way to do this is by setting goals to define what success means and plan how to get there.
How to improve the user experience should top the goal-setting list. Josh Otten, managing partner and creative director at Screenpush agrees.
"Nice colors, shapes and copy are all good, but the most important element is how a user/customer interacts with the product or site,” said Otten “Once someone lands on a site, the user experience should inherently show the worth and purpose of the brand, while presenting proper calls-to-action and funneling the user toward the brand's end-goal."
For instance, in McBru’s case, the goal was to support business development. And since the company helps its clients with social media strategies, this was accomplished by prominently featuring social content on its new site.
“One of the big changes this time around was integrating our social media strategy with the website strategy so it was really kind of just one, online strategy,” Smith explained. “That was a really good exercise to go through, because you can do a lot of the content and a lot of the engagement with people through social media, and that puts a lot less demand on the website. For example, on our site, our portfolio is largely existent on Pinterest and YouTube. We didn’t build out pages and pages of portfolios on the website. That was great, it saved us a lot of time and effort, and Pinterest and YouTube are a lot easier to update.”
In fact, incorporating social elements into websites is a design trend that continues to increase in popularity regardless of industry, as it helps companies engage their site visitors and grow word-of-mouth marketing. Likewise, the abundance of services and plugins available on the ’Net has made it easy for brands to more prominently feature social on their sites. Interscope Records, for example, leveraged Echo’s pinboard visualization plugin last October in order to display real-time social content in a pinboard-style layout on its site. Plus, a multitude of sites on the ’Net have leveraged Facebook extensions, like the Recommendations Bar or Comments plugin, which help to boost metrics like engagement rates, time-on-site and page views per visitor.
However, creating a better user experience and more engaging website is only one step of the brand revamp process, because during this overhaul, a brand also needs to take other digital destinations into consideration.
What digital properties are impacted by a revamp?
Since the whole point of a revamp is to alter, improve and modernize a brand’s image, this process typically impacts every channel where a brand has a presence. For example, if your brand’s revamp includes an updated logo or color scheme (which should be decided upon during the initial planning process), this new appearance needs to be represented within your social profiles, advertisements and mobile presence, as well.
“Social websites like Facebook and Twitter are powerful marketing mediums for any business, and that means creating a consistent image and messaging across your entire online presence for your brand’s digital identity,” said Garret Bever, graphic designer at MyCorporation.com. “Many customers now research a potential purchase across a variety of sites, be it social media or crowd sourced reviews, before making any commitment. So it is to the advantage of any business to ensure they focus some energy on revamping their social platforms along with their website.”
In addition to social, businesses need to keep their mobile presence in mind when implementing a revamp, because the popularity of these devices is on an upswing with no signs of slowing down. Nick Gorski, senior graphic designer with Walker Sands Communications, states that focusing on mobile when revamping a brand in 2013 is a “no-brainer.”
“Having a great-looking, functional mobile presence shows that you respect your users enough to help them easily access your content on their terms,” said Gorski. “Those working on current rebranding projects should also consider building a fully responsive site, which eliminates the need to build separate ‘mobile’ versions, and creates a consistent branded experience that translates across most platforms. I would also recommend learning to take advantage of retina and other high-resolution displays, which will be found on more and more smartphones, tablets, and laptops moving forward. A rebrand should be viewed as an opportunity to get as far ahead of the technology curve as possible so that your digital presence is up-to-date long after the update. The farther you are ahead of the curve, the longer it will be before your digital presence requires another update.”
Unfortunately, obtaining a great-looking and functional mobile site doesn’t come easy, which is why brands should take advantage of mobile testing tools to help them optimize their mobile presence to achieve the best user-experience possible for on-the-go customers. Resources like Keynote System’s DeviceAnywhere, for instance, allow developers to check mobile Web content on actual mobile devices in real-time. Moreover, tools like Plunk allow developers to assemble quick click tests to discover how easy or difficult it is for visitors to navigate through a mobile site.
That said, after a brand’s website, social profiles, mobile site and other channels are renovated, one question remains…
When should you launch?
This question can only by answered by your team’s creative heads, who need to come together and decide the date of the relaunch. On this date, everything from ads to social profiles and the website should be switched over simultaneously.
That said, the launch isn’t the end of this project; it is merely a new leg of the journey. Once your brand’s new image and website is live, it is time to collect feedback from your visitors and continuously test new elements and strategies. This helps discover what features provide the best user experience to your customers, and thus, help your brand achieve optimal performance levels.