A few months ago I signed off my All Things IC logo while sat in the theatre in London with my daughter. I’d opened my emails during the interval and saw my new logo staring back at me.
I knew it was the one.
(I know, I know, I shouldn’t have been checking as I was out for the day, but I knew it was coming and was excited to see it).
Over the past few months I’ve been refreshing All Things IC’s branding. I thought I’d share what the process is like so you can discover what to expect if you do the same.
Thinking about a rebrand in your organisation? I’ve revealed what worked, what didn’t, how I made decisions and what I’ve learnt. If you’ve done something similar in your organisation and would like to write a guest post, do let me know.
I’ve split this article into two and this is the first part.
I’ve been focusing on personal branding and marketing over the past 18 months.
At the beginning of this year I felt ready to look at the visual elements, which coincided with All Things IC turning five-years-old in January 2018.
Companies rebrand for many reasons, they may have a merger or acquisition, a change of ownership or want to refresh their identity.
I produce a lot of collateral, from Masterclass decks and certificates, to postcards, pens and social media posts and profiles. I’m also a *little* bit obsessed with stationery, so use any excuse to treat my clients, Masterclass delegates and readers to some branded stationery.
I’d exhausted my capabilities on Canva and decided to call in an expert and invest time, money and effort in communicating what All Things IC is about. It’s clear in my mind, but I knew that clarity wasn’t coming across in my visual communication.
Here’s a selection of some of the elements and assets I’d been using over the past five years:
As you can see, there’s a lot in there! I’ve been consistent with the teal, but the fonts and colour family has varied as the years have gone on and my tastes have changed.
How to choose a company name
The company name was – and still is – my Twitter handle @AllthingsIC.
Trying to choose a company name is incredibly difficult. I’ve helped a handful of independent practitioners choose theirs over the past few years and there’s a lot to factor in. It’s harder than you first think!
Do you go with your name, which potentially limits future growth? Or do you choose something abstract you need to explain every time you say or spell it? Do you create a word or make a phrase your own? It’s a tricky business.
Further reading on the All Things IC blog: How to be a Communication Consultant: getting started.
Once you’ve found a company name you like, you need to:
- Ensure it’s available on Companies House if you’re in the UK
- Check to see if the URLs are available
- Check to see if social profiles are available
- Ensure the name isn’t too close to another company
- Check it’s not taken by a competitor.
You may find your sparkling and original idea has in fact been snapped up years ago and you need to start the thinking process again. My husband and I have been trying to come up with a new name for his IT consultancy business for about three months. We have a shared folder in our phones and regularly put the latest idea into it. We’re not there yet!
The name All Things IC has served me well and continues to, so I’ve decided to retain the name and am happy with my decision.
How to start your rebrand
I started off my branding explorations by reading some books. I recommend Brand Brilliance by Fiona Humberstone for her inspiring, beautiful and thought-provoking images and narrative. She’s also published How to Style Your Brand. I revisited Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, because it’s iconic and it’s been a while since I read it.
Regular readers of my blog will know I practice Working Out Loud #WOL, so if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I’ve been giving glimpses of what I’ve been up to since the start of the year:
— Rachel Miller (@AllthingsIC) February 13, 2018
What’s staying the same?
As with any good change comms, let’s look first at what’s not changing…
The name All Things IC is staying and so is my teal colour. Teal is my favourite colour, it’s the colour my bridesmaid dresses were and it lifts me to be surrounded by it. We’ve given the whole palette and branding elements a refresh, but retained the essence. More on this in a moment.
Finally succumbed to the lurgy today, but my day has just been brightened by receiving this image via email. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at this stage of my branding refresh. Love the teals 😀 #WOL pic.twitter.com/YirJRKXvXr
— Rachel Miller (@AllthingsIC) March 28, 2018
Further reading on the All Things IC blog: Five reasons to get help with change comms.
Calling in the experts
I appointed the fabulous branding consultant Nancy Poller of Aligned Design Co (pictured) to oversee the work for me.
We’ve started to make elements go live and you’ll notice some changes over the next few weeks and months as we switch to the new branding.
I thought I’d share a behind-the-scenes peek so you can discover what the process is like to rebrand, how we worked together and the stages we went through.
How to start the thinking
Nancy and I started our discussions by analysing the way I work, what All Things IC is known for, my values and how I want to communicate my offering.
She sent me a branding workbook to complete to be able to document those thoughts. I carried it around with me for a couple of weeks, completing it over various sittings, giving myself space and time to think, dream and imagine what I wanted us to create visually.
I found it useful to have to hand and kept it next to my laptop during that period, so I could capture thoughts on the go.
The workbook has sections and questions including:
- Where would you like your business to be in six months, a year, five years?
- What makes your business special?
- What would you like a new brand identity to do for your business?
- How should your customers feel when they interact with your brand?
- What 10 words describe how your brand should look and feel?
I found it easy to answer some of these questions, whereas others I needed to think through in more detail. I often found my instinctive response was the accurate one when I tested my thinking.
Thank you to the clients and professional communicators in my network who have given their views throughout this process as I’ve shared elements with you and trialled options and ideas.
Top tip: I’ve found it invaluable to share my thinking and gauge views. If you are overseeing a rebrand in your organisation, invite employees to contribute as you shape your new visual identity.
Nancy and I met up in person and discussed the booklet, my hopes, dreams and aspirations for my business and my preferences for branding.
We clicked immediately and I knew the project was in safe hands.
A new logo
When Nancy and I started talking, I was open to changing everything about the visual identity – apart from the logo.
We discussed fonts, patterns, colours and wording, but I was adamant I didn’t want to touch the logo because I was very attached to it. My All Things IC logo has served me well, I’ve used it constantly since creating All Things IC consultancy in 2013.
I am a visual thinker, so I created a locked Pinterest board for us. We both individually pinned ideas and commentary and used that space to try things out, test ideas and make decisions.
However, it quickly became clear I was missing an opportunity to try something new, even if I ended up sticking with my plans to keep the logo the same. So I decided to open myself up to possibilities.
We investigated whether to update it and what it could look like. Nancy and I worked together exploring all kinds of options. I’ve shared some of them with you below so you can see our thought process.
Here are some of her stunning creations. They’re mock-ups to try things out and are based on my personal preferences….
The evolution of the ideas and designs can be seen clearly in this image. We started with the top left and moved across to the bottom right. We tried out a number of elements including incorporating my love of Art Deco designs and more angular and geometric shapes.
Top tip: Ask for feedback.
When I tested these designs with my clients and peers, it was clear they were not “me” and identifiable enough as All Things IC. The words on the page were right, but the feeling wasn’t.
Nancy was incredibly patient and we kept going back to the drawing board, Pinterest and the branding booklet, to refine and shape the next iteration.
Getting the words right
I had been struggling with the capitalisation. My company name is three separate words: All Things IC. The logo has always had the first two words capped down and IC capped up.
I wanted to take the opportunity to explore capping everything up in the logo. But as you can see from the images above, I ended up deciding on keeping the first two words capped down in the logo.
It suddenly irked me during the process that the logo doesn’t accurately reflect how you write the company name.
But I got over myself(!) and realised it’s an identifying mark and doesn’t need to be capped up. That was quite some realisation and as soon as I gave myself permission to allow it, we made great strides.
The inverted commas in my existing logo (pictured below) were important to me because they denote conversations. This is at the heart of how I work and why I think effective internal communication is critical, because it encourages two-way conversations.
So I asked Nancy to explore retaining those elements. When I opened the email in the theatre, I was delighted see how she had refined the logo to be more streamlined and elegant. It feels like the grown-up version of the one which has served me well for the past five years.
The inverted commas are still there, but they’re more subtle, which I really like. Feedback from clients is it works for them too. So it’s a change, but not a huge one, more a refinement and refreshing it.
We tried it with gold, as I wanted to include a golden element, but in the end, the teal won. I found it hard to produce the gold consistently across the various branding elements and kept thinking it looked too much like honey. So we scrapped the gold idea.
— Nancy Poller (@aligneddesignco) April 24, 2018
Getting the logo right then enabled us to investigate further options including patterns and assets that would sit alongside it. We’d been looking at those as we went along, but having the logo sorted enabled everything else to fall into place.
I’m going to share that stage of the process in another article, which I’ll publish soon.
But before I go, here’s a look at two other iterations. In the top one you can see I’d chosen the font and Pantone colours, but not the logo or pattern. In the bottom I’d chosen the geometric pattern and it has the penultimate version of the logo.
I’ll tell you all about it in my next blog post.
What do you think? I’d love to know your thoughts, you’re welcome to comment below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.
Thank you for stopping by,
Come and learn about internal communication with Rachel
First published on the All Things IC blog 31 May 2018.