I originally published today’s post on Forbes. It appeared on their site on April 27, 2020.

Is it time for a brand refresh?

I know that’s probably not top of mind for you at this very moment, given the current crisis facing the world, but maybe it should be. Business will be back to normal again in the near future. Don’t put off thinking about how you’ll come out of this or how you should be preparing for that now.

Refreshing your brand means you’re polishing it to bring it back to its original luster – or moving it forward to bring out a new shine that was never there before.

When most people think about the phrase “brand refresh,” they think about a new logo, new colors, new corporate identity, etc. When I think about brand refresh, I think about the culture, the employee experience, and the customer experience. I think about employer branding, and I think about the experience as the brand. If we only think about logos and colors and words that make the brand sound different, we’re simply applying fresh lipstick to a pig. It’s time to do a real brand refresh.

Assume for the rest of this article that I’m referring to my definition of a brand refresh.

Why do we need a brand refresh? There are a few reasons, including: staying relevant as an employer and as a provider; infusing new energy and excitement into your brand; attracting new employees, customers, and partners; and standing out from the competition.

How do we know when it’s time for a brand refresh? We often say that the only true differentiator today – in a world where products and services are more and more commoditized – is the customer experience. This is truly the case. When products and services become commoditized, and/or the brand has gone stale (and you’re losing customers), it’s time for a brand refresh.

What else? Well, when there are: inconsistencies in the experience – for both employees and customers, new products and services, mergers and acquisitions that change the employee mix and the customer mix, new product or service launches, or any other change that is outside the norm of your day to day over the last several years, it’s time for a refresh.

What does that – a real brand refresh – entail? Here are 7 elements at the foundation of the brand refresh. Start here, and the rest will come naturally.

1. Secure Executive Commitment

First things first, without a commitment from the top to support and embrace this work that lies ahead, it will not happen. Oftentimes, a brand refresh of the traditional think is dictated from the top, but if you’re using my definition, it takes a little more effort to get the executives on board and aligned.

2. Current State Understanding

What is the current state of the brand, the customer experience, your employer brand, the candidate experience, the employee experience? Understand the current state so that you know what’s wrong today that needs to be refreshed for tomorrow. Do this by listening (feedback and data), characterizing (personas), and empathizing (journey maps) both customers and employees.

3. Data and Insights

It doesn’t make sense to do all of that work to understand employees and customers and then do nothing with what you’ve learned. Data must be analyzed, and insights must be generated, disseminated, and operationalized.

4. Intended Future State

Now that you know the current state and have identified what needs to be changed, you need to define what the intended future state will be. What are the desired outcomes for both employees and customers? Employees and customers must be involved in this work.

5. Corporate Statements

You’ve got them all, right?! Mission, vision, purpose, values, brand promise. I’d say this is a good time to evaluate them all. Do they still make sense for where your business is headed? If not, do the work to update, socialize, and operationalize.

6. Innovation

Don’t settle with the same old approach when it comes time innovate and design new experiences. Albert Einstein was the one who said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” This couldn’t be truer than when it comes to refreshing your brand.

7. Success Metrics

It’s all well and good to talk about a brand refresh, but start with understanding why you’re doing it and what you’re desired outcomes are. Then identify the metrics that will allow you track progress and, ultimately, success.

There are a few things I’m not stating explicitly. One thing is execution. If you don’t do something with what you’ve established in the foundation, it’s all for naught. Also be sure to involve employees rather than force change on them. And finally, communication is key, internally and externally. No surprises; keep all constituents in the loop. That alone may be a refreshing outcome.

A change of environment is pretty refreshing. -Owen Farrell

Annette Franz, CCXP is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, speaker, and author. In September 2019, she published her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the “Customer” in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business); it’s available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. Sign up for our newsletter for updates, insights, and other great content that you can use to up your CX game.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.