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An introspective look at rebranding.

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A rebrand is something that most companies will go through at least once in their lifetime. It’s a chance to realign your image with your current status and/or where you are aiming to be in your marketplace, something which is essential to keep growing as a business. It can be a very daunting but exciting time, there will be disagreements, sleepless nights and a lot of indecision. But, if done correctly, the end result can be so refreshing and positive you forget all the hurdles along the way.

Fortunately there are a lot of very talented branding agencies out there to choose from (there are also a lot of cowboys, but that’s a whole other blog post…), so if you choose well, you will be in very safe hands. At Climb, although we are not primarily a branding agency anymore, both Chris and I have many years of experience helping companies define their identities and refine them into strong, lasting logos and cohesive brands.

So, with that said, you would think it would be a pretty straight-forward process for us to rebrand ourselves… Think again!

One of the joys of using an external branding agency is that they will approach a rebrand with no pre-conceived ideas about the company. They will take time to learn about the values, culture and USPs of your business, then start with a metaphorical (and probably literal) blank sheet of paper to begin putting together a new visual identity for the organisation as it is there and then. Unfortunately when doing things in-house, your proximity to the everyday runnings and history of the business and preconceptions about it's existing image can make taking an objective view a lot more difficult. 

When Chris and Stephen founded Climb in 2011, Chris created a brand for the fledgling company which worked very well, if you’d ever seen Climb at an expo (pre 2017) you may remember the eye-catching stand with various devices attached to climbing rope. Over the years the company thrived, took on more staff (including me in 2014), the client base grew in both size and calibre until sometime around the beginning of 2016, after expanding our office space, we decided that it was time to re-position ourselves to reflect our more focussed specialities of bespoke Web Design, Web Applications and Graphic Design.

As designers we are always looking, absorbing and taking inspiration from different trends, elements or styles that we see both in day-to-day life but also in industry press and our fellow agencies. There is so much great work out there, that’s what makes our industry so vibrant and interesting but it also means we are spoilt for choice when trying to choose a direction for our own brand.

When we approach a new brand for a client, after meeting with them and conducting a fact-find session, it’s usually quite easy to gauge the pitch and level of their business and translate that into a style; modern, corporate, traditional, youthful, fun etc. But trying to find that direction introspectively proved to be a lot harder than we’d anticipated. Yes we know who we are, what we do and where we want to be, but with almost infinite possibilities of which direction we could take, it felt almost impossible to commit to one particular avenue and stick to it. This, along the fact that, of course, clients' work always takes priority, meant we had lots of ideas but were struggling to single any out for development. And after a few false starts where we half-heartedly picked a direction, got to a certain stage, then lost inspiration, things were feeling pretty bleak.

In the end we realised that we’d never get our rebrand done if we didn’t commit some proper time to it, as we would a client. So Chris and I pencilled in a workshop session for ourselves one Saturday morning in the studio. No phones or emails were allowed, just that all important ‘blank sheet of paper’. We approached it with an open mind, made a lot easier without the distractions of the day-to-day studio environment. In doing so we were able to focus and distill our thoughts and ideas to the point where, after a few more out-of-hours sessions, we had created a logo which we felt reflects what we do, our USPs, the quality and calibre of our work and our passion to deliver the very best for our clients. And over the following months this logo has formed the cornerstone of our complete rebrand. 

For a pair of perfectionists like Chris and I, who sometimes have markedly different opinions, getting to that point of complete agreement was quite an achievement, and a big relief. And fortunately for our sanity, the rest of the team agreed with us!

Expo stand

Since pinning down our new logo we’ve applied it to all our marketing material, stationery, exhibition stand and of course this, our new website. The rebrand roll-out has been a real team effort, with Stephen, Chris 2.0 and Ben all contributing valuable feedback, expertise, skill and time to make this site, and indeed our brand as a whole, the best it can be. Judging by the response we’ve had so far from clients, the public and our friends in the industry, we’ve achieved exactly what we set out to do and all the stress along the way has been well worth it! 

Thank you to Dan Aziz, for his fantastic photography skills and Galen O’Hanlon at BlackAd for working with us to establish our tone-of-voice and copywriting. We’ve worked with Dan and Galen on several projects and both we and our clients are always impressed with their results. We try to engage their services whenever possible to enhance the end results for our clients.

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