With Tailwind’s 10-year anniversary this past week, we decided it was time for a brand refresh, and boy did it turn out even better than we imagined! Just take a look for yourself.
And want to know the best news?
We documented every single step of the way to give all of you lovely individuals and business owners a behind-the-scenes look into the process.
For this blog post, and mainly for all of you guys, I sat down with Justine Gab, a Tailwind Product Designer and a key player in our brand refresh.
And together, we’re going to give you an inside look into the good, the bad, the easy, and the grueling aspects of planning, implementing, and launching a successful brand refresh.
“I enjoyed the process. It’s both exciting and nerve-wracking because you want it to be great!”Justine Gab, Tailwind Product Designer
In this post, expect not only to learn how our massive brand refresh went but also what exactly a brand refresh is, why and when to do one, and how to pull it off.
We’ll be breaking it down and giving you all the info and resources you’d need to do your own brand refresh!
What is a Brand Refresh?
Simply put, a brand refresh is like a personal makeover for a company. Refreshes can be anywhere from a new logo (think new haircut or color), to a top to bottom aesthetically pleasing upgrade, and that’s what Tailwind did.
Go big or go home, right?
A brand refresh usually includes visual updates with an overall revamp of a company’s style, tone, and presentation. It’s a chance to update outdated colors, themes, and graphics to reflect your growing and evolving company.
Brand Refresh vs Rebranding – What’s the Difference?
A brand refresh and rebrand sound wildly similar and can seem interchangeable to anyone outside the design industry. But despite having familiar names, the two are quite different!
A brand refresh is more of an upgrade, like a makeover or a fresh set of paint. Brand refreshes help a company evolve and remain competitive in the marketplace while maintaining its core identity. With the constantly changing world of design, certain color schemes can look outdated within a few years, and brand refreshes are crucial to remaining relevant so they can keep growing.
Social media gives customers tons of options for finding products and resources, meaning the competition will always be there. And who will your customers most likely choose to purchase from? A company with outdated branding, or the one that has evolved and obviously knows what they’re doing? Spoiler alert: It’s definitely the latter!
Now, let’s go over rebranding. Rebranding is, in a sense tearing everything down and starting again from scratch. While a brand refresh is more changes/updates to the presentation, rebranding is a complete transformation.
In a nutshell, a brand refresh is like an episode of Queer Eye, whereas rebranding is like an episode of Extreme Makeover – a transformation to become something or someone else entirely.
Since it may sound a bit drastic, let’s discuss why rebranding is good for certain circumstances.
Mainly, rebranding is the perfect chance to reset your brand. Whether your direction or products have drastically changed or the company has been restructured. Rebranding is an opportunity to influence and change customers’ perceptions of your company.
Alright, now that we’ve thoroughly gone over the difference between the two, let’s jump back into Tailwind’s brand refresh right meow.
Why (and When) to do a Brand Refresh
Now that we know what a brand refresh is, let’s go over why a company may need one, when to do a brand refresh, and why we choose to refresh the Tailwind brand!
So, why do a brand refresh?
As I mentioned earlier, the market is constantly changing, and if you’re not remaining relevant by evolving too, you’ll fall behind.
An updated brand can significantly increase your marketplace credibility and help establish authority with both old and new customers. Investing in your brand also makes you appear much more professional and allows customers to take you seriously.
Brand refreshes can also help you appear at the top of your industry with new cutting-edge colors and designs that will catch people’s attention and make you stand out.
Should you refresh your brand? Let’s take a looky-loo and find out.
When to do a brand refresh:
- Your logo and colors are now outdated.
- Are your colors and logo stuck in the past? Those outdated color schemes may be preventing you from growing and reaching new people. In marketing, your brand’s appearance is nearly as important as the product.
- Your company voice and values have changed.
- Does your brand messaging reflect who you and your company have become? Do you need to re-emphasize what your brand is and what it stands for?
- You struggle to stay consistent and keep experimenting to find a new direction.
- Being inconsistent with color schemes and logos can confuse your customers about who you are. A refresh with newly defined colors and designs can help give you the direction to stay consistent and predictable.
- Your audience has changed, and the current brand visuals aren’t reaching your intended customers.
- As your brand has evolved, your audience may have too, and your current visuals could be preventing you from reaching and connecting with your new target audience. And a refresh can help you narrow down how to find and connect with them.
- Your company is growing and needs to be more versatile and adaptable to your new products and features.
- If your company has gone through changes to support new growth, then it may be time for a brand refresh. Whether your products or services have evolved or you want to take a new route in marketing, a brand refresh can help you get there.
And for the sake of transparency, one of Tailwind’s internal values, let’s go over why we decided to do a brand refresh.
Tailwind launched ten years ago, and while we were learning, tweaking our products, growing our team tremendously to over 50 current employees, and adding new services, the one thing we needed to do was refresh our brand.
And we knew we weren’t the exception. To stay relevant, we needed to refresh.
“There were multiple goals going in, but the biggest goal was that we all change a lot in ten years, and our brand is no exception.
We wanted to update our look to reflect all the ways that Tailwind has expanded to help marketers do better marketing.”Justine Gab
We also needed some guidance regarding updated colors for marketing purposes and to stay relevant to our customer base of cutting-edge business owners.
Tailwind Transparency Value: Before vs. After
As a business that prides itself on being a small business and an entrepreneur’s marketing team, it was vital that our designs show how relevantly current we are to re-establish the authority we used to blaze into the marketplace back in 2011.
And not to be biased, but our new colors and logo have done just that, launching us into 2022 and beyond!
But we aren’t done yet! Next, let’s go over a brand refresh strategy.
How to Do a Brand Refresh (From Start to Finish!)
So, what all goes into a brand refresh, and how long does it take? The project can feel intimidating, and refreshing a brand can be pretty extensive, especially if it has been over five years since you last updated your company’s look. So, where do you even start?
In this section, we’ll answer your burning questions by sharing parts of my interview with Justine as we discuss the various steps and stages of how to refresh a brand. From finding and working with an agency, what you need to provide, and what to expect.
How long does a brand refresh typically take?
“It depends on the scope of the project. This one [Tailwind’s] is probably going to be about four to six months total. But a lot of changes are happening, and there’s a lot of ground to cover. There’s a lot of updates to be made in a lot of different places.
What we did was going to be about four to six months, maybe even longer for some pieces that are low touch point pieces. But I mean it can be a couple of months to a year, two years. It depends on how large the brand is.”
Now, let’s introduce you to Tailwind’s internal dream team who represented our company and took on the massive task of refreshing our brand.
Assembling the Team
One of the most important parts of the process is choosing which members to represent your company and advocate for your brand’s identity.
You’ll want members who work well together, have been in the company a while, know the foundations really well, and are organized.
It’s also a good idea to have a member of each department to make sure everyone is getting a say in its new direction.
I was the Creative Manager and Visual Designer on the marketing side, and then Sam Provenza was the UX Manager on the product side. We represented the company designers in the mix. Then there was the VP of Product, Product Marketing Manager,and the Director of Marketing also on the team.”Justine
Justine mentioned in the interview that no one on the brand refresh team had ever been part of a project like this before, and had to figure it out together. However, we had product, marketing, and leadership closely involved making sure the process ran smoothly and successfully.
The process was time-consuming and tedious, but Tailwind’s brand refresh team worked together to represent our company and hired an outside agency to make our vision a reality. In the next section, we’ll discuss how Tailwind found the agency we worked with and what it was like working with one.
Finding an Agency
One of the game changers for Tailwind’s brand refresh was using an agency to help our dream team piece together a strong vision now and into the future.
While choosing an agency to help your vision come to life can help the process become much easier, finding an agency that’s a good fit is another big task. Along with that, you’ve got to organize your wants, needs, and asks. Because the clearer your vision, the better they can get it right.
Using Tailwind’s experience as an example, Justine will detail what all went into finding and choosing an agency, along with what it was like working with one.
Step 1: Deciding what to include in the refresh.
“A big part of me being on the team was building out a document saying these are the things that need to be refreshed, this is why we need them refreshed, and this is who would benefit from this refresh or who would use these new designs or elements, right?”
Narrowing down what you need to do and why it is necessary is imperative for a company’s leadership team to sign off on the task and put together a budget.
This brings us to the next section!
Step 2: Plan a budget.
I created a list of the table stakes and the nice to have options. We had a budget from the beginning, with a little bit of flexibility, but you absolutely need to look for someone who’s within your budget. Some of these companies might have a minimum, like a certain amount, before they would even consider working with you.
Having a budget you can afford will greatly help you weed through agencies and make sure you find one that’ll be a great fit and can keep the whole refresh team happy.
Step 3: Set a timeline.
“The other thing that was important for us to some extent was the timeline. There might be an agency out there who says they’d love to work with you, but let’s say they can’t start work until two months down the line. That wasn’t going to work for us.”
Setting a proposed deadline and timeline helps an agency know if they can work with you or not, depending on if they can make your timeline work.
Brand refresh agencies have multiple projects going at once, and if you have a strict timeline, like Tailwind, for example, we wanted a brand refresh to coincide with our 10th anniversary, then that can be a huge deciding factor. Your refresh team should calculate the timeline before meeting with agencies.
Step 4: Narrowing down agencies based on your non-negotiables.
“We made a list of five agencies. And in that list, we made sure the pricing was aligned, they were going to fit our budget, and they had experience in the SaaS industry. We really wanted to work with an agency that had worked with other companies like us. It’s so important to work with someone who understands your industry. That’s key.”
There was also a lot of research going into making the list of agencies. Our internal brand refresh team scoured past projects of agencies using Dribbble, a step Justine highly recommends.
A great way to narrow down agencies is by looking at their portfolio to see if they have experience with similar businesses in your industry. Seeing relatable examples can give you confidence that the agency will understand your ask and allow you to see how the execution will look.
That related experience will save you time from beginning to end!
After deciding on possible agencies, you schedule meetings with the chosen ones to share what you’re looking for and determine if you may be a good fit.
Step 5: Meet with the agencies.
“We met and formed a list of agencies who we would like to work with, reached out to them, and then set up meetings and basically gave them all this information of what we want to do, what our budget is, and our timeline. And then they came back with a proposal.”
Meeting with an agency is a chance to feel each other out while sharing your vision, timeline, and budget.
Next, the agency puts together a proposal that will show you how well they understood your ask and determine which agency is the right fit. And if there are multiple offers you find amazing, I recommend a quick game of eenie-meenie-miney-mo. (KIDDING!)
Then, you get to pick the one you think best matches what you’re looking for.
“We went with an agency called Bruno. And in their proposal, they outline how they’re going to help us achieve these goals, get a new logo, get all of those things. And we had a cadence of meeting once a week with them.”
And now we’ll be detailing the experience we had hiring outside help.
Identifying Work to Be Done
After choosing Bruno, it was time to plan and strategize the brand refresh and everything that needed to be done.
The bare minimum of what we need with this refresh. So it included things like the logo, color palette, typography, visual style guide, and iconography.
Nice to Haves:
Things that can elevate the brand but weren’t necessary for the agency to deliver on. Things like that would be an animated logo, color system proportions, abstract UI elements, and more complex graphic elements.
That was stuff like a video style guide, animated icons, custom iconography, animated illustrations. Things that are just really cool to have but probably aren’t going to happen, which is dependent on budget.
Having everything so detailed and laid out is a sure way to make sure you get exactly what you want and that no one will waste their time putting together something you may or may not like. This way, everyone is a winner.
Once the brand refresh team laid it all out to Bruno, they took the ideas and made it into a mood board, which brings us to the next part.
First Impressions and Discovery
This was Bruno’s first attempt at visualizing and piecing together who Tailwind is, our personality, and the visual direction we were hoping to head in. (And this part was Justine’s favorite!)
The team put together a series of mood boards for Tailwind, helping identify what we liked, didn’t like, and what felt in line with the brand.
“And then they went back and created a specific mood board, which is just another iteration of the general mood boards but getting closer to what we would want. And then, based on our feedback, they went and created designs, a color palette, and basically, everything you see today. But it just starts to get a little more polished along the way.”
Below is the specific mood board Bruno put together for Tailwind!
Getting the Deliverables
Once Bruno and the whole brand refresh team narrowed down who Tailwind was and what our persona looked and felt like, it was time for Bruno to get to work and put pen to paper. Or, Apple Pen to iPad, or something like that.
The Brand Book
The brand book is a 90-95 page book with our new company design rules to stay within the brand. It goes over our image, personality, and every detail of who we are.
“Oh gosh, the brand book. It’s amazing. It’s just visual delight and goodness. I think creativity thrives in spaces where there are parameters, rules, and guidance. The brand book took all of the work that had been done over the past four months and turned it into a finished product. It’s the deliverable that’s delightful to look at. It’s beautiful to share. It’s inspiring. It’s invigorating.”
Having a brand book makes it easy and cohesive for the entire company to remain within the same parameters for representing Tailwind’s image. The brand book is something our entire company can refer to for years to come regarding any questions related to who and what Tailwind is.
One of the main changes in our brand refresh was updating and revitalizing our logo.
A logo is what customers see first and is one of the most important, if not the most crucial part of a brand’s visual identity because it introduces who you are, what you do, and how you can benefit them.
Having a fresh and updated logo is especially important in a SaaS business that primarily deals with social media’s ever-changing world.
“Tailwind’s eight-year-old logo needed a refresh and modern design to reflect the evolution of the brand. And a logo that allowed for sub-branding was also a plus. And you kind of need to remind people, hey, we’re still around.”
Another design element Bruno helped us narrow down was Tailwind’s approved font. Our new font, Studio Feixen Sans Bold, is described as being friendly and simple, which felt perfect for our brand’s personality.
Tailwind decided on five core colors which our entire company voted on, giving unique names. While some of my personal favorite name options didn’t make the cut, (*cough* “shark”), The names we did pick are quirky, fun, and somewhat short.
This is actually really important, for the sake of the designers that have to input them over and over again.
Our chosen color names are Jam, Sky, Sunflower, Salmon, and Smoke! Check them out below, and try not to get too jealous.
All of the deliverables far exceeded not only the brand refresh dream team’s expectations but the company as a whole. Shortly after the brand book was given to us, Justine and Sam hosted a company-wide meeting where they showed off the new exciting visuals, colors, fonts, and personality.
Everyone was oohing and ahhing at the new exciting and clear direction we were going in as a team. And at the new cutting edge colors, graphics, and animated logo.
Our new refresh is sustainable to launch us into the future while keeping us competitive in the workplace and showing who we are and what we are. These new guidelines will allow us to remain consistent throughout departments and give our design team clear guidelines and instructions.
Sage Tips from Justine on How to Do a Seamless Brand Refresh
Justine and the rest of the brand refresh team can no longer say they’ve never done a project like this before as they’re officially brand refresh seasoned pros!
Now that Justine has some experience under her belt, she has some tips for anyone else embarking on the journey of refreshing your brand, and ways to make sure this is the best move for your company.
“I think it’s important to understand if you have the resources to accomplish something like this. And I’m not just talking about financial resources.
There’s also the reality of getting something great back and then finding out you don’t have anyone to execute on updating these things. So I think understanding resources is crucial.”
2. Be Realistic
“I think being realistic about it is important, especially when it comes to resources. Know the resources you have, both financially and in terms of manpower.
Because it is a lot of work. It’s months and months of work. And it can easily get derailed or get pushed back if no one is there to kind of keep pushing it forward.”
3. Know What You Want
“You have to know what you want. At least it will make it a lot easier to know what you want. Like I said earlier about making the list of, ‘these are all of the things that we want or need to be updated in order to make it worth it.”
4. Have a Rollout Plan
“I think something that is overlooked is a rollout plan. And really, a rollout plan should be thought about in the beginning because it comes back to resources and manpower.
Timing is crucial for something like this. You can have the perfect new brand and the perfect new visual identity. But if it’s not being rolled out, or if it’s being rolled out in a way that’s either slow or not fully thought through – like maybe some places get the rollout, other places don’t – it can be a failure.
And it would be due to lack of planning and resourcing.”
5. Trust the Process
“It can be hard for non-creatives in the mood board phase to understand what will come out of this. That process can feel chaotic in some instances.
So I think just trusting the process and trusting the company [if you work with an outside agency] to do great work. And give them candid feedback will help guide you to the end result.”
6. Know When to Pick Your Battles
“Know when to pick your battles. Because inevitably, you are going to disagree with someone else who you are working with about something. And understanding that, is that a hill you are willing to die to push that issue further?
Or is it inconsequential in the long run? Because you can’t fight everything. It’s exhausting, and people aren’t going to want to work with you. It’s good to concede on some points if you either don’t feel strongly about them or they’re inconsequential.
It’s okay to let those pieces go and fight for what you believe in when that time comes.”
So now you know how to pull off a successful brand refresh and what the process looks like from a company perspective. While there were many parts to juggle, the changes were needed and welcomed by our company as a whole.
And now we all get to be part of the big reveal, right on the heels of our tenth anniversary!
Thank you, Justine, Sam, Bruno, and the rest of our brand refresh team for the tremendous work you’ve done making our brand look great!