How to redesign a brand for emotional resonance
Is designing a brand or logo a solely creative process? How much data is enough… or too much? What is the role of intuition? What about rigorous methodology?
Data-informed business leaders are sometimes paralyzed by their need for perfect data to answer a business question. They want to test everything to statistical confidence. As someone who has been advocating for controlled testing in business for over a decade, I’m happy to see this is finally a problem! (See my book on website experimentation.)
On the other hand, many creative leaders believe an inspiring “big idea” is all that’s needed to make dramatic business impact. They’ll say that some questions simply can’t be tested or that too much data stifles innovation, or that design is strictly a creative process.
Both sides aren’t seeing the full story. A balanced business leader (or what I call a zen business leader) understands that both inspiration and rigor play a role in great insights. And great insights pay massive business dividends.
So, what do you do when your product or brand needs to be repositioned? How can you use data-informed decision-making and advanced framework thinking to redesign your brand?
Recently, we found ourselves facing these questions. And today we unveiled Widerfunnel’s new logo and fresh look. I’d like to share the process we used for our rebrand and the thinking behind our new logo.
Your brand is too important not to experiment with
I’ve previously written that “the purpose of a brand is to cause an effect. A brand needs to stand for something different and singular. Something focused, memorable, meaningful, and valuable…” and now I’d add with an emotional resonance with the right people to move them to action.
Research on customer emotions by Harvard Business Review shows that customers who feel emotionally connected with a brand are 52% more valuable than even highly satisfied but not fully connected customers.
Insights about how to create an emotional connection with customers are clearly important. Getting it right is too important to leave to guesswork and intuition alone.
Last year, Widerfunnel’s leadership realized our brand needed to evolve to keep pace with the evolution of our services and positioning, and to become more fully connected to our customers.
Since Widerfunnel’s launch in 2007, we’ve advocated for experimentation as the crucible for business decision-making, for use in all areas; from website design improvements to product features and value proposition choices. By optimizing the process of optimization itself, we have gained a reputation as originators of industry-standard methodologies, and are still spearheading change in our industry.
So, clearly, we should try to use our own methodologies when making decisions about the evolution of our brand.
And the best way to make better decisions is to find the right frameworks that enable better thinking.
Framework thinking for business strategy, customer personas, competitive analysis, goal setting… and a rebrand
Framework thinking simplifies complex decisions by separating the irrelevant from the salient, especially in repeating situations or questions.
I believe that most business questions aren’t unique, and that the best answers can be reached using frameworks rather than looking for simple answers. (If you’re new to this blog, you might want to review my previous thoughts on framework thinking for business decision-making.)
I’ve written extensively about frameworks for experimentation programs, such as the LIFT Model® for understanding the customers’ perspective, the PIE framework for prioritizing experiments, the value proposition development framework, and the Limbic® model for understanding emotional systems.
The overarching methodology we’ve developed to answer business questions is the Infinity Optimization Process™, which can contain many types of frameworks to answer different business questions. The key is to know which framework is best for the business question at hand.
The Infinity Optimization Process considers the perspective of two mindsets: the expansive Explore phase on one side and reductive Validate on the other.
But, you might ask, isn’t that methodology designed for website experimentation? How does a rebrand fit with conversion rate optimization?
I’m glad you asked.
Conversion rate optimization is one method to address one type of business question. Over the years, we have discovered that the same experimentation mindset can uncover many other types of business insights beyond customer experience design. We are now applying the same process that we’ve always used to design delightful customer experiences to understand customers’ emotional drivers as well as evolve businesses and products into new spaces.
The power to answer all types of questions is in the interplay of the Explore and Validate phases within the Infinity Optimization Process.
The process is the same, but the types of data and validation are different. Some business questions are better explored with “thick data” from customer surveys, competitive analyses, or a Behavioral Science longitudinal study rather than web analytics or big data, for example. And validation might be conducted with a MotivationLab® study, Behavioral Design sprint, or customer experience benchmarking rather than a randomized controlled A/B test.
Think of it like choosing the right type of focal lens for various business questions. Sometimes, you need to take a broader or more narrow view. Some business questions use a more macro or more micro perspective.
The art of the zen business leader is knowing which type of data and validation is appropriate for each business question.
Yes, I’ll say this again for clarity: A/B testing with statistical confidence is not the only valid type of experiment. It is still the gold standard for validation in many cases, but it can and should be combined with other types of experiments.
Fortunately, in recent years, Widerfunnel has been developing new Explore methodologies for uncovering the emotional resonance of consumers, which are perfectly applicable to brand design.
How we approached Widerfunnel’s brand evolution
When we needed to re-evaluate our brand positioning and design, I made sure we had access to the best frameworks for the job, from inside and outside of Widerfunnel.
We tapped into knowledge from the leading thinkers in strategic planning, from Jim Collins to Michael Porter to Robert Bloom to develop a repositioned business strategy (including a new Market Map, Core Customer profile, Competitive Attribution Analysis, BHAG, 3HAG, and differentiators.) And ultimately, used our own MotivationLab process to evaluate the emotional resonance of our new brand design and our value proposition framework to triangulate on our new brand positioning.
Over the coming weeks and months, we will be sharing more detail about the process we’ve used and the outcomes. Most importantly, we’ll show how you can use similar methods for your own product and brand evolution.
Today, I’m excited to share the high-level phases of the process we conducted to design our new brand.
Before getting into design, it’s imperative to understand where you are relative to your competitors, your customer needs, and your unique abilities.
Understanding competitive positioning
Part of our process was to conduct an in-depth competitive analysis to uncover potential strategic “whitespaces” and differentiators. This process was conducted by Widerfunnel’s leadership team with the support of a business forum led by Shannon Susko, author of The 3HAG Way and the Metronome Effect.
The goal of this isn’t to try to be better than competitors in all characteristics, but to be different so we can continue to be the best in our chosen whitespace for our core customers.
This commitment to delivering value wasn’t new for us. When I launched Widerfunnel in 2007, I decided that we would focus on what we could be best in the world at. That’s why we committed to only running experimentation programs for high volume brands, rather than selling untested advice or small volume ad campaigns.
Understanding customer needs
If a brand is going to be meaningful to your target audience, it should be based on data and insights about their needs, characteristics, and emotional resonance.
One of the most important steps in our process was conducting an in-depth analysis of our clients. We surveyed everyone on our team that has day-to-day client contact, including our Strategists, Consultants, Project Managers, Business Development reps, and Marketers. We identified 32 of the most important characteristics of our clients and ranked each of them on those traits.
Then, one of Widerfunnel’s Data Analysts conducted a correlation study to find out the characteristics of our best clients so we can align our value proposition with their needs.
The outcome from this was fascinating! We learned a lot about how to spot great clients early on in our relationship with them, and prioritize the types of companies to invest more energy in.
Most importantly, we identified the top needs of our core customers, which we could correlate to our unique abilities and come up with our value proposition.
Understanding our unique abilities
Once we had a clear understanding of our competitive position and core customer needs, we could take a close look at our own unique abilities. We took into consideration our core purpose, values, and an analysis of our customer feedback.
By comparing our abilities with competitors, we could define a unique attribute profile that we can sustain and enhance.
With a clear understanding of our competitive situation, the needs of our customers, and our abilities, we could use our PODs, POPs, and POIs framework to create a stronger value proposition. We came away from these exercises over several months with deep insights into where we add the most value and what we can uniquely deliver to our core customer.
All that work just for a new logo?
Yes and no. It does take a lot of pre-work to understand what to communicate with a new logo. But, a brand is much more than a logo.
When I designed Widerfunnel’s original logo, my intention was to pose a challenge to the traditional agency world. Their old gut-feeling approach to selling unproven “big ideas” to clients for the purpose of winning an award for “cleverness” seemed disingenuous, at best. And I believed we could change how things were done.
I’ve always believed there’s a better way to find great ideas, by using scientific experimentation as the crucible for decision-making in all areas of business. I made a bold commitment back then: that Widerfunnel would never recommend an idea that we wouldn’t test. Our neck would always be on the line to deliver legitimate value for our clients.
My goal was (and still is) to prove evidence-based decisions get the best results. And so, Widerfunnel began as a challenger brand.
The original logo represented our methodology of rapid-cycle experiment delivery, which we pioneered. At the time, being an unknown company with unproven ideas, I chose colors that represented stability and profit, with a dynamic icon representing rapid-cycle experimentation.
But, as I mentioned, we recognized last year that our brand needed to evolve because our customers and their needs have evolved. When we began this process, we initially hired an external brand strategy agency to create a new brand model and logo. A lot of that work was helpful to bring a new perspective to our positioning, and some of the logo options were ideas we wouldn’t have explored on our own.
But before launching a full rebrand, we wanted to validate whether it would have the desired resonance with our core customers. Fortunately, we have a methodology for doing this right under our own roof.
Validating the brand resonance using MotivationLab
Based on the work of our Behavioral Science team, we knew that our new logo would have to create positive emotional resonance with our core customer.
We gathered a panel of our clients and future prospects to test the brand concepts using our own MotivationLab service.
We found that, although the concepts provided by the design agency represented the brand strategy, they simply did not strike the right emotional chord with our core customer group. We went through several rounds of iterations and finally decided to go back to the drawing board using our own talented Widerfunnel design team.
The team built upon the new strategic position and the brand model to come up with a concept that not only represents us but also creates the right emotional response for our core customer.
The final result
Whereas our original logo represented our process, our new logo focuses on the outcome for our clients.
While our methodologies are continuously evolving, the result remains the same: we establish a beacon of insights that guides business leaders to make confident decisions.
Our new brand graphic is the ‘spotlight’ – a representation of how we illuminate insights and uncover evidence to guide business decision-making. Our research shows that our clients see us as a partner they trust to build programs that guide their organization out of the fog, toward firm ground.
At the same time, the new logo takes a mature, confident, and relatable stance, with angles to show velocity and movement. The aqua, teal and orange colours take a nod from our original brand while adding a more modern and vibrant hue. The colours indicate a perspective that is reliable, thoughtful, and sophisticated as well as nuanced, courageous, and innovative. The abstract W logomark represents shining a light of insight and growth throughout our clients’ companies.
Over the coming weeks, you will start to see more of our new positioning and services described throughout our messaging.
I’m excited to see Widerfunnel growing into our potential and look forward to the continuation of this great story!
As always, I look forward to hearing your feedback. Feel free to leave a comment below or email [email protected] with your thoughts.
- eBook: The Zen Marketers Guide to Growth
- Free Chapter from the You Should Test That! book: Chapter 2: From Conversion Optimization to Strategic Marketing Optimization
- Blog Post: What is the purpose of branding
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