Redesigning a Brand

February 3, 2011

    So you want to start a business? You’ve got an idea, you see an opportunity in marketplace and you plan to work hard in building your business, but where do you start?

    You start by building a brand.

    There are lots of ideas and opportunities and people who work hard, but few ever become truly successful because they don’t know how to build a brand.

    So how do you build a brand? You need to do three things: get focused, be first and become famous.

    You need a focus in order to stand for something in the mind.

    You need to be first in order to establish authenticity and hopefully create a new category.

    And in the long run, you need to become famous because PR is what builds brands. Since a brand can’t talk, you’ll need a spokesperson get the message out via traditional media, social media and word of mouth.

    Build a brand still isn’t going to be easy. You’ll also need some tools to get your brand in the mind. You’ll need the right name, the right verbal strategy (a nail) and the right visual (a hammer) to drive that nail into the mind of the consumer.

    May sound gruesome, but in today’s tough and competitive climate brute force is needed. Nobody said branding wasn’t messy.

    Recently, my friend Audrey who is a personal trainer decided to make a change in her life. She wanted to start a new business.

    She had always been gifted at helping people decorate and organize. Unlike your stereotypical “decorator,” Audrey is very practical and thrifty. With the tight economy, she thought there might be great opportunity for her idea. To be the opposite of a high-end decorator who goes out and spends thousands of your dollars buying stuff to make your house look great. Audrey’s idea was to take exactly what consumers have and simply reorganize, restyle and reduce the clutter in order to redesign their homes to make them fantastic.

    Audrey has a great idea and she also sees a great opportunity, but she still needs to build the brand.

    Audrey got some pro-bono help from a friend. Here is what he suggested for her brand:

        The brand name: Simple Redesign

        The verbal nail: Restyle, Reuse, Reduce

        The visual hammer: Hammer 1

        The website:

Old card front
Old card004
     I wasn’t impressed. So I decided to give Audrey my advice and I thought you might be interested in reading about it.

    In theory, generic names like Simple Redesign sound like a great idea. They tell prospects exactly what it is your business does. And they give the illusion your company is bigger than perhaps it is.

    At the beginning of the 20th century, generic names were all the rage. When most businesses were small and local, the advantage was in being the opposite: big and national.

    At that time, brands like General Electric, General Mills and Standard Oil stood out. The problem is that over time, as lots of people jumped on the generic bandwagon and most companies were national, the advantage was gone. You can't build a company with a name like GE now.

    Today, launching a brand with a generic name is a killer. There are just too many brands in the marketplace. A generic name gives your brand little protection or power.

    Look at the word “Natural.” There is a big trend towards more natural products and foods. But using the generic word “natural” in your name doesn’t work. There are too many brands with similar names and so none of them stand out.

    The same is true with a generic word like “Simple.” On the other hand, “Redesign” is a nice word for Audrey’s business. It implies the restyle, reuse, reduce concept.

    The final misfortune of Audrey’s initial branding effort was that the website and name didn’t even match. was taken so she had to use  

    Big mistake. If you can’t get the url, you shouldn’t use the name. These days, checking with has become a regular part of our naming sessions.

    Instead of a generic name like Simple Redesign, what could Audrey use as a brand name?

    The strategy of personalizing a brand has a lot of advantages. It leads to a proper name and has the spokesperson built right in. Think Papa John’s, Forbes, Ralph Lauren, Dell and Charles Schwab to name a few.

    Audrey is a terrific and perfect name to use for a brand. It is usual yet easy to spell. So I suggested changing the name to Audrey Redesigns.

    Luckily when you have an unusual name the chances of getting the url increase dramatically. was available.

    The verbal nail Audrey was working with was really nice. I love “restyle, reuse, reduce.” It is repetitive and reinforces the concept of Redesigning instead of just interior designing.

    But no verbal nail will get into the mind without a good visual hammer to drive it in with. A hammer is a key marketing element missing from many programs. For Audrey, her original “leaf” hammer was pretty but had no relation to her brand or her category.

     So if the idea is “Redesigning,” the idea of recycling comes to mind. The visual everybody associates with recycling are the three green arrows that indicate recycling.

      Now that was a perfect visual hammer for Audrey’s brand. So I redesigned the three arrows to simplify them and make them fit her brand name .

Audrey Logo (2)
    The result is a logotype with a strong visual hammer that reinforces Audrey’s memorable “restyle, reuse, reduce” verbal nail.

New card front
New card003