On today’s Reach, Dan Parscale speaks with Arian Durst and Cory Jespersen from the Audigy Creative Team on brands. Learn more about the steps and timing for doing a refresh or a total rebrand for your practice.
DAN PARSCALE: Welcome to Reach, a podcast for audiologists, ENTs, and other hearing care professionals who want to reach more patients and maximize their marketing potential. My name is Dan, and each week I’ll bring you interviews from industry experts who are specialized in marketing to the hearing care industry. Reach is a production of the Attainable Podcast Network. Visit attainable.fm for more information or to access a transcript of each show.
Today on Reach, we have two members of our design team to talk about refreshing your brand. What’s important to designing a brand that really matches your patients needs? Listen through for the answer.
CORY JESPERSEN: My name is Corey Jespersen, and I’m a senior corporate designer for Audigy.
ARIAN DURST: And I’m Arian Durst. I’m a senior graphic designer for Audigy.
DAN PARSCALE: Cory and Arian, how are you guys doing today?
CORY JESPERSEN: Very good.
ARIAN DURST: Very good.
CORY JESPERSEN: It’s very good to be here.
DAN PARSCALE: Cool. Well, thank you so much for joining us. This is our first recording on Reach for the new year, 2017. And because it’s a new year and it makes me think about a fresh start, I thought that this might be a good time to talk about refreshing your brand. And this also happens to coincide with some of the work that both of you are doing with rest of the design team on a refresh of the Audigy brand.
CORY JESPERSEN: Yeah, and actually, it’s been quite an exciting project, and there’s actually two different avenues that companies in general can go down. You can do a rebrand or a brand refresh. And with a refresh, ideally your marketing is staying the same. Your vision, your core values are the same, and the real challenge is really updating your creative assets.
And that can include– maybe your logo is a timeless logo, and it looks good. It doesn’t feel dated, but maybe your website and some of your business collateral might be kind of dated. So in those instances that’s where a refresh could be ideal. And, like, trying to kind of give your creative a face lift.
And on the other side of that, you have a rebrand, where a rebrand is really all about changing your brand. And that could be because of market conditions. Maybe the product that you’re selling doesn’t really fit that brand anymore. So in those instances, it not only affects your creative assets when you do that, but it’s a complete overhaul of your brand.
For example, when I worked at PetSmart, when I first started there, it was called Pets Mart, the emphasis being on Mart. It was all about Kmart, Walmart. That was the trend at the time, and Walmart has really taken a bite out of our market share.
So one of the things that we had to do was shift from being price focused to value focused, and the way that we did that was we designed the logo so that the “pet’ was in red and the “smart” was in blue. So we shifted to smart, smart solutions, advanced nutrition foods for your pets. So that was a way for us to really differentiate ourselves from the competition. So for our members, for example, depending on their market and the competition that they have, they may need to see an emphasis on shifting their marketing strategy and their creative strategies to focus on something that’s going to differentiate them from their competition.
Well, that helps me to segue into one of our first questions, which is, how does a brand know that it’s time for a rebrand or a refresh? It sounds like in the case of PetSmart, you guys had to deal with outside market influence. So what are some of the other reasons that somebody might be aware that they need to refresh themselves or rebrand entirely?
ARIAN DURST: The sort of thing that would determine that it is if your business is starting to kind of sag. That might be time to look into why that is and figure out if maybe branding is an element that could help turn that around. Changes in the market can influence that sort of thing, as well. Sometimes you need to rebrand or refresh your brand to kind of differentiate yourself from other competitors that might have, that you might need to differentiate better than you’ve got at the moment.
DAN PARSCALE: If I have an audiology practice and I’m looking at the PetSmart example, what kinds of similarities can I take to my practice to see if I’m in need of a similar solution? Would I start by looking at my logo and comparing it to my competitors, or would I look at deprecating sales over a certain period of time? What would be the kinds of things that I would look at?
ARIAN DURST: You want to look at what differentiates your business from your competitors. And then once you identify those assets, you want to figure out if your brand is representing that visually, as well. Whether visually or just in tone of messaging, that sort of thing, it’s important to make sure that there is a clear distinguishing factor between you and your competitors. Otherwise, what’s to bring patients your way versus the guy down the street, especially if that guy happens to be closer to you? You want to give them a reason that they should go to your place, and it should be clear through your branding what that is.
DAN PARSCALE: And some of the elements that we’ve talked about already, and I think the first thing that comes to mind is a logo. What are some of the other elements that might be touched on, that would be a visual component of this? That someone who is being advertised to would recognize as a shift if they were paying attention?
CORY JESPERSEN: I think one of the things that we look at as designers is we kind of have this creative philosophy. And there’s an amazing creative director by the name of Stanley Hainsworth, and he’s the creative director for Nike, Starbucks, and Legos International, just to name a few. So this guy is really good, and he really breaks it down really simple, where he says that your brand is a story. Good brands have really good stories. And the creative team, the creative department, what we do as graphic designers is we’re the storytellers.
And we tell that story not only visually, but also it’s really critical for us as designers to tell that story consistently. So one of the things that we have to do as creatives is to develop a system that our members can use so that when they’re doing their creative, they’re consistent with their story, with their message. One of the tools that we use– and it’s kind of more of a high-level, overarching element– is that we create a style guide. And a style guide really is a document that holds all of the creative assets, and it really speaks to not only the vision for the company from a marketing perspective, but it also has our creative philosophy. So we’re talking about tone. How do we want to deliver that creative from a tone perspective, not only visually but through a copy as well?
And the other thing, too, is we want to focus on a look. Do we want our practice to be warm? Do we want it to be collaborative? Do we want to be authentic?
So one of the things that we do is once we build those design philosophies, then we can start working down through some of the other creative pieces. So if we’re looking at photography, we might look at photography that really, that’s shot in a very warm way. Maybe it’s collaboration. So those are some of the key things that we look at kind of from a high-level. Strategically getting that foundation developed before we start really diving into even the logo and other design elements.
DAN PARSCALE: Let’s take a look at the Audigy refresh. Given some of the components that you were just talking about, how does that correspond with some of the elements that we’ve already seen with, for instance, Audigy’s new logo? How does it help to tell the story about where we are now versus where we were when our original logo was started?
ARIAN DURST: With this refresh, we wanted to kind of focus on how our business is about relationships and connections between people. It’s not just about technology. It’s not just about providers. It’s about this teamwork between us and our audiologists and the patients and the technology. All these things come together to create this package of what our brand, you know, is trying to deliver.
So we created an icon made up of three sound waves that, of course, represent the hearing component of our business but also the three symbolizes several other things. It represents the three major pillars of our brand, which are Audigy, Audigy Medical, and Audigy University. It also represents the relationship between us, our providers, and their patients.
For the typography, you know, I explored a number of different options, but nothing quite felt like what I was going for. And so one of the unique things about our old logo is the kind of rounded arch on the A, and there wasn’t really anything that really captured that very well. And so ultimately we just decided to go with a completely custom typeface, and I spent some time kind of cultivating that and making it exactly what we wanted it to be, which is the beauty of that.
DAN PARSCALE: How long did it take to build that, by the way?
ARIAN DURST: Oh my gosh. It was a labor of love over the course, spread out over the course of several months.
DAN PARSCALE: That’s a long time.
ARIAN DURST: Yeah. It required a lot of research and learning on the fly. But ultimately I’m really thrilled with how it came out, and it’s really great that we have something that’s unique to our brand. No one else is going to have the same typography in their stuff, so–
DAN PARSCALE: So that’s an important differentiator, too. You’re not just modernizing or updating the existing logo. You’re also working to set yourself apart from your competitors.
ARIAN DURST: Exactly, yeah. Yeah, it gives us something that no one else in our market is going to have, so that’s nice. And then as far as the colors go, of course, purple has been a staple of our brand for a long time. And so that was something we definitely wanted to retain, because it’s unique in our market, and there’s brand equity in that we didn’t want to throw away. And so we did modify the tone a little bit–
DAN PARSCALE: What about for the other brands? Are they– how are they different from the main Audigy logo?
ARIAN DURST: So the other brands, the icon is the same. We wanted that to carry over, but we differentiated those ones through use of color. Audigy Medical uses kind of a teal, a little bit of a slightly lighter gray than the very dark gray that Audigy has.
That, sort of, represented we felt like the medical sort of environment. We felt a little more clinical without feeling like cold. And so, you know, I noticed that a lot of ENTs, for instance, were using blues a lot, and so I didn’t want to use the same sort of thing so it could allow ours to stand out a little bit more.
And then for Audigy University, we went with, kind of, vibrant orange. We wanted something that would kind of speak to younger folks a little better. So there’s a vibrancy to that. There’s a liveliness to the orange. Also, the orange and the purple and the teal kind of complement each other really nicely, so they coexist really well as a brand family, which was important.
DAN PARSCALE: When Audigy refreshed our logo, we were thinking about how this would affect our members, our clients. If a small business or a practice owner is interested in a refresh doing pretty much the same thing, they’re going to be thinking about their patients, who are their clients. What goes into that thought process, or what should go into that thought process? Should they just think about, what do I as the business owner think is pretty, or do they need to ask every client that they’ve ever had what they think represents their brand? Or what’s reasonable and expected in that process?
CORY JESPERSEN: Again, in my past experience working in retail, one of the things that we tried to do was actually incorporate the consumer into shaping and molding our culture and our brand. So one of the things that we always tried to do was to reach out to the consumer and get their feedback as far as what they felt the brand should be, and there is a lot of complex ways of doing it. There’s sensory brand positioning, where you’re trying to pull, again, like a mood and a tone from them based on sensory, visuals and things like that. And it can get pretty complex, but even focus groups are good and just asking your patients just straight up questions on how they would like to see the brand evolve and what works for them.
DAN PARSCALE: So what would you do if you are a practice owner, though? I mean, I imagine that a lot of our practice owners don’t have the time or resources to put together a focus group, for instance. So is the game a little bit different? Are there slighter rules?
ARIAN DURST: When you’re a smaller business and you just don’t have the resources to be talking to a lot of individual patients about this sort of stuff, even just like taking into account who your target audience is is the biggest thing, really. It’s just making sure that you understand who you’re marketing your brand at. Like, of course you want your brand to represent you and your practice, and it’s important that it does that.
But ultimately, the most important thing is that it’s something that speaks to the people that you’re trying to attract to your business, as well. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to focus on, oh, I love this color, or I want my brand or my logo to look pretty. But it can be really cool looking and if it doesn’t resonate with your target audience, it’s useless.
DAN PARSCALE: Well, how do you know if it’s going to resonate?
ARIAN DURST: You just need to know your audience, know what fuels them, what’s kind of driving their decisions to go to a certain practice. And you know, like Corey said, the best way to do that is to talk to them. So certainly, if that’s an option, do that as much as you can.
DAN PARSCALE: So let’s say that I find out that– I’m a practice owner for this example. And I talk to all of my patients, and I find out that they really appreciate that we are a warm and friendly place to get their hearing care needs. And I tell that to you guys, my design team at Audigy. What do you take from that?
ARIAN DURST: I mean, that’s useful information for sure. The more information that we can get, the better. The more complete picture we have of the kind of person that they want coming into their practice, the better. And you know, there’s sometimes a difference between the kinds of patients that a practice wants to attract versus the ones that they are attracting. Of course, you don’t want to alienate your existing base, but sometimes there might be a different market that’s untapped that you’re wanting to look at. And that’s something that’s important to take into account, as well.
CORY JESPERSEN: One of the challenges we have is getting that research up front. And since we are designers, and we live in a very subjective world, the more strategy that we have and the more information we have, so that when we design a piece, we can look at that piece and say, does this piece meet the objective? And as long as it meets the objective, then most of the feedback that we get at that point is really just subjective feedback and small tweaks. So that is one of the things that is critical for us as designers is to not just wing it but actually have that information up front from the patients in order to create a logo that’s going to resonate well with them.
DAN PARSCALE: What are the most important pieces of information that you need in order to carry through a development strategy for a refresh?
ARIAN DURST: We need to know what sort of core message that a brand wants to project into their marketplace. That’s a strong piece, right there. Ideally, a really clear snapshot of the kind of patients or customers that they are wanting to attract.
It’s also really helpful for us to know any key information about competitors. We don’t want to accidentally design something that’s going to look just like their competition. Yeah, I mean, I would say those are kind of the core pieces that they want. Also, just kind of any key emotions or feelings that they want the logo to convey.
DAN PARSCALE: Real identity pieces, then.
ARIAN DURST: Right. Things that really speak to what the practice is, what it’s about.
DAN PARSCALE: And would those be things like emotions, or would they– how would those be represented?
ARIAN DURST: They can be emotions. They can be values. You know, they can– if you want to represent that you’re technical experts in your field or that you’re caring, listening providers or that you provide an elite level of service. Those are all sorts of values or emotions that are good to know that you want communicated. And we can try to do what we do to translate that into some sort of visual representation.
DAN PARSCALE: OK. Well, guys we’re getting to the point where we’re going to start wrapping things up, and as we do with every show, we try and remind our listeners what their top three takeaways are. So what are the most important things from our discussion today that you want people to be left with?
CORY JESPERSEN: Number one, it’s critical to know whether you’re going to be doing a brand refresh or a rebrand. And again, you can determine that on whether your market is changing or whether you just simply need to refresh your creative assets.
ARIAN DURST: Number two, it’s really critical to just understand your market, your target audience, and remember that that’s who you’re speaking to. That that’s the most important part of your messaging is how you communicate to them.
CORY JESPERSEN: And number three, know your story. A brand is a story, and not only is it important to have a good story, but it’s also important to have the creative to be able to tell that story. So you’ve got to have a good storyteller, and you have to be consistent with that story.
DAN PARSCALE: Great. Thank you for your examples from the Audigy refresh, as well as some of the other outside the box examples that we went over today. I definitely learned a lot, and I’m really excited to see this completed, too.
ARIAN DURST: Yeah, us too. Thanks for having us.
CORY JESPERSEN: Yeah, thanks for having us. Thank you.