Our company went through a lot of exciting changes in 2019. We made acquisitions, introduced new services, added great clients, and expanded our leadership team. As a result, we knew we needed to create a new brand identity that would reflect all of these investments and communicate to the world everything the new BVA is all about.
Rebranding a company is not an easy or simple process, and this project was no exception. With the involvement of our entire leadership team, our partners, clients, and many employees, we are excited to share our experience and learnings. This is the story of our new brand, BVA.
Brand, Brand Identity and Rebranding
What’s a Brand Anyways?
If you were to ask a room full of people what a brand is, we are confident that you wouldn’t get any two matching answers. Why? Because brands mean different things to different people.
When thinking of a brand, most of us will visualize Coca-Cola, Nike, Google, and more. And while it is critical as a consumer company to create a brand that creates an emotional connection or reaction from consumers, this element is often overlooked in a business-to-business (B2B) environment. After all, people are the ones making decisions, not businesses, and they need to be inspired and excited by companies in order to buy into them.
What companies sometimes misunderstand is that a brand isn’t what you say it is, it’s what they say it is-- “they” being your customers. Marty Neumeier, author, and speaker on all things branding defines a brand as follows “A brand is not a logo. A brand is not an identity. A brand is not a product. [...] a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or organization.”
Elements of Brand Identity
Brand identity provides strategic direction, purpose, and meaning for a brand. It represents how the brand wants to be perceived, and since the way your brand is perceived can be key to your brand’s success (or failure), getting this part right is incredibly important.
There are five basic elements to a brand’s identity that, when put together, create a cohesive (brand) image in the mind of the consumer.
- Logo: A logo is what identifies a business in its simplest form via the use of a mark or icon. It’s the cornerstone of your brand identity, as it is the immediate visual representation of your company.
- Shape: As different shapes will send a unique message, it’s crucial that your choices reflect your new identity. For example, sharp shapes like squares and rectangles are representative of strength and efficiency. They create a feeling of stability and trustworthiness. Think, Microsoft’s icons.
- Colors: Colors have a significant impact on people’s emotional state. In fact, the effects can be physiological, psychological, and sociological. Red, for instance, is the color of passion and excitement. It’s the perfect choice if your brand identity is loud, youthful, and exciting, like Coca-Cola.
- Typography: Serif, Sans, or Script? The type of font you use is another layer of detail that expresses your brand’s identity and creates recognition in the mind of consumers. Back to Coca-cola… in reality, you’d probably recognize their font anywhere.
- Voice: It’s not always about the looks; the way you sound or read is also important. The tone of voice you use with consumers will shape your relationship with them.
By now you may wonder if a brand is so complex, and it might take you years to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of consumers, why would anyone want to start over and rebrand? Great question; we like the way you think!
When is it Time to Rebrand?
Rebranding is about recreating the way an organization presents itself to the world. Sometimes, like in the case of BVA, a rebrand helps a company enter a new phase of its existence, with a new purpose, personality, and visual experience. Through this project our company has been fundamentally transformed, retaining the best parts of our business while at the same time adding new skills to our repertoire to better represent our new brand.
Rebranding a company can be a tremendous project, and because it touches core elements of brand strategy, it’s not a project that should be treated lightly. Rebranding should, and hopefully will, involve your entire leadership team, as well as your clients and partners, in our case, we also brought in a third-party specialized in all things branding. You will want to get inputs from different people, especially so that you can convince the most skeptical members of your organization.
Our CEO, Michael Cassidy, once said:
“Remember, the brand only becomes new if you can drive the change and adoption required; otherwise it is a futile exercise.”
While a brand refresh would allow you to update your visual identity, a rebranding completely transforms it. The goal of rebranding is to influence and change a customer’s perception about a company’s offering by revitalizing the brand and ensuring that it appeals to the existing needs of a customer or a new set of customers.
So when do you know it’s time to rebrand? Here are a few sample scenarios:
- The market is evolving
- Your company is expanding its service offering or changing its value proposition
- Your current identity is out-of-date and your customers are expecting something new
- You feel stale and need a refresh
- You need to differentiate your brand in a competitive market
- Competition is growing and you need to reevaluate your positioning Your audience is changing
- Your company has been through many changes and you need to realign on your purpose and position in the market
- Industry expectations have changed and your brand is no longer meeting the new standards
If any of these scenarios apply to you, it may be time to reevaluate your brand.
Let’s take a short break here because I know what you're thinking, when are we getting to BVA’s rebranding? We are getting to it, I promise!
The reason we’re defining these terms and taking the time to differentiate the term brand (noun) from rebranding (verb) and brand identity (noun), is because these terms are often misunderstood and used interchangeably.
Okay, now the good part! Let’s talk about BVA and how we rebranded (Hah! We told you we would get to it).
Our New Brand, BVA
Why We Rebranded
Bestselling author, Simon Sinek, wrote a book called Start With Why back in 2009. This book, and later his Ted Talk, has changed and inspired millions of companies and individuals around the world to question the reasoning behind what they do.
Start with why has had a tremendous impact on our company, and very quickly, it became our new normal to question the reasoning behind every task and new project company-wide.
This thought process naturally led us to start questioning our own purpose as a business, and reason for existence.
In addition, and as mentioned earlier, our company has been through many exciting changes in 2019. We’ve acquired two companies, added new service lines, added new offices, and expanded our senior leadership team. As a result, we knew we needed to create a new brand identity that would reflect all of these investments and communicate to the world everything the new BVA is all about.
In 2019, we conducted a comprehensive market study and interviewed our employees, clients, and partners. This research allowed us to gain a better understanding of our strengths, weaknesses, and the way our brand is perceived. This foundational work allowed us to develop a brand platform composed of our brand essence (why) and brand pillars (how). This brand platform is our way of communicating internally (and now externally, for the lucky bunch reading this post) our purpose, direction, and how we plan to get there.
Finding our "Why"
Before we could define our new brand identity, we needed to first define what our company stands for; our “why”. Internally, this brand strategy is the core from which everything else will revolve, and externally it manifests itself in a strong brand image.
- We questioned our stance on eCommerce (later crossing this word out and replacing it with “commerce”);
- We thought about our clients and their goals and dreams… what matters to them, why did they start their business, and how can we be helpful;
- We looked at the market, identified the gaps, and thought about where we might add the most value;
- We analyzed our points of differentiation from Amazon and our passion for immersive experience over high and fast conversion;
- We defined what success looks like and created an image of where we’d like to be as a company a year (or five years) from now;
- And, we spent countless hours defining each word of our new branding to ensure it would resonate with every single member and role within our team.
Full disclosure, finding our “why” was the most time-consuming part of our rebranding. But looking back on this process and the finished project, we are proud that our new purpose statement is a work of art comprised of a billion edits and iterations, leaving us confident that we have done our due diligence.
All of our qualitative and quantitative research, market analysis, months of iteration and refinement led us to the following brand story:
There is a certain magic you feel when you fall in love with a brand. The brand’s mission aligns with your values; you feel personally touched by the storefront experience; the product arrives in a beautiful package with a handwritten note... your heartstrings pull, and your brand loyalty grows.
We refer to this emotional tie between brand and consumer as “human connection.” And, in a digital age where convenience and speed threaten experience and personalization, we believe that human connection is what sets brands apart.
At BVA, we believe in a brand’s ability to forge human connections through commerce (the act of buying and selling). We believe that connection happens through emotion, and that emotion is the spark of life. We exist to bring life to commerce.
How we plan to get there
To support our new “why”, we created brand pillars- a series of initiatives that we are committed to achieving excellence against when bringing life to commerce.
Our five pillars are:
- People & Talent: We aspire to have the best team made up of the best people. We have made a serious investment in Learning & Development to ensure that our team has the training and resources they need to achieve their full professional potential.
- Commerce Expertise: We were born at the forefront of commerce and we’ve never left. With the deepest experience in the Shopify ecosystem, we strive to provide expertise to DTC brands around all things commerce.
- Client Experience: We are driven by the relentless pursuit of merchant success, and keeping our clients happy is our number one priority. Delivering the best service and the most value, we partner with our clients as an extension of their brand.
- Future & Innovation: We like to think of ourselves as industry rebels, always searching for the latest disruptive technology or solutions. We let this passion drive our own business strategy and also that of our clients.
- Data & Performance: Having grown and scaled more brands on Shopify Plus than any other agency in the world, in addition to successfully implementing thousands of paid advertising campaigns, we are experts at optimization. By leveraging data from Google and other media platforms, we bring vertical-specific best practices and benchmarks to our customers in order to help them take smarter risks.
Our Brand Personality
Humans have a tendency to use symbolism to more easily understand complex concepts. This is where brand archetypes come into play. By definition, a brand archetype is a universally familiar character or situation that transcends time, place, culture, gender and age. It represents an eternal truth more than just a (stereotypical) manifestation.
Why use them? When properly identified, brand archetypes define and guide the personality of a brand and can serve to better align personality type with specific customer personas. In a saturated market, it can also help your brand stand out and differentiate itself from other companies offering similar products or services.
There are twelve brand archetypes: The Innocent, Everyman, Hero, Outlaw, Explorer, Creator, Ruler, Magician, Lover, Caregiver, Jester, and Sage.
When we run this exercise with our clients, we always advise them to pick a primary and secondary brand archetype. We believe this secondary archetype supplements and provides more dimension to the brand’s personality. Just like people, a brand’s personality has variations and dynamism. For this reason we chose the Creator as our primary archetype and the Rebel (also called Outlaw) as our secondary archetype.
- The Creator: Imaginative, inventive and driven to build things of enduring meaning and value. Example brands include: Lego, Crayola, Adobe
- The Rebel: Questions authority and breaks the rules; the Rebel craves rebellion and revolution. Example brands include: Virgin, Harley-Davidson, Diesel (jeans)
Once identified, you can’t just forget about them. Moving forward, the use of those archetypes will ensure consistency and alignment. Everyone in our organization will communicate our brand personality across every touchpoint to create and occupy a specific place in the consumer’s mind. Before every interaction or decision, our team should ask themselves: “What would the creator/rebel do/say?”
Our Brand Identity
When creating the visual and tangible representation of our brand (read brand identity), we made the decision to shorten and condense our brand name(s) to BVA. We won’t be BVAccel anymore or Brand Value Accelerator (except in legal documents), and definitely not BV (yes, some people called us that - though we have no clue what it means).
Similar to IBM, previously known as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (what a mouthful!), we didn't want our name to confine us. Our decision to move from eCommerce to Commerce fueled our choice to change our name and keep our options open. Additionally, we felt that our company had been fundamentally transformed in the last year and that a new name would allow us to head in a new direction.
Part of the decision process around our brand name was to look at market research and website analytics. What we discovered was that our name held a lot of brand equity among clients, prospects, and partners. Additionally, we learned that most people already knew us and referred to us as BVA instead of BVAccel.
Similar to our name, our colors also carried equity in the space so instead of starting from scratch we decided to update our colors to reflect our new brand personality (the creator and rebel) and thus inspire a feeling of creativity, optimism, energy, and innovation.
Our typography, tone of voice, and the visuals present on our website all reflect those personality traits as well. Our design team found clever ways to communicate the “Creator” archetype through an exposed grid, and hand-drawn scribbles.
This is how our Senior UX/UI Designer, Courtney Wall, explains the dual relationship between our archetypes and how it is communicated:
"Our Creator personality is served with a side of rebellion to keep things innovative and fresh. In order to communicate the Rebel archetype, we use visual cues like large scale, bright colors, and duotone imagery as well as a playful tone of voice. To remain successfully at the forefront of technology for DTC brands, innovation and rebellion must go hand in hand. "
You might wonder... why are we sharing so much about our brand work and process?
Well at BVA, we believe in transparency and Bringing Value Always (BVA, get it?), and we think this journey can educate and inspire others to build better brands. Our knowledge of the Shopify ecosystem, and expertise in building and managing brands, has allowed us to carry out our rebranding successfully. Rebranding a company is a tremendous investment, but we believe it’s sometimes a necessary investment for brands that, like us, dream big.
With our new purpose, direction, and brand, BVA is heading into the new year as one unified team with aligned goals and values - ready to bring life to commerce like nobody’s business. 2020, bring it on - we’re ready for you.