HOW AND WHY WE REBRANDED OUR FESTIVAL
By Nathan Alemany, Head of Marketing, 2018 International Business Festival
Rebranding can be a risky move. For every celebrated Nike ‘swoosh’ there’s a much-derided Hershey’s pile of poop.
Getting rebranding right can result in reaching new demographics and reinvigorating the perception of your company. Getting it wrong can mean losing brand recognition, alienating your customer base and wasting time and money on a complete loss leader.
Only the brave rebrand. But you need more than serious stones to mess with your company’s identity. You need real, genuine justification.
Everyone likes a change, a new lick of paint or stylish new wardrobe. But with brands, there’s too much at stake to change things, simply for a fresh look.
We’ve recently rebranded our festival. We have a new name, a new logo and a refreshed look and feel. ‘IFB2018’ has gone. ‘2018 International Business Festival’ has picked up the mantle and we’re running with it.
Here’s the story of our rebrand, the where, when and (most crucially) why. When it comes to brands, change for change’s sake is usually a mistake. But change, to communicate a brand new philosophy and direction is essential.
NEW FESTIVAL. NEW BRAND.
No big annual or biennial event ever stays the same. Headliners change, programmes evolve and target markets tend to expand and our festival is no different.
Next year’s Festival will be closely aligned with the sectors that really matter in today’s business world. In 2018 we’re looking to attract even more businesses from even more sectors to create even more opportunities.
But it’s not just our remit and audience that is expanding. We want our 2018 Festival to feel more festive, less corporate and more fun, because doing business well is fun. Our 2018 Festival needs a broader appeal. One clear way to help us communicate this is to rebrand.
WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THE OLD BRAND?
It’s a question loyalists have asked about brands since rebrands began. Firstly ‘IFB’ was an acronym used by more than one organisation. Adding ‘2016’ and ‘2018’ did make the brand unique. It also made the Festival sound a bit like a Star Wars droid.
Having the year as part of the brand on our social channels meant that we had to keep changing them every two years and securing them in advance, to prevent opportunist from snapping them up trying to sell them for a hefty mark-up (you know who you are).
The old full name for the festival didn’t exactly roll off the tongue, either. Yes, it presented the ‘Ronseal approach’ of being purposefully literal, but why have four words when three will do? So ‘International Festival for Business’ became the more succinct and more confident ‘International Business Festival’.
The best logos can be spotted a mile away. They’re unique, they rarely use off-the-shelf-fonts and they communicate a lot more than people necessarily realise. They’re the true Rorschach tests of the marketing world and a lot of things can be read into their design. Our old logo used the acronym that we were moving away from and it didn’t say a lot about the festival itself.
The 2018 International Business Festival’s ambition is precisely the same as the thousands of people who attend the Festival; to make their business grow. One of the very best ways to grow is to expand into new markets. A focus on trading internationally is the common thread that runs through all of our Festivals and we wanted a logo that, perhaps even subliminally, alluded to that.
That’s why our new logo typeface looks somewhat like the font used on an export crate. It also serves to make our logo much more unique and therefore easier to trademark.
SHOWING YOU OUR TRUE COLOURS
Just like logos, a lot can also be read into colours. More than 60% of buyers make purchase decisions based on colour and the colour a company selects says something about their brand. Orange is seen as fun, but cheap (Think easyjet). Black as classic but cold (Think Chanel) and so on.
Our Festival’s colour was dark blue. This communicates dependability, responsibility, respectability and trustworthiness. It’s a good colour for us. We’ve kept it. It’s still our lead colour and this continuity also provides a clear connection between our old brand and our new one.
But our festival can’t be defined by the aforementioned qualities alone. It’s also creative, inclusive, innovative and inspiring. We needed a broader palate to reflect our bigger remit. That’s where our new motif comes in.
We’re a festival for all businesses from all over the globe. To help demonstrate the diverse and ever changing nature of the Festival, we wanted to get creative and to bring a new, playful element into our brand to enhance our look and feel. Again, there’s more going on here than first meets the eye.
The motif could be seen as individual markets coming together and becoming something greater. It could also be seen to depict different sectors and the intertwining relationships that bind them, because no sector or business can work in a vacuum. (Well, that’s what we are hoping people see, anyway).
But these colours and shapes are practical too. They give us more applications to use the brand, helping to communicate the rich tapestry that is the 2018 International Business Festival.
PUTTING IT ALL IN MOTION
So I’ve probably covered the ‘how’ and ‘why’. Now comes the ‘where’ and ‘when’. Our new brand will get its first big outing at four high-profile VIP preview events, two in London, tomorrow, on the 21st March, and two in our beautiful host city of Liverpool on the 4th April.
Around the same time, we will be rebranding our social channels and getting our new brand out there for all to see, whilst we continue to work on our new, revamped website. Is there a word for being excited and nervous at the same time? It’s actually a good feeling and the team and I are really excited about hearing what people think of our new Festival format and brand. Any rebranding questions, we’ll direct them to this blog. Any feedback let me know. I’m all ears.
Organisations big and small will tell you that there’s a lot of work involved when it comes to rebranding. Late nights, long meetings, scratching heads, scrapped designs, market testing and multiple versions are all part of an arduous and intensive process.
Yes, we’ll probably have to tell a fair few people off for saying ‘IFB’ more than once and there’s always the danger that someone, somewhere will prefer the old one. But a little risk is sometimes worth it. It’s a small price to pay for ensuring our brand and our Festival evolve together.
Logos and colours don’t’ work alone. Photography, messaging and especially content are all of vital importance. These things will be joining our rebrand and also be getting a sharp, stylish but sensible overhaul.
Things are changing at the 2018 International Business Festival. Our new brand is the first step to communicating the refreshing changes that are coming your way soon. We’re shaking things up a bit and we’d love to know what you think.
Take a look at our brand guidelines here.