The Art of a Brand Refresh With Wendy Gibson, Skyline Exhibits
It’s that time of year again when we in the business world focus on setting new goals and intentions to set ourselves up for a successful year ahead. The same goes for exhibiting companies, many of which may be seeking to kick off 2023 with a fresh brand identity to amplify their presence on the trade show floor. But what if you’re one of those companies that can’t afford a complete rebrand just yet?
Consider a brand refresh instead, suggests Wendy Gibson, chief marketing officer for Skyline Exhibits, a trade show exhibit builder known for creating award-winning trade show experiences through modular structures, high-impact graphics, custom fabrication and comprehensive services. In the course of her diversified career, this dynamic marketing leader has helped myriad clients elevate their brands on the show floor via impactful exhibits and brand messaging.
TSNN sat down with Gibson to get her suggestions for how exhibiting companies can refine their brand positioning to get noticed in today’s overcrowded marketplace—without breaking their marketing budget.
What do you suggest for exhibiting companies that don’t have the budget for a complete rebrand and why?
I would create a refreshed value proposition, which includes a positioning statement, elevator pitch, brand pillars, key benefits and supporting features.
Once you have your value prop, stretch your budget to update some of your brand elements. A less expensive way is to start with your digital brand assets first. You want to signal both internally and externally there is a change to your brand. Key drivers to changing your brand are aligning it with where you are today, as it may need to catch up. Another key driver is to reposition your company to a market segment or new area you want to create awareness and drive desire.
The bottom line with building a brand is consistency. Getting everyone on your team—sales, marketing, executives, front-line employees and partners—to speak the same language and reflect the same brand standards is critical. Getting everyone to speak with one voice goes beyond standard visual brand elements to deeper messaging and is critical to building a successful brand. Arm your team with messaging they can deploy consistently through prospect and client communications and touch points.
What does a brand refresh involve, and what are the key components necessary for a successful one?
I like to think of a brand refresh as remodeling a home, whereas a rebrand is tearing it down and rebuilding. A brand refresh gives your brand an updated look or feel without renaming or creating a new logo, whereas a rebrand is starting from scratch.
It’s common for mature brands to evolve. In doing so, they hold on to some of their brand personality, attributes and heritage. Healthy brands leverage that and grow to maintain relevancy in the marketplace. Through a thoughtful brand refresh, marketing departments can demonstrate they are modern, relevant and connected to their clients.
Brand refresh components typically include:
- Tweaking the logo, including following a trend of slimming down a logo to enhance legibility on small screens and tight digital spaces.
- Refreshing color palettes and fonts to align with the brand’s personality. Remember to ensure colors and fonts are ADA-compliant.
- Updating messaging and value proposition, which is best accomplished by working with your sales channels and client services. Ensure you get feedback from those closest to your clients and the clients themselves, as nothing trumps the voice of the client. An updated pitch deck can help carry your message forward.
- Introducing the brand refresh first through digital channels, such as an updated website, social media and digital marketing. Always tackle digital first.
- A brilliant branding campaign can tie it all together, and, of course, launching that campaign at a trade show or event does wonders to amplify your message. For example, “Check out our new website and new brand video to see a refresh in action. Let us know what you think!”
Which branding elements should take top priority on a company’s refresh wish list?
Listen to your key stakeholders and let client feedback drive your priority list. In the case of Skyline, we were delivering high-impact exhibits, however, when you visited our website and social channels, we needed more appeal for the modern marketer. Based on feedback from sales and clients, our top three priorities were messaging, brand elements and developing a new website. Each situation is different, but the voice of the client should influence your priorities.
What are your suggestions for amplifying one’s brand on the trade show floor?
Brands want to stand out on the show floor to attract visitors to their exhibits. An exhibitor can stand out using high-impact graphics and creative booths and delivering an engaging attendee experience.
We start a conversation on objectives during our first explorative meeting. That often includes the topic of the brand, whether it is a launch, refresh, campaign or amplification. By the end of the kick-off with our client, we understand their brand and goals, which provides the foundation for our recommendations and design.