In Session
Adam Butler of the Butler Bros, an Austin-based brand studio focused on naming, narrative and visual design, shares some tips he’s learned about working with brands on their story, their packaging and their brand, and how he and his brother help companies rebrand successfully.

The art of rebranding: Tips from an expert

Adam Butler of The Butler Bros, an Austin-based brand studio focused on naming, narrative and visual design, shares some tips he’s learned about working with brands on their story, their packaging and their brand, and how he and his brother help companies rebrand successfully.

"These things that are sacred to you ... it is how the customer identifies with your brand. If your brand is out there and has good revenue, there’s some DNA there that needs to be respected."

Adam Butler, The Butler Bros

Part 1: Why rebranding can work

  • A brand chose to work with The Butler Bros, because we were the only agency who said we’d be on a plane to meet with them, and it was important to him to have people in the room.
  • Client knew what his goal was: to lift beer sales in Hawaiian chains and be the islands’ brewery. He was already in other countries, but he wanted to own island pride. After the rebranding, he grew in the ways he wanted to grow, and now he has a system for growing in the future.
  • The process of rebranding or evolving the brand can be scary and it is, in fact, a high-risk process.
  • Things that are sacred to the brand should be sacred; they are how customers identify the brand. If your brand is out there and has revenue, there’s DNA there that needs to be respected. Be bold in rebranding, but honor your brand’s past.

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Part 2: Set priorities—carefully

  • We came up with a drill to help brands identify their priorities, the “KonMari sort,” inspired by Marie Kondo’s book. Take an inventory of what’s in your asset toolkit, then bring your team into the room with a goal: Let’s look at our brand equity today, at what we have in our toolkit and figure out what brings us joy. Everyone gets the same number of dots for voting.
  • This will create a rich tapestry of things that matter most to your brand evolution, going forward. You’ll eliminate blind spots that can potentially happen between sales and marketing.

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Part 3: Next steps

  • Know what the visual priorities are, and make sure you keep them.
  • If you have a core group of customers who know the brand and you’ve known for a long time, you can run the drill with them.
  • Groups of 20 or 30 who already use your product, or who are in the demographic you want to be using your product, are good for validation. Here you should be looking for blind spots and playback of strategy.
  • This isn’t an exact science. There’s a lot about the branding process that isn’t necessarily rational, but it’s human and it’s reality, and important to embrace it.
  • The book Think Wrong is a great resource for changing the status quo.

This session—Business School: Head Meet Heart—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018. Click "download" below to access the presentation slides.

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