Brand Is the Best Foundation for Growth

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Emotive Brand Experts #6: Kelly Morgan

Continuing our Emotive Brand Experts series, we’re interviewing past and present Emotive Brand clients to discover what they do better than anybody else — and how that expertise can be used to embolden your brand today.

Kelly Morgan is Head of Marketing at Lyra, a startup that’s transforming behavioral healthcare. We’ve been working with Kelly to rebrand Lyra, and they just launched their new brand last week. In addition, they’ve secured their next series of funding! Kelly spoke with us to discuss key learnings from the rebranding process.

What was the catalyst for the rebrand?

When I joined the company, I was overseeing designers, communication teams, and marketing assets. It became very challenging to do all that without real brand guidelines. Of course, we had some things, but not the mature and robust set of design tools you need when you go to market. We were inventing everything from scratch. We had a core that we loved, but the look itself wasn’t that modern and it didn’t reflect what Lyra is all about.

When you think about what we’re trying to do, we’re bringing technology to a space that is somewhat tech-averse and not that sophisticated in terms of modern convenience and simplicity. We felt as though our look didn’t accurately reflect that we’re a high-tech and a visual company. As I dug in further with other stakeholders and the management team, it became clear that there was a real appetitive for this. Not just a new visual identity, but for equipping our team with the right tools – messaging, positioning, a unified elevator pitch, and a cohesive way to describe what we do as a business.

What were some early successes in the process?

I found myself a great executive sponsor. We developed a solid business case not only for “Why?” but for “Why now?” We’re a relatively young company, and before we start investing, it’s great to have a solid foundation to build on. These things are easier when you’re smaller. It’s not as disruptive or confusing to the market. The overall timing was a big part of making that case. Having an executive sponsor can help garner alignment internally when people are having a hard time seeing the bigger picture. Change is hard. It’s difficult to imagine how it’s all going to come together when you’re only seeing pieces at a time. It’s challenging to understand the impact of those decisions when you’re so comfortable with something you already have.

What would you describe as the biggest challenge of a rebrand?

I think it comes down to educating your team on what brand really is. You hear those hallway conversations of, “Oh, new logo, new colors,” but it’s so much more than that. This is something that’s going to align with your business strategy and make it easier for you to sell, to communicate, to stand out – brand is everything. That misunderstanding can manifest itself in different ways throughout the course of the project.  It could mean that someone is not investing enough time in reviewing something until it’s already live on a website. A rebrand involves soft skills — feelings, emotions, perceptions. Everyone has a different function in the organization and so it’s sometimes hard for people to see why the brand will matter to their piece of the business. A rebrand also has a fair amount of feelings and emotions, something that not everyone easily connects to in how they approach work. It took me a while to understand how important it was to get everyone aligned, but more so, how much time I needed to dedicate to education, understanding different perspectives, and gaining consensus. It could mean someone not investing enough time in reviewing something until it’s already live on a website.

A personal challenge for us was that we don’t have a team of in-house designers or Creative Directors. Representing Lyra in the rebrand discussions, I found my own limitations and wished that we had someone who had a visual design background. That’s where the value of bringing in an outside agency comes in. Contractors and freelancers can get you pretty far, but an agency has the talent and insight you’re missing. Plus, they can see the life of the brand over time and evolve and implement everything seamlessly.

To make things even more interesting, you are also in the process of changing offices during this rebrand. How is that going?

It’s true! We’re moving in June and building out a new workspace tailored to our employees. I think it will make a great impression and help employees feel even more tied to our mission and our values. To carry the brand to the employee experience, we will have vinyl decals of our mission statement, powerful testimonials from people whom we’ve helped, and wall art that showcases our creative marketing campaigns, monitors displaying business analytics and KPIs.

You only just launched your new look last week, but have you noticed any behavior change as a result?

It is early, but next week is the HLTH Future of Healthcare conference in Las Vegas, which will be the first real test of our brand. Needless to say, we’re super excited. Our new brand makes us look more polished and mature, but still has that fun, vibrant startup feeling. It brings us much more confidence in delivering our elevator pitch, as well as unifying the marketing and sales teams together around the same story.

What key advice would you give to other companies about to embark on a rebrand?

Well, the first real challenge is, “How do you evaluate an agency?” The best advice I got was that I needed to directly meet the people I would be working with. That sounds obvious, but many agencies have a great portfolio – impressive customer list and endless examples of nice looking things – but often that’s the sales team or some top-level Creative Director. You need to understand the difference between who is selling you and who you are going to be working with. You must meet the project managers, the copywriters, the people who are going to bring this thing to life for you.

The second challenge is rallying your own internal team, and that’s the part that often goes to the wayside. In that whole project planning phase, you need to carve out time to get internal feedback, but also to keep enthusiasm up throughout the entire process. We had an internal kickoff with a catered lunch, which served as a great opportunity to explain what brand really means to the company. I wanted everyone to understand what it was, why it mattered, and how they are a part of it.

This isn’t just a logo. When you’re at a cocktail party, when you send an email out, it’s all an expression of the brand. This isn’t just a marketing thing, this is about behavior. Of course, the first question anyone will ask will be about swag, but those little delighters are important, too! It takes a lot of effort and energy to do a rebrand, and the success of the whole thing can come down to enthusiasm. There is bound to be friction and bumps along the way. If management sees that their employees are excited, they will hold up their end of the bargain.

What’s next?

Having completed the brand project, the exciting thing now is how poised we are to refocus on our growth strategy. We’re in such a good position to move forward. Not only did we launch a new brand, but we launched it on a new website, on a new platform, with all sorts of robust marketing tools built in. We’re ready for whatever comes next.

To view the Lyra case study, click here.

Emotive Brand is a brand strategy and design agency based in Oakland.

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