New brand. New look. Now what?

Launching a new visual identity is not easy. It takes lot of time, effort and resources. What’s often overlooked is what happens once the brand is launched and implementation of the system starts.

How do new learnings get documented and shared and how do they inform decisions moving forward? Because so many people can be working on different parts of the brand at once (e.g., outside agencies, departments, sub-brands, etc.), developing a plan for maintaining, evaluating and evolving the visual identity system after launch is worth the investment.

Having the right tools from the start is important; an inspiring brand book, a detailed brand guidelines, layout templates…the list goes on and on. But it’s important to recognize that things will change. Rules will need to be broken and new rules will need to be written. At some point, you might realize that you need a new font. The color palette needs a new color. Photography needs a style boost. The more you use the system the more you will learn about what works and what doesn’t.

A great way to make sure you are maintaining, evaluating and evolving your visual identity is to create an online resource—a place that houses all the things associated with your visual identity. Not only can you make items such as logos, imagery and guidelines available, but also provide areas that showcase work (i.e., archives), even work that doesn’t make the cut. This allows everyone working on the brand to see the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s vital for everyone to see what’s happening—part education, part inspiration. Most importantly for you, it’s a chance to see where the pain points are within the system. If the same issue keeps occurring, chances are something needs to change.

When a change does need to happen, like adding a new color to the palette, it’s done so in a controlled environment. Files can be easily updated and communication about the update can be made across the network without confusion.

Adding an area for dialogue on the site is also a great way to get users involved, providing questions and commentary about using the system. Your voice can be used within this forum to provide answers and direct the story so it’s all in one place. This will provide you with a great foundation for quarterly or yearly reviews of the work. You’ll have a good sense of what’s been happening and have a trove of examples to illustrate what needs to happen next.

It takes discipline, but it’s worth the effort. Especially for complicated visuals systems with many moving parts used by many different entities.

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