Feel at Home with your Brand: A Case for Incrementalism
There’s the dodgy shower head, the kitchen window that won’t open properly, that bit of carpet that’s coming loose upstairs, the unexplained stain on the living room wall, the squeaky front door. We all have our own list of things, those odd jobs that need doing around the house, the little things that need fixing, cleaning, replacing, improving.
They’re not urgent, not even particularly important, but we get round to doing them – eventually, at least – because if we didn’t, they’d start to mount up. And if we let things mount up, those little things turn into big things. The dodgy shower head becomes a broken shower. The kitchen window stops opening at all. And then those things get bigger still until, before you know it, your whole house is falling down around you.
Brands, in this sense, are like houses. Neglect the little things and soon enough your brand will start to feel tired, worn out, unfit for purpose.
It’ll become a brand you no longer identify with or take pride in, a brand that doesn’t feel like yours at all.
And that brings us to incrementalism in branding. Just as those little jobs help to turn your house into a home, it’s the subtle tweaks and small improvements – whether to your website or your business cards – that keep your brand from falling behind, helping to ensure it consistently reflects who you are and what you believe in.
This is hardly a new idea. You only need to look at Google and you’ve got an example of a logo that, despite having hardly changed since 1998, has been undergoing near-constant renovation to keep it up to date and ahead of the curve. As some of you might remember, this commitment to incrementalism made headlines back in 2014, when the internet blew up over a miniscule adjustment to the kerning between the ‘g’ and the ‘l’ in the Google logo.
Although in this instance it caught the eye of the world, the effect of incrementalism is usually less explicit, slipping under the radar to affect audiences subconsciously and keep brands at the top of their game without the fanfare of, say, a new ad campaign or high-profile collaboration.
And, of course, incrementalism extends far beyond miniscule logo adjustments. Whether it’s tweaking a web page to improve user experience, refining your tone of voice, or running a blog series that slowly positions your brand with a new audience or community, incrementalism is about maintaining what works and changing what doesn’t. It’s about realising your brand goals by correcting those little imperfections, rather than by opting for a full makeover.
You wouldn’t move house simply because of a damaged skirting board or a clogged kitchen sink. But at the same time, repairing a skirting board won’t do much good if the house is built on weak foundations. Sometimes a rebrand is what’s needed to make you feel at home again.
Here at Steve Edge Design, we’re not yet offering household repairs, but we are on hand to advise you on your brand: where it’s succeeding, where it isn’t, and where a few tweaks, improvements or alterations could help you get to where you want to be.