The Archive August 02, 2017

Rebranding Color

For the Color Marketing Group’s 2016 International Summit, Britton Marketing & Design Group Created a Bold New Brand Mark to Carry the Leading Color-Forecasting Organization into the Future

When members of the Color Marketing Group arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this past November, for the 2016 International Summit, something looked different.

Founded in 1962, the Color Marketing Group—the leading international association of color design professionals—specializes in forecasting color and design trends. Each year, members new and old come from around the globe for a weekend of color workshops, color-forecasting presentations, and colorful conversation. However, the 2016 International Summit featured one event that was out of the ordinary: On Friday night, CMG members were invited to a special cocktail party. A wall-to-wall crowd gathered to witness the unveiling of the group’s new logo, along with a new rally-cry video, and the question about what looked different was answered.

A year earlier, after the 2015 International Summit, Britton Marketing & Design Group’s Christy Spencer, vice president of client strategy and brand development, approached the CMG’s executive committee with an idea. She and other CMG members agreed that the organization needed a face-lift, and she offered to lead the rebranding effort.

We explored some pretty far-out options. Ultimately, we decided to retain some of the CMG’s brand heritage.

Christy Spencer

“The old logo felt very staid,” Spencer said. “It was not reflective of the forecasting business, which is dynamic and always changing. We’re interested in what’s coming, what’s next.” So beginning in the spring of 2016, Spencer and her BMDG team launched their mission to create a new CMG logo. She said, “Branding is about capturing an organization’s spirit and vision, about what the group can be, and about what it wants to be.”

The Heart of a Brand

What are the five words that best describe your brand? What sets your brand apart? How should your brand evolve over the next five years?

Getting answers to questions like these is the first step in discovering a brand’s DNA, and discovering a brand’s DNA is essential to creating a logo, the physical manifestation of that DNA. In order to discover the CMG’s brand DNA, Spencer and her team created a detailed questionnaire, which included the questions above, among others. It was sent to 15 members of the CMG’s leadership team, including St. Paul, Minnesota–based CMG president Susan Hayes Hoover and Judith van Vliet, CMG vice president and a designer at ColorWorks Europe, based in Milan.

Branding is about capturing an organization’s spirit and vision, about what the group can be, and about what it wants to be.

Christy Spencer

The responses BMDG received were very revealing. Despite the incredible variety of backgrounds, specialties, and geographic homes of the CMG leaders who were polled, they all agreed that the group needed to appeal to the next generation of color and design professionals—and appealing to younger people meant embracing technology and the digital space. Adjectives such as “professional,” “international,” and “respected,” were used to describe the CMG’s current position, while “cutting edge,” “dynamic” and “diverse” popped up over and over in responses to how the CMG should evolve in the next five years. This gave Spencer and her team a definite direction.

“CMG’s voice had gone a little flat,” she said. “We realized that we needed to make it come alive again. Brands need to connect on an emotional level with their audience. They need to speak to the part of a person that made them identify with the brand in the first place.” As part of the brand-DNA project, BMDG created a new brand personality and brand manifesto, both of which highlighted the tribal and collaborative aspects of the CMG, as well as the group’s bold and synergistic future. One line from the brand manifesto in particular summarized the CMG’s newly discovered DNA: “We connect in color. We collaborate in color. We create in color.”

Containing Your Emotions

Once BMDG had identified the CMG’s brand DNA, the next step was taking that genetic code and converting it into a logo—what Spencer prefers to call a brand mark. “Brand mark is more encompassing,” she said. “It implies that the mark rests on top of a body of brand work. The term ‘logo’ feels a bit disconnected, like a piece of artwork that was dashed off quickly and without thought.”

There was a lot of energy at the unveiling. And the whole night really provided some exciting new energy for this vibrant organization.

Christy Spencer

Cody Walz, graphic designer, looked at two different approaches to creating the new brand mark. The first was to retain some aspects of the old logo, but that option posed a problem. “No one knew exactly what the old logo meant,” he said. “That part of the CMG’s history had been lost.” The second option was a total makeover. This also had its downsides, the most important of which was BMDG’s concern about making such a drastic break with the CMG’s illustrious past.

“We explored some pretty far-out options,” Spencer said. “Ultimately, we decided to retain some of the CMG’s brand heritage.” The team eventually settled on a brand-mark concept that existed somewhere in the middle of the two options. Walz referred to it as a container design—an image of a color-filled box surrounded by a circle with similar dynamic colors. According to Walz, this mark will have the ability to grow and evolve as the CMG brand continues to expand in different directions and into different spaces.

For the unveiling in November, BMDG came up with the cocktail-party staging, and it also created a rally-cry video to accompany the new brand mark. Needless to say, the packed crowd’s response was enthusiastic.

“There was a lot of energy at the unveiling. And the whole night really provided some exciting new energy for this vibrant organization,” Spencer said.

Images/graphics: BMDG

What's Next?