Google, Verizon and RISE: Rebranding Elements for PR Pros

Fall is definitely the season for change, and not just as far as weather is concerned. Two of America’s most popular companies underwent their own changes this past month as both Google and Verizon debuted updated wordmarks to their iconic looks.

Recently I also had the opportunity to work with an organization for their rebranding efforts. The Somali Bantu Community Association in Syracuse is becoming Refugee and Immigrant Self-Empowerment, also known as RISE. It makes sense for the organization to rebrand itself now that they deal with a more diverse clientele. So, to help them out with their rebranding process, why not give them a new wordmark?

In public relations, there are a few things to consider when your organization is undergoing a rebranding effort. Your new look is a reflection of your company’s culture, attitude and persona, making it all the more important for getting your new look right.

Here are some elements communicators should consider when going for a new look:

  1. RISE wordmark finalFont styles – Knowing the difference between serif and sans serif typefaces can make a tremendous difference in the type of personality your new wordmark conveys. Google’s old wordmark had a serif typeface that portrayed the company’s practicality and ease-of-use. Now, their logo is sans serif giving their brand a child-like exuberance, much to the dismay of critics. As for RISE, I decided to use a sans serif typeface to communicate the organization’s easiness to deal with and approachability.
  2. Colors – What many people may not know is that there are meanings behind the hues a brand uses. The difference between blue and red can be immense in terms of setting the mood for what you want your audience to feel. For RISE, I decided to use two colors: a lighter hue of blue to communicate the organization’s approachability, and a medium hue of green to reflect the organization’s positive direction that it provides clients. Together, the colors portray RISE as a globally diverse organization, hence, the use of Earth’s colors.
  3. Symbolism – When you have a name that also doubles as a noun or verb, you have room to experiment with wordplay. Verizon’s new wordmark keeps a similar concept from its old one by keeping the red check or V, symbolizing that “you’re good” (from the old commercials). The symbolism in RISE is much easier to notice. I used the “I” to form an arrow signifying the positive direction the organization is moving its members. Also, when you think of an upward arrow, you tend to think it being positive; therefore, I gave the “I” and arrow in this wordmark a green hue.

Rebranding isn’t just a thing for designers and creatives; PR professionals need to know the characteristics that go into a brand as well. Not knowing the little characteristics that can set your new wordmark off can unintentionally turn away an audience at first glance. That’s why PR professionals need to be involved, so that they can clearly communicate an organization’s rebrand to old and new audiences.

How I Survived Boot Camp: My First Semester of Grad School

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Team members from my press conference group project.

This week I wrap up my summer session “boot camp” for my master’s program at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. The program has been everything I’ve hoped for, but also hasn’t been without its surprises and disappointments. Nonetheless, everything I’ve learned so far has reaffirmed my decision to pursue a master’s degree in public relations.

Here are a few things I’ve learned so far:

  1. A good story is a relatable story – Our biggest assignment our Writing for News and Public Relations course was to put together a media kit for a fictional event based on a partnership between a corporation, a nonprofit and a celebrity spokesperson. Each student then had to pitch their media kit idea to their class, where only two or three would be chosen to conduct a press conference. I noticed a common trend among the projects that were selected: each of their corporations had strong brand recognition. Among the corporations that were chosen were Bank of America, Disney, Build-a-Bear and the Green Bay Packers. Having a strong brand name, along with some genuinely creative event ideas, is what I believe allowed these students to garner enough votes from their classmates to be selected.
  2. Be humble – One of the reasons why I decided to enroll at Syracuse over my other top choices was my confidence in being able to land a coveted graduate or instructional associate position based on my prior work experience. These positions were particularly attractive to me because they offered tuition credits, which would limit the amount of loans I’d need to take out to cover remaining expenses. While I was granted interviews for two positions, it was disappointing to learn that I wasn’t selected for either. The rejections taught me that while I’m great at demonstrating my abilities on paper I still have room for improvement when it comes to sealing the deal in interviews. I’ve also gained a level of respect for the students that I’ll have to compete against for jobs.
  3. Wordmark largeTrust your instincts – In addition to completing my PR course, I also took a graphic design course learning how to use Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. My first assignment in the class was to design a wordmark for my resume. My professor hated my first ten drafts, but when I came up with another ten she saw some that we both really liked – even though it was in a typeface that she admittedly wouldn’t approve of for most people. As it’s pertained to completing other projects, I’ve found that I produce my best work when I’m not concerning myself too much with how my professor will judge me. The more I’ve trusted myself, the better my work has turned out to be.

It truly has been a great start to my master’s program here at Syracuse. I’m looking forward to what the fall semester holds, right after enjoying two weeks off!