Podcast 144: Corporate rebranding – how it affects technical authors

This month’s podcast looks at what is involved in a corporate re-brand and what is involved for technical authors if their organisation decides to rebrand.

What is a corporate brand? And what is involved when an organisation decides to rebrand?

As part of the research for this podcast we looked at various websites which are mentioned in the podcast. Many thanks to those organisations and their expertise. Here are the links to the ones mentioned in the podcast:


This is the Cherryleaf podcast.

Hello and welcome to the Cherryleaf podcast – with me Ginny Critcher. I am a technical author and trainer based by the seaside in Brighton and one of the founders and directors at Cherryleaf.

We are looking today at the subject of re-branding and how that impacts a technical author. So this podcast idea came about when I started putting together an example Help file for Cherryleaf clients. Often our potential clients want to see an example of some of the work we do and since we usually sign an NDA it can sometimes be a challenge to demonstrate some of the completed past work we do, and so this is what led me to write an example Help project.

The subject of my Help file is a travel app that helps businesspeople organise their travel arrangements, flights, hotels etc.

In addition to creating the content I had to imagine my corporate brand and decide what the branding for my invented company would look like. Of course in real life companies provide us with their own branding so it isn’t part of my job role usually. And I am not a graphic designer, so as part of the branding for my imagined travel company I have been doing a lot of experimentation to try and come up with some professional looking branding which has engaged my interest as it’s very creative and different to my normal tech writer role. I’m more used to thinking about sentence structure, plain English and punctuation, not colour groupings, and graphics. I should point out I’m aware that there is an awful lot involved in corporate branding, way more than a handful of visual elements. But for the purposes of what I have been attempting to do I’ll be sticking to the more visual elements of branding.

The content itself for the app was fairly straightforward and ChatGPT helped with the leg work, leaving me to refine and polish the generated content. Something I think as tech writers we are likely to be doing more and more of in the future. I wanted to create a knowledge base with the content and I decided to use Madcap Flare to do this. I have used Flare off and on over the years so it’s a Help authoring tool I am familiar.

With that said for those of you who have had an experience with Flare you’ll know it is a feature rich tool and there is always something new to learn.

Initially I decided to use a standard Flare template to create my knowledge base and import the content into this. This was fine and I produced a fairly standard knowledge base which I was not unhappy with. The Flare template I used (Del Mar if you are interested) had taken care of the branding and I had simply stuck to the template.

But I felt it could be made to look more graphically impactful, so I started to tweak the template and styles etc., which led me into thinking about what sort of brand I wanted for my invented app. And so began my research into the world of corporate branding. Before I could change my template generated brand I needed to understand what branding actually is in order to effectively re-brand.

So what is branding? In a nutshell it’s the messaging and positioning of your organisation’s brand across your marketing and communications.

We know that a strong brand is instantly recognisable and that the brand can even be incorporated into language – we may say have you got a spare tissue, but we are equally as likely to say have you got a Kleenex – we all know that Kleenex means tissue paper. Likewise, we use the word hoover as both a verb and noun interchangeably with vacuum and vacuum cleaner.

Corporate branding is the process of establishing and promoting a unique and consistent identity for a company. It involves creating a cohesive image, including a distinctive logo, messaging, and visual elements, to convey the company’s values, mission, and personality. The goal of corporate branding is to build a strong and recognizable reputation that resonates with customers, fosters trust, and distinguishes the company from competitors in the market.

Or as Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos more succinctly puts it:

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

That all makes sense – but I wanted to have a deeper understanding about why branding is so important. For this I headed over to career guide experts indeed.com to see what they had to say: Indeed.com outline five areas where branding is so important to a company.

“Increase recognition

Recognition is how a company becomes identifiable in the minds of consumers. Branding through the use of elements like logo and colours helps establish an identity different from similar products and services on the market, assisting a brand in becoming successful and chosen above its competitors.”

Of course there 1000s of well-known brands around, it’s an interesting experiment to look at brand logos and see how instantly recognisable many of them are

Sainsbury’s / BBC / Tik Tok / Mercedes / Spotify / HSBC are a few I instantly picked out of the images that came up in my Google search.

“Attract new customers

Strong branding leaves a positive impression and communicates a sense of consistency and dependability among customers looking for trust in a product. A solid brand generates natural word-of-mouth advertising, which is a marketing strategy that costs a company nothing but results in higher amounts of new customer generation.”

“Retain existing customers

After establishing a solid brand, branding helps to retain existing customers by providing consistent quality consumers come to expect.”

“Increase business value

In working to generate new customers and retain existing ones, successful branding increases business value by providing a company with stronger leverage in the industry.”

“Connect with the target audience

Through marketing research and data collection, branding helps you connect with the target audience and establish yourself as an expert in the industry through consistency and presence. Becoming easily identifiable solidifies a deeper connection to consumers and communicates your company’s ideals and values.”

As I said before, during my research I came across lots of iconic branding, in many instances just seeing their logo I would instantly recognise the brand: Nike, The London Underground, Mastercard, Apple and so on.

Ok. I was understanding why a strong brand is so important and that then led me into wondering what makes companies decide to rebrand. My situation with my made-up company was not the usual re-branding scenario and I wanted to know more about what kind of situations would make a company rebrand. Profile tree are a web design and digital marketing company. They have a great informative post on their website about rebranding – I’m going to talk about some of the points they make about why to rebrand:

  1. Clearer offer – an organisation changes and grows over time so the original branding may not clearly show what the company now offers. An example of this is Dunkin Donuts, who dropped the donuts from their name in 2019 –which makes sense as they do sell other products not just donuts as the original name might suggest.
  2. Modernisation – a well-established company may end up with a slightly old -fashioned image so a re-brand can revitalise their image and keep it fresh. Burberry did this in 2010 by making Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame the new face of their ad campaign modelling the Burberry classic trench coat making it once again relevant and fashionable to be seen in it.
  3. A company can outgrow a brand – over the years companies expand, modernise, grow and offer new products to new markets and so it may be that a rebrand is necessary.

Given that I already had a brand of sorts (albeit one generated by Madcap Flare) I then began to think about rebranding and what would be involved in that from a tech author’s perspective.

Because I was in the position of inventing a company, an app and a Help file I did also have to think about brand definition and identity i.e. my corporate mission, values and personality. In the real world of course if you are tech author working at an organisation that is re-branding you may not have any input on your corporate logo, slogans or product packaging. What you may have to think about is what items you’ll need to update when your marketing people (or whoever) have come up with the new branding. Your company might

be doing a full re-brand or maybe certain elements. Areas tech authors may need to look at and update include:

  • MS Word templates – areas like headers, footers, font, styles
  • Anywhere the company logo appears
  • Company website
  • Product documentation
  • User assistance
  • Staff handbook

That’s not an exhaustive list and every company is different, the ones I’ve mentioned are some of the more common items that you might need to update.

Cherryleaf actually went through this process and rebranded some years ago, and, even today, we occasionally stumble across a legacy file with the old logo (it was a purple leaf if anyone remembers that from the noughties).

Whatever the documentation is that you are responsible for that is a good place to start and there is always more than you think.

Madcap Flare was the Help authoring tool I had chosen for my project and I decided to download and install another template from the Madcap Flare website. And it was on the Madcap Flare website where I came across a new Flare feature (well, not that new, now it actually came out about 6 months ago in version 2023 r2.

It’s a new feature called Branding, which enables you to add your corporate branding to your Flare project. You can set common branding elements (e.g., logo, hero image, font, and colour palette) to match the output with your company’s brand.

You do this by setting up a new project and selecting branding in the start new project wizard where you can input all your corporate colours fonts etc. At a later date, if your company then decides to re-brand, you can go to your branded Flare project, open it up and go to the Branding folder where you’ll find the Branding CSS file – open this and make the required re-branding changes.

For any Flare users, Madcap Flare’s Director of Documentation, Paul Stoecklein, has some excellent informative videos on the Madcap site that show how to use the Branding feature.

I started a new project and added my branding, which I then decided to change, so I went in and updated the CSS, which was very straightforward, and led to me creating many versions of my project with different branding. I found this was a very fast efficient way of managing that aspect of rebranding, and I found it to be a really useful feature.

For anyone of us who has been tasked with re-branding content, I suggest ensuring that whoever is responsible for the re-branding gives you a comprehensive checklist of all the new branding components including: colours, fonts styles, logo and so on. And a list of all the content that you are responsible for re-branding, whether that be user guides, company website or sales and marketing literature.

Creating an imaginary company with an imaginary brand and imagined content has been a great creative learning experience, I’ve really enjoyed it and learned a lot and am looking forward to continuing to find out more about this fascinating subject.

If you’ve been involved in a real-life re-branding project, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for listening to me, Ginny Critcher, on the Cherryleaf podcast.

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