To Launch
or Not to Launch

We are living in a time of rapid change. The pandemic, recession, and social justice movement have combined to make tomorrow unknowable. This is the moment to overdeliver. The question is, What do we do next? 
Branding takes time. It can be a years-long process. For any work that started before March, we are no longer living in the same world as when it began. The rules have changed for when, how, and why to launch, and every situation is unique. 
The world is reopening in phases. Each industry is taking different steps toward recovery, changing the way they communicate and manage their brands. 
Cultural institutions are reflecting on the role they play while the doors are closed or attendance is curbed. Non-profit organizations are competing for funds and examining where they fit in the messaging hierarchy. The education sector is confronting the challenge of teaching while taking measures to keep students and faculty safe. Public spaces are being rethought to promote physical distancing. Hospitality brands are going local, while sports and entertainment brands are engaging audiences from a distance. Publishing is moving further toward digital and events are going virtual. Technology is rising to the challenge of new market needs. More than ever before, corporations are being vocal about their values and transparent about their practices. And, of course, there is a political charge in the air leading up to the November election. All the while the design world is doing what it can to help everyone communicate effectively. 
When you’ve invested time and money into a new identity system, you hope to be able to use it as intended, but brands are living things and world events demand a response. That’s what makes a strategic framework so important. It anticipates the unknowable. It charts a course centered on core values and provides a reliable map for implementation in even the most turbulent times. A living brand is able to stay true to its vision, respond to crisis, and work in service of its community.
If you started a branding project before March, we’ve outlined a four-step process that can help guide you through reassessing your launch plan. We hope it will help answer “What’s next?” 

A living brand is able to stay true to its vision, respond to crisis, and work in service of its community.

World events demand a response.

The New York Times sports page on August 27, 2020 features the NBA strike.
Social distancing circles at Memphis River Parks.
Hearts in Isolation is The Studio Museum in Harlem’s first online exhibition.



If you haven’t stopped to assess your brand, now is the time. When we’re in crisis management mode, we put on blinders to focus, but what’s most important is the big picture. 



It’s time to consider how the world has changed and what you can do about it. 
What does your brand mean within the current cultural context? 
Will a rebrand empower you to better fulfill your mission? Or will it create unnecessary problems? 
What are the practical implications of your budget and your workload? 
There are so many ways to help your business, help your community, and help the world. It’s important to assess your decision-making at every level of potential impact.     



If, based on your reflection, the old plan is no longer feasible, go back to your strategic framework. You are who you are no matter how the world has changed. What’s variable is your response. 
What does your community need at this moment? 
How does your work align with their needs? 
Can you reach your community more efficiently and effectively? 
Change should be community led, not moment led. The moment will pass. Your community, if you empower them and build trust, is forever.



Whatever you decide, proceed with purpose. 
Time the launch in service of your community. This could mean you hurry up, stand down, or even forgo the launch entirely. 
If you do go ahead, speak openly about your reasons for change. Confront the realities of life’s current challenges, and adjust your tone accordingly. Meet people where they are and be transparent about your process. 
Follow your vision and you’ll find your way through. 
Commit to your When, How, and Why until the world changes again, then go back to Step 1.