What You Should Know about Rebranding

Alice Stevens

Last Updated: February 24th, 2020

Business MeetingA successful company rebrand requires careful consideration and preparation. You need to think about when to rebrand and how to rebrand. After your efforts, it’s important to evaluate customer responses.

When to rebrand

Rebranding is a process, so it’s essential to be strategic when deciding to rebrand.

Tim Parkin, President of Parkin Consulting, says, “Rebranding should only be done when there is a valid business case for doing so. Some examples include establishing a stronger position in the market, refining identity and messaging to be more competitive, or revitalizing an aging brand.”

Nigel Sielegar, principle of Corse Design Factory, shares other reasons why a company would choose to rebrand:

“A company usually decides to undergo a rebranding due to some fundamental changes within the business. For example, there's a change in leadership which usually leads to changes in the trajectory of a company or there are changes in customer behavior and culture that renders their old brand irrelevant. It could also be because they just outgrew the old brand which doesn't reflect what the company is in the present role,” he says.

Clearly understanding the why of your rebrand will help you plan and execute it.

Wade Meredith, marketing and design consultant for WM Consulting, says, “Know why you’re rebranding and clearly define those goals. Brand goals should be broad or abstract, so that you don’t pigeonhole yourself and require further rebranding later in order to take advantage of currently unforeseen opportunities.”

How to rebrand

There are several important steps involved in a rebrand:

  • Determine goals and strategy
  • Create your team
  • Do the research
  • Logo changes and adjustments
  • Plan the timing

Determine goals and strategy

The purpose and goals of a rebrand will help keep your team focused as it moves through the rebranding process.

Michelle Chuang, Principal for MMS Brand Consulting, LLC, says, “Whatever the reason is to rebrand, the company should thoroughly understand the intention and define business goals behind the rebranding initiative and measure its marketing executions carefully to ensure that the return on investment (ROI) can be yielded from the investment.

Once the intent has been defined, the organization should follow the trails of that intent to identify what the new brand is, as well as is not. This process will help ensure clarity in distinction in the rebranding effort.”

The intensity of a rebrand all depends on your goals.

Sielegar says, “A stale brand usually just needs a refresh without having to overhaul the entire brand foundation. A fresh update on the logo, different treatment to the brand expression, and updates on messaging usually is more than sufficient.

Meanwhile, a company that is ridden with stigmas would be advised to do a more aggressive measures, such as completely changing their logo, create a completely brand new messaging and visual language, and some even go all the way to change their name.”

Create your team

As you start setting your goals and strategizing, it’s important to have a clear picture of who will be involved in the process and at what junctures.

Stephen Jackett, COO of All Things Media, says, “Once the purpose of the rebrand is known, the next important step is to identify key stakeholders who will need or want input or final say in the process. Having a clear understanding of who will own each aspect of the process will save you a lot of trouble down the line and allow you to proceed on a set schedule.

Concurrent with these steps, businesses should decide whether they have the in-house creative team to execute the design and copy-related aspects of the rebrand, or if they need to enlist the services of a third-party agency. In the latter case, they will need to find an agency with a proven track record in helping companies build or rebuild their brand.”

Do the research

Research will help you make the most informed decisions concerning your rebrand.

“The process needs to undertake rigorous quantitative and qualitative research to fully present what the new brand architecture (brand attributes, personality, voice, positioning, etc.) and brand promise represent. When the brand architecture and strategy has been established, then utilize that as your framework to create the logo design,” says Chuang.

Your brand identity is for your customers as much as it is for your company.
Parkin says, “Rebranding should be done carefully and with consideration for the customer's perception. A new identity, including the logo design, must resonate with customers or else the brand will fail. This means that customer sentiment and feedback must be included in the rebranding or logo design process.”

Considering customers’ perspectives and potential reactions can help you narrow down your design options.

Dana S. Hewling, Owner and Creative Director of B.ID LLC, highlights an important research advantage that comes with rebranding.

She says, “The difference with a rebrand is that you have the advantage of having data and insights that you could only wish you had access to during the startup phase.”

Using what you know about your current brand and logo will help you develop a successful rebrand.

“With your rebrand, it is extremely important to approach it with these insights in mind: What from your previous brand did work? What didn't work? Who is your target now and how do they differ from who you thought they'd be? Who is your company now and how has it grown and shifted to best serve its audience within its space? Also, based on this, where are you planning on going over the next three, five, or 10 years? Keeping these things in mind is key when rebranding as it's not a cheap process and if you're going to do it, it should be done thoughtfully and strategically,” Hewling says.

Logo changes and adjustments

“When it comes to rebranding, we recommend businesses don't try to reinvent the wheel. If you already have an established business and customers are familiar with your logo and brand image, then it's important to not change too much of your company's image as this can lead to brand confusion,” says Cyr.

The nature and number of changes you make to your logo depends on the purpose of your rebrand. Consult your brand style guide to redesign with consistency going forward. Or if you haven't made a style guide for your brand, take the time now to make your brand's style guide.

“We recommend only changing up to 30 percent of your logo design if you are rebranding in order to make sure customers still recognize your brand. Think about updating your font to make it more legible or professional, or perhaps you want to opt for a more minimalist icon that still represents your industry or services, or maybe you want to drop the 'LLC', 'Co' or 'Inc' from your business name,” says Cyr.

It’s also important to do some focused reflection and research when changing or creating a new logo.

Lori Ramas, Business Efficiency Expert from Relezant, says, “Before you pay for a new logo, step back and do a couple of exercises to really uncover the purpose of your company and who you serve. Ask yourself, what demographic do I not want to work with? What am I not offering or no longer offering as a part of my products/services? Get clear about the no's so you can really enjoy discovering your yeses. Only then can you get a logo that embodies what lights you up most about why you're in business and taking the time to rebrand.”

Understanding what the competition is doing can help you know what kinds of things work and make your company stand out.

“With any new logo design or update, do your research, explore other designs within that industry, brainstorm ideas, and create lots of rough layouts. One of the simplest things many designers fail to practice is, "sleep on it" before you submit your work to the decision makers.  This is an important step in the process. You'd be surprised at the perspective you gain by simply walking away and revisiting your work with fresh eyes. Lastly, be your own worst critic and keep an open mind to other people's criticism. You will know in your heart of hearts whether or not the designs you're submitting are the best they can be,” says Richard Maharaj, Managing Partner and Founder of All Things Media, LLC.

Plan the timing

Parkin says, “Rebranding must be done in the right timing. Changing the identity of a business doesn't happen overnight. It takes time for customers and the marketplace to become familiar with the new identity and accept it. This timing must be planned carefully and accounted for as part of the rebranding process.”

Stacy Cyr, Marketing Manager of LogoMix the parent company of FreeLogoServices and LogoMaker, provides some insight into what kinds of things to do to promote and time your rebrand:

“Always have a plan of action in place for the rebranding effort. For instance, announce on your website's blog and social media pages at least three to four months in advance that you are going to be making some improvements to your brand. Boost the posts on social to capture a larger audience and encourage others to share the news. Run a PR campaign and submit a news article to the top PR outlets.

Next, make sure you have firm dates as to when the rebrand is going live. You will want to make sure that your new business logo, slogan, company name (if applicable) is changed across every online channel, including business directories, social media, your website, and you can even go as far as to contact webmasters of your most highly valued backlinks to see if they will update their content and images to reflect your rebranding,” she says.

There are additional ways to enhance new brand recognition.

For example, Shelley Grieshop, Creative Writer and Public Relations Director at Totally Promotional, says, “This can easily and cheaply be achieved by placing your new logo or tagline on quality giveaway items. Distribute them at community events and give them to employees, clients and potential customers. If you choose useful items such as sports bottles and cell phone chargers, your brand will get plenty of long-lasting attention. Many of our clients regularly hand out giveaway items to customers as a way to say thank-you for shopping. This is an excellent idea for a company that is rebranding on a tight budget.”

Evaluate customer responses

Cyr says, “Finally, the days and weeks following the rebranding effort, make sure you have all hands on deck listening for feedback from investors (if applicable), employees, customers, and the local community. Not all rebrands go smoothly (remember Gap's incident and now the backlash Slack is getting?), so you always want to gather feedback and have a backup plan just in case you need to go back to the drawing board.”

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