Think you’re ready to rebrand? Get ready. These projects are a massive undertaking, and it takes a fully committed team to do it well. If you don’t have much experience, there are plenty of stumbling blocks that can derail your plans. (Here are 10 major mistakes to avoid if you haven’t been through a rebrand before.)
In our experience, some of the most frustrating and most common issues include things like:
- No clear direction
- Indecisive or counterintuitive feedback
- Budget creep
- Missed deadlines
- Lack of transparency into the process (and, therefore, wrenches thrown in along the way)
Naturally, these issues are frustrating for everyone involved, but they don’t have to be. Whether you’re working with a branding agency or tackling your rebrand in-house, there are a few simple steps you can take to help your team function more efficiently and create better work that endures.
If you’re about to start the rebrand process, here are our top tips to make the process go smoothly, from start to finish.
1) Explain Why You’re Doing a Rebrand
We’ll say it a million times: You should never greenlight a rebrand without a serious discussion about why you’re doing it. Change for the sake of change rarely works well when it comes to rebrands. You need a legitimate reason to do it, with a specific purpose (aka goal). That goal will guide every part of the process and every decision your team makes, from your strategy to your logo design.
First, have a sit-down with your leadership team to determine why you should rebrand (here are 7 reasons you might consider doing it). Discuss:
- What problems you’re trying to solve
- What you might gain/lose by doing a rebrand
- What your customers might think
- What resources you’re willing to allocate (time, money, etc.)
- Metrics to track results
Than, once you’ve hashed it out and decided to move ahead, have a sit-down with your brand team to clearly outline what you’ll be doing and why.
2) Start with Your Brand Strategy—Not Your Visual Identity
Some people dive right into design, more focused on their logo than the big picture. But remember that your visual identity is just a tool to support your brand strategy. To do your rebrand the right way, these are the elements to work on (in order):
- Brand strategy (general blueprint)
- Verbal strategy (messaging)
- Visual identity (design)
If you really want your rebrand to work, start with your brand strategy. Who are you? What do you do? Who are you trying to attract (employees and customers)? Who are you competing against? How will you compete? How will you grow in the future? These are the answers you need to complete a successful rebrand.
3) Articulate Your Core Identity
What is your core identity? It’s who you are, what you care about, and why your brand exists. Specifically, it’s your:
- Purpose: Why do you exist?
- Vision: What future do you want to help create?
- Mission: How do you create that future?
- Values: Who are you? How do you work?
This core also influences every aspect of your rebrand. Articulating it correctly is a crucial first step to make sure everything you create is built on your principles. Many brands have a partial version of their core identity articulated, but this is the time to reevaluate and make sure it accurately reflects who you are and what you’re trying to achieve going forward.
4) Do As Much Research As You Can
A good rebrand starts with good research. Your goal is to gather as much knowledge as possible, synthesize it, and use it to fuel both your strategy and your creative approach. As such, you need to immerse yourself in your own brand, as well as your competitors’ brands.
- Assess all of your own content. Take a look at all of your brand’s current content, from your site CTAs to your product offerings. What works? What doesn’t? What should you keep? What can you improve?
- Talk to everyone. Find out what your employees think about your brand, as well as what your customers think (both current and former, happy and unhappy).
- Analyze your competitors. Do a competitive analysis to look at your competition. What do they care about? How do they present themselves? What does their messaging sound like? Their visual identity? To find out, make a copy of this convenient template, which includes all the questions you’ll want to ask, and use our guide to do a competitive analysis.
All of this research should be documented, and all insights should be shared with the entire team.
5) Get Your Team on the Same Page
When it comes time to start the “fun” part of a rebrand (aka the creative part), you need a strong creative brief that offers clear, concise direction. Unfortunately, this is often where we see trouble start. When a creative brief doesn’t offer enough direction, or offers direction that not everyone agrees on, you set your creative team up for failure.
To avoid this, there are a few easy steps to take:
- Get feedback from all relevant stakeholders. Give your team a brand audit survey. This survey asks every relevant question related to the rebrand, both in terms of messaging and design. Each person fills it out, articulating their creative vision for the rebrand.
- Consolidate feedback. Once you receive the survey answers, coallate them and gather stakeholders to go through and decide on what creative direction to provide, based on your goals.
- Write your brief. Consolidate your team’s “final vision” in the creative brief.
If you haven’t written a creative brief, here’s a template to use.
6) Provide Transparency into the Process
It seems obvious, but transparency helps everyone from your designer, to project manager, to CMO understand exactly what’s happening, who’s handling it, and what is expected. Clear, concise documentation of everything, from your core identity and timeline to budget and brand audit surveys, helps here. Your project manager should be in charge of keeping research organized, documents updated, and everything stored in an easy-to-access place.
Pro tip: In the interest of transparency and efficiency, make sure to build approvals into every stage of production. These will make sure leadership is always in the loop, and that every element is approved as you move through the process.
7) Deploy It the Right Way
Rebrands are exciting, but they can be stressful. Some teams are resistant to change or overwhelmed by an entirely new set of guidelines. Therefore, a proper rollout is crucial. You can’t just throw the new brand guidelines at your team and expect them to apply them seamlessly. Once your identity is ready, roll it out in stages.
- Internal: Have your brand team walk employees through the rebrand, explaining the “why” behind the “what,” so that everyone understands the goals and application. Also have a creative director on hand to answer any specific design questions. Your new brand style guide should be updated and accessible, and a point person identified for any additional questions. (Here’s how to create a brand style guide that everyone will use.)
- External: Once everything is 100% locked and loaded, you can celebrate your work. Announce the rebrand, show it off on your blog, send a marketing blast, reach out to media, etc.
Most Importantly, Support Your Team Along the Way
Tensions can run high when you’re getting down to the wire or creatively clashing with your team, but remember that you’re all in this together. You can always help your team (and save your sanity) by giving them the info, tools, and resources they need to do their job well. Start by taking a look at our branding archive for more tips on everything from designing your logo to finding the right typography. And if you feel like you’re getting stuck, let’s chat about how we can help.