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 at every stage of the rebrand process. (Here are some of the major mistakes you can unknowingly make.)
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 guide your team through the rebrand process easily—and create better work that endures.
How to Make the Rebrand Process Easier
If you’re about to embark on a total brand overhaul, here are our top tips to make the rebrand process go smoothly, from start to finish.
1) Do your prep work before you start.
Before you dive in, you need to do a little due diligence to set your team up for success. Specifically, you need…
- A reason to rebrand
- Buy-in from key stakeholders
- The right team
- Your brand heart
- An understanding of your competition
- A plan of attack
- A rollout plan
For more detail on these, find out more about the 7 things you should do before you rebrand.
2) Write a strong creative brief.
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.
3) 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.
If you haven’t fully fleshed out your brand strategy, follow our stress-free guide to do it the right way.
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.
- Get inspired. You can find rebrand inspiration from all over the Internet—and not just from brands within your own industry. Check out these awesome rebrand examples from B2B and B2C 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).
Share these insights with the entire team.
5) Document everything.
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.
This eliminates much of the miscommunication that can plague a project at any stage of the rebrand process.
6) Build approvals into your timeline.
Again, this might seem obvious, but we can’t tell you how many times a branding project is derailed because someone, somewhere was accidentally left off an email thread, absent for a meeting, or late to giving feedback on a first draft (like, a month late). When stakeholder approvals aren’t confirmed, you’re giving your team a prescription for extra stress and a whole lot of late nights.
Thus, when you build out your timeline, build in enough time to get those approvals—and don’t move on to the next step of the rebranding process until you have them.
7) Follow best practices at every stage.
Whether you’re working with a branding agency or tackling everything in-house, you need to have the right team with the right knowledge. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Branding isn’t just redesigning a logo; it’s creating a holistic ecosystem where every element complements every other element. Your brand heart influences your messaging, your messaging influences your logo, your logo influences your typography.
Additionally, building a strong identity means building an identity that can grow with your organization. (You don’t want to go through this whole thing again in a year or two because you cut corners or weren’t thinking things through.) This is why it’s so important to educate yourself about how to create each element as effectively and intelligently as possible.
- Read up on what experts have to say. Check out publications like Brandingmag, dive into the work of Marty Neumeier, and see our roundup of the best books on branding.
- Find more resources. Download our free brand identity toolkit, see our guide to tackle a rebrand from scratch, and take a look at our branding archive for more tips on everything from designing your logo to finding the right typography.
You can also see our roundup of the best tools to help you create a strong brand.
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. With the right plan and the right talent, you can create a rebrand that will serve your brand for years to come.
That said, we know that not every brand has the knowledge or bandwidth to tackle a rebrand in-house. If you need to save your sanity, let’s chat about how we can help. And if you’re ready to tackle it solo, we wish you the best of luck.