The Ultimate Rebrand Checklist: What to Know Before You Start

by Katy French

Think you’re ready to rebrand? There’s a lot more to it than you might realize. A rebrand is an exciting prospect, but the actual process can be complicated and time-intensive, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into before you pull the trigger. We’ve seen brand after brand dive into a rebrand full force without totally thinking it out; unfortunately, that often results in a lot of frustration and a less-than-stellar final product.

In the words of founding father Ben Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” So, to help you avoid the same fate, we’ve identified the six most important things to know before you start your rebrand.

Once you know what to prepare for (and what to prepare for now), you can approach the process more confidently and set yourself up for success.

1) A Reason to Rebrand

You don’t rebrand just because you feel like it. You do it because you have a communication problem that needs to be solved (and the way you’re representing your brand doesn’t align with who you are). But to do that successfully, you need to understand exactly what that problem is. Some reasons to consider a rebrand:

  • You look like everybody else in your industry.
  • You’re going after a new audience.
  • Your brand has expanded.
  • Your brand is painfully outdated.
  • Your branding doesn’t reflect your values/identity.
  • You’ve dealt with bad press.
  • You’ve merged or acquired.

Regardless of the reason, it’s important to know this—and communicate it to your team so that everyone understands why they’re working toward this goal.

2) Buy-In from Key Stakeholders

A rebrand takes a ton of time and resources. To do it completely and effectively, you need everyone to be on board, from the high-level decision makers (and budget-keepers) to your logo designer. 

To save headaches, get buy-in before you start the rebrand and at every stage of the process. (Trust us, there’s nothing more frustrating than going back to square one because someone was left out of discussions.) Save yourself the trouble and build approvals into your timeline.   

3) The Right Team

You need a team with the knowledge, expertise, and communication skills to pull off a rebrand. Again, there are a ton of moving parts and the process can get stressful pretty damn quickly.

Whether you go in-house or pull in a branding agency, assemble a team that is on-board, aligned, and prepared to collaborate from start to finish. 

(Oftentimes, the brand team will be at the core of this work—or a major resource. Find out how to build a brand team that will help your rebrand succeed.)

4) A True Understanding of Your Brand Heart

When you’re at the point where you need a legitimate rebrand, it’s often because your brand has lost its way a bit. You probably don’t entirely know who you are, what you’re trying to do, how you’re perceived, and what you’re trying to communicate. You’ll figure these things out eventually, but first you need to get down to brass tacks.

This starts with identifying your brand heard (aka core identity): your purpose, vision, mission, and values.

  • 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?

Without your brand heart properly articulated, your rebrand will fail.

5) A Plan of Attack

There’s a lot more to a rebrand than a simple logo design, which is why people tend to unintentionally make branding mistakes. Before you dive in, complete a comprehensive brand strategy to understand where your brand is at and how it needs to shift.

A brand strategy serves as your blueprint, helping you understand what you need to do, how you’ll do it, and how you need allocate resources accordingly. This includes:

Warning: Don’t try to skip or skimp on any of this. It will show in your final execution. 

6) A Rollout Plan

Doing the branding work is one thing; releasing it into the world is another. Thus, it’s important to have your team and assets prepared far ahead of time. First, think of the properties you’ll need to rebrand before you share the news publicly. A few of the most common include:

  • Administration
    • Email addresses
    • Email signatures
    • Business cards
    • Internal documents (employee handbook, financial documents)
    • External documents (sales materials, presentations)
    • Financial materials (e.g., invoices)
    • Trademarks
    • Signage
    • Ad words
    • Update third-party directories
  • Web
    • Domain names
    • Redirects
    • Meta data
    • Site titles
    • Tags
    • Logos
    • Favicons
    • SEO/keywords
  • Marketing
    • Brand style guide
    • Media kit
    • Brand asset library
    • Content guidelines
    • Newsletter templates
    • Promotional materials
  • Social
    • Handles
    • Profile pics
    • Bios
    • Hashtags
  • Distribution plan
    • Brief stakeholders
    • Brief internal team
    • Prepare teasers and public announcements

In addition to assets, you also need to prepare your team. Try these tips to help get everyone ready and onboard.

Don’t Stress More Than You Have To

It’s easy to feel stressed during the rebrand process, but remember you can do it, get through it, and come out with a better brand in the end. If you’re feeling stuck, we find it helpful to look at how other brands have rebranded successfully. Check out some of the most inspiring rebrands of the last year or two if you’re feeling overwhelmed, or holler at us if you think you could use some extra hands.

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