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.” Thus, to help you avoid failure (and a lot of unnecessary stress along the way), we’ve compiled this rebranding checklist to help you navigate the rebrand process as easily as possible.
Your Handy Rebranding Checklist
Having worked with plenty of clients, we know firsthand what can help (and hurt) your team, your creativity, and your outcome when you’re working on a rebrand. To help you avoid these common pitfalls, we’ve identified the seven most important things you need to have before you start. From the right team to the right tools, this rebranding checklist will help you get through the process from A to Z—with less tears.
Before you dive in, here’s what you need.
1) A Reason to Rebrand
This is the first and most important item in this rebranding checklist. You should never do a rebrand just because you feel like it. You should 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- Your brand is painfully outdated.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 exactly what it is—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 budget-keepers, to the decision-makers, to the designers.
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 aligned and prepared to collaborate from start to finish.
Note: Oftentimes, your 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, and empower that team with these 100 tools and resources to make branding easier.
4) 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?
If you don’t have your brand heart properly articulated, you can’t build a brand that is aligned to it. Tl;dr: Without this, your rebrand will fail.
5) An Understanding of Your Competition
Again, you should know why you are undertaking a rebrand, but you also need to understand what the state of branding is—in your own company and across your industry. What does your competition’s branding look like? What works for them? How do people feel about your current branding? How do you want them to feel? To get these insights, you should do two exercises.
- Brand perception audit: This exercise helps you find out what people think of your current brand, and identify ways you might want to change. Here’s every question you need to ask.
- Competitive analysis: Use this step-by-step guide to understand how you fit in the marketplace (and how you may want to rebrand to better compete).
If you have these insights, you will be much more likely to rebrand in the right direction.
6) 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, know how you plan to tackle your…
- Verbal identity: This includes your positioning, value prop, tagline, and messaging architecture. Here’s a helpful framework to craft brand messaging and find your voice and personality.
- Visual identity: From typography and logo to imagery and colors, there are many elements to consider in your visual identity. Here’s a comprehensive checklist of everything to include, plus our best science-based tips to create a memorable brand identity.
Note: If you’re doing a total rebrand, see our guide to finding a new brand name.
7) 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:
- Email addresses
- Email signatures
- Business cards
- Internal documents (employee handbook, financial documents)
- External documents (sales materials, presentations)
- Financial materials (e.g., invoices)
- Ad words
- Update third-party directories
- Domain names
- Meta data
- Site titles
- Brand style guide
- Media kit
- Brand asset library
- Content guidelines
- Newsletter templates
- Promotional materials
- Profile pics
- 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 on board.
What to Do Once You’re Ready to Rebrand
We hope you found this rebranding checklist helpful. We know the rebrand process can be stressful, but remember you can do it, get through it, and come out with a better brand in the end. If you’re looking for next steps…
- Follow our guide to complete a rebrand,
- Check out even more ways to make the process easier.
- Learn how to create a comprehensive brand style guide that is easily accessible and easy to use.
- Get inspired by how other companies have tackled their rebrands.
- Find out how to tell your brand story once you’ve rebranded.
And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, or holler at us if you think you could use some extra hands.