Setting Course: Rebranding and Brand Thoughtfulness
One of your business’s most valuable assets, besides your products and services, is your brand. Everything about your company—how you appeal to your customer, the way you interact with clients and the public, the feeling or the personality you wish to convey, your company’s values—is related in some way to your brand.
But here’s the thing, many people associate “brand” with something as simple as a logo, color palette, or design choices. You may even be wondering if I’m “overthinking” this. I’d argue, while these are indeed part of what comprises your business’s brand, there are fundamental elements about your business that your brand needs to relate whether you’re a CMO of a Fortune 500 company or a sole proprietor of a small business.
- What’s your mission and vision?
- What are your organization’s strategic goals?
- Who is your ideal client?
- How are your offerings substantially different than your competitor’s?
- How is your brand disrupting your industry’s landscape?
- What associations does the target customer make with your business?
Branding gets down to the very nuts and bolts of who you are, how you operate, and what you have to offer a potential client or customer. It’s who you are and how you tell your story. If it seems a bit overwhelming, don’t worry—at some point, every company has to determine its course concretely and adopt the identity it needs to best suit its prospects.
Should I consider rebranding?
For businesses that have had elements of their brand established for a long period of time, the idea of rebranding is something of a challenge. Practical concerns, such as maintaining the brand equity you’ve already built while establishing new business targets, require businesses to be intentional about the way they build, expand, or reconceive their branding strategy. It may even mean that you may not need a complete overhaul of all things brand. If that’s you, I’d suggest going through this exercise to reaffirm the positives in your brand. Pay the most attention to targeting demographics with your voice, style, design and logo.
If you’re considering rebranding, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to determine whether moving forward will make for a stronger company in the future.
- Are your buyer personas complete, with a company-wide understanding of who your target audience is and how to communicate with each type of prospect?
- Is your business reaching all of its target demographics?
- Is your current branding disorganized or out-of-date? That is, does your presence as a brand, from the smallest piece of collateral to your entire digital platform, carry a consistent message?
- Is your company unified under the umbrella of its brand?
- Could aspects of your brand confuse potential customers?
- Are your company’s mission, vision, and unique selling proposition clear to the prospect almost immediately, or are the benefits of using your products and services unclear?
- Do you do a good job of differentiating yourself from other brands, especially your competition?
- Does your company have clear and actionable marketing goals that are communicated to all of your employees, so that everyone knows their individual role in maintaining your company’s strategy?
- Are you asking your customers/fans to care more about a brand than what they are comfortable with?
If you’re unclear on how to answer any of the above questions, chances are strong that a rebranding strategy will help you to develop brand consistency to better achieve your business’s marketing and sales goals.
Who should rebrand my company?
A dedicated rebranding effort takes time, effort, and introspection. Again, you’re likely going to change much more than your logo—you may be reimagining the very way your company operates and how it relates to the customer. Therefore, a complete rebranding effort needs to take a top-down approach, touching everything from design to customer service.
If you choose to rebrand your business, the challenge will be determining who’s responsible for each aspect of your effort. This isn’t to suggest that everyone in your company isn’t responsible for your rebranding effort to some degree, as mentioned above, but decisions about your core values, where your marketing efforts will be focused, and how the design of your company should change will require specialized attention and expertise.
When you rebrand on your own, chances are pieces of your strategy will require outsourcing; for instance, design considerations and website updates. The problem with a piecemeal approach, however, is that because your branding needs to be both cohesive and comprehensive, it can be difficult to ensure that your efforts coalesce brand-wide.
Working with an outside team to help coordinate your rebranding efforts will ensure that your strategy is treated holistically rather than haphazardly. In other words, your strategy will involve everything from your company’s mission, vision, and core values to your buyer personas, your customer’s journey and user experience as well as your logo and design. Furthermore, collaborating with a team of dedicated experts will offer you years’ worth of experience in developing and nurturing a brand’s strategy, helping you through the difficult parts of the process and offering the competitive research you’ll need to truly stand out against your competition.
No matter how you decide to execute your rebrand, here are some major topics to get right for long-term, lasting success (without fleshing each out in this blog post).
- Website SEO
- Print Style Guide
- Online Style Guide
- Writing Guide
Want more information about these topics?
How should I roll out my company’s rebrand?
Perhaps the most difficult thing for businesses to determine is how to finally unveil their new branding strategy to the world. To avoid confusing current customers and increase the possibility of expanding your business, a rebranding strategy should be rolled out methodically, with consideration given to the process.
It’s critical to develop a roll-out schedule so that each part of your brand, when it is unveiled to the public, makes a smooth transition from point A to point B. The extent of your rebranding efforts will dictate how this process will go. For instance, if you’re simply launching a new website with a new logo, the process may be less intensive than if you’ve reconceived your company’s entire mission and strategic goals.
Here are some key steps to a successful rollout:
Your rebranding effort will have to be rolled out internally before it is unveiled to customers and prospects, so that when you finally go public, your whole team is on board, both in terms of understanding the company’s new direction and helping customers navigate the change. This is the least you should expect. You have an opportunity to get so much more out of your internal teams the more transparent you are.
Getting internal buy-in is crucial. Here are some steps you can take to get your company involved and invested beyond the paycheck your company provides.
- Set-up an off-site activity to unveil your trajectory in fresh surroundings which best mirrors your focus
- Share some of the answers to the questions above
- Assign responsibilities to different teams and team members to be torch bearers
- Open yourselves up to thoughtful feedback with anonymous surveys
- Bring investors in to express growth projections because of your change
- Set Key Performance Indicators to measure the +/- of the rebrand
Successfully building up attention around a new rebrand can be a significant turning point for a brand. It’s important to start with the people that know and love you, your clients or customers. Start by letting them in on the secret before building it up elsewhere. This also helps keep brand recognition and inspire a new story around your brand.
Video is an effective tool to show the morph and inspiration of a visual change
Provide a countdown clock to build hype of the switchover
Roll out a new product or offering alongside launch
Announce changes made to customer service because of the rebrand
Now it’s time for evaluation. Those metrics you established at the onset come in handy here. How did you fair? Was the story clear and digestible? Where are the hiccups? What happened to your website and site traffic? Be honest with yourself, remedy what you can control. You should expect to see numbers change immediately. From my experience, when graphed, the numbers should be close to an inverted bell-curve.
Upfront boosted attention – Dip in hype and engagement – Built-up long-standing new attention
It’s also time to keep the marketing efforts coming! Post-launch is a great time to pull back some more curtains for even more transparency now that the official message of the launch has been executed.
- Q&A some of the engagement you had during the process
- Provide a tell-all blog or article of the processes and conclusions
- Reward your team and the clients/customers that promoted this transition
- Be social
Wrapping This Up
It’s a daunting task to be assessed or self-assess. Don’t get wrapped up in the ego of it all. There are a couple threads throughout this post that I hope you caught.
Winston Churchill once said, “To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.” In branding and business, it requires thought and planning to execute change while increasing brand equity. It is possible; it can be done. Be mindful of the impact that your brand has on the world and leave no rock unturned in weeding out compromising habits or ineffective positioning. Your brand is owned by the people that love it. Be what they need the most.