Rebranding may feel like climbing a mountain, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By following this 8 step rebranding guide, you’ll set yourself up for success as you embark on your rebranding journey. Rebrands can be chaotic, so it’s important to stay organized and thorough as you go. The steps in this guide focus on preparation and providing clarity so your team is ready to execute a successful rebrand.
We’ve created client success stories through their rebrands by employing this process, and our mission was to add color to the process that we utilize for our clients and most recently for ourselves. If you want a closer look at how we applied this process to our rebrand, we released a rebrand case study with details intended to provide an example of this process in real time.
The 8 Steps to a Successful Rebrand
1. Find Your Why
Before embarking on your own rebranding journey, make sure that there’s a why behind it. Rebrands are resource intensive and can be a risky endeavor for the unprepared. Make sure that the rebrand will accommodate everybody who’s involved, including your team and your customers. A successful rebrand is one that was built with the customer journey in mind, and clearly addresses the pain points you identify. Asking the following questions will help set the stage and provide clarity as you initiate the rebranding process.
What if I want a rebrand but my team doesn’t?
If there’s disagreement between you and your team about the relevance of rebranding, you may have differing opinions on your customer’s pain points and journey. This is a good opportunity to rebuild your customer journey together to uncover their current pain points while reflecting on how effective your efforts are at alleviating them. If rebranding is truly the correct choice, a detailed and collaborative breakdown of why will reinforce team alignment and direction.
What if my team wants a rebrand but I don’t?
This is also a great opportunity to rethink your customer journey. Ask yourself why your team wants a rebrand and take a step back to look at the bigger picture. Evaluate with your team how your current brand is serving the company and your customers; oftentimes, your team is in close contact with them and will have insights that are hard to spot from a high-level perspective.
What if we both want a rebrand but our customers don’t?
If you find your customers are attached to your current brand and won’t be receptive to change, try finding out their why. A best of both worlds approach works here, and you can bring your old brand with you if you’re afraid of risking your fan club. Instead of a full rebrand, a brand refresh could be the best choice.
What if my team and I don’t want a rebrand but our customers do?
If you and your team are unconvinced about rebranding but it’s clear your customers are, then there’s a chance that there’s a bigger disconnect than just the brand. Talk to your customers and understand the why behind their opinions. Your customers are the ultimate decision makers, and not listening to them could mean trouble.
2. Prepare Your Team
We discussed the importance of team alignment in our second rebranding blog and the implementation of a role that will help your team align while you complete the rebranding process. A team without direction or alignment will get lost in the process as they try to rebuild the brand and relearn it, all while juggling their traditional roles in the company.
A successful rebrand synergizes with your company culture, and your culture is built and supported by the people within it. Your rebrand depends on alignment, so make sure everyone is pulling in the same direction!
3. Find Your Fan Club
Who are your most loyal customers, and where are they? Who are your biggest fans that would wear your logo on their sleeve? These people are the lifeblood of your brand. Building your brand with your fan club in mind will eliminate much of the risk that’s associated with rebranding. Better yet, a happy fan club means happy advocates that will be more than willing to spread the word about your rebrand after it’s complete.
By identifying your fan club, you can dissect which aspects of your current brand you’ll want to keep, and which aspects you’ll want to replace with something new and refreshing. It’s okay if you lose some fringe customers, they were most likely unconvinced and fleeting anyways. Keep your fan club happy and reinforce the connection that you’ve worked so hard to nurture.
4. Study the Competition
Customers can join multiple fan clubs. Do you have fans that also advocate for competitors? Or, do your competitors have a fan club that your company wants to reach? While analyzing your competitors, pay attention to the details. If your web browser supports plugins, you can install a plugin that pulls valuable information from other websites, such as creative assets, fonts, color codes, and more. This is a quick and easy way to get intel without having to dig yourself. One example is CSS Peeper, but there are many more out there. Find your competitor’s ads, look at their meta data and copy in search results, as well as the copy on their website. Try to identify a pattern in their tone of voice and the way they write. How formal are they? Does it make sense for the type of customers they’re trying to attract? Would that resonate with your fan club?
After gathering this information, look at it critically and holistically. Try to pinpoint the “why” behind your competitor’s identity. It’s important to remember that the way your competitors operate isn’t necessarily the best way for you. There will be plenty of question marks raised while looking at the competition, and it’s possible that a head scratching decision by your competition is a mistake you can improve upon. By comparing your competitors with one another, you’ll identify patterns and commonalities that will be a more accurate reflection of your industry.
5. Study Yourself
After completing a competitive analysis, do the same for yourself. Look at your website, grab your colors, fonts, creative assets, and anything else you can tie to your brand. With the list in hand, compare and contrast it with the data you’ve gathered from your competitors. You’ll notice key similarities and differences that could spark a creative way to differentiate yourself. Or, you might find something your competitors are doing that’s really valuable. In this case, get to the bottom of why your competitors are doing it and why it’s working. Then, take it, modify it, and incorporate it into your brand.
Every brand has positives and negatives. What’s even more complicated is that something that works for one brand may not work for another. Because of this, it’s important to take a critical and holistic look at the data you’re gathering in the same way you did with the competition. Tying in the details to the big picture can remove the muck and provide great clarity for the next step in the process.
6. Lay Your Foundation
At this point, your team will have a good snapshot of your industry, competitors, and customers. The next step is to start building your identity. Much like building a house, constructing your brand will start with the foundation. Hyperbolically speaking, your foundation answers the question: Why is the world doomed? What are you saving us from? A toned down version of this is: What is your mission? Your foundation acts as the centerpiece and point of reference for everything that comes after, so take time and care in completing this step.
With your foundation in place, it’s time to build your brand pillars. These expand (or build!) upon the foundation by providing clarity to your customers and communicating in no uncertain terms what you’re here to do. While building your pillars, ask yourself these questions:
- Differentiation: How will you change our lives in a different way than everybody else?
- Relevance: Why should we care? What makes you unforgettable?
- Esteem: How will joining your fan club improve my life and social credibility?
- Knowledge: What are you doing to help us understand your brand identity? What should we tell our social circle?
7. Fill in the Details
Filling in the details is the iceberg of this list, and this section is just the tip of it. If you want to take a peak underwater and start diving into the details, you can read our first rebranding blog in the series. There, we discuss different brand components and how they slot into the bigger picture.
In summary, this step is where you’ll choose your name, your logo, decide your font, your color palette, and every other bit of minutiae that’s left before launching your brand. This step will take a lot of time, but it’s also very rewarding. Here is where your team’s vision and hard work starts materializing into something tangible. Filling in the details of your brand is an intensive and technically challenging undertaking, so it’s important to work with a brand expert. This step isn’t always DIY-friendly, as consistency and efficiency will be the difference makers. As you collaborate, everything should start making sense. Remember, decisions should always be made with the foundation and pillars of your brand in mind!
8. Pull Out the Sandpaper
If you’ve successfully completed the previous steps, then congratulations! You’re almost done. Sort of. You have a rough draft of your brand with every core aspect accounted for and every gap filled in. The next step is to polish what you have and turn it into something that you’ll be proud to show the world. This is an ongoing, cyclical process where you’re constantly listening and collecting feedback from customers.
The first step in sanding your brand involves refurbishing your peripheral assets. Things like newsletter templates, email signatures, letterheads, sales deliverables, and social media profiles are easy to forget. Assets that your team only uses monthly or quarterly won’t be top of mind, but your clients will get the impression that you neglected these items if they receive them in their old, obsolete state.
After reviewing your old and new assets, your focus is now on continuous improvement and optimisation. It doesn’t matter how much time and energy you put into your rebrand, you’re bound to miss something. You’re human, after all, so don’t worry about it—if you did a good job with building your foundation and pillars, your customers should understand this too! Staying honed in to something like a rebrand for an extended period of time can make your team jaded. Your customers are the final decision makers, and the best part is that they weren’t involved in the rebranding process. They’ll have a fresh set of eyes with valuable insights that you would’ve never uncovered on your own.
Building Buzz for Your Rebrand
Although there’s only 8 steps above, we consider “building buzz” to be the pseudo-9th step. However, it deserves its own section because it’s an ongoing process that’s so important, it deserves the spotlight. For starters, you’ll want to build buzz during construction so you can prepare your audience for launch. By providing sneak previews or updates on the rebrand, you’ll generate excitement and anticipation.
A rebrand is a fresh start, and your team will want to hit the ground running. Find unique ways to reach your audience across multiple channels and build suspense. Plan a customer-appreciation event for the big reveal, send email updates, post social media sneak previews and behind the scenes snapshots at different stages of the rebranding process. Build a landing page that offers hints about your new identity. Address your customers directly and show them that they’re in your thoughts as you complete your rebrand. The key is to give the impression that your customers are insiders and “in the know” without revealing too much so that the launch isn’t impactful. Everybody wants to feel a sense of belonging, and giving your audience ownership of the brand before it launches (again, without revealing too much!) is the best fan club recruitment tool you can find.
Rebranding is a tough process, but it doesn’t have to be painful. Wrinkles will undoubtedly appear somewhere before launch, and we’re dedicated to ironing them out. The Evolve Systems team has crafted client success stories out of refreshes, rebrands, and everything in between. To help kick-off your rebrand, we’ve created a free rebranding checklist for you to download. It’ll help you get a running start and enter the rebranding process with confidence.
After you complete the checklist, get in touch with us! We’ll perform a brand audit with your checklist in mind. Whether it’s a new brand or a refresh, we’re here as your branding agency and are ready to help you excel.