Rebranding a company is to marketers what the prom is to high schoolers. Love it or hate it, you’ll have to do it at least once in your life. In many ways, rebranding your first company is a rite of passage, so you want to ensure you do it right. The good news is that, while every rebrand is unique, the successful ones always follow the same pattern: You start by analyzing your current brand, you then define a space that your brand can own, craft your new brand, and finally, launch the new brand into the marketplace.
Before you start on the rebranding process, make sure you have a documented plan for the following four steps:
1. Analyze Your Current Brand
What is your current brand like, and how does it compare to the rest of the marketplace? How do your consumers view your product or services? What about your competitors? These are all vital questions to ask as you take a look at your brand, but there’s one question that not enough marketers ask during the first stage of rebranding their company...
Why are we doing this?
Far too often, people start rebranding a company because they’re bored. If you look at your logo daily, it probably seems stale to you, but is that a fair and justifiable reason to embark on a rebrand? There are many great reasons to rebrand a company, but boredom isn’t one of them. Before you embark on a full rebrand, make sure to perform a full brand audit?.
2. Define Your “Ownable Space”
This is, arguably, the most important part of any company’s branding efforts. You need to research your current customers, ideal customers, and competitors to figure out who you want to be. What is it that makes your brand a special snowflake in a blizzard of competition? There are several incredible resources on this subject, including Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, so I won’t go into too much detail, but here are some great questions to ask in the process of finding your ownable space:
- What are our value propositions? What are our competitors? Where do they overlap?
- What adjectives do our competitors use to describe themselves? Got a list? Great! Those words are now off-limits.
- Where do we rank among our competition in price? What about in features? Service?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you’ll have a much better idea of how you can find your “blue ocean.”
3. Craft Your New Brand
Now comes the fun part. Yes, crafting the brand gets all the glory, but your new brand should be crafted based on the research you did earlier. Everything you do in crafting your brand should stem from the space in the marketplace you want to own. Before you even consider a color palette or messaging, you should think about how these elements support that unique positioning that you worked so hard to find. Now, on to the fun stuff:
- Primary color palette
- Brand messaging, including a brand boilerplate and elevator pitch
- Replacements for any printed or digital assets your team will use in the future. This includes everything from stationary to your website.
Nice-To-Haves For Your New Brand
- Alternate marks
- Tertiary color palette
- Custom iconography
- A Brand voice document describing how your brand sounds
- Guidelines around branded photography
You will want to ensure that your new brand is omnipresent throughout your customer’s experience. Everything from your receptionist’s desk to your CEO’s office should scream your brand.
4. Launch and Maintain Your New Brand
Finally, we launch our new brand - hopefully with a launch party! This part should be fun for everyone involved and allow your team to celebrate your company’s new identity. In order for the brand launch to go off without a hook, you’re going to want to ensure that you’re involving all the right people internally with the brand launch. The last thing you want to do is create a new brand that the head of sales hates and sabotages. Ensure you’re effectively communicating with all relevant stakeholders internally before you launch the new brand.
You will then spend the rest of your life as the brand police. It’s not your fault, but it’s going to feel like everyone in your organization will want to compromise your brand guidelines and do their own thing. DO. NOT. LET. THEM. Stay strong, and if anyone gives you flack, know you’ve got me - a complete stranger - in your corner!
If you follow these four steps, you should be well on your way to an effective rebrand! Whether you’re starting a brand from scratch or merely refreshing a classic design, this is your recipe for success.