Your brand is your business’ identity. A well-crafted brand is often the dividing line between a company that’s successful and one that completely flops. So if you feel like it’s not doing its job lately, it might be time for a fresh update.
Rebranding is sometimes the consequence of two companies merging, but more often it’s a necessary change for businesses that are beginning to stagnate or have evolved so much that the branding no longer reflects the company. It can involve anything from a small logo change to an entire overhaul of all your visual and written assets.
If you are focused on a website redesign, be sure to checkout our website redesign resources. Whether it’s a partial or total rebrand, you need a solid inbound strategy in place to make sure everything goes smoothly. Here are some tips to help you out.
Do You Need a Rebranding Strategy?
Is it time to start anew? Before you take this major step in a new direction, you should decide if it’s really the right choice for your company.
If you’re rebranding because your marketing feels stale rather than as a necessary consequence of a merger or a name change, you’ll want to think carefully before you take the plunge.
Sometimes a rebrand isn’t necessary at all; perhaps what you really need is a new marketing campaign or a different approach to it. It’s a drastic change to make, and it can leave your current customers feeling jarred and confused — or unable to find you at all — as all your familiarity is stripped away.
Other times, however, a rebrand is the best choice. Here are a few situations in which you might consider it:
- Your company has merged with, or is bought by, another.
- You rename the company.
- The ideals or mission of the company has changed and the current branding no longer reflects your business.
- Your overall visuals are out of date and need to be modernized.
- You’re not reaching your target demographic with your current appearance.
- Your branding is simply ineffective; it doesn’t stand out enough.
- You’ve encountered controversy and want to discard your old name — though keep in mind that without fixing whatever caused the issue in the first place, people aren’t likely to be fooled.
Rebranding can be somewhat of a gamble, as your customers may not like it or it may not be effective at drawing them in. But done right, it can be very effective.
Rebranding Strategy: 7 Steps to Success
If you’ve decided to go forward, you’ll need to follow these general steps to get your effort off the ground.
Keep in mind: a total rebrand isn’t always necessary. Sometimes a small visual change or rewriting your marketing materials is more than enough. A partial rebrand can give a nice fresh look to your business, and is often more than enough.
Total or near-total rebrands are usually only necessary during merges or when a company’s vision has been completely overhauled. Don’t go for it otherwise unless you’ve already tried plenty of marketing tactics and it’s just not sticking with customers.
And whatever you do, unless your goal is to start from scratch, be careful that you’re still recognizable in some way. Doing something as drastic as changing your name, especially if you overhaul your website, visuals, and copy along with it, can leave you with no leftover customers or any reputation at all.
1. Do Your Research
The first step is always research, and it’s no small task. Here’s a list of what you should go over:
- The industry — It’s always good to do a little extra research on the marketplace you operate in to see what sort of branding would be most effective.
- Competitors — Take a look at the top dogs in your industry and find out what they’re doing right with their brands.
- Your intended target audience — Who are you trying to reach? What sort of look and feel appeals to that demographic? Check out other companies that target them and find similarities between their designs.
- Your own brand positioning — Search for reviews and mentions on social media. How are you being perceived by your audience? Is it a generally positive or negative sentiment? What do they complain about? What do they say you could do better?
- Rebranding success stories — In the same vein as keeping an eye on competitors, look up recent rebrands to study the changes they made and why they were so successful.
You should also talk to your employees, clients, and users to see what they like about you/your website’s experience and what they would rather change. Ask them to fill out a survey and embed one on your website to get this valuable data.
With research finished, you should make an outline of existing branding materials and decide what stays and what goes. Summarize what you want from this endeavor, what exactly will need to change, and who’s in charge of what. Share this document with your employees and make sure everyone’s on board.
2. Redesign Your Visuals
Visual tweaks and overhauls are the most common type of partial rebrands. Graphic design is always evolving, and you may spy an opportunity to create a better logo or choose more appealing colors.
For a good example of a visual redesign, see MailChimp’s 2018 rebrand which introduced a new logo, typeface, and colors.
Visual rebranding usually involves a slight refresh of your logo and its variants, though you might throw the old one out entirely. But it’s not all about logos; don’t forget your color palette, typography, and the illustrations or photography you use on your website — or even the style of UI animations on your website or app.
With this part of the rebrand, you need to be careful to get everything. One wrong color, an outdated social media avatar, or an old logo left displayed on a certain page will be jarring for users and looks very unprofessional.
Make sure to update every page on your website, your app if you have one, branded PDFs/documents, your business card, email templates, and social media avatars and biographies. Leave no stone unturned.
3. Reevaluate Your Mission
As you’re going through a rebrand, now is the time to ask yourself: Does my business’ stated philosophy and mission still accurately represent it?
This is a small step, but an important one. If a major part of your business philosophy is, for example, using only ethically sourced products, this should be reflected not just in your mission statement or about pages but throughout all your copy and marketing materials where appropriate.
It’s important to establish what your goals as a business are: What, how, and why you’re doing what you’re doing — and for these to be reflected accurately.
4. Rewrite Your Copy and Marketing Materials
Keeping in mind the above tip, you may need to rewrite the content on your website and other platforms, and also refresh marketing materials such as your brand style guide.
Your brand is like a persona for your company — like it’s a single person with its own personality, even if in reality how your brand “acts” is controlled by dozens of people working behind the scenes.
Decide what sort of tone you’d like your business to reflect in its writing. Are you professional and helpful, or friendly and upbeat? Brief, inspiring, informative? This is your brand voice, and it should be relatively consistent across all platforms.
Go over all the content on your website — including your blog — as well as your social media bios, marketing/advertising materials, and written copy on any other platforms you exist on. Ensure it sticks to your brand’s voice and reflects your company’s mission, and get rid of any outdated content.
If you haven’t yet, it’s time to create or update your brand style guide (also called brand guidelines). This essential document outlines everything for a comprehensive brand strategy, from your visuals to your voice, what’s acceptable and what’s not. No rebrand is complete without a style guide.
5. Rebuild Your Website
The last major step is to update your website, or possibly even redesign the whole thing. Sometimes you can get by with only minor updates: making sure your new logo or icons are displayed properly on every page, skimming all your content to make sure no paragraph was forgotten, swapping out colors, and so on.
Other times, you may need to work with a web designer to create a new website that more accurately reflects your brand. This is especially true if you’re modernizing your branding — your website itself is likely out of date, as well.
Consult the style guide you created earlier in either case, and make sure absolutely everything you change gets universally updated: the typography, logo, icons, colors, and brand name/tagline (if it was changed). Go over it all with a fine-tooth comb and make sure nothing is left in the cracks.
If you decide to redesign or update your website, take a look at these assets to better personalize your brand:
- Overall page layout and navigation
- Typography (for headers, sub-headers, and body text)
- UI animations (hover effects, scroll effects, etc.)
- Photography and illustrations
- Other website graphics such as icons
6. Test it Out
Testing and gathering analytics is the most important step of all. Your rebrand could flop or it could go viral, but you need to understand why: what you did right or wrong, and what users liked and hated.
Before you push out your redesign, test it out with a focus group and gather valuable feedback you can use to tweak your strategy. Do A/B testing for small elements to see what users respond better to. After the fact, use surveys to find out what people think of your new look.
You also should gather analytics from your site with a tool like Google Analytics, ideally for at least six months before and after. Bounce rate, click rate on certain elements, visit duration, and so on will all help determine whether your rebranding efforts were a success or a failure. And if you ever need to do a rebrand again, you’ll find this data very valuable.7.
7. Launch Time
Once you’ve put together a style guide and an outline of the changes you want made, created all the assets you’ll need, rewritten the necessary content, and put it through user testing, it’s finally time for launch!
Pro tip: don’t roll out changes slowly over time and randomly across platforms. It will only cause more confusion and chaos for users.
What if your site uses one logo and color palette, and your Twitter account has something entirely different and outdated? Or your site’s main pages use one name for the company but your blog uses another? This will put off visitors and likely lead to lost traffic.
Change everything all at once, and double-check again to make sure there’s no leftovers. Inconsistency can easily kill your rebrand before it has time to shine.
Don’t just let this event pass over unnoticed. Make a marketing campaign out of it, or at least notify your customers through email and social media. You may also want to give some warning beforehand to limit unnecessary confusion, especially if you’ve done something major like a name change or a huge visual overhaul.
Talk to everyone on your team, and make sure they’re all on board for the rebrand. This is especially important for content authors, designers, and social media managers who are actively standing in for your company. They’ll need to follow the style guide and use your new name, logo, voice, and colors correctly.
Refresh Your Brand
Sometimes your company needs a little branding touch-up, or even a massive spring cleaning to toss out everything that isn’t working. If you want to succeed and grow as a business, you’re going to need great branding, which might mean a little trial and error to see what works.
Eventually, a rebrand, even a small one like a new logo or a content rewrite, is unavoidable. Be ready to tackle this important project, and you should be able to create a shiny, new, successful brand that’s modern, unique, and refreshed for new customers.