8 Tips for a Successful Rebrand
Many companies know it’s time for a rebrand long before they begin the actual rebranding process. If your existing brand has begun to feel stale, dated, or unaligned with your customer base, you’ve likely noticed but felt overwhelmed by the prospect of starting over. We get it - overhauling your brand can feel risky and complex. Will we lose the brand equity we’ve already built? Will customers like our new identity? Do we have to change everything? Where do we even start with a rebranding project?
Luckily, with a little preparation and the right branding studio guiding your rebrand strategy , the process doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, when executed well, rebranding your business can be a rewarding and fun experience!
The team at Quill Creative Studio has guided various organizations through almost a hundred rebranding projects through the years. To get you started on the right track, here are our eight tips for a successful rebrand so you can learn what to expect from a rebranding endeavor.
1. Know when to rebrand (and when not to)
Every company rebrands eventually (or should). Even the biggest household brands rebrand or retool their identity regularly. Typically we see existing brands updating their identities every 7-10 years, but many companies also regularly incorporate refreshes to different brand elements (like updating their website or introducing a new slogan) every few years, which gives them an opportunity to recommit to the core brand essentials that keep their audience engaged.
Rebranding can range from a full brand overhaul to bite-sized initiatives to target certain areas of opportunity and growth. Once you identify your company’s branding pain points, you can decide if a rebrand is the right course of action.
Most common reasons for rebranding
- Your company has new leadership or is undergoing a merger or acquisition.
- Your brand has become outdated and doesn’t match up with current trends in your market.
- Your company needs to distance itself from negative perceptions.
- Your company is introducing new products and services.
- Your competition has started to chip away at your share of the market.
- Your company is having difficulty recruiting.
- Your current brand simply no longer represents your company well.
When not to rebrand
While there are many good reasons to consider a rebrand, there are also a few good reasons not to.
- You just want a new logo. Sometimes a shiny new logo feels like a good enough refresh for your company, but trust us, it’s not. A new logo is just a visual element. Without a solid brand strategy behind it can cause confusion and inconsistency and can actually end up doing your brand more harm than good.
- You’re not consistent with your current branding. If you’ve already spent a lot of time and money branding your company, but it doesn’t seem to be working for you, the answer isn’t always to rebrand. Oftentimes, your current brand image just needs a cleanup. A good branding studio can help you tighten up your strategy and keep your current brand identity consistent across all areas of the company.
- You haven’t given your current brand strategy enough time. Many companies go through a long branding process and, upon completion, expect their brand to start performing for them NOW. Branding takes time and consistent strategy and management to be successful. If you feel like your branding isn’t working fast enough, recruit a good branding studio to help you assess your goals and figure out how to make your brand work for you on a realistic timeline.
2. Find the right branding agency
Finding the right branding agency to partner with should be one of the first things you do if you're not sure where to start in the rebranding process. But how do you know what branding agency is right for your company? You don’t want to just type “branding agency” into Google and pick the first ad that pops up. Branding is one of the most important things you’ll do for your company, so you want to be sure the branding agency you partner with is a good fit.
Spend a little time vetting a few different agencies before you settle on one. Look over their portfolio of past work, examples of both visual elements they have created and overall branding concepts, along with the types of companies they’ve worked with before.
- Is branding their expertise? This may seem obvious, but you want more than just a graphic design studio or website designer. You want professionals experienced in the full branding process.
- Do they have a tested process that yields success?
- Do they have the creative chops to bring your visual identity to life?
- Do they have case studies to back up their bona fides?
- Do they communicate effectively and collaborate well?
- Do their values align with yours?
The relationship between the client and the branding agency is important, so you want to make sure you’re establishing a foundation upon which to build with people who understand your mission and match your energy and personality.
3. Know your brand’s current positioning
Understanding your current brand’s position in the market gives you a great jumping-off point for rebranding. Audit your current brand recognition, strategy, and management to prepare for a rebranding effort. Gather key branding materials and assess key digital elements like your website and social media channels. Knowing where you’re starting from can make it easier to see where you’re headed.
If you’re unsure about your brand’s equity and positioning, work with a branding company that takes the time to do in-depth research to understand the current value of your brand as a precursor to developing a new brand strategy.
4. Plan ahead
Before you can dive into all the fun parts of rebranding, you’ve got to do a little legwork to prepare. Take time to consider your desired timelines and budget for rebranding, as well as who will be involved. Knowing the full scope of the project before you begin will save a lot of headaches down the line.
If you don’t know how to accurately plan things like timeline and budget, talk to your branding agency to establish clear expectations early on. They can also give you some clear guidelines on who to involve in the project and how to get everyone inside the company on board with the initiative.
5. Have realistic expectations
Having realistic expectations doesn’t mean you can’t also have high expectations. You should be aspirational about what your brand can achieve for your company and your customers, but it’s also important to be realistic in those aspirations.
Many clients come to branding agencies wanting to make promises to their customers that they can’t keep. Remember, first and foremost, your brand is founded on your reputation with your customers. You don’t want to write checks you can’t cash and lose customer loyalty. Your rebranding effort should be led by authenticity. Your branding agency will help you figure out your core brand essence and develop a strategy that’s both realistic and ambitious.
Having realistic expectations also means being patient. You may be excited about your rebranded business (and we want you to be!), but it takes time and follow-through to rebrand a company. Remember, your brand is not a Lamborghini. You can’t expect 0-60 in the snap of your fingers. Brand success is about playing a long game. Solid brand management that steadily and consistently builds upon your brand strategy is the key to a successful brand in the long term.
6. Always start with strategy first.
Any branding agency worth the money will be guided by a “strategy first” mentality. Think of your brand strategy as the foundation of the brand skyscraper you’re about to build. Without a well-researched, cohesive, and effective strategy, the rest of your branding elements won’t amount to much.
A good branding agency will always lead with strategy and map out the brand identity from there. After a rebrand, you should feel like you’ve been given a comprehensive guide to your company’s brand. You'll know how to implement it from the inside out, starting at its core and spreading across all touchpoints. Plus, committing to your brand strategy will pay for itself over time.
7. Trust the process.
If your branding studio doesn’t follow a fine-tuned process for its branding initiatives, run the other way! Without a tried-and-true process, your rebrand can quickly run right off the rails. A clear creative development process will smoothly guide your rebrand from start to finish and make you feel informed and confident in the outcome.
At Quill, we’ve spent years perfecting our creative process, from the beginning research stages to presenting you with your final strategy and identity and beyond with innovative and comprehensive brand management. Our goal is always to give our clients a straightforward path to brand success, which is why we spend time carefully working through each step of our branding process.
8. Fully commit to the rebrand.
To successfully rebrand a company, you (and everyone in your organization) needs to fully buy into the new brand. Your rebrand will have the biggest impact if you make an upfront investment in fully overhauling every aspect of your company with the new branding. You may be tempted to update just a few things at first to test the waters, but for your rebrand to be impactful, you need to show the world that you’re fully committed. If there’s any hesitation in rolling out your new brand, your customers will feel it.
Work with your branding agency to fully plan all the touchpoints that need to undergo a rebrand transformation from the get-go. This could include things like the website, social media, interior building graphics, and signage. Don’t neglect internal collateral, either. Your staff’s level of commitment to the brand will only be as strong as your own conviction. Make sure to update things like training materials and uniforms. Spend time presenting the new brand to the staff at all levels of your company to get everyone up to speed on your new identity.
Lastly, have a brand management plan in place before you roll out the new brand. As your brand success grows, you’ll want to have a clear idea of how to maintain that momentum long-term.
Are you ready to rebrand?
Rebranding a business is not something you want to consider lightly. It takes a lot of time and commitment but can pay dividends if done correctly. If you’re considering fully rebranding, partially rebranding, or just want to find out if a rebrand is the right move for your company, let’s chat! We’d be happy to learn more about your business and give you our expert recommendations.