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5 essential steps to pulling off a successful rebranding

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Written by Flying Saucer Studio

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I can almost hear the conversation around the conference room table. You’ve gotten through the main points of your agenda, your colleagues are about to reach across the table for their second donut, and then you bring it up – it’s time for a rebrand. Your logo is outdated, your messaging doesn’t reflect your current values or mission, your brand recognition has fallen into oblivion and your website is straight out of a Cameron’s World hommage.

The table goes quiet, everyone lost in their own private hell of over-inflated rebranding budgets, projects that run months longer than their initial timelines, human resources sucked in a vortex of intangible branding brainstorms, heated debates over the tiniest change in wording and fonts...we hear ya.

But trust us, it doesn’t need to be that painful.

We’ve pooled our years of collective branding experience to bring you a series of helpful tips on how to evaluate the scope of your rebrand, as well as some crucial steps you’ll need to take along the way.


First things first. Why do you think you need a rebrand?

While experienced professionals (hint hint: like us) can certainly make the entire process simpler and smoother, there’s no getting around it – defining or redefining a brand is hard, intentional work. It requires a fair dose of introspection and oftentimes challenging questions. It’s an important, sometimes emotional process, and therefore not one we ever launch willy-nilly. If nothing else, a successful rebrand requires a clear objective and some well-defined metrics.

So before you get started, here are a few questions to ask yourself.

  • Have you undergone a merger, acquisition?
  • Have you launched a new spin-off product?
  • Have you decided to reposition your brand within the wider market space?
  • Are you exploring new markets abroad?
  • Are you changing your target demographic?
  • Are you trying to recover from a PR or reputational issue?
  • Is your brand, logo or overall image outdated and unappealing?
  • Have certain elements of your brand identity grown and evolved?
  • Is your brand identity having trouble differentiating in a crowded market?

If you’ve answered yes to a few of these questions, it’s probably worth seriously considering the investment. Now – let’s figure out what that tangibly means.


scope rebrandingOk, so you've decided you need to rebrand: what’s next?

Step 1: Drill down. What’s the scope of your rebrand?

We get it – scope creep is a real thing and it’s bloody infuriating. So how do we avoid it? The Project Management Institute offers 5 main instigators of this well-known time suck.

  1. Lack of scope definition: too many high-level objectives, too few decomposed deliverable-based work breakdown structures.

  2. Mismanaged requirements and scope: if the decision-making structure isn’t clear, new requirements will constantly be added without clear sign-off or oversight.

  3. Inconsistency in requirement collecting processes: if there’s a lack of clarity on which stakeholders are to be involved in the requirement definition process, you’re likely to have people slipping in with their own agendas and unscoped requirements.

  4. Lack of sponsorship and stakeholder involvement: without someone manning the ship, teams are much likelier to organically add requirements to the scope that’ll fall under the company’s radar.

  5. Length of project: the longer a project, the likelier it is to shift and change.

As you can see, clarity and detailed deliverables are key to keeping your rebranding project in check, so we recommend teams take the time to clearly break down every deliverable affected by the rebrand. Here are just a few touchpoints you might want to consider, click here to download an extensive list of potential assets to review with your team.

  • Logos

  • Taglines and mission statements

  • Websites and pop-ups

  • Mobile apps

  • Business cards

  • Instructional and educational assets

With your scope properly defined, be sure to get your stakeholders involved right from the get-go. You’ll also want to allocate ownership and sponsorship over every portion of the rebrand – giving trusted team members the authority and oversight to properly evaluate the scope and progress every step of the way, and the power to harness it in if things start getting out of hand.

Remember!

Not all rebrands need to be entire overhauls [insert idiom about babies and bathwater here.]

While some shifts in your company’s positioning or services may require a complete makeover, others may benefit greatly from a simple review and update of the company’s mission and slogans, so clearly identify your business goals and available resources in order to define a rebranding scope you can actually stick to.

rebranding metrics

Step 2: Evaluate outcomes. Define clear objectives and KPIs

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, we probably sound like a bit of a broken record at this point, but we’ll say it again: every marketing and brand initiative should be tied to clear metrics and KPIs that are well communicated and understood by every stakeholder involved. Wondering if you’re KPIs are going to be effective? Try using Doran G.T’s S.M.A.R.T criteria as your benchmark.

Specific: clearly defined and targets a specific area for improvement

Measurable: it can be quantified and tracked

Assignable: it can be attributed and achieved by a specific individual or department

Realistic: it is based on practical, non-theoretical considerations

Time-related: it can be tracked and measured through time

Pro tip

While we’re just as enamored with data as the average marketing folk, we recommend sticking to a restricted number of KPIs as your core decision-making metrics. The talented pros over at Happy Cog recommend going for 5 KPIs at most, and provide valuable insight into how to translate your business goals into metrics. Check out their great blog post for more!


Here are a few metrics you might want to consider as you gear up for your rebranding efforts.

  • Revenue growth

  • Direct website traffic

  • Brand recall

  • Churn vs retention

  • Cost per acquisition

  • Perceived quality

  • Purchase intent

  • Abandoned carts and items

  • Upsell rates

  • Repeat purchases

  • Referrals

  • Average time on page

  • Unique vs return visitors

  • Pages per visit

  • Search rankings

  • External linking

  • Number of new leads generated

  • Number of existing leads re-engaged

  • Number of leads converted

  • Customer lifetime value

  • Social comments and engagement

  • Email open and click rates


storytelling rebranding

Step 3: Start with your story. The rest will come naturally.

“The most important thing to understand is that a brand isn't something you make up out of thin air (or, from piles of market research, for that matter). A brand is one very simple thing: the truth. It's just who you are. And just like people, brands have complex identities. A good agency will not only discover what that core truth of your brand is but they'll create tools for you to express it.”

Kelli Corney from Mightily, Forbes

We know – you’re probably sick of hearing about the value of story-telling and authenticity by now. We’re sorry, but we’re going to have to hammer it home one last time: the best way to nail a powerful and consistent brand identity is to make sure everyone that represents and interacts with your brand clearly understands your brand’s story.

And the numbers back it up. As we mentioned in our Ultimate Startup Guide to Brand Awareness, “recent studies have shown that messages and ideas delivered in the form of stories can be up to 22% more memorable. Fundamentally, stories are about connection, and science has now shown that brain activity actually syncs up between storytellers and their audiences when a story is shared. According to recent Princeton research, our brains even mirror each-other as an emotional narrative is built and exchanged.”

So what’s your story?

And perhaps more importantly, how are you going to communicate it through every touchpoint of your new brand identity? Here’s a list of questions we put together to help teams define the most evocative narrative elements of their brand identities – hopefully they’ll provoke an emotional creative spark that can serve as the underpinning of your revamped identity.

  • What united and propelled your founders to start this company?

  • What problem were you facing and why did you decide you were the one that had to tackle it?

  • What are some surprising elements of your founder(s) background(s) that shape the company and ethos?

  • How did you come up with the company’s name?

  • What was your first product or service?

  • What initial reaction did you get to your first product or service – how did it evolve?

  • How does your company strive to stay relevant and currents

  • Does your company history have defining stories about company firsts, big risks, important pivots or high-profile hires?

  • How have your vision and mission statement evolved over time?

  • What is one of the biggest accomplishments you’ve pulled off so far?

  • What’s been one of your biggest failures so far?

  • What’s the next big landmark for you?

  • Who are the “characters” in your origin story, and what do they care about?

  • What drives and motivates you today?

  • What change are you hoping to bring to the world?


feedback rebranding

Step 4: Get feedback often (and early). You’ll need internal/external buy-in to pull this off.

Picture this scene. After months of hard work on your new brand identity, you’ve called a big meeting with your entire team for the big reveal. Your marketing team has been working overtime on the presentation, your design team is scrambling to throw together those last assets, you’ve even splurged on platters of snacks and newly branded swag to get your team pumped and excited.

You build it up, explain your process and then finally lift the veil on your brand new identity.

And then nothing – complete silence. Crickets. Your team isn’t getting it.

Hold off on those t-shirt canons, folks.

“Rebranding is change. It’s natural that people don’t like change but especially when they’ve not had the opportunity to provide their input, views, thoughts and ideas. Not feeling included can lead to resistance down the line. There can be a challenge with staff buy-in when rebranding, but not if you bring everyone in early on and take steps to get everyone involved.”

While it’s important to make sure all of your stakeholders are involved in defining the initial scope of the project, it’s just as important that they be actively involved in validating direction and intuitive throughout the rebranding process. The same holds true with collecting and analyzing external customer feedback as you go, and with the proliferation of simple digital tools and analytics, there’s simply no reason to be building your new brand in a vacuum. In fact, getting your community of users, buyer personas and influencers involved throughout not only builds up a spirit of constant iteration and collaboration, but it can be a great way to garner excitement and momentum around your rebranding effort.

Here are a few simple ways you can constructively test your messaging, visual identity and mission statement as you go.

  • Internal and external surveys and polls

  • Brand recall testing

  • A/B testing

  • Keywords and organic search results

  • Incentivized social posts asking people to vote on specific elements of an identity

  • Focus groups

  • Word-association tests

  • UX/UI testing


reveal rebranding

Step 5: Make a splash! Throw your brand a metaphorical debutante ball.

See? That wasn’t too painful, was it? You made it!

We’re big believers in the importance of celebrating hard work and big deliverables not only as a way of keeping our team pumped and validated, but as a way of maintaining transparency, communication and joy in the work we do. So let’s party!

Here are the stakeholders you’ll need to invite to the table as you prepare to transition to your new brand as well as the information they’ll need to receive.

Internal teams need to understand that they are an active part of the transformation, that the process was thorough and considered their input, that you have a clear roadmap for implementation and strategic business goals you’re looking to achieve.

Existing customers need to know they can still count on you for the same quality of products and services, that the rebrand is focused around their wants and needs, and that they’ll be seeing tangible benefits and perks once your new identity is in place.

Investors and partners need to know that you’ve properly mapped out the costs and consequences of this new identity, that you have well-defined and well-tracked KPIs lined up t to evaluate success, and that you have a clear, strategic roadmap towards implementation.

Potential customers need to know that you’ve shifted your role and positioning in the market, that you’re building on a solid foundation of great products and services, and that you’re attentive to their wants and needs.

The public at large needs to know that your new identity positions you as a market leader and an agile, adaptable company that listens and proactively responds to changing market needs, trends and consumer expectations.

Here are just a few of the creative touch-points you can create around your shiny new brand.

  • Teaser marketing campaign before the reveal

  • Social media campaign to announce the change

  • Personalized email campaigns

  • Limited-time offers and discounts on products and services

  • Reveal party with key stakeholders, ambassadors and community influencers

  • Conferences or talks about the rebranding process and intentions

  • Contests and giveaways

  • Blog posts and articles about the rebranding results and intentions

  • Press release and media outreach around the new brand positioning

  • Limited-time swag and freebies

  • Television, radio, print or podcast ads

  • Interviews with industry influencers and publications


So what do you think? Have we managed to demystify this whole rebranding thing a bit? Has your management team finally stopped hyperventilating into a brown paper bag and joined the effort?  We’d love to hear your own rebranding stories and tips in the comments below!

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