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Rebrand: Step-by-Step Guide to Avoid Mistakes and Make an Impact

A rebrand is an exciting venture for any organization, but the process can be painstaking and overwhelming. Where do you start?

What do you tackle first? Who can help? It’s easy to find yourself paralyzed if you haven’t done it before. 

Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. We’ve helped many people rebrand, so we know what pitfalls and rebranding mistakes can sabotage the project—and we know how to avoid them. That’s why we’ve created a step-by-step process to get you through a rebrand from start to finish, including our best tips, tools, and templates. (It’s basically everything we wish we’d had when we started doing this work.) 

How to Do a Rebrand

Suppose you’re considering a rebrand, ready to start, or struggling because you’ve stalled out. In that case, we hope this guide helps you get through your rebrand as painlessly as possible. 

But wait! Before you move on…

If you’re ready to dive in, here’s what to do.

Step 1: Know why you’re doing a rebrand.

Just because you feel tired of looking at your logo doesn’t mean you need to dive into a rebrand. A rebrand takes a lot of time, energy, and resources, so it’s a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly. Every rebrand is different, but you should know precisely why you’re undertaking this venture. 

Ultimately, you’re probably rebranding because there is a core problem with how you communicate your brand. To remedy this effectively, you must understand what that problem is. Most importantly, you need to communicate that problem to your branding team so that everyone understands why they’re working toward this goal.

To complete a successful rebrand, you need everyone from your high-level decision-makers to your logo designer to be all in. To save headaches, get approval at every stage of the process. Nothing is more frustrating than having to start over because someone was left out of discussions.) 

Step 2: Identify your brand team. 

You need to assemble a team with the brand history, expertise, and communication skills to pull off a rebrand, as there are many moving parts to the process, and rebranding can get stressful pretty damn quickly.

When finding the right people to execute your rebrand, you can go entirely in-house or consider a brand agency. There are benefits to each, and it depends on what you need.

  • In-house benefits: No one knows your brand like you do. You can certainly consider it if you have the knowledge, resources, and skills to tackle the rebrand yourself.
  • Branding agency benefits: While no one has as much intimate knowledge of your brand as you do, brands can sometimes function in a bubble. An outside perspective can be tremendously valuable here. Branding agencies have plenty of expertise; they know what can go right and wrong and can steer you in the right direction.

Of course, doing a mix of both can also be beneficial. (We’ve collaborated with many brands to help them through the process—with excellent results.) No matter what team you work with, provide clear communication and cultivate creative collaboration. 

Step 3: Complete a competitive analysis.

Good branding is all about good communication—knowing what to say and how to present yourself to your target customers, particularly in relation to other brands.

Hence, it’s helpful to analyze your competition by critically examining every aspect of their brand, from logo design and tagline to brand voice and messaging. This is handy information, as it reveals how you might zig where others zag. (You may be surprised by how many similarities you’ll see amongst your competitors. For example, if everyone uses a blue logo, you can make a statement with a different color.) 

Step 4: Know who you’re for.

Your rebrand is about identifying who you are and communicating that effectively. Still, it’s also important to remember who you’re speaking to. While your target demo won’t entirely dictate your branding, you should consider how they may perceive it. At the end of the day, the actual test of a rebrand is simple: Does it resonate with people or not?

As you move through your process, consider your personas. Who are they? What do they want? How do they want to be spoken to? What do they want from your brand? These are valuable questions to ask.

Step 5: Complete a brand audit. 

A good rebrand starts with good research. The more knowledge you have, the better your strategy and your creative approach will be. Before starting your rebrand (messaging, design, etc.), you need to understand what’s working, what’s not, how you need to grow, etc. In short, you need to understand the current state of your brand, then adjust accordingly. 

Thus, a brand audit is the crucial first step. Similar to your competitive analysis, this is an opportunity to do a deep dive into your brand—as it stands now. The insights gathered during this stage will influence your decision-making going forward. 

Download our free brand audit questionnaire. 

Once you’ve done a thorough brand audit, you should know what areas need immediate help. The instinct may be to dive into these all at once, but remember that your brand is a complex ecosystem. You can’t just change a tagline, order a thousand new business cards, and call it a day. 

Note: A strong brand is crafted with thought and intention; each element relies on the other. That’s why we have arranged these steps in a particular order. You may not need to spend as much time on each step, but you should approach it in the way we’ve laid it out. 

Step 6: Articulate your brand value proposition.

What is your Brand Value Proposition? It’s an articulation of who your brand is—at its core. More specifically, your value proposition  is comprised of your:

  • Your Purpose: Why does your brand exist?
  • Your Vision: What future do you want to help create?
  • Mission: How do you create that future?
  • Values: Who are you? How do you work?

These elements will influence every aspect of your rebrand. Thus, it would help if you made sure each is documented. You might find that you have a partial version of your Brand Heart articulated, but this is the time to reevaluate and ensure it accurately reflects who you are and what you’re trying to achieve going forward.

Step 7: Clarify your brand messaging.

You might be tempted to dive into your logo design or visual assets first, but remember that your visual identity is an extension of your messaging. Thus, it’s crucial to articulate your brand messaging first, including your:

  • Brand essence (voice, tone, personality) 
  • Tagline
  • Value prop
  • Brand messaging pillars

These messaging elements can become stale over time, especially if it’s been decades since you rebranded. Your goal is to create messaging that is consistent, cohesive, and aligned with your brand goals. 

Step 8: Design your visual identity.

When most people think about rebranding, they think about a brand’s visual identity, focusing only on its appearance. But, again, your visual identity is simply a reflection and extension of who and what your brand is, so it’s essential to have those locked before you tackle this step. 

That said, your visual identity is the “face” of your brand, so it should represent you well at every touchpoint. To do this effectively, you need to design an identity that is:

  • Comprehensive: It should empower designers to create all sorts of content, whether a motion graphic on your website or a banner at a trade show.
  • Flexible: It should work across mediums and be able to evolve as your brand grows.
  • Intuitive: Each element should work together. 
  • Accurate: It should communicate your brand personality effectively. 

That means that certain elements may need to be revised, updated, or added to your existing visual identity, including things like:

  • Colors
  • Logo 
  • Typography
  • Hierarchy
  • Photography
  • Illustration
  • Iconography
  • Data visualization
  • Interactive elements
  • Video and motion
  • Etc.

It’s also essential to approach your visual rebrand from the top down, as different elements, such as logo and color, influence each other. 

Step 9: Create your brand guidelines.

Some teams are resistant to or overwhelmed by change; you can’t just introduce the new branding and leave them to their own devices. You need to empower your team to apply branding correctly by presenting it all—your Brand Heart, messaging, and visual identity—in nice, neat guidelines.

To make things easier, provide comprehensive and easy-to-understand directions, along with things like real-world examples or checklists to make it foolproof. Your updated guidelines should be accessible and available to any content creator who needs them, and you also should designate a point person to answer any questions about how to apply them.

Step 10: Roll out your branding.

Completing a rebrand is one thing; releasing it into the world is another. From briefing your team to announcing it to the press, there are a lot of things to think about. The better prepared you are, the more smoothly things will go. Thus, you should have a solid rollout strategy, both internally and externally.  

Support Your Team Along the Way

It’s easy to feel stressed during the rebranding process, but remember you can do it, get through it, and come out with a better brand. This work is vital to shepherd your brand into the future, but it doesn’t stop once you introduce your new branding. It’s only the jumping-off point. Now you can bring your brand to life at every possible touchpoint. 

Once you’re done celebrating the end of a long and arduous process, you can put your new branding to work in many ways: 

  • Refine your content strategy to ensure it’s aligned to your new branding.
  • Learn how to tell your brand story in unique ways.
  • Optimize your content creation process to create high-quality content as effectively as possible.
  • Track your results to find out how it’s working—and how you can continue to improve. 

But if you’re stuck at any stage (or aren’t sure how to proceed), don’t get overwhelmed. Hit us up if you think you could use some extra hands. We’d love to help tell your brand story in any capacity.

Here are the main takeaways to remember:

  • Create a lasting impact with clear communication.
  • Articulate brand value, vision, mission, and values.
  • Design a flexible and comprehensive visual identity.
  • Execute a successful rollout strategy for new branding.
  • Support your team throughout the rebranding journey for optimal results.

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