How to execute a successful rebrand: 10 top tips

In 2013, I joined a dynamic company called FreshMinds. It’s been an exciting ride! In the time I’ve been with the business, it’s evolved considerably! The firm has always had insight and innovation at its heart but in the past few years, we’ve harnessed technology to transform our offer. To reflect this evolution in our positioning, we made the decision to rebrand. Fast forward to September 2018 and we have a new name and a new brand. Say hello to Decidedly.

Embarking on a rebrand can be a daunting project for any business. So, having had time to reflect, I wanted to share my top tips for making your rebrand a success.

1. Define your objectives

The decision to rebrand is a big one. Resource and time intensive, you need to be clear on exactly why you’re pursuing this strategy and what you want it to achieve. This will allow you to plan the project accordingly and align your team behind a set of objectives, helping you to execute it successfully. It will also help you in defining the scope. If you’re trying to shake off an outdated image, perhaps a small-scale identity refresh will suffice, but if you’re rebranding to signify a merger, the scope is likely to be more significant.

2. Find a genuine partner. And give them a voice.

Be under no illusion: a rebrand is hard work. You’re going to need a set of partners you can rely on to help you execute it. The most important? Your branding agency.

Immerse them in your world so they really get what you’re about. And let them challenge you. Above the fray, they can provide a valuable perspective, helping you to discern what makes you different and how best to communicate this. We were lucky that our agency, The Clearing, “got us” from day 1 and quickly became an extension of our team.

3. Nail down your positioning. This is what will drive your new brand forward.

Clear positioning is the foundation of a successful rebrand. But in the excitement of the creative process, this can be easily forgotten. Everything should stem from your positioning – from your brand name to your visual identity – so it’s worth spending the time to get it right.

Keep referring back to your positioning as you progress through the project to ensure your new brand is communicating the right things. This is especially important to keep in mind, if, like us, you’re developing a new name. Naming can be incredibly subjective, so make sure that when you’re evaluating names, you’re asking the right questions. Does this name communicate what we’re about?

4. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

It can be tempting to think that a rebrand = a complete overhaul. But it doesn’t have to be. Whatever your reason for rebranding, there will be equity in your history. And there will be elements of your existing brand that still have real value. So take the time to consider how you can build on these.

For us, this approach really paid dividends when it came to rethinking our visual identity. By critically evaluating what we already had, we were able to develop a clear creative brief with our agency and get to an identity that really works.

5. Involve the right people at the right time

Stakeholder management is a crucial part of any rebrand. Now of course, you can’t involve everyone in everything. And making creative decisions by committee is a recipe for disaster. But don’t let stakeholder management be an afterthought.

Identify your core stakeholders and think carefully about their distinct needs. Use this to develop a plan that keeps them engaged and informed from the get-go. From regular updates in our board meetings to branded purple smoothies to introduce the new brand to our team, there are lots of creative ways of keeping your stakeholders happy.

6. Avoid the big reveal

When I’ve worked on rebranding projects in the past, there has always been a “ta-dah” moment as the agency presents the fully-fledged concept. But in this project, we took an altogether more iterative approach. Providing feedback early and often helped ensure key stakeholders were on the same page and allowed us to create a brand we all loved, first time.

7. Visual identity is only half the story

When you talk about a rebrand, visuals are always the first thing to spring to mind. But this isn’t the only tool you have for communicating your brand. As part of our rebrand, we thought hard about the role words could play in differentiating our business. Now equipped with a tone of voice – built from our values – we’re able to reinforce our brand through the language we use, so we can deliver real personality in a crowded marketplace.

8. The devil is in the detail

A rebrand is a big project. And with good reason. Your brand permeates everything you do so changing it will have implications for every department – from invoicing to IT. Engaging with the different functions early on and using this to inform your project plan will ensure you have each and every touchpoint covered when you come to launch.

9. Getting the word out

We knew that our networks would be key in spreading the news of our rebrand. Training our team talk confidently about our refreshed positioning and creating a sharable video to tell the story of why we’d changed allowed us to deliver a consistent and powerful message at scale.

10. Reaching the finish line?

When you’re working on a rebrand, it can be tempting to see launch day as the finish line. But don’t be deceived. This is where the hard work really begins. Once you’ve unveiled your new brand, the next challenge is embedding it. In this sense, a rebrand is an ongoing project and one that I look forward to continuing to work on as we land the Decidedly brand.