So you’ve had your current company logo and branding for a while, and it’s worked for you so far, but it’s time for a change. Maybe it’s a little outdated by the ever-changing design-standards of the internet-age, or maybe your company’s goals and priorities have shifted. Maybe your companies shifting gears, expanding and you want a new, sharper image to project as you venture into new territory. Whatever the reason, rebranding is never as simple as you think it’s going to be – and there’s much more to it than simply designing a new logo and picking some fonts. If you’ve ever been a part of the process, then you know that it can be a really difficult process. It all starts with a bit of reflection on what it is you’re trying to say – your company is going to have to do a bit of soul-searching during this period.
To begin with, some of the crucial questions you’re going to have to ask of your company when trying to effectively re-brand;
- Why am I re-branding?
C’mon, there’s gotta be a reason – are you trying to project a new image? Who are you projecting this image to? This question is the most important and if you can’t answer it effectively, then it’s time to do some research. If it seems that your company’s ethic is a little outdated – or that it doesn’t match with your target demographic anymore – then do some market research and come back to the drawing board. I can’t emphasise this enough – if you aren’t able to pin down the exact reason that it’s time for your company to re-brand, then the whole endeavour will be directionless.
- How does my brand appear currently to others?
Find out what it is thought leaders and colleagues currently think of your brand – review the market in terms of your competitor’s products, public sentiment, and the needs and wants of your customers. This is where the research I’ve already mentioned comes in. Importantly, don’t forget to ask your employees for their opinions, and really take note. Most of your employees will know your company inside and out; this is a valuable resource, and you should listen to them.
- After the re-brand, how will my company appear to others?
This is key. Every company stands for something, and the closer their brand image is aligned to this, then the more successfully they will reach and engage their target demographic. You’ll have to figure out what does your company has stood for in the past, and how it’s changed. Think about how your brand will impact your customers – is it about connectedness, or privacy, or value? Try to form as clear an idea in your mind about what the real value and service of your company is and set that idea firmly in your mind.
- How do I maintain continuity?
Depending on business outcome you’re projecting, you may be doing a complete over-haul – be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater! If you know what you’re doing this shouldn’t be too difficult – the most important thing here is understanding what it is that currently works and what it is that doesn’t.
Now that you have a good idea about what you want your new brand to feel, sound and look like, it’s time to get the wheels in motion. When beginning the process of re-branding be sure that you’re communicating your vision with all of the projected changes to the relevant persons in your company – this includes stakeholders and all other members of senior management. At this point, it’s absolutely key to have a clear vision and a well-defined goal for the brand – because if you do, right from the get go your colleagues will be on-side. If you haven’t been able to answer the questions above, be sure to expect that somebody is going to press you on them – and really, you want to have those answers ready if you want it to go off without a hitch. This is why research is so important early on. At the same time, be open to constructive criticism and if somebody raises serious concerns about the projected brand – for example, persons in specific departments that may be particularly affected by the change – be ready with considered thoughtful answers.
You want your vision to be coherent enough so that everybody who is going to implement it is on-side – ready to make the transition as seamless as possible.
Now that things are starting to move along, there are a few things you might want to consider;
- Hoard Your Notes
at every stage of the process, never throw out your notes or communications with other members of your staff – be sure to keep good minutes for all meetings and store all of this in one easily accessible folder on your hard-drive. You want to be able to trace the lineage of every idea for later reference. This helps keep things coherent as you move on, and even if you write something down and forget about it for a while, give it some time and it may be worth re-visiting later on in the campaign.
- Plan ruthlessly
if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right – make sure that every aspect of the transition has been plotted in advance, and keep the people it concerns in the loop. Different departments may be effected in different ways by the re-brand, and the more notice is given, the more time they have to adjust to the new paradigm.
In terms of planning, I also can’t emphasise enough that the timing of the roll-out is everything. Build faith in the brand using PR, both internally and externally and plan events to coincide with the major milestones along the way.
As with any executive-type decision in business, you’ve got to own it. Take responsibility for your ideas – if you don’t have confidence in your new brand, there isn’t anyone else in the company (or in your customer base) who’s going to have confidence in it either!