Every company at some point will face a rebranding project. As a company grows, it is inevitable that you need a new skin, proposition and values.
At MintTwist we found ourselves in this position towards the end of 2014. As we worked on our three-year growth strategy, it was clear that we needed to make changes to our visual identity, positioning and internal culture.
We had been through visual changes before, i.e. the logo, colours and website. Being a digital agency meant that we often started with our website and built around that. While this held us in good stead at the time, we knew our next brand change needed to be broader.
Implementing a brand
It’s easy for creative agencies or for companies with in-house creative teams to keep the work internal – it’s seen as being quicker and cheaper.
While this may be true for small branding projects, e.g. revising a logo, it will work against larger branding projects that are looking at building the wider brand picture around the mission, culture, values and personality. If you develop a brand internally, it will reflect internal agendas and views rather than appealing to those externally, i.e. your clients, partners and prospective employees.
External brand consultants will look at your company from a fresh and different perspective. They will challenge you on opinions and beliefs about your business, how it is perceived and what your clients think.
We were aware of the pitfalls of driving a rebrand internally by using website design as the vehicle – we needed to start with the essence of who we were, our brand ethos, our promise and define who we were. By building our brand pyramid, we created the right foundation for our visual identity to represent who we are.
Everything has to change – website, business cards, office signage, social networks etc. You will need all hands on deck to make sure everything is accounted for and switched over properly.
Having a plan in place with all items that require changing is essential. Use this to assign responsibility and due dates. Talk to suppliers as early as possible to ensure that items arrive back at the right time.
This will be a long list but you need to make it in order to set a realistic launch date for your new brand.
Online v offline
Today’s brands need to work as effectively online as they do offline. A logo, colour or font may work well on a business card but look odd onscreen.
Testing an audience’s reception to both is crucial. If part of your brand roll-out is to gather client feedback, make sure you show it to them in both formats.
If you are using fonts that are not universally available, you will not only need to budget for purchasing licenses, but consider how the font can be used on the website (if at all). Having a universal substitute such as Arial or Verdana is important otherwise assets such as email may become problematic to execute.
Also be aware that colours will vary widely between online (RGB) and offline (usually CMYK). Check that colours fall into both ranges otherwise you may end up with a complicated colour palette.
Rebranding is expensive but is also an investment. If budget is tight then you will need to make choices about what is an immediate requirement and what is a “nice-to-have”.
Break your budget down into:
- Brand development and asset creation
- Website design and web development – remember to account for all websites and microsites
- App design and development (if you have any)
- Photography and imagery
- Offline marketing materials
- Template development, e.g. Office documents
- Office appearance
- Promotional items, e.g. mugs, pens
Remember that you don’t always need to have everything for launch day. If you plan ahead and know what is required for within the few weeks of launch, then you should be able to stagger the costs.
A complete overhaul in appearance can also mean major changes to a digital marketing strategy beyond just updating directories and social media channels with new logos.
Taking your existing content and uploading it to your new website might not work. How you talk about the company and services may not fit with the new direction of the brand.
Review key website content such as:
- Home page
- Landing pages
- Pages with high traffic
Your visual content may also have to change, which will have cost and resource requirements.
A branding project means looking at positioning and what you offer. If this has changed, it could have implications for your SEO rankings.
For example, you may have been optimising for a service that you have decided is no longer part of your offering (or less important now). Unfortunately SEO rankings can’t be turned off and on, so you will need to consider how you change these rankings into the ones you want.
My advice is to not worry about this for launch unless you have a team that can be dedicated beforehand to rewriting content and optimising the website specifically for SEO. You will also need to conduct keyword research and create a detailed plan for keyword changes.
Online, off-site presence
You will be amazed at how spread across the internet you are. Obvious sites to update are social networks and any associations the company belongs to. Start creating a checklist of sites you know of and then investigate other sites by googling the company name. This should bring up other sites you are listed on such as directories.
Most website profiles require a square logo so make sure you ask your branding team for a square profile version. Remember that on social networks these are often quite small, so it should be simple and easy to recognise. You may not have space to include your name.
Three tips to survive a rebrand
Rebranding will be one of the biggest marketing projects you ever have to undertake. It is tough and it can be overwhelming. My three tips for keeping your sanity are:
- Never start online – your brand is more than a website or a logo. It is your people. Start with them, develop the brand pyramid and then move onto creative execution.
- Be realistic about implementation – it will always take longer than you think. Plan out as much as you can and then work back using different deadlines.
- Don’t hold onto it – making the transition is a big leap. Not everything will be perfect and ready for launch. Know what the most important elements are and go with it.