23rd November 2016

Rebranding done right: 7 key steps

The art of rebranding.

Brand is not something you create once and leave alone for 10-20 years. The most effective brands are dynamic: tended to regularly, given the resource and exposed to the expertise they need to evolve. Businesses should be reviewing their brand strategies constantly. This includes reviewing vision and positioning, product or service offering, the identity and tone-of-voice, internal culture and communications systems and processes.

When approaching a rebrand, or Strategic Brand Review (as we call them), it is vital that you work effectively to maximise value and minimise wasted time, money and resources. The world of design and branding is incredibly subjective. Complex governance structures and increasingly diverse stakeholder groups can impact heavily on the success and efficiency of a rebranding exercise.

So, what do you need to run an effective rebranding project?

1) Include the right people. When pulling together the team to manage a project such as this, you need to make sure there is clearly defined leadership, decision making processes and sign off criteria. Individuals need to be close enough to the business to understand the goal of the project and high enough up the chain to make strategic decisions where necessary. To move the project forward, individuals also need to be empowered to do whatever it takes.

2) Get the process right. Whatever you do, don’t charge straight into a brand review focusing on colour palettes, logos and coffee mugs. That’s not where the game is at. The success of a rebranding project lies in the approach. There is a reason why we advocate an end-to-end strategic branding process – there should be an order by which you review and refresh your brand. After all, there’s no point defining a new strategy before you understand the marketplace.

3) Bring on board the right resources. Don’t be afraid to look for external support on a rebranding project. Internal teams are well positioned due to their unrivalled knowledge of the business in question. But, being too close to the business can limit the quality and creativity of the output. As a brand agency, we work with business leaders and marketing teams to deliver brand reviews, providing the extra insight, creativity and fresh perspective they need.

4) Get away from the office. Whoever is leading your rebranding project, whether it be an individual or a team, give them a chance to remove themselves from the office space and develop an approach on neutral ground. It’s deceptive how limiting your usual office environment can be. A fresh space and fresh perspective can make all the difference.

5) Engage with your stakeholders. Throughout the process of a rebranding, you need to engage with those groups of stakeholders who will be impacted on by the output. Customers, employees, investors, leaders, associates and external partners are just some of the groups you will need to engage with and manage throughout. Ultimately, they need to buy into the outcomes. By keeping them in the loop throughout, you dramatically increase the chances of success.

6) Set clear timescales. Deadlines for Strategic Brand Reviews tend to be bypassed or even non-existent. It’s just the nature of the exercise. With a wide range of stakeholders to engage with, governance structures to follow, approval processes and criteria to meet, you can quickly lose control of time and budget. It is important to lay out and agree a clear schedule, set of expectations and budget right at the start. Then stick to it, as closely as possible.

7) Tell a story. Today the success of the best brands lies in their ability to tell their story effectively. Consumers love a good story; it creates community rather than just selling a good or service. The better the story, the more engaged consumers become with the storyteller. Storytelling is also useful in gaining buy-in from stakeholders. We describe brand building as a journey. Our stages of work represent the different legs of that journey, and we encourage clients to tell their story when presenting the outcomes of branding projects.

The key to success

Constantly reviewing your brand is one of the keys to success; you have to stay in touch with your audience and ahead in the marketplace. Don’t take on a rebranding project lightly. Success relies upon effective management, engagement and investment. Get it right and the output will make a major difference to your business. Get it wrong and you could waste precious time, money and resources.

  • Great article. Having worked on large strategic branding projects myself I couldn’t agree more about the importance of having the right team including decision makers, getting an external agency involved and having a budget and plan and sticking to it.

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Harriet Strzelecki

Head of Client Services

Harriet is the agency’s Head of Client Services and Studio Manager. She manages major client projects as well as a team of in-house designers.

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