2018 was the year of the rebrand. There were name shortenings like Dunkin Donuts becoming “Dunkin’” and Weight Watchers opting for their initials, WW. There were also expected changes like yet another brand overhaul from Uber and unexpected changes like IHOP’s gimmicky International House of Burgers.
In today’s media whirlwind, rebranding seems to have become the latest trend to maintain customers’ interest over time. But rebranding without purpose and strategy is a recipe for disaster. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of rebranding and the types of rebranding to choose from. Then, you can use our rebranding checklist to make sure you don’t miss any of the important details!
Why Rebrand Your Company?
Before you get excited, start sketching logos, and begin testing out color palettes, you should first make sure your company needs a rebrand and identify what kind of rebrand you need. There are plenty of benefits to a new identity, but unnecessary change can harm your business in the long-run.
Necessary Reasons to Rebrand
- There has been a significant change to company structure, like an acquisition, merger, or division.
- There has been a major change in product or service offerings.
- The current brand has negative associations.
- The market or industry has changed significantly in a way that puts your current brand at a disadvantage in comparison to your competition.
- The company is fighting for digital real estate due to another company with a similar name or identity.
Unnecessary Reasons to Rebrand
- There is new leadership or management pushing for a rebrand.
- The company has a bad reputation or is trying to recover from a public relations crisis without addressing the actual problem.
- Other companies in your industry are rebranding.
- The company wants to generate buzz amongst the target audience.
- The company is trying to distract from a bigger issue, like bad positioning, internal turmoil, or an outdated product offering.
Many of the unnecessary reasons to rebrand are resolved through hard work or even a new targeted campaign. A rebrand of your company during one of these scenarios could lead to negative effects on your reputation.
Types of Rebranding Strategies
If you’ve decided your company needs a rebrand and you’re doing it for all the right reasons, you now need to make choices on a few additional factors. By answering the questions below, you can have a jump start on figuring out how you will need to effectively begin the rebranding process.
- Do you need a new name or just a new logo?
- Do you need a new visual identity, or can a new logo live within your existing identity, colors, and fonts?
- How much of your existing brand works? Are there elements that absolutely need to stay, like messaging or a font you’ve bought licenses to? Are you open to completely starting from scratch?
After answering some of these questions you can better gauge the type of rebrand that will best suit your goals.
You may be ready to start fresh with a new name, logo, and tone of voice. This type of rebrand is normally used when a company wants to completely reinvent itself and have no connection to its prior name. It can also be useful to abandon a name that no longer fits the company or no longer stands out in the competitive landscape.
Companies often go through a full rebrand early in their existence — so early that the majority of their current customer base may not even know their original name. You may have never heard of Blue Ribbon Sports or BackRub, but you’ve surely heard of Nike and Google.
Full rebrands may also be necessary later on in a company’s life when business objectives change. When ABC Family was no longer a fitting name for the content the cable company wanted to produce, they opted for the more modern name Freeform.
Much like a full rebrand, a visual rebrand is quite an undertaking. It includes all the same elements but focuses specifically on implementing a new logo, new colors, and a new visual identity. Visual rebrands may also include an update to company messaging and mission statements.
MailChimp had a strong rebrand in 2018, going from a script wordmark to a chunky lowercase name that more prominently features their mascot, Freddie the monkey. They made an even stronger splash with their new brand by choosing bright yellow as their main color.
This is the least intensive way to rebrand and can be done more gradually rather than all at once. It involves updating aspects of the brand and visual identities such as colors, fonts, or even aspects of a logo. It works well when the brand still fits the company but feels a bit outdated.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen thousands of brand refreshes from companies both big and small. Recent trends have pushed brands to remove drop shadows, gradients, and unnecessary details from their logo – keeping only text and / or a simple symbol. Dunkin’ kept their chunky font but dropped half their name and their coffee cup icon. They also updated their orange to be more on trend.
What is a Rebranding Strategy?
The next step in the rebranding process is to establish a rebranding strategy. Anyone can rebrand, but doing so with grace and attention to detail is what really sets a company’s new identity apart from the rest. This rebranding strategy will lay the groundwork for how to actually implement your new brand.
In order to make sure that rebranding goes smoothly, it is crucial to set a timeline, identify branded pieces that will need to be updated, and assign responsibilities to everyone involved in the project. There are a great deal of moving parts and pieces in rebranding, so breaking them down can make them more manageable. We’ve laid out the steps that your company should consider taking in our rebranding checklist.
Business Rebranding Checklist
Logistical & Legal
The logistical aspect of the process can be so overwhelming that it can keep companies from rebranding for years. However, with proper planning, you can space items out over time to make them less intimidating. Here are the steps you’ll need to go through:
- Attain new trademarks for a new brand name, new taglines, and / or new product names.
- Obtain new URLs.
- Plan how to communicate the changes internally. Pick a date for items like email signatures and voicemail messages to be updated. Consider an all-hands meeting / presentation to share the new brand and its messaging. Everyone on your staff needs to be able to advocate for the new brand or it will be impossible to have a seamless and positive transition.
- Consider timing. Your accountant will thank you for planning around tax season.
- Consider hiring a lawyer to assist and catch any loose ends with business permits, trademarks, etc. for your local and state jurisdictions.
- Consider outsourcing to a marketing agency, as they will handle the logistics for you, and can give you a new perspective from outside of your business.
The visual aspect of a rebrand will require a personalized strategy that’s completed in an efficient manner. Catching every last visual detail is what makes a rebrand stick in the minds of your target audience.
- Establish a clear review and approval process for new branded pieces. Whether the rebrand is happening internally, or you’ve outsourced to an agency, it is imperative to have a clear understanding of how pieces will be reviewed and who has the final say.
- Get second and third opinions. If the rebrand is occurring internally, it is crucial to step away from it and get opinions from people who are representative of your audience. Your new brand needs to resonate with them, not you.
- Create a new style guide for an internal review that includes usage guidelines for the logo, fonts, colors, etc.
- Create a list of every item that needs to be redesigned. Once you’ve established a new style guide, this list will be your guiding light. Start with urgent items and pieces that will truly define the brand. Then, knock out small items like letterheads and email signatures after you have the new brand’s creative direction better established.
- Send out a new style guide and asset kit externally to relevant partners who need access to your logo and identity.
This is normally the last step of a rebrand because it can occur behind the scenes without the public being aware. However, making sure to catch every last instance of old branding or an old name goes a long way to bring personal ownership to a new name or identity. Be sure to double check the following for references to your business’s old identity:
- Bills, checks, and internal signage.
- Phone systems, voicemail messages, and phone greetings.
- Server and file names.
- Computer logins.
- Any labeling on company-owned property.
- Interior design.