As they mature, many companies find that they have outgrown their original purpose, realize they want to expand their operations, or see that their brand simply doesn’t reflect who they are anymore.

With that said, rebranding is a common part of every business journey. The names BackRub or AuctionWeb may not ring a bell, but those companies turned to become the ultra-successful tycoons Google and eBay.

Note that rebranding goes well beyond changing the logo. It’s a process that requires the alignment of different sections of your business and requires an immense effort that – if planned right – is definitely worth it.

Just a quick internet search will give you detailed guidelines on how to carry out a rebranding, step-by-step. However, these guides often miss an important reality that: it’s important to think about rebranding – before actually rebranding.

To lead a brand that better represents our business, we opted for rebranding in the fourth quarter of 2019. These are the questions that helped us ensure that the process was as smooth and constructive as possible.

1. Why do you want to rebrand?

Rebranding shouldn’t be inspired by a whim or a fad. It may be tempting to rebuild your brand around a current trend, but know that once the hype is gone, you risk becoming outdated and irrelevant. If you choose to rebrand, make sure that the decision is value-driven.

While there is never a perfect time to do a rebranding – it depends on the stage of your company – there always needs to be a valid reason for the change. After all, the decision shouldn’t be taken lightly: it’s a time-consuming and irreversible process that will touch every aspect of your business.

For example, our decision to rebrand was inspired by the evolution of services that we were providing and the technology capabilities we were building. In a relatively short period of time, we went from an agency business model to become a sales automation and sales accelerator technology provider. And we wanted our brand to reflect that.

The decision takes strategic and future-oriented thinking. When you built your company, you created a brand that could now be irrelevant and obsolete in some respects. But the prerequisite of a successful business is always challenging yourself to be relevant. So ask yourself: Is my brand still relevant to my customers and does it resonate with them?

2. Who do you want to become?

If you choose to set off on the rebranding journey, you need to carefully assess what your new brand should look like. Every decision you choose to make should reflect where you are headed as a company.

When you are building a new brand, invest time and resources in designing clear guidelines. Whether it’s logos, fonts, new branded products, customer service approach, website design, or the content strategy, it’s vital to create a comprehensive strategy.

At UpstartWorks, we didn’t want to reinvent ourselves completely. We knew we needed a new name and logo, but not necessarily a new color palette – the one we had represented our vibrant company culture. While our previous logo was a vertically-angled rocket ship, the new one – which features a box instead of a rocket – shows that we’ve reached a steady trajectory after take-off and demonstrates clearer how we help our customers.

3. How will you communicate the decision to rebrand?

Rebranding is never a single announcement. It should roll out over a series of different campaigns, deployed over a period of time, to ensure a continuous conversation about the rebranding efforts.x

That’s why it always requires a well-established communication strategy that caters to both internal and external exchanges. Internally, you need to ensure that everybody within your company is following the new branding guidelines. For example, we worked on a comprehensive identity usage guideline and distributed it to the entire team across countries to ensure the consistent use of key branding elements such as the logo and colors. We also worked on a comprehensive social media guide for our team to understand the brand tone, voice, language, and other key aspects  of communication.

Externally, you must communicate the rebranding to your customers, vendors, and partners, while making sure that all your social channels reflect the new branding. At UpstartWorks, we sent out a newsletter to all of our existing customers, announced the rebranding across our social media channels, and made it part of presentations to prospective clients.

We found it extremely important not to hide anything behind the curtains. People want to know what’s going on and being open is a great way for you to show that you’re reflective and future-oriented. Added to that, 94% of customers are likely to show loyalty to a brand that offers complete transparency.

4. How will you ensure your team is onboard?

In our company, we put a lot of value in our employees: It’s always people that make your brand. And it’s the team who at the end of the day interacts with your customers, vendors, and partners. So they have to be able to demonstrate and live the brand, and really bridge the gap between what the brand stands for and how your audience perceives it.

If you decide to work with an outside agency, make sure to include your employees in the process. Boutique agencies – as opposed to large ones – may be the safe bet, as they tend to spend enough time with the founders and the team to understand and immerse in the company culture. This is important when creating a lasting and inclusive outcome and guarantees that your team feels identified with the new brand.

Instead, work hard to ensure that every member of the company feels good about the rebranding. To do that, have internal discussions about the value of the process to get the buy-in from both key stakeholders, core leadership, and the workers.

Even when doubts appear, try to address them by analyzing why you need to do rebranding – the critical piece is to talk about where you are going as a company. Paint that vision to people and show them that the current brand doesn’t reflect the company’s ambitions anymore.

5. How will you ensure there’s continuity?

Rebranding can earn you the reputation of a forward-looking innovator. But just as that, it can also reveal your inability to be reliable and ensure a smooth transition – so make sure to plan it carefully.

Losing the audience you worked hard to build is a natural concern when rebranding. But it can be prevented by making sure communication channels stay open so that your customers can always reach out. Anywhere your partners, customers, or vendors might interact with your brand needs to provide all of the right information – this means paying close attention to email signatures, website communications, and one-to-one communications with customers.

You should also ensure that old website and email domains redirect to new ones, social media and contact information is updated, your branded stationery is redesigned, all employees have clear guidance, and that there won’t be any confusion or billing errors.

Asking yourself these five questions will help you guide your rebranding process, but remember that rebranding is not a science – and it shouldn’t be. While careful planning is necessary, we found out that it always comes down to having a good feeling about the change… so if you draft a new brand and say: “Yes, this is us,” then you’re on the right path.

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