When you officially update an aspect of your brand—its logo, its messaging, its name, even the products or services it offers—we refer to it as a brand refresh or rebrand, depending on the extent of the changes.
It can be challenging for business owners to know how and when to initiate and communicate these changes. If you have a new, snazzy logo or streamlined website, it’s tempting to start using it immediately! But, like so much else in entrepreneurship, it pays to be strategic when rolling out updates to your brand.
This blog post will outline a basic strategy for rolling out a rebrand or brand refresh. Keep in mind that the scale of this process will depend on how well-known your brand is and on what you’re changing. For example, some of the steps we’ve outlined here may not apply if the only thing you’re changing is your logo. On the other hand, a full-scale rebrand will require a serious investment of time, energy, and resources.
Phase One: Preparation
Before you can begin telling your team about the exciting new changes to your brand, you’ll need to lay a firm foundation. Putting in the proper planning and preparation at the beginning of the rollout process allows you to troubleshoot potential issues and ensure effective communication across all channels.
Write your new brand story
When you tell your team members and your audience about the changes to your brand, they’ll want to know the reasoning behind them. To ensure you’re well prepared to justify your decision, take some time to write the details of this newest chapter in your brand’s story. Why are you making this change? Why now? Was there a specific event that inspired it?
Clearly articulating the “why” behind your rebrand or brand refresh will not only help you effectively and consistently communicate it to others, but know if the change is truly necessary. A brand refresh is a strategic business move, not an artistic whim—so if you find yourself struggling to justify the change, you may want to reconsider whether it’s the right choice for your brand.
Create a budget + inventory
The next step in a rebrand or brand refresh is to take inventory of every aspect of your brand that will be affected by the change. Doing so will allow you to create a realistic budget and prioritize your next steps.
The size of your inventory and resulting budget will depend on the extent of the changes you’re making to your brand, but here are a few examples of brand assets to consider:
- Physical branded assets, including signage, business cards, fliers, brochures, letterhead, and invoices.
- Internal branded documents, including style guides, employee handbooks, and financial documents.
- Website and digital branding, including web design, web copy, domain names, and SEO keywords.
- Email components, including addresses, signatures, and templates.
- Social media components, including usernames, profile pictures, bios, and hashtags.
- Branded swag to distribute to employees and clients, such as T-shirts, tote bags, pens, and more.
Once you’ve completed your inventory and budget, make a schedule for the changes’ internal and external launches, and begin creating and ordering your rebranded materials. Remember that some will take longer than others—for instance, getting updated exterior signage is usually more of an undertaking than ordering new business cards—so plan accordingly.
Phase Two: Internal Launch
Before you can shout your rebrand or brand refresh from the rooftops, you’ll need to communicate it to your team. Ideally, this should take place 4-6 weeks before your external launch—long enough to ensure everyone is on the same page, but not so long that the word will get out before you want it to.
Share the news
Depending on the size of your business and the scope of your brand changes, you might communicate your rebrand or brand refresh to your team through email, in-person meetings, or both. No matter how you share the exciting news, make sure to tell your team not only what you’re changing, but why. (This is where writing your new brand story comes in handy!) Doing so will foster a sense of unity and empower your team to communicate the brand changes to your audience when the time comes.
Remember to leave plenty of space for your team to ask questions and give feedback on the brand changes, as well as your rollout plan and timeline. If you can make your team members feel heard and valued in the early stages of your brand refresh, they’ll be more likely to serve as enthusiastic ambassadors throughout the rollout.
Deliver the updated brand to your team
Make sure that every member of your team has access to your updated brand documents, such as a style guide or employee handbook. Digital copies are great, but physical copies are preferable if possible—not only are they easier to access quickly, but they’ll reflect your commitment to the rebrand or brand refresh.
You might also consider giving your employees some updated swag to generate excitement. T-shirts, tote bags, and other items with your brand’s new logo can help make your strategic rebrand feel like a celebration.
Tell your brand partners + vendors
Closer to the external launch of your new brand, you’ll want to reach out to your brand partners and vendors to let them know about the changes you’re making. Fill them in on exactly what is changing, when the changes will go into effect, and how the changes will impact your partners and vendors. This will help to ensure your new brand is consistent—you don’t want to unveil your new brand name to great fanfare, only to have your vendors continue to use your old one!
Phase Three: External Launch
Now that you’ve laid the groundwork and told your internal team and brand partners about your rebrand or brand refresh, it’s time for the most exciting part: sharing the news with your audience.
Prepare your announcements
Before the launch date of your new brand, draft and schedule your official announcements. You might tell the general public about your changes via press release or blog post, while announcing the change to your existing audience through email. This is a chance for you to tell the story and reasoning behind your brand refresh (for a great example, check out Slack’s 2019 blog post announcing their updated logo).
You’ll also want to draft and schedule social media posts across all your platforms announcing your updated brand. Feel free to get creative where possible—videos and infographics are effective storytelling tools for visual platforms like Instagram. For instance, Mastercard introduced their updated logo with an infographic that walked the viewer through all the various iterations of their logo over the years. You may even consider posting a few teasers on your social platforms leading up to the announcement to generate buzz. Let your followers know that you’ll be sharing exciting news in the coming days and to check back frequently to stay in the know.
Finally, make your audience care about the changes to your brand by pairing the announcement with a special incentive. Unless your audience is made up of graphic design nerds, they probably won’t be all that excited about your new logo all by itself. But if you celebrate your new logo’s debut with a sale, discount, or contest, you’ll create a positive memory associated with your brand.
Make a clean break
Once the cat is out of the bag, you’ll want to start using your new branding immediately—and leave your old branding in the past. Launch your updated website, change your profile pictures, and switch out your branded materials. It might feel wasteful to toss out hundreds of business cards emblazoned with your old logo, but continuing to use your old branding after announcing your rebrand or brand refresh will only generate confusion and undermine your positioning. (If the changes to your brand are subtle, you may be able to make an exception to this rule—for instance, we hear through the grapevine that after unveiling their newest logo, Starbucks was able to filter in the leftover cups that had their old logo because the two designs were quite similar.)
If you’ve undergone a total rebrand, be prepared for an adjustment period with your audience. You may consider creating a temporary logo that specifies your old brand name under your new brand name, so your audience can continue to find you.
Ask for feedback
When a rebranding effort backfires, it’s often because the brand wasn’t in tune with their audience. 4-6 weeks after rolling out your rebrand or brand refresh, send a survey to your email list asking for feedback on the changes you’ve made. Their responses will let you know if you’re on the right track and may guide you in future rollouts for your brand.
At the same time, remember that it’s impossible to please everyone. Humans are naturally resistant to change, and there will always be those who preferred your old logo, brand name, or website. The overarching goal of any rebrand or brand refresh isn’t to make everyone happy, but to better align your brand with the world around you.
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