8 Steps for a Successful Rebrand

Social Media Week

Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas and insights into social media and technology's impact on business, society, and culture.

Meltwater at SMW Chicago

When your company is about to go through a global rebrand, the checklist of everything you need to accomplish is bound to be overwhelming. Along with creative and tactical considerations, your success will depend on getting everyone – internal and external – on board. Change can be scary, but if it’s authentic and embraced, it can also be exciting.

Our company went through a global rebrand this past year. The entire marketing department was bracing for resistance, but despite our jitters, the whole company loved it—and initial feedback from our market is that they love it too. In my role in PR, I’m looking at a win and find myself asking: what lessons did we learn on how to deliver a brand identity that truly connects with the people that live or interact with it regularly? How can I leverage this successful transition in building relationships and amplifying our message?

1. Get vested at the top.
By this I mean more than the obvious head nod from top leadership. Executive commitment involves more than “yes, you can have the budget.” Real buy-in means that the leadership is willing to commit the time and energy to help you get it right. A CEO who is “all-in” from day one will keep you honest. They hopefully won’t let you settle for anything less than an authentic representation of your brand.

2. Get the brand value statement right, and tight.
If you could only say one thing that nets out the value your company brings to the world, what would it be? Really, just one. If you’ve been through corporate positioning discussions, you know we try to squeeze in every piece of value that our solution has to offer. No one can let anything go (“But we’re really good at this!!! And this!! And this!!”) So you end up with a statement of value that says everything, and nothing. You must have the discipline—and the patience—to extract the essence of your value to your customers.

3. Match your identity to the company culture. Don’t create a new one.
Too many brand identities are sprung out of a marketing team’s minds, and then presented on a platter to the rest of the company. Look—this is us now! We’re bold! We’re customer service–oriented! We’re edgy! Now go be that! It is so much better when you can bottle up what already is. When you present the new identity to your company’s employees, you want them to know it’s a reflection of who they already are. They get to keep doing what they already do. And now marketing gets to share it with the outside world.

4. Find your creative soul mate. Finding a talented creative team that “gets you” is the secret to success.
There is nothing more painful than slogging through rounds and rounds of creative that leaves you cold. You start to wonder—is it us, or them? Did we brief them well enough? Are we unclear in our expectations? Is our story even compelling? Find a creative team that thinks like you, works like you, and finds the key to your creative expression.

5. Mind the internal roll out. It may not be easy, but if you can do it all at once and in a single forum, it will be worth it.
Being able to give your employees a live and in person tour through your new identity is invaluable. You’ll have the opportunity to explain the thinking behind your new logo or show your new website in action. When they leave, reinforce the new brand with something tangible. A bag of goodies—t-shirts, sunglasses, water bottles, stickers, etc.—will help employees internalize and discuss the exciting changes on the spot. What a difference from sending out an email with the new logo and color scheme attached.

6. Go the extra mile on rebranded assets: a coordinated push to have them all ready at launch is worth it.
This is the tactical stuff that can burn out a rebrand team. We have spreadsheets a mile long on everything that needs to be recreated, or reskinned. But here’s a shortcut: if you have succeeded in energizing the company over the new identity, they will help. Securing internal engagement is the difference between spending months chasing people down to eject the old brand from every closet, and having people reach out to you to ensure everything is fresh and current.

Ultimately, it’s worth the extra effort to have it all done at once.
When everything switches over simultaneously, the cumulative impact is much more powerful than a stream of updates that can last for months. All of this translates to market impact.

7. Mind the external rollout: Stakes are high so stay on top of brand mentions.
We all know that perception is everything. If your stakeholders are not happy with your rebrand, you’ll hear about it—and so will others. Some will tell you so directly, and some may let their opinions be known to their networks on any number of channels. And even if they don’t, a silent dismissal on social media, just as you’re trying to pump up the volume, can be a big downer, to say the least. If you’re not tracking your brand mentions and understanding your position in your industry during this time, it could snowball into irreparable damage. As a PR or marketing team, you are on the front line. Benchmark your brand before the rebrand and watch the needle move. If it starts moving in the wrong direction, get in front of it. Treat it as a crisis. The sooner you respond and establish a position, the more likely you are to stay strong.

8. Amplify your message: Better when attached to another company milestone; after all, two wins are better than one.
We all know that for most b2b companies, a rebrand is most interesting to the company itself. If it’s really good, maybe the market will take note. But it’s not considered news for many outside of the branding industry. If you’re able to time your rebrand with a product launch, acquisition, or critical partnership announcement, do it. The rebrand will give your announcements a nice boost, and in turn, the announcement should bring a lot of people back to discover your new identity.

What do you consider the biggest rebrand challenge or faux pas? Tell us in the comments.

This is part of an ongoing content series with our Global Supporting Sponsor, Meltwater. You can learn more insights at Meltwater’s upcoming masterclass, “8 Steps for a Successful Rebrand” taking place at SMW Chicago this November.

Shannon Chirone

Director of Marketing, Crowdcentric Media

Want to write for Social Media Week?

We're looking for individuals around the globe to contribute articles on marketing, media, technology, and more.