How To Start The Rebranding Process Without Losing Your Mind

Embarking on a rebrand mission is daunting. Get some quality feedback, get your team on board, and go for it with these steps to a fresh image.

Your logo is outdated, print materials look tired. And your website needs a major overhaul.

But trepidation aside, you know that things need to change.

Here are seven tips to consider before embarking on organizational rebranding:

1. Begin at the Beginning

Your logo: the apex of your organization’s image. It is by far the most integral component to beginning the rebranding process--it all starts here. For now, put aside thoughts of annual reports, newsletters, and websites. The logo comes first.

2. Garner Feedback

Focus on gathering feedback of your current brand from an array of external sources (This does not mean seeking the advice of friends and family). Surveys and focus groups are the best way to go. Results of this environmental scan will be invaluable in helping guide your decision-making later on.

3. Foster Buy-in

The next step is to gain the trust and buy-in from your staff, Board Directors and other key stakeholders. It’s not about presenting the final product, or logo mock-ups, at this stage--it’s about fostering enthusiasm for change. Everyone should be on-board and excited by the possibilities ahead.

4. Search for the Right Branding Agency

It’s imperative that you find the right branding agency for your organization, one that you feel comfortable working with. Don’t rush this decision, but take time to meet with a few. Once you’ve landed on the right fit, make your intentions clear from the get-go in terms of expectation; also be sure to understand the agency’s process, and how this will lead to the best result. Remember, they may be the experts in design, but you are the experts of your organization. A good agency will listen carefully, and lead you through the process.

5. Create Reasonable Timelines

Logo development can be quick and dirty, or tempered and process oriented. We would advise the latter. Allow time for research, logo development, and then rollout on all your materials. This could take time. But it’s well worth it.

6. Place Personal Biases Aside

All too often, it’s difficult for decision-makers to put their own likes and dislikes aside. You may not be partial to the color blue, but this could be exactly the choice that speaks to your target audience. The same is true for a wide array of choices you will have to make during logo development: from fonts to taglines. Trust in the process.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up

If there is something about the process that makes you uneasy, talk to the branding agency--your relationship with them should be a two-way dialogue. In the final stages, it’s up to the agency to present the reasoning behind the new design; but again, despite the impending deadline, if you have doubt, express it. You will kick yourself later if you don’t.

There are always a lot of moving parts to logo development, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. If the process works, then your new brand will revitalize and inform other communications vehicles. It will also bring about a renewed pride and strength of purpose to your organization in moving forward.

--Steven Hobé is Communications Strategist & CEO at HOBÉ+HOSOKAWA INC., a marketing and communications firm in Toronto, Canada.

[Image: Flickr user Kyle Van Horn]

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6 Comments

  • You are talking about a visual identity rebranding, not an organizational rebranding. Your brand is not your logo. That is typically the most recognized visual element associated with your brand, but it is not your brand. Your brand is the sum of all experiences and associations that people have with your organization - essentially, what people feel about you. So a full rebranding process doesn't start with a logo. The logo, and the rest of the visual pieces, flows from the strategy and positioning research learnings. Organizations need to look at the brand experience, the product portfolio, competitive environment, and where there is an opportunity to be first in a category. From there, you can start talking about logo and other look and feel components.

  • Great article. I strongly agree with Sylvia and Louis though. It is imperative to start with the brand purpose. The logo is important and will come with time and the right team but without a solid understanding of why the brand exists and how it engages its audience how can you evaluate if the new logo is even right?

  • Thanks for starting the discussion. Rebranding should be considered a growth accelerator, to make the organization more forward facing and able to grasp new opportunities. This starts with a comprehensive review of who we are today, does our mission need updating for the future, how can a new aspirational brand help us better achieve an updated strategic plan.

  • Awesome article- we're working on a few things internally and I'm going to share this. In past experiences I've found that creating a "mood board" of logos that appeal to you and your audience as well as general branding visuals using something like Pinterest really helps to put everyone on the same table. I also love to see the logo mock ups placed on items like business cards, signage, etc, as a way of visualizing the new brand in context.

  • Louis Byrd

    Steven great article! As an owner of a branding agency, I really appreciate 5-7. Only thing I do not fully agree with is number 1. Yes the logo is the cornerstone to brand identity; however, I believe that the first step to a rebrand is to truly understand "why" the organization really needs this rebrand. It can really go beyond a fresh look. It is about repositioning goals, acquiring new brand ambassadors, etc.

    Let's face it, we seen some legacy companies (i.e. JC Penny) do major rebrands based off of the look, but it didn't sit well with their brand and the promise to their customers.