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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

So you’re thinking about a rebrand? Here’s where to begin

As long as you’re unequivocally clear about who you are and what you stand for, and begin with the structural, big-picture ideation, you should be on your way to executing a successful, cohesive rebrand.

So you’re thinking about a rebrand? Here’s where to begin
[Rawpixel.com / Adobe Stock]

A rebrand often occurs at an inflection point for an organization, whether it’s driven by growth, organizational developments, or shifting audience priorities.

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My organization recently unveiled a new brand identity. Having grown significantly over the past couple of decades, and having become a digital-first organization, it felt imperative to revisit our brand identity to continue evolving with the LGBTQ youth we serve. Our refreshed brand introduced updates that allow us to more deeply connect with the LGBTQ youth community through enhanced user experiences and updated visual brand elements, among other changes.

So, how should you think about evolving the brand identity of your own organization, and when is the opportune moment to do so? It’s important to understand that this process should not happen in a vacuum. Every successful brand refresh is the product of intentional, mission-driven reasoning, in-depth discussions with key stakeholders, and rigorous qualitative and quantitative data collection around your key audiences.

CLEARLY ARTICULATE THE “WHY” BEHIND EVOLVING YOUR BRAND

If you’re thinking about revamping your organization’s brand identity, consider what’s driving you to do so. And the answer to “why now?” should extend beyond “why not now?” What factors—whether internal, external, or both—are contributing to the desire to reconsider your organization’s branding? Is the organization at a point in its growth where a refresh would allow you to better connect with your key audiences? Are there new organizational priorities that necessitate this change? Are timely events in your industry or marketplace shifting your audiences’ needs or your organization’s focus areas? These are just a sampling of questions to ground your thinking before diving into the brand refresh process.

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It’s tempting to get caught up in the shininess of an updated look and feel, but rebrands that happen for solely cosmetic reasons may signal a rift in your organization’s identity and lead to more confusion and wasted time, money, and energy. It’s important that you are able to articulate what is moving your brand evolution forward and that your reasoning authentically ties back to your organization’s mission and value proposition.

RESEARCH AND TESTING ARE INVALUABLE FOR RESONANCE AND AUTHENTICITY

Once you have articulated the “why” behind your organization’s brand refresh, qualitative and quantitative insights gathered through research and testing are integral to ensure authenticity and resonance with your key audiences. Be intentional with the research and testing you undertake, partnering with the communities you serve (consumers, employees, stakeholders, and more) to ensure their perspectives inform any changes being made.

Insights from research and testing not only allow your organization to support hypotheses around what will connect best with your audiences, but they can also reveal additional areas that may need to be revisited. For example, your organization may originally plan to center your brand refresh around the visual elements of your brand identity, such as the logo or color palette. However, data from research may also indicate opportunities to evolve online user experiences or interfaces to better meet the needs of your community.

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The opportunity to glean data for 360-degree insights into your brand, as opposed to focusing on just the more obvious dimensions in need of improvement, is something that many companies end up overlooking. You might be surprised at what you find through the process of research.

ALLOW TIME TO ADJUST

You might discover during the process of a rebrand that people feel attached to the current brand and might be resistant to change. Don’t let potential criticism or hesitation ruffle you. So long as you’ve been thorough in your research, intentional in your decision-making, and feel confident that you’ve taken necessary perspectives into consideration, it’s ok if everyone isn’t immediately excited about your new look, feel, name, logo, or website. It’s natural to go through a period of adjustment while everyone gets used to your new presentation. Stay grounded during this inevitable period and don’t become reactive. You should remain confident that the intent behind your rebrand is strategically sound. Change can take time to get used to.

Ultimately, a rebrand can be an invigorating moment for your organization and can carve out a moment to redefine and reinforce your core values, mission, and goals. As long as you’re unequivocally clear about who you are and what you stand for, and begin with the structural, big-picture ideation, you should be on your way to executing a successful, cohesive rebrand.

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This age of content creation, consumption, and engagement, in conjunction with rapid technology proliferation, can feel overwhelming. But it also provides an opportunity to take another look at your brand identity during perhaps one of the most exciting times in history to define and cultivate a space for your organization. The opportunities are endless.


Amit Paley is CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project

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