Do’s and Don’ts for a Successful Rebrand

When you’re considering a rebrand of your organization, there are a number of things to watch for that will make your efforts a success or downright disaster. Read on for do’s and don’ts and tips to make it a success.

Most companies rebrand because there are legitimate reasons to do so. The costs and risks can be big, so whether to rebrand should be a carefully considered decision.

Good reasons to rebrand

When you think your organization is due for a rebranding project, there must be a solid business reason for the undertaking. Some of these are:

  • A merger or acquisition
  • Change in business/organization positioning or offerings
  • Outdated identity that hasn’t kept up with growth of the organization
  • The competitive landscape changed and you need to differentiate
  • Your customers’ needs have changed
  • Lack of brand clarity and cohesiveness

If any one of these conditions is true, a rebrand project can serve as a catalyst for crystallizing a brand’s clarity and for steering the future of an organization or business.

Bad reasons to rebrand

It’s easy to get excited by the possibility of new visuals. But avoid starting a rebranding project solely because of:

  • Boredom with your logo and identity
  • Problematic internal business issues
  • Change in personnel
  • Desire to dissociate from a poor reputation without making actual changes inside the organization to fix the problems

A rebrand isn’t a simple solution to other business issues that need to be addressed.


Don’t do it because you’re simply bored of your old logo

It’s very common for in-house marketing folks to get bored with their company’s identity and the strict rules for its use. What the outside world sees as brand consistency, the in-house team might experience as restrictive and boring.

The Tropicana case study makes one wonder why? From my research, the only reason I was able to find for the rebrand was to somehow be more “modern.” I suppose that reason is understandable, but this effort failed miserably and cut sales by 20% after the launch.


Don’t do it because you think it might fix other issues

As we all know, your brand is what your customers say it is. A new logo won’t fix organizational issues, a product line that is faltering, or a bad customer service reputation. Sometimes focus on rebranding diverts from other core business issues.

Don’t alienate people

I think some of the worst case scenarios happen when people are caught by surprise. You want to give internal staff periodic updates about what you’re up to and why without revealing any visuals prematurely.

Don’t be bland

In the 90’s there were a number of branding efforts that I came across that led me to coin the term “blanding” for all the look-alike, plain logos that were redesigned. There was an attempt to look modern by using san serif typefaces and everything all started to look the same. For the love of all that is good design, do not try to fix something that’s not broken!


”Blanding” as exemplified by the short-lived and uniformly reviled new logo of The Gap



Budget enough time and money for the project

What is the scope of the project? Are we starting from scratch? Are we tweaking something already in place? There’s no question: rebranding takes time and money. Strategy involves research and workshops with the stakeholders. Plan for at least 6 months. Developing a visual identity and logo takes minimally 3 months.

It’s not that the work itself takes so much time. It’s the nature of the project that requires time to digest all the findings in addition to creating the work, and time to sit with each iteration of design deliverable to make certain you are 100% happy.

Depending on what the rebrand requires, think minimum $20,000+ for brand strategy and $20,000+ for visual identity design, depending on the size of your organization. Once you’ve created a new identity, you want all things with your old identity replaced immediately. So budget for the implementation of the new brand: every printed piece, signage, vehicle decals, new website.

Get everyone on board

It’s essential that everyone whose opinion matters be in the room when you are workshopping things like brand attributes and keywords. You don’t want a project to get torpedoed by someone who wasn’t included in the process. When the project is further along, everyone involved in the project should be able to articulate how the concrete visual materials fulfill the objectives you set out to obtain.

Set specific goals

Workshop your company’s vision, mission, and values statements. Are they still true? Or is something changing? How about your target audience? Maybe something there is shifting. These are valid reasons for a rebrand. Write it up and massage it until most people are mostly in agreement. Use questionnaires, polls, interviews with various stakeholders to get to the essence of what your brand means to them. Here, it’s the in-depth intel of representative people like staff, volunteers, prospective clients, customers, partners, and donors that matters. You can use some of these actual people to create personas. Use brand keywords, no more than 7, to help guide the work to come.

Follow a process

Rely on the process. We use a collaborative creative concepting process that keeps the creative exploration moving forward towards our ultimate goal. We have a process that begins with the client intake, creative brief, project planning, concepting and design, to implementation and delivery.

Figure out your brand architecture

Are you a branded house (like FedEx) or a house of brands (like Proctor and Gamble)? An organization like our client Arrow Benefits Group can have different divisions and service offerings. Our client the Western Dominican Province is comprised of various Catholic churches, ministries, student centers, and missionaries. All of these sub-brands must be taken into consideration when planning the rebrand and designing a new identity system. It’s not just the main logo, but how that identity will integrate all the other entities and product and service offerings of your company.

Test it

While you want to avoid designing by committee, you do want to test your ideas and designs. Use surveys, polls, questionnaires, and interviews with representatives from each stakeholder group. Conduct some informal focus groups. While you won’t be able to please everyone, you’ll find out if there is unanticipated resistance.

UC System Logo

You don’t want to end up with 54,259(!) people signing a petition against your new logo after its debut like the UC System.


Plan the rollout

Start with getting your staff excited about the new brand. Have a party or a meeting where the new brand is revealed. Make sure all the people on the rollout team are able to speak about the whys and hows of where you’ve landed. Plan to have all the brand assets (logo files, color palettes, typefaces, templates) ready to go and available to everyone who’ll need them with a styleguide. Create a webpage or video with your brand story that speaks to the new aspects of your brand and the reasons for the choices made.

Celebrate and be prepared to make adjustments

Congrats are due all around for the big effort. But, do be mentally ready to make adjustments as you go. In my experience, once you actually start using a new identity system, small, unanticipated things may crop up. Don’t get too stressed about them and incorporate them into the style guide.

I hope this is helpful to anyone considering rebranding their business or non-profit. Let us know what you think and contact us if you have questions about your rebranding project.