While every business will have its own tailored branding experience, a rebranding checklist can help you prepare for all the eventualities that may come up in the rebranding process.
Maybe you’re dealing with something positive like a new acquisition or product line (and need to understand product marketing vs brand marketing). Or maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum– trying to distance yourself from your former company image or beat out a tough new competitor. Whatever your reasons, rebranding is no small task. It requires a collaborative effort amongst company stakeholders, employees, and, ideally, a rebranding agency.
Here at Flux, we want to help our clients transform from now to next.
And we’ve developed a proprietary framework called the IDEA Method to do just that. It’s how we approach each and every project, and it’s the perfect way to segment your rebranding checklist into milestones and clearly delineated campaign phases.
1. Ignite: Audit, Research, and Strategy
You’re fired up and ready for your rebranding campaign. But before doing any public-facing work, there needs to be a huge behind-the-scenes effort to understand what’s going on.
Before you can fill in the blanks on your rebranding checklist, you have to figure out exactly the type of rebrand you need and why. There are essentially two options: a full rebrand or a brand refresh.
You may already know which one you need, or it may reveal itself during a brand discovery and audit session.
Questions to ask during a brand audit
During your brand audit, you’ll want to ask questions about why you’re embarking on this journey, and whether now is the ideal time to rebrand. Without a clear reason and a straightforward plan, you risk confusing current and future customers, ultimately hurting your company.
Before starting a full rebrand, we ask our clients if they are facing:
- A significant change in company structure, like a merger or acquisition?
- A significant change in product lines or service offerings?
- A major loss of market share to a competitor?
- Negative circumstances impacting the way people perceive your company?
- A brand image that no longer speaks to your values and goals?
If you answered “yes” to some of these, it’s probably the right time for a full rebrand. This intensive process reimagines your core concepts, values, promises, and market position. The goal is typically to reach a new audience or expose your existing audience to a new side of you. It changes the way you look and talk, it could even change your name.
It results in a major shift– a new brand evolution.
If you answered “no” to those questions, you might just need a brand refresh. A brand refresh is typically an update focusing on your visual elements– mainly your logo, color palette, typography, etc. It doesn’t reimagine your core conceptual framework or brand marketing strategy, but “refreshes” your brand to reflect current sentiments.
A brand refresh can help you when:
- You’re getting confused with your competitors due to a lack of visual differentiation
- You don’t feel the current visuals of your brand are in line with who you are
- Your customer base and company structure are solid, so you don’t need major changes but still want to evolve your brand perception
Whether you need a full rebrand or a less intensive brand refresh, this will merely be the jumping-off point.
A brand audit opens up a Pandora’s box of new questions about your competitors, customers, and employees. The rebranding checklist at this point includes everything your rebranding agency needs to do to get a crystal-clear image of your industry and your company:
- Market research
- Online interviews
- Team interviews
- Focus groups
- Auditing tools
- Industry data
- Sales trends
This information is critical for understanding why you’re rebranding.
- Are you rebranding because your customers don’t know what you stand for?
- Is it because your message is confusing?
- Or is it because your internal team members aren’t able to coordinate consistent messaging across touchpoints?
The brand audit gets to the root of that issue, making it clear what needs to be done. That way, you’re not funneling resources into the wrong places.
2. Distill: Creative Planning and Messaging
The next part of your rebranding checklist requires sitting down and putting pen to paper. It’s the hard work that comes hand in hand with creating something beautiful – like your new visual identity.
There are three stages to this: external, internal, and legal.
External rebranding checklist
- Choose a rebranding agency. Can you do this on your own? Maybe. But you can also find YouTube tutorials for rewiring your house, and we wouldn’t recommend that, either. If you don’t choose to use a rebranding agency…
- Find other external vendors. These might include graphic designers (to design your new look), web developers (so people can still find you online), and photographers (to take pictures of employees, offices, and/or products).
- Plan when to notify the public. Most of the items on your list are behind-the-scenes work. But if you are doing a full rebrand and/or making website changes, you can build excitement by letting the world know a few weeks before the official launch.
Internal rebranding checklist
- Hold a company-wide meeting. Tell your employees about the rebranding campaign. Get buy-in and keep them updated about important dates/deadlines so no one is taken by surprise.
- Choose a point person. Who can manage the many different views your brand incorporates without playing favorites. This person will be the project manager and liaison between your team, the rebranding agency, and any other external vendors during your rebranding campaign.
- Set a budget. You’ll likely need to work with one or two external vendors at a minimum, so now is a good time to review the monetary side of things.
- Distill the data from the brand audit. You need to understand how your customers perceive your brand now and why, as well as what they’re looking for from your brand. The raw data from the Ignite phase needs to be synthesized into strategic insights– something your agency will be very helpful with.
- Create a brand guide for your employees. Decide what you want your brand identity to be and how you’ll communicate that both internally and externally. This will be a living, breathing document (this will be an expanded version of a style guide) and will take some time for you to create. This will be the work of your agency if you choose to partner with one.
- Build your creative concept and messaging. Just an outline is fine for now – your creative team will finalize it as you move forward. Again, this will be the work of your agency.
- Map out your visuals. Think mood board, but make it a 360-degree approach to every brand asset, across all internal/external platforms. This will help the team effectively understand the new direction that your visuals need to go in, depending on your rebranding goals.
Legal rebranding checklist
- Consult with (and hire) a lawyer to help with copyright laws around rebranding. The last thing you need is for someone else to steal all your hard work due to a copyright error.
- Check local and state regulations, especially if you plan to change product names, DBAs, trademarks, or patents.
- Don’t forget taxes. You’ll want to check with your accountant to make sure all rebranding campaign expenses are appropriately marked as write-offs and the initial investment is budgeted for.
3. Energize: Designing, Packaging, and Merchandising
This stage is what most people think of when they think of “rebranding” – the implementation of visuals. In the Energize stage, you’re finalizing the visual choices that will define your brand and products moving forward.
Your rebranding agency will leave no stone unturned and will provide a very detailed rebranding checklist for this specific part of the process. These may include:
- Your new logo(s)
- Website redesign
- Squeeze pages
- Print collateral
- Signage and other company property
- Product packaging
- On-location merchandising
- Photo and video creation
- Digital ad creative
- Email addresses and email signatures
- Business cards
- Checks, invoices, and receipts
- Social media assets
- Directories – online and off-line
- Newsletters and templates
Skipping this or thinking that you’ll deal with things “as they come up” can be tempting, but it’s a recipe for disaster.
A disunified brand is jarring to customers and employees alike – and can make your company look unorganized and unprofessional, defeating the point of a rebranding campaign in the first place. Consistency is key.
4. Activate: Implementing and Launching
Now it’s time to put it all together and start moving forward. At this point in the rebranding process, you’re ready to start communicating with your customers, your employees, and your community.
The goal is to create intentional touchpoints that clearly define who you are and why it matters.
Start internally with an all-hands meeting to discuss what successfully rebranding your business looks like. You can share your motivations behind your decisions and how each individual person can support the company’s new image.
Then, move on to sharing your new brand with the world! Your rebranding checklist for this stage might include:
- Events and trade shows
- Direct response marketing
- Print marketing campaigns
- Search and social media advertising
- Guerilla marketing
- Influencer campaigns
- User-generated content
This is another place where choosing a good rebranding agency could mean a much more successful experience. How you launch your new brand into the world is just as important as creating the new brand.
A great rebrand without a clear strategy for introducing it to both internal and external audiences is a recipe for failure. A top-tier agency can help your company strategize the best plan of action, getting your new brand out without disrupting sales or alienating existing loyalty.
The Activate stage can also place significant stress on a marketing team, especially without a clear plan of what needs to be done, when, and why. With an agency, you’ll get a dedicated team that is solely focused on releasing your new brand to the world.
Your marketing team and agency can work collaboratively to ensure the new brand is launched successfully – but no internal time and resources will need to be pulled away from their primary objectives.
Ready to rebrand your business?
Ultimately, a rebranding checklist isn’t one-size-fits-all. And it shouldn’t be. Your company, message, and brand are unique, and your rebranding experience will be, too. From choosing what kind of rebrand you need to defining your goals and finding a new position in your market, this process has a lot of moving parts.
That’s where rebranding agencies make all the difference.
An outside perspective and high-level expertise can turn a potentially chaotic experience into a clear, concise one. You and your team won’t need to know how to rebrand. Instead, you’ll be able to collaborate with an agency that can guide your brand from now to next.
Ready to have a successful rebranding campaign?