Are you thinking about rebranding a company right now? If you are, it’s important to remember this isn’t the work of one person, one department, or one moment. To even consider a rebrand, you need to have eyes on the business as a whole.
A successful rebrand requires an intimate understanding of what’s working, what’s not, and how your customers view you.
But a rebrand is more than changing the flow of daily operations or using a new CRM. It’s more than a logo or a typeface. Rebranding is about re-examining how you communicate who you are as a company, and learning how to rebrand a business successfully can take years to master.
Fortunately, there are a few steps that are consistent across every effort when rebranding a company. These steps make for a great jumping-off point as you embark on your rebranding journey.
While no article will be able to guide you through a successful rebrand start-to-finish, you can gather valuable information about what to consider and plan for. And the very first thing to know about company rebranding? How much it can change depending on your why.
How to rebrand a business and…
Success in company rebranding starts by exploring why you want to rebrand in the first place. Your reason for rebranding will guide research into your customers, your competitors, and your company itself. It dictates which rebranding services you’ll need, what kind of timeline you’ll work with, and sometimes even how you measure success.
Rebranding a company is more than just visuals. Even visual rebranding isn’t focused on aesthetics alone. Learning how to rebrand a business is about navigating a whole host of unique dilemmas rooted in how you’re perceived by your customers, your employees, your competitors, and even yourself.
All that said, here are a few tips on the most common challenges you might be looking to combat with a rebrand, and how each one can impact the way you approach rebranding a company.
Take back your market share
Now, let’s be clear – rebranding a company isn’t how you make up a minor drop in sales this quarter. Developing and launching a brand with powerful brand equity takes time and intentionality.
But sometimes the drop is significant or lasting, and then you could have a problem.
Competitive attack, especially from newcomers, is a sign that your brand is not yet memorable and irreplaceable enough to win out in your industry. Uncovering what your brand is missing and repositioning it based on your unique advantages is an investment that will pay off well into the future.
To learn how to rebrand a business and take back your market share, you’ll want to lean into the “Ignite” phase of Flux’s IDEA Method – the tried and true framework that we bring to all of our projects. We will explain more on this later.
Attract and retain exceptional employees
Creating company culture can sometimes feel out of your control. You may have an idea of the culture you want in your business, and maybe you’ve even taken some steps to get there. But now, you’re struggling to attract and retain the employees you want (and need).
That’s where internal company rebranding comes in.
Most of the time, companies view branding as external – the way you communicate with your customers. However, branding is just as crucial internally, and it can be especially liberating. It allows you to rediscover why you fell in love with (or even created) your company in the first place.
Rebranding a company to strengthen your internal brand will inform the way you communicate with your employees and the culture you create with them.
The “Energize” phase of the IDEA method dives more deeply into how you’ll solidify this internal brand and unify it across your entire organization.
Navigate a merger
Diversifying your brand portfolio? A clear strategy for expanding your brand or rebranding your subsidiaries is critical. A good brand strategy will expand your reach, while a messy one can seriously damage your recognition.
Wondering how to rebrand a business during a merger, sale, or acquisition is completely normal. It’s a sticky situation, and there are countless factors to manage. Your external brand may undergo few changes, if any. On the other hand, you might need to create something totally new.
Rebranding a company due to a merger is one of the best times to bring in a rebranding agency. As someone without ties to any of the existing brands, a talented rebranding agency will be able to mediate conversations about the brand’s new direction.
During a merger, the “Distill” phase of the IDEA method becomes the cornerstone of the process. In this phase, you lay out your company’s core philosophy, audiences, and offerings. A merger is a crucial time to assess your company’s ethos and architecture to understand how multiple brands can live together successfully, uniting everyone under the same vision.
Distance yourself from controversy
Rebranding a company can be a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to a less-than-favorable reputation. But rebranding doesn’t wipe the slate completely clean. If the root of the problem stays put, your new brand won’t do anything to win back customers or employees.
Start your rebrand after – or at least alongside – changes in the company systems, structure, or leadership that caused the issue to begin with. That way, your company rebrand can mark a clear change in the kind of company you want to be.
The “Ignite” phase of the IDEA method is key when it comes to changing a reputation. In this part of the process, you dive deep into your company and your customers. Through guided workshops, stakeholder engagement, and customer interviews, you’ll figure out the root of challenges and propose solutions.
And, once you have your new brand in place, you’ll want to create a brand reputation strategy to protect it in the future.
Move into the future
You don’t always need to face a major change to consider rebranding a company. When most people think of brands, they think of brand identity – the visual branding elements that make a brand recognizable. But branding is more than just colors, typography, and logos.
Your brand is the essence of who you are as a company. This includes your mission and values, who you serve, how you’re different from your competitors, and why your company exists in the first place.
Rebranding a company completely will require reassessing those ideas, which can be difficult. The comforting familiarity of your brand is constantly running in the background, but some ideas no longer resonate. Rebranding allows you to check in and remove aspects of the brand that are holding you back.
If you feel your brand identity needs a change, but the other parts of your brand are still healthy, then you may need to consider a refresh rather than a complete rebrand.
A refresh can lean more heavily on the “Energize” and “Activate” phases of the IDEA method to help your brand move into the future while still preserving what makes it powerful. In these phases, we bring strategy to life, transforming how you look and where you show up to make your brand more effective with key audiences.
So what is the IDEA method exactly? Let’s dive into the details of each stage.
The IDEA method
The IDEA method consists of four phases: Ignite, Distill, Energize, and Activate.
When you’re rebranding a company, there are countless details to balance and things to consider. The Ignite phase is all about setting yourself up for success. During this phase of company rebranding, you’ll methodically consider every strength and weakness of your current brand.
Making a thorough rebranding checklist is one part of the Ignite phase. But be careful when you make this checklist – getting overwhelmed is all too easy, especially if you’re trying to DIY your rebrand.
Our advice? Use a separate checklist for each phase of the IDEA method. The Ignite phase has completely different needs and goals compared to the Energize phase, for example.
Spend plenty of time planning and information-gathering, especially during the early stages of your rebrand. When you do, you’ll be amazed at how naturally everything else will flow from there.
Stop, look, and listen
Researching is at the heart of a successful rebrand. When you’re rebranding a company, you’ll quickly notice just how many places your brand shows up. And in each place your brand appears, there’s something to learn about how people interact with it.
Any experienced rebranding agency will tell you that quietly watching and listening to how people interact with your brand is a must for any successful rebrand.
When you’re rebranding a company, you need a 360° view of your company identity. Before announcing it to the world, it’s time to get deeply familiar with who your company is – and who it wants to be.
“Why” is the most important question you can ask when rebranding a company.
Why are you rebranding? Why are you choosing this logo mock-up over that one? Why will one choice or another resonate with your customers? Why does it resonate with you?
Asking why helps you get to the bottom of any choice, keeping your most central values at the heart of your efforts. A crucial part of learning how to rebrand a company is learning how to question everything.
What’s important will hold up to questioning, and what isn’t will quickly burn away. Curiosity is indispensable when you’re rebranding a company, so get curious early in the process and stay there!
It’s (not) all about the customers
Understanding customers is essential to rebranding a company, of course. Without consumer research, the rebranding operates on the preferences of the board, not the buyer. Don’t guess at what your customers want. Ask them, then listen. Your company rebranding efforts will be all the better for it.
But you can’t stop there. Internal branding boasts often-overlooked gems – like higher retention rates, seamless mergers and acquisitions, and a mental and emotional boost to your employees.
Your brand communicates who you are as a company. Your customers care about that, absolutely. And so do your employees. They want to know who they’re working for, and they want to know what it means to work for and with your company.
Rebranding a company successfully requires an all-inclusive understanding of who you are as a company – to your customers, employees, shareholders, and yourself.
So you’ve gotten a 360° view of your brand, your competitor, and your audiences, as well as dug into what your employees want from your brand – now what? How does this mountain of data become a brand? The Distill phase helps you refine that data into key touchpoints that will develop into your brand.
And before you move forward in rebranding a company, it might be helpful to know more about brands as a whole. Brand archetypes can be powerful tools to determine what kind of brand you want to be. Rather than trying to rebrand from scratch, starting from a brand archetype allows you to draw inspiration from successful brands and align yourself with specific ideals.
Drawing in archetypes alongside your data gives the Distill phase a sense of direction and purpose. What archetype do you want to embody? What do your customers see you as?
The Distill phase of rebranding a company is about the big picture. Don’t get too stuck in the details just yet. Look at what your data is telling you as a whole. What themes or ideas come up over and over when people are talking about your brand?
Rebranding a company is never just about the company. You’re rebranding for your customers just as much as for yourself – if not more so. Don’t be afraid to hang on to parts of your brand if the customers love them. And don’t hesitate to throw out your favorite ideas or features if the customers don’t agree.
Take an honest look at what’s working and not working. The more real and honest you can be, the more authentic your direction will become. And when you’re transitioning from the Ignite phase into the Distill phase, finding a clear, authentic direction builds a strong foundation for your brand moving forward.
Uncover your identity
The ultimate goal of the Distill phase is creating your brand positioning, which you can then use to craft your brand identity. So you might wonder, what is brand positioning?
Rebranding a company is more than visual rebranding. Think of your brand’s presentation and reputation as though it were a person. Your reputation isn’t exclusively based on what you wear and look like. Your identity includes a whole host of intangible things, as well – your family, your education, your taste, your values, and your beliefs.
The intangible qualities that set your brand apart are your brand positioning. This dictates how your brand will show up, and what values you need to keep in mind every time your brand is included.
Take Disney, for example. They didn’t end up with a sterling reputation as family-focused, magical dreamers by accident. They’ve deliberately positioned their brand to reflect those ideas – with great success.
Solve the puzzle
By this stage, you’ll have a good sense of what your customers are looking for and how you might want to show up for them. Now, it’s time to solve the puzzle.
How do you put together the data from your market research with the needs your employees express and the passion you have for your company… all while keeping shareholder buy-in?
This is one of the hardest parts of rebranding a company, so if you get stuck here, you’re not alone. Keep learning, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. The result of this phase should be an internal document that acts as a north star for all future brand expression. It lays out your reason to believe, core concepts and values, unique differentiators, brand voice, and the early stages of your visual tone. It’s one of the most critical parts of a rebranding effort, ensuring everyone who works with you understands exactly what your brand is all about.
By this phase, you should have a strong, data-backed brand positioning document laying out the core concepts of your brand. This internal document is the beating heart of your brand, and it’s indispensable for the Energize phase and the life of your brand moving forward.
The Energize phase is where we really dig into your brand identity. How (and where) do you want your brand to show up? What is brand identity? Brand identity is a cornerstone of rebranding, and it refers to the logo, colors, and typography you’ll use to make an instant impression. Rebranding a company has more to it than brand identity, but it’s still a crucial part of the puzzle.
This can be a good time to bring on some help, too. There isn’t a marketing department in the world that can take on rebranding all by themselves. Especially not if you plan to have any other marketing happening before or after the brand launch.
Rebranding a company is a huge amount of work. Beyond that, an excellent rebrand requires specialized knowledge and skill sets that even an awesome marketing team might not have.
Make a map
Where did you come from, and where are you going? Following the IDEA method, you should have an idea of how to answer this question by this point. Now the Energize phase is all about bringing your new brand strategy to life through visual channels. It’s time to develop a dynamic brand identity that resonates with your target audience and aligns with your business goals.
Any change is hard. Rolling out a new logo, messaging strategy, and package all at the same time is what makes rebranding a company especially difficult. How and when you communicate the changes is just as important as making the right changes.
As you develop your brand identity, now is a good time to anticipate the kinds of collateral you might need. For example, will you be replacing business cards or company letterhead? Branded merchandise? Vehicle wraps? Start putting things in motion now so you’re prepared for when the Energize phase has a beautiful brand identity ready for you to Activate.
Most people find the Energize phase to be the most exciting part of rebranding a company. This is the point where you start to see your brand come together. You’ve determined what your brand needs to be, and narrowed down your values, but how will you express that?
What iconography, visual language, and image style communicate who your brand truly is? In the early phases of the Energize phase, especially, don’t be afraid to explore! There are many different ways to express the same kinds of brand ideals.
And remember, staying curious makes all the difference in rebranding a company. Always ask why you’re drawn to a specific brand identity component– and if your audience is drawn to it as well. Keeping your customers in mind should be your guiding light throughout the process, and help you select the right option from the many different visual directions a brand can take Getting to the root of what your brand means you find a brand identity that perfectly expresses those concepts.
Learn a new (visual) language
The brain can process the visual components of your brand faster than anything else. And in today’s online world, your brand’s visuals have to be able to stop the scroll. Rebranding a company visually is challenging, and it can feel like a completely different world.
You’ll need to dig deep into what your brand means and where you want to go. Any visual change must be in alignment with your overall brand strategy. How do you want to make people feel? What is your brand personality? These kinds of questions are at the heart of how you want to look.
Incorporating the intangible elements of your brand into tangible elements is one of the moments you might need to call in some help when rebranding a business. Graphic designers, especially ones who specialize in rebranding are fluent in the “language” of visual rebranding.
A note on visual rebranding:
A picture paints a thousand words (without having to read them). When embarking on a visual rebrand, careful consideration is key. How are you going to socialize the new look with your customers and your employees? Visual rebranding can pivot your look completely and may make you almost unrecognizable to your current audience. Having a careful plan to roll out the new look, and a good amount of market research to back up the change, are critical.
Countless brands have released new brand visuals, only to be met with incredible backlash. And sometimes, even become the butt of a joke.
In any visual rebranding, make sure you’re bringing in professional designers. Successful brand visuals will reflect your brand’s strategy and intelligence. Professionals will help you ensure your visuals are more than just a pretty face.
Arguably, the Activate phase is the most labor-intensive of the whole process, but it can also be the most straightforward. The Activate phase is your brand launch, and while there are many different ways to launch a brand, this is also where your in-house marketing team can be incredibly helpful.
As an experienced Los Angeles branding agency, Flux has worked on brand launches for a variety of companies, in every shape and size. This is the last leg of the marathon that is rebranding a company, and seeing a successful brand launch is incredibly rewarding.
Strategize your launch
The first step in a successful launch is a solid strategy. Like every other part of rebranding a company, your launch should be solidly data-based.
How do your customers see your current brand? What are you trying to convey with the new one? Does your new brand look significantly different or are you only making a minor change? What kind of resources are you working with? All these questions (and more) will play a huge role in how you strategize your brand launch.
And, like anything in business, there’s a bit of paperwork to do before you can consider your rebrand complete. You’ll need to copyright your new brand and update DBAs or product names. Check with your legal team to make sure that everything looks good before you proceed.
Check in with your finance department regularly when rebranding a company, as well. Many of the expenses associated with the rebranding process (including hiring an agency) are tax-deductible, so you can mark them as write-offs in your budget.
Unveil your brand
While you’re running the launch, pay close attention to the reception. It’s not too late to make minor changes to the plan! You can also use this time to guide your marketing decisions in the future.
What are some of the things that people like or dislike about the way your new brand shows up?
Rebranding a company is an incredible amount of work, and it can be tempting at this point to check out and let the launch run its course. But the real-time feedback you can give to and receive from your customers and employees is invaluable. Insights found during this process can guide how your new brand moves forward for months, or even years.
Celebrate your team
Once your brand launch is complete, don’t forget to celebrate! You and your team will truly be putting your heart and soul into company rebranding, so take a well-deserved breather. A successful rebrand is a labor of love, but that doesn’t make it easy.
And after taking some time to step away from the project, you’ll get to enjoy the results. Rebranding a company can breathe new life into your work. It can remind you why you work for – or created! – your company to begin with. Rebranding can also revitalize your sales and service, giving the company an overall boost. Win-win!
Rebranding a company with confidence
Brands aren’t meant to last forever. Companies grow and shift and change, and in successful rebrands, you ask questions, investigate those changes, and use them to move forward.
A full rebrand can make a company…or break it. Poorly done rebrands make your customers – current and potential – confused and uncertain. If you’re inconsistent with your brand, they’ll wonder if you’re inconsistent with your products or services, too.
On the other hand, when your mission and values are clear for every person in your organization, it shows for your customers, too. In better customer service. In higher-quality products. In problems that get solved more efficiently than ever.
Rebranding a company isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. Choosing an excellent rebranding agency will take most of the work off your plate while allowing you to take in all the benefits.
Common fears and FAQs about company rebranding
There’s no way around it: Company rebranding is a massive project with equally massive consequences – one way or another. Some companies experience intense, rapid growth after a rebrand while others attempt rebrands that nearly destroy their business.
These outrageous failures can leave you with massive fears about rebranding. If BP, Uber, and Tropicana can have rebrands go wrong, how do you know it won’t happen to you next? Each of these examples missed the mark because they lacked the strategy and vision necessary for a vibrant rebrand.
When you overcome the fears around rebranding a company, you can embrace your rebranding journey with open arms.
How can you be sure it’s time to rebrand?
Usually, you’ll recognize the time for a rebrand when it arrives. The reasons we list at the beginning of this article are the most common signs: a merger or acquisition, a competitive attack, launching a new product or service, a change in leadership, or a reputational challenge. And if you’re on the fence about a rebrand, the best thing to do is to ask yourself why you want to rebrand in the first place.
Rebranding a company is something to approach deliberately and confidently. If you’re looking to rebrand simply because you’re bored with your current brand, or worried it feels “dated”, pause a moment. At that point, you could consider visual rebranding, but you could also wait.
And if you truly aren’t sure, you could always schedule a consultation with a rebranding agency.
Will you end up losing money if you rebrand?
Some brands take a hit of millions due to a failed rebrand. How do you know that rebranding a company won’t cause the same problems for you? This is an especially intense fear for brands who are rebranding to take back a loss of market share.
The last thing you want is to make the company rebranding project a huge line item in the budget… only to have it cost you money in the end.
The good news? Approaching rebranding carefully and methodically can help you avoid a spectacular failure. Strategic rebranding helps ensure brand consistency, which has been shown to increase revenue by 30%. And that’s not all – a strong brand will make your marketing more effective, allowing you to build customer loyalty and mindshare.
What if you (or your customers) hate the new brand?
Putting time and effort into carefully designing a brand, only to become a laughingstock or outcast is a common worry about rebranding. Similarly to the fear of losing money, you can combat this with plenty of research– both inside and outside your company. Understanding your internal vision as well as your external perception are both key to a successful rebrand. Get curious, ask questions, and see what your customers and your employees have to say.
Authenticity plays a big role in how your brand is received. We’ve all noticed the rise of blanding, even if we didn’t have a word for it. Removing every trace of personality from your brand is a guaranteed way to make your efforts in rebranding a company fail. Whether your brand is loud and busy or simple and clean, it should reflect your overall strategy and needs, not a momentary trend.
Bringing in experts can help you balance modern looks with bold personality during your company rebranding.
Do you need to hire a rebranding agency to rebrand?
No, you don’t need to hire a rebranding agency… but you might want to. Before you decide to field company rebranding in-house, ask yourself: Does my team already know how to rebrand a business? Do one or more of them have the experience or skill set necessary to navigate this specialty?
Agencies are often the simplest and most trustworthy option for rebranding a company. And when you take into account the time you may spend vetting and cobbling together a team of solid contractors, they might be cheaper, too.
Make sure you review an agency’s case studies before scheduling a meeting with them so you know if they have a specialty. Case studies can also show you an agency’s overall energy and what they find important in rebrands.
Is rebranding worth it?
The short answer? Yes. When it’s needed, rebranding a company can transform it at every level. Even when you’re doing a lighter brand refresh, renewing your brand’s vibrancy has a ripple effect.
Rebranding can affect the way you interact with your shareholders, customers, and throughout your organization as a whole. At its core, branding is rallying people together over shared ideas, beliefs, and desires. Rejuvenating that isn’t always easy, but it is always rewarding.