How to Conduct Rebranding for Your Company?
Every ten years (or after a pivot or rapid growth) a company faces the question—do we need a rebranding? Usually, it’s one designer or a team of designers that push for the rebranding because they see some lost potential there.
And they have a point. Refreshing a logo and visual identity can boost companies’ recognition and profits thanks to:
- Standing out from the competitors
- Connecting with a new audience
- Staying up to date
- Reflecting new goals, values, or services
- Keeping the brand consistent and scalable
Rebranding perceived externally means a change of a logo and the look & feel of a brand. Internally though, it requires a company to make a lot of important decisions: what has changed? Where do we want to be in ten years from now? Who are we targeting? What actually needs to be rebranded?
We faced that challenge at Polidea at the time of our 10th anniversary—you can read about it here. In 5 months we designed a new brand identity that represents the company we want to be. Today, I’m proud to share the process we went through. Here are rebranding process tips you can use at your company.
To define the challenge and the state of your current branding, it’s best to ask designers who are not very familiar with your brand to prepare an audit. You can ask people you recently hired or an agency that can also conduct the rebranding for your company externally. A fresh look will be very valuable.
The audit should cover:
- Internal and external brand perception
An analysis based on research—how people describe your brand? What kind of emotions does it bring, what associations do they have? It’s important to learn all that about both your clients and your employees. The reason for that is to avoid changing to worse.
- Competitive analysis
Who do you compete against when the client makes a decision? Do you stand out? In what way? Are you keeping up? What’s their message and visual identity? Answers to these questions will be a great input to creating the brand strategy.
- Review of the logo
Facing reality. How exactly do you use the logo? Is it consistent? Is it recognizable as a strong symbol? Most importantly: is it still aligned with the vision of the company? Does it represent the company you want to be?
- Visual identity
You should verify if there is a clear system for colors, typography, and any graphical elements that represent your brand.
- The brand book
Your designers should describe how productive working with the current brand is. If the guidelines are clear and descriptive or in contrary—creating any material requires a lot of time to even define the style of it.
- Benefits and risks of rebranding
There are always two sides of the coin. Being aware of the risks helps in the decision-making process.
Gather the stakeholders for a couple of days of workshops in order to make decisions that will, later on, serve as a brief to the graphic designers.
- Redefine your target audience—you don’t have to analyze all the groups that get in touch with your company. Focus on those who are affected most by the branding; for example, we decided to analyze clients that come to us via Google search, not through referrals. To understand your audience better you can use the Empathy Map and/or Customer Journey Map.
- Find your place among the competitors—look for similarities among them and how you want to be different.
- Unique Value Proposition—there are different tools to define what is truly unique about your company. Value Proposition Canvas might be helpful. The key here is to decide on a value that will be repeated in the communication, shown in visuals and present in the pitch. Something that will be clear both your team and your clients.
- Brand personality—it’s time for brainstorming! This one can be really fun. Name the categories, for example, an animal, plant, food, car, and celebrity. If your brand would be a car, what would it be? Remember about the Diverge → Converge rule of design thinking? Generate as many ideas as you can and then pick together with the ones that you find most accurate. You can use the dot voting technique.
- Communication—this could be a part of the workshop but can be more effective when it’s done by the marketing team. They should be the ones responsible for the Tone of Voice, Elevator Pitch, Slogan.
- Mind mapping—to kick-off the visual work it’ll be helpful for the designers to start with naming all the connections and associations with the company. Based on the workshop findings they can create a mind map that should give them some creative ideas for a visual representation of the brand.
There are always some stakeholders that have to be consulted during the process and agree with the vision of the team that is conducting the rebranding. Presenting them sketches of the new logo on an early stage might be misleading. When you’re not in the process it’s hard to understand what is work-in-progress and what is final. Our team decided to create 3 different brand concepts before showing the logo to the board. We had to make sure that we’re all on the same page and want to show the same story.
A concept was built out of a mood board, a proposition of colors, typography, an example of the graphical style—basically anything that can show what the visual identity could consist of.
Sounds so simple but it’s actually the most challenging part of the rebranding process, especially if it requires creating a whole new symbol, not just lifting.
During our process this part included:
- Design Studio workshops
- Beer sketching aka having drinks and brainstorming :) To enforce creativity!
- Polishing a couple of selected symbols
- Testing how it would ‘live’ in our materials
- Previewing the symbol with selected typography, colors, photography
The perfect logo should be easily adaptable, unique, timeless, simple but smart, accurate for the purpose. To decide on the style of it, we used a chart of adjectives on which we decided if we want to be classic or modern, minimalistic or complex, fun or serious, digital or handcrafted etc.
You don’t need to have the final brand book before implementing the new visual identity. Give yourself some space to redefine guidelines that turn out to be not so practical or attractive. Still, to start with the implementation designers have to agree on some rules, how to use the logo etc.
A brand book should include:
- Story of the brand
- Logo variations
- Logo construction and optical corrections for the minimum size
- How not to use the logo
- Brand colors
- Icons style
- Illustration style
- Animation guidelines
- Photography style
- Grids for the stationary or website layout
- Composition rules
- … and more, depending on a specific case
This might be the most time-consuming part. It includes a redesign of all branded materials that your company has: the website, any additional landing pages, social media / Google ads, office interior, business cards and gadgets, presentations, documents, a photo shoot etc.
The challenge here is to keep consistency, especially in a team of designers, but also to plan everything ahead and being aware of all the things that have to be rebranded.
Don’t try to do it all at once—plan the milestones and prioritize. Consider that the new brand can be launched even if some internal items are not yet ready, however, everything that represents your company should be consistent.
At some point of that phase, the designer will be ready to polish the brand book and release a final version of it.
There is still a lot of work to be done with the showcasing. Rebranding is a perfect occasion for some PR buzz. Showcasing and announcing it properly might bring you new clients and opportunities. And, of course, lots of satisfaction for the team to share their work;)
Make sure to check Polidea’s rebranding case study!