A Data-Driven Rebrand: Did It Work?
A lot of people see a rebrand as a project ending with a roll-out. But no matter the extent of research made beforehand, now is where it needs to get challenged.
Regardless of the rebrand project scale, it’s more often than not a pretty big step in the journey of a brand. Understanding what it’ll bring in terms of change, and how it impacts your business, is not easy to predict. However, if you’ve created a well-structured plan of how to go at it, it’s very likely that the result of the rebrand will have the right kind of impact (read: a positive, rather than a negative one).
As you start introducing things like new designs, website architecture, print material, mission statements, and tonality, you could be getting some pretty frustrated emails in response from users and coworkers. How could you possibly create such half-baked designs? Nothing makes sense, and the new customer base you’re aiming at doesn’t really seem to care for it.
If you haven’t fully tested your rebrand hypothesis on your actual users/customers, but instead rolled with what you thought was best, you’re just playing Russian roulette. This is why you need to make data-driven decisions, rooted in a deep understanding of your target audience – considering the value of proper user research.
Before the Rebrand: Qualitative Research
When it comes to freshening up the visual identity of your company, there are more than enough ways of gauging performance. Whether it’s websites, flyers, social ads, or booklets; make sure you’ve tested the design mood on actual users.
Talk to people. Yes, for this step you actually need to leave the comfort of your desk (sorry about that). Ask people face to face what they actually think about the new designs. In a rebrand, you often use predefined adjectives like young, human, friendly, and simple to describe the overall mood – both in terms of design, but also in strategic topics such as key values, website, and message. You need to find out if that’s how your audience actually perceive it.
Gather a couple of people fitting your target audience and present them with the new look and feel. It’s important that you refrain from sharing too much information or comments about the material before they’ve had a chance to get into it – you could risk influencing their feedback. Don’t ask them, “What do you think?” either. Most people would just say, “it looks nice, I like it.” Which is not the most constructive feedback. Instead, have them input feedback via a framework that you can actually gain valuable data from. A good base is the Semantic Differential Questionnaire, which allows people to choose between two polar opposite words to describe how they’re feeling about it. If you want to know if they perceive the new website as up to date, for example, have them rank it between “modern” and “dated.”
If you’d like to have an in-depth survey with fixed answers, you can try AttrakDiff. Another option would be to show 50% of participants the old design and test it against the new one. If you have questions about the answers you collect (which you most likely will), now is the time to discuss them. Have at least 6-8 people attend the questionnaire to see how the answers differentiate. If all your participants have a clearly uniform direction (in line with your target mood), you’ve done exceptionally well. If not, it might be a good idea to make a few well-balanced iterations, then ask more people to take the test. Eventually you’ll be able to understand the cause of the confusion/detach between your ambition and what’s being perceived.
Testing Values, Vision, & Mission
A brand is not just colors and logos, it’s something bigger than that. It’s based on things like company values (e.g., “we believe that people should be kind...”), which influence the mission and vision statements. A vision is what a company aspires to do in the world, while a mission is more action-oriented.
This is something that comes from within a brand’s culture – often in an attempt to reposition a company to fit a new market, new audience, or simply to revitalize an older brand. When you’re about to reshape these essentials, make sure that your users/customers believe in it just as much as you do.
One way of doing so is to – just like with testing designs – sit people down in groups and ask what’s important to them. Maybe you’ll find that they don’t really need what you’re offering, in which case they’re either not your audience, or you’ve been sloppy communicating what it actually helps them with. By making sure you communicate your product’s value in a very concise way, you’ll guarantee it’s perceived in the best possible light.
After the Rebrand: Measuring the Impact
As your revamped brand is now communicating exactly what it should, a great next step is to test your concepts on the website. Make a list of priorities, considering the things you’re still a bit unsure about in terms of impact, and get those tested first. For example, are you shaky about whether or not the new navigation design will leave users confused? Simple – test it. There are plenty of tools to help you A/B test your website: VWO, Optimisely, Adobe Target, etc. if you’re already using Google Analytics, the free Google Optimize might make sense to start you off.
A common misconception is that every little detail needs to be tested. How would you otherwise know where the fault lies, right? Don’t worry, it’s not that intense. If you’d start testing details like new colors, a separator, or text styles, we’d be colonizing the moons of Jupiter before you’ve even made up your mind about Helvetica. A good rule of thumb is: if things most likely won’t influence the buying behavior of your website, it’s not reasonable to test it.
What will make a difference are things like navigation, showing what your customers say about you, how you convert them, if they trust you, and USP communications. They’ll directly influence your visitor’s behaviour on the website. That’s what you need to be testing. Here are some clusters that could be interesting to A/B test:
The New Header: Including everything from overall navigation, colors, drop-downs, text size, and so on.
The USPs: Test all the new website elements that communicate your offering’s value.
High Intent Pages: Pages on which users have to decide if they’ll convert or not (e.g., pricing, product detail pages, resource download pages, etc.).
There are many ways of testing your rebranded channels; these A/B test examples could inspire you, help you to understand that things don’t always pan out as intended, and how to learn from it.
Sometimes things don’t go as planned – the control (A) could win over the variation (B).
When you start testing, it’s best to use all of your traffic and split it into both variants (A and B), allowing you to achieve a valid result faster. Only test things one by one to avoid them influencing each other. When you have a result, take a closer look at your analytics – if your testing tool allows it – and carefully compare both groups. If you only look at conversions, you might miss some important things that users did along the way.
Use technical segments to assure that no technical problem might have rigged your results. Did a specific browser show a result that was completely different from the others? Maybe people using that browser didn’t get the test displayed correctly.
Even if you didn’t convert more people in your test, you still might find yourself with a winning concept. Compare Bounce Rate, Pages Per Visit, or Session Duration to see if you were able to increase engagement. Be creative and compare both groups, because A/B testing is not all about getting more conversions – the end goal is to learn something new about your audience.
Let’s Get Testing
No matter how you decide to test the various aspects of your rebrand, the most important thing is that you make data-driven decisions, and test what’s been implemented, in order to actively renew yourself and create the very best brand perception possible. By doing so, you’ll avoid a lot of bumps in the road such as profit drops, or the need to recreate whole segments of what’s been conceptualized – just because they don’t perform.
As you go through the rebrand process, remain agile as you work toward ticking off business and brand goals. In turn, you’ll ensure the process is as quick, effective, and as fruitful as possible.