How to approach your rebranding strategy in 2024

How to approach your rebranding strategy in 2024

Change can be great, but avoid change for its own sake — especially when considering rebranding. Revamping a stale brand “just because” wastes resources and decreases brand recognition. To ensure clear strategic reasons and directions drive your rebranding, we put together a list of tasks to make the process more efficient.

Key takeaways

  • Rebranding is the process of modifying a company’s image, identity, or market position, potentially involving changes to the name, logo, packaging, website, and other marketing materials to align better with strategic goals and target audiences.

  • Rebranding varies in scope: Complete rebranding involves a full identity overhaul for outdated brands, partial rebranding updates specific elements for modernization, and brand refresh makes minor adjustments for subtle alignment with business developments.

  • Consider rebranding to ensure your brand aligns authentically with your values, stands out from competitors, appeals to new demographics, or rebuilds a brand's reputation. Each reason aims to enhance brand perception and market position effectively.

What is rebranding?

Rebranding is a strategy that involves changing your company’s existing image, identity, or positioning in the market. It may include updating the company's name, logo, packaging, website, marketing materials, and messaging to better align with your goals and target audience.

Rebranding is often done to refresh a stale image, appeal to new customer segments, reflect changes in the business, or move away from negative connotations. A successful rebranding aims to create a positive impact on customers and stakeholders, increase brand awareness and loyalty, and, ultimately, drive business growth.

There are different levels of rebranding. In some cases, a company changes its brand’s identity completely, while in others, it updates only elements. Let’s look at the different aspects of rebranding in more detail.

Different types of rebranding

Complete rebranding

Source: Kia

A complete rebranding is a total overhaul of your brand’s identity. It typically involves a whole new appearance, including a different logo, color palette, and imagery. A complete rebranding often involves changing how your brand sounds — by adopting a new key messaging and brand voice.

Here’s when you might consider a complete rebranding:

  • Your brand feels very outdated
  • Your brand looks too similar to some of your competitors
  • Your brand no longer reflects your values and identity

Doing a complete rebranding is a major project. It can be very time-consuming to develop and roll out a new brand, which is why some companies opt for the following smaller approaches.

Partial rebranding

Source: Dunkin

A partial rebranding overhauls some elements of your brand’s identity. For example, you might adopt a new color palette or updated logo but keep your voice and messaging style unchanged.

__Here’s when a partial rebranding can be helpful: __

  • Your brand has a strong reputation but needs updating
  • Your brand has high public recall and perception but doesn’t stand out from competitors
  • Some elements of your current branding no longer reflect your values or mission

Brand refresh

Source: Meta

When refreshing a brand, you make small targeted changes. You might carry out a brand refresh to formalize brand developments that have happened organically, such as slight messaging changes based on customer feedback. A refresh keeps your brand relevant without creating a whole new identity.

__Here’s when to consider a brand refresh: __

  • Your marketing or brand teams are seeing lots of subtle variations on your core visuals or messaging internally
  • You need to make small adaptations to your brand to reflect other changes in the business, such as launching new products or new channels

Why should you consider a rebranding

There are several reasons companies carry out rebrandings:

  • Adjustment: Realign your brand with your values to ensure your brand looks, sounds, and feels like an authentic representation of your values.

  • Differentiation: Make your brand stand out, especially when you have many competitors with a similar visual or messaging style.

  • Attraction: Appeal to a new demographic, including expanding into new regions or launching new products for older or younger consumers.

  • Rebuilding: Fix your brand’s reputation to show that you’re a different company now.

While these reasons all offer significant tangible benefits to companies, rebranding also comes with a few potential risks:

  • Distraction: If your marketing team is all-in on an extensive rebranding project, they might miss out on other great opportunities. Mitigate this risk by having a small sub-team — rather than the entire department — focused on your rebranding or by working with an external agency instead.

  • Lost brand recognition: When you first launch your new brand, it will look unfamiliar, making consumers less likely to recognize it. Strive for consistency across all channels so that brand recall and recognition can bounce back.

  • Negative reactions: If you’re significantly changing a beloved brand, your customers might not immediately connect with your new look and feel. Remember and communicate the thought-out reasons behind your rebranding — it’s not something you did on a whim. If customers truly love your products, they’ll soon come round.

Creatinng your rebranding strategy

While it’s tempting to jump straight into creative work, start by doing some research, analysis, and goal-setting first. This helps plan your rebranding to maximize your chances of a successful, smooth roll-out. Here are four steps to prepare a strategic approach.

1. Set objectives

Strategic goals for your rebranding ensure that it delivers tangible business and isn’t just a vanity project.

Set objectives that match your business goals — getting senior leadership involved in this initial planning stage helps ensure alignment.

2. Analyze the current brand

Now that you have specific goals for your rebranding, analyze your existing brand to determine how it measures against those objectives. A brand audit takes a strategic look at your brand and its performance to identify opportunities for improvement.

When you review your current brand, focus on three core areas:

  • Brand consistency: Gather brand collateral from different departments to identify how successfully your brand has been adopted internally. Do all teams use the brand visuals and messaging consistently?
  • Brand visibility: Review core metrics like brand awareness, share of search, and brand recall to learn more about your brand’s position in the market. Do customers know and recognize your brand, or are they more likely to think of your competitors?
  • Brand reputation: Finally, find out if people have positive or negative associations with your brand.

Examining the state of your current brand in these three areas helps you identify its current strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. These findings will inform the rest of your rebranding priorities and process.

3. Identify the target audience

Knowing your target audience allows you to decide about your brand’s new look and feel before you start the practical process. You can target your existing audience or explore different markets and demographics.

4. Competitor analysis

Competitor analysis helps you work out your brand’s position in the market. Start by listing your major competitors, then evaluate your positioning against theirs. Review your messaging and visuals, such as color palettes and logos.

Next, work through a SWOT analysis to see how your brand compares:

  • Strengths: What does your brand do better than the competition?
  • Weaknesses: What do your competitors do better than you?
  • Opportunities: What are your biggest opportunities?
  • Threats: What are your biggest threats (e.g., new competitors)?

Then, place your core brand assets alongside some of your competitors’ materials, and see how they look side by side:

  • Does your brand stand out visually?
  • Are your brand assets distinctive and recognizable?
  • Are your messaging and voice recognizable?
  • What sets your branding apart from your competition?

These exercises help you identify how to stand out and better differentiate. This should be a core part of your rebranding strategy.

Following the rebranding process

Once you’ve completed the previous steps, you should have a solid strategic understanding of your planned rebranding and its goals. With the prep work all done, it’s time to start the tactical part of the process.

1. Develop your rebranding plan

You’ve got a strategic, high-level overview for your rebranding, but now you need to turn it into practical tasks.

  • Work out the timeline for developing the new brand
  • Decide who will develop the rebranding (e.g., internal designers or an external agency)
  • Make a plan for rolling out your updated brand internally
  • Outline how you want to communicate the changes externally

Consider appointing a dedicated project manager for your rebranding process. They help you put together an initial outline and keep all the contributors and stakeholders informed and within the determined scope.

2. Design new brand elements

Now, you can start the creative work of designing your brand’s new visual identity. Here are some assets to develop:

  • New logo variations
  • A new or refreshed color palette
  • New visual brand elements such as icons or photography styles
  • A new tagline
  • New core messaging
  • Updated brand values

Some companies do this work internally, while others prefer to work with an external creative agency. Either way, at this stage, you’ll want to bring in all the research you gathered during the strategy phase to inform your creative direction.

Once you’ve developed your rebranded assets, document them in brand guidelines to get ready for the next step of your rebranding — rolling it out across the business.

3. Implement the rebranding internally

Once your new brand elements are approved and ready to use, share them with all business areas.

These steps help you roll out your rebranding internally:

  • Communicate regularly about the changes through all-hands meetings, email updates, team meetings, and informal Q&A sessions.

  • Share your updated brand guidelines so employees get familiar with your rebranding.

  • Upload your new assets to your shared drive or brand platform.

  • Remove outdated materials from your shared drive or brand platform so people can’t access them after the rebranding.

  • Organize and run training to inform each department about the new branding, including where to access the latest files.

  • Implement a short period where your brand or marketing department reviews all new material before publication to check the rebranding is being implemented consistently.

  • Update core marketing, sales, and customer-facing assets into your new branding and share with the appropriate team members.

Internal communication is key to the success of a rebranding — everyone needs to be aware of the changes so they stop using old brand assets and adopt the new ones instead.

4. Roll out the rebranding externally

Once you’ve launched your rebranding internally, it’s time to show it to the world! Put together a detailed project plan for sharing your rebranding externally to ensure your brand identity is consistent across all touchpoints.

Start by making a list of all the external channels you need to update:

  • Your website
  • Social media profiles
  • Profiles on review websites
  • Email footers
  • Email marketing templates
  • Your product(s)
  • Recruitment or job listing sites
  • Listings on partner websites

Prioritize these channels and update the highest-traffic or most visible locations first. Work out who is responsible for updating the platforms with your new branding, and create a timeline for the external rebranding project so it’s clear who’s doing what and when. Sharing the responsibilities ensures no channels get missed, and you present a consistent (re)brand identity to the world.

You may also want to put together rebranding announcements to communicate your rebranding to your (potential) customers. Many companies send an email introducing their new look and feel.

In addition, announce your rebranding to the public: This message typically comes from your company leadership (like your CEO) and explains and introduces the changes. Some companies publish those announcements on their blog and share them on social media, while others make more of a splash with PR announcements.

The role of a brand home in supporting rebrandings

A complete rebranding comes with a huge volume of files — from updated logos to new brand guidelines. Managing all these elements from a shared drive can be difficult, especially as you roll out your rebranding both internally and externally.

Instead, many companies use or build a brand home to support their rebranding. This offers two benefits:

  1. A brand home provides a shared, central location to document your new branding and store assets.

  2. You can control who accesses the rebranded materials — and when.

A dedicated platform like Frontify provides a one-stop shop for everything related to brand building. You can upload all the new files, document your guidelines, and create on-brand templates for popular assets to help employees find and use the correct materials.

Additionally, a brand platform makes it easy to retire outdated files: Replace assets directly (like your logos or other visual elements) or revoke access so nobody in the business uses them.

This makes it easier to achieve brand consistency across the business, as people have access only to your rebranded assets. You don’t have to worry about employees mistakenly using old logos because they won’t be able to find those files anymore.

A rebranding is risky but can lead to great results

Implementing a whole new look for your brand can be a risk — you might see a drop in brand recognition, which could hit your bottom line for a while. Even if it doesn’t affect brand recognition, it still might not be well received by your customers and audience.

But when there’s an explicit strategy behind your rebranding — to reach new customers, stand out in a sea of sameness, reflect your brand’s growth, or modernize in changing times — it can lead to tremendous results.

Following the steps in this article helps you take a strategic approach and manage the process smoothly. And if you’re just in the initial planning stages of a rebranding, you also might want to consider the rough costs of different rebranding options to find the best fit for your budget.

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