Studio Ostendo operates in multiple creative fields including photography, design, and education.
A rebrand can be something that brings excitement and anticipation to any organization, but the process can be overwhelming and daunting. Where should a company start? How do you do a rebrand? What do you tackle first? Who is the right partner to help? Like any other major project, if you haven’t done it before, it can feel paralyzing.
Luckily, you don’t have to do your rebrand alone. Studio Ostendo has helped many people rebrand—we know the common pitfalls and common branding mistakes that derail a rebrand, and we know how to avoid them. That’s why we’ve created this step-by-step guide to get you through a rebrand. This guide includes our best tips, tools, and a free download template to get you through a rebrand from start to finish. (It’s basically everything we wish we had when we started in a jam-packed article).
If you or your company is considering a rebrand, ready to start, or struggling and running on fumes, we hope this guide will help you not only get through your rebrand but make the process as enjoyable as we think it should be.
When you’re ready to dive in, here are the steps.
Feeling tired of looking at your logo isn’t justification enough for a rebrand (we could solve that with a new campaign). A rebrand takes a large investment of time, energy, and resources which means it’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Every rebrand is different—different goals, objectives, desired outcomes, etc.—and you should know exactly why you’re undertaking one.
Usually, companies undergo a rebrand because they’re struggling to communicate their brand to their target audience, or they’re venturing into new territory (offering a new service, expanding markets, or growing into a company that’s no longer bootstrapped). In order to address the issues you face, you must understand what the real problem is. And, just as importantly, you need to communicate that reason to everyone on your team so they know why they’re working towards this goal and eventually have the motivation to carry it out with you.
You’re going to need a team with the knowledge, expertise, and communication skills necessary for a rebrand. With all the moving parts of a rebrand, the process can become overwhelming, stressful, and stagnant pretty quickly.
Finding the right people to execute your rebrand is imperative. You can take the project in-house, or consider a brand agency. There are benefits to each and the decision should be based on what outcomes you need.
If you are thinking about working with a branding agency, consider reading this guide to build your team to work with said agency. It’ll save you time, labor hours, and headaches.
Of course, you can use a mix of both if that’s beneficial. We’ve helped a number of brands initiate a rebranding process, trained in-house teams, and set them loose on the world. No matter how you choose to build your team, be sure to communicate clearly and be collaborative in the process.
Knowing what to say and how to present your brand to your target customers is all part of great branding. This is not only how you represent your brand to your audience, but also in relation to other brands.
Due to brand relativity, it’s important to analyze your competition by taking a critical look at every aspect of the brand from logo design and tagline to brand voice and visual identity. Analyzing competitors like this allows you to develop a brand roadmap—seeing where you might duplicate their successes and where brand opportunities might be. Odds are you’ll be surprised by the similarities of competitor brands and notice an opportunity to stand out.
In the example above, how distinguishable are the crests from one another? Maybe a competitor analysis like this simple logo exercise would identify a theme as well as an opportunity to stand out.
It’s the challenge of every business to identify who it is as well as who it is speaking to—these are usually different. While your target demographic shouldn’t dictate your brand completely (that’s why we argue it’s a Brand Identity, because it is your identity, too), it should take their perceptions and expectations into account. To truly test a rebrand, make sure it resonates with people—you and your audience alike.
The best way to put yourself in the shoes of your audience is to develop a few personas. Personas help you visualize your ideal customer and then to think like them. With a few persona’s at your disposal, a brand can target and speak to exactly who it wants in a tone that they want to hear it in.
Every good rebrand is backed by good research. The more you know about yourself, your competition, and your audience, the better your brand strategy and creative approach will be in the rebranding process. Before starting the rebranding process, make sure you have an understanding of what’s working, what’s not, what you’d like to grow into, and where you’d like to go. Understanding these current states preface every great rebrand and ultimately fuels the project.
Once you’ve done a brand audit, there will oftentimes be areas that need more help than others that seem easy to fix. Don’t. Fixing these is like bailing water from a leaking ship—one that stands to be rebuilt anyways! Your brand is a complex ecosystem that is dependent on multiple factors built up over time, not just a tagline or business cards on their own.
Note that strong brands are crafted with thought and intention and that all the elements rely on one another like an intricate web. Many of the anchors of that web need to be set before intertwining them. So continue to complete this guide in order for the best rebrand results.
Your Brand Core is an articulation of who your brand is. Just like the layers of the earth, there are core principles at the center of your brand to start with. They comprise of:
These core elements influence every aspect of your brand—they’re at the core. Thus, you need to have each of these clearly documented and easily accessible to you and everyone in your organization. You may be currently saying these things, or have them down in a few sticky notes around the office, but it’s worth putting them down in a formal place. This is also the time, during a rebrand process, to make sure your Brand Core is still relevant and update anything that might have changed.
It might seem obvious, but making your Brand Core transparent helps everyone who encounters your brand from your designer to your accountants and CMO. Clear, concise documentation of your Brand Core plus the timeline and budget for your rebrand is incredibly helpful. Make sure your project manager keeps track of these documents, keeps research organized, and everything stored in an easy-to-access place.
Your brand is built of more than just a logo. The logo, colors, typography, and other visual assets are all just an extension of the message you want to convey. That means it’s important to articulate your brand messaging first, including things like:
These messaging elements help you to clearly communicate aspects of your brand that might have grown stale over the years. Your goal in rebranding is to create messaging that is consistent and aligned with your new brand identity. This is the toolkit you, your employees, and your fans need to be able to talk about your brand.
A brand’s visual identity is usually the thing that comes to mind when thinking about a brand or rebrand. While that’s something we love too (and are experts at), the visual identity is simply a reflection of who and what your brand is, which is why we focus on those aspects first. With a strong enough mission, vision, writing tone, value proposition, etc. your visual identity can soar to heights other brands can’t.
The visual identity is the facade of a brand, so it should represent you powerfully and consistently at every touchpoint. In order to do so effectively, you need a visual identity that has these qualities:
With that comes a laundry list of items that may need updating. Be sure to cover these items when revamping your visual identity:
It’s important to consider each of these elements from the beginning. Too often, when businesses don’t bring in an expert, brand identities only consider a few aspects and when it comes time to expand and grow, the elements no longer function. Make sure to rebrand from the top down, but also from now into the future.
There’s no such thing as a team that can read minds—think of your brand guidelines as clear communication. With every new rollout, there will be aspects that need to be implemented by other people, whether a website admin, a co-packer, or a manufacturer. By creating brand guidelines you empower everyone on your team to apply your new brand correctly by presenting it all—your Brand Core, messaging, and visual identity—in concise guidelines.
The best brand guidelines outline comprehensive and easy-to-understand directions as well as real-world examples of what to and not to do. Updated guidelines should be made accessible to every content creator on your team. It’s also useful to designate a point of contact for when people inevitably have questions.
Completing a rebrand is a huge milestone in better communicating your brand, your vision, your mission, and what you add to the world. Unfortunately, it’s not the last step. When launching a new brand, steps like briefing your team, announcing it to the press, and releasing new content all come with their own trials. The better prepared you are, the easier time you’ll have and the more successful launch you’ll achieve.
How to do it: Try these tips to launch your rebrand.
You’re probably not the only one feeling stressed during a rebrand process—you can do it, get through it, and see incredible results from the effort. It’s important to support your team during the process and in turn, they will support you. People are always more proud of something they’ve had a hand in making, even if it’s just a suggestion or sneak peek.
Supporting your team is vital to usher your brand into the future, but it doesn’t stop on the publish date. That’s only the beginning. Now you have an opportunity to help your team bring your brand to life in every way possible.
If you’re feeling stuck at any stage of the rebranding process (or aren’t sure how to proceed), don’t be discouraged. Hit us up for an extra set of hands and a pair of expert eyes. We’d love to help you nail your rebrand in any capacity.