Hunter's guide to… managing a rebrand in a fast-growth business
Is the time even right for a rebrand?
Before you launch into a rebrand, it’s worth asking the question whether the time is right to do so. Will a rebrand tackle all business headwinds or will it just gloss over the problems? What are your customers saying about your product and experience? If there are more urgent priorities within the business, it could be worth focussing on them first or thinking of a rebrand as a purely strategic process until all the hard things are resolved.
Not just a rebrand, an opportunity for a complete business reboot
A rebranding process can redefine the whole culture and values of a company. It’s an ideal moment for leadership to take stock and ask the tough operational questions. So, question whether the process can be part of a company-wide reboot plan to fix all known issues with a product or service so it matches the shiny new brand at the other end. This can be hugely galvanising and reduce friction for rolling out a rebrand as the whole business rallies around a date to take things to the next level.
Can a CEO lead a rebrand?
If you’re the founder or CEO, ask whether you have the marketing skills and objectivity to manage a rebrand. Will you genuinely relinquish the old to allow something new and unexpected? Do you even have time to do this? Do you need someone new on the team to manage the process so you’re not distracted from your leadership role?
Who are the internal stakeholders?
If you’re a marketing lead, start at the top and get buy-in for a rebrand from the C-suite, investors and board. Explain clearly the reasons for the rebrand and the timelines, costs and implications. But most importantly, explain the outcome and opportunities. What is in it for them? A branding process goes way beyond the year’s P&L. Brand equity is the perceived magic that motivates employees and customers. Paint a picture of the future brand value.
Share early and secure the resources you need for the roll out
The rebranding process will run more smoothly if you invest time in engaging stakeholders across the business. Think about the impact of rolling out a rebrand and the costs plus time required from the whole team. The more and earlier you share, the easier it will be to build a smooth runway for your new brand. Teams love to say, “we didn’t know about this project” so make sure they do. Seed the excitement of the initiative far and wide. What you’re doing IS exciting!
Who gets a say on the rebrand and when?
Be clear with your stakeholders on when they will see progress and what influence they will have on the process. Be strategic with how and when you share development. Big controlling personalities in your C-suite or board are worth over-investing in early on, but not given the permission to dictate the whole process. Deliver them a strong recommendation that plays back to the ambitions expressed in their early engagement.
What stays, what goes?
Workshop a list of any parts of the brand as it stands which are an asset. And draw up another list of any parts of the brand which are a liability. In doing so, you can create a working list of components that either stay or go. Some things may fall somewhere in between. A logo for instance may be viewed as neither an asset or liability. You may begin a process by saying, ‘we may or may not change the logo’.
Taking an internal creative team on the journey
Internal creative teams live and breathe the brand every day, so ensuring their buy-in is crucial to the success of the roll-out. If you have a creative team leader, they should obviously be a key consult on selecting any external branding agency and feeding back during the creative development process. Creative people love to challenge each other. Will there be a bit of friction? Probably. Will it be worth it? Definitely.
Road testing the branding as you go
Once the rebrand is in development, it’s worth adopting an entrepreneurial mindset by doing quick design sprints with the internal design team to road-test the emerging rebrand. In doing so, you can get feedback from the team that is less emotional and more practical… eg. do the fonts, logo and other brand assets work in the required channels? External and internal creative teams can become a blended team in these sprints, working towards the single goal of creating a new brand that everyone loves and feels invested in.
Which ever way you decide to go, these are the basic steps we follow here at Hunter.
1. Irrespective of what challenge, opportunity or problem has been outlined in the brief, we will always start with a diagnostic phase to see if what you’ve said aligns with what we discover. No creative is produced without this. We also engage the main stakeholders in the business to align business aims with brand outcomes.
2. We distill your brand’s mission, values and personality.
3. The brand identity process begins with a broad exploration of how the visual identity could express the mission/values/personality.
4. The identity is iterated towards the final deliverables.
5. The assets are then handed over for your internal team to roll out across whichever recommended channel.
A final thought on rebranding
Rebranding is hard. Bloody hard. At times in the process you may wonder whether it’s worth it at all. But once executed you’ll wonder how you ever lived with the old shabby brand. It’s all in the planning.
📸 Clients: Giovanni Pino (L) and Ellie Vaismam (R) from Sourci