Whether sales have slipped, workforces and customers have outgrown an existing brand, or leaders have had to pivot their propositions to remain relevant, exploring a rebrand is by no means an overnight process – or a quick-fix that doesn’t address underlying issues.

Several conversations between internal teams have to take place long before any decisions concerning a new identity are made. Each step of the way must also highlight exactly what such a project can achieve – and ensure that employees are also taken along on the journey.

It is not something to be taken lightly, nor is it simply about updating a logo either – it involves so much more than that. A rebrand requires an understanding of core values and the organization’s evolution. Additionally, there needs to be a strong argument as to why a much-needed overhaul is on the cards. Companies should firstly be asking themselves a vital question: “What is the objective?”

Having a clear outcome defining what a business wants to achieve is of paramount importance if a rebrand is to, firstly, get off the ground, and secondly, prove successful. Simply put, if the objective is not worthy of complete upheaval, then why do it?

Looking at the many vital steps that a branding project includes, an audit is likely to be the most effective starting point. Understanding exactly how an organization wants its identity to evolve – and which key elements must be addressed – should all come way before asking any creatives for quotes.

Common mistakes to avoid

There are often pitfalls that many companies fall into when it comes to rolling out a rebrand. For example, any kind of vanity project may suffer from the get-go because, not only is it effectively throwing money away, there is very little substance that differentiates the new identity. And, if a customer has seen it all before, why should they commit to a brand that delivers a benign message that fails to address their needs?

Leaders should take this opportunity to sit down with their colleagues and discuss exactly what is the perception of their business – and where it needs to be. For example, does it revolve around core values that have helped the firm provide a service unlike others? Or is there heritage that needs to be recognized and given a more contemporary feel?

Before continuing, it is important to stress that a rebrand is not necessarily a refresh. For those viewing household names, an untrained eye may think nothing has changed. However, company giants – such as Apple and McDonald’s – have made slight tweaks to their identities to maintain existing equity, and relevance, in equal measure.

Why some organizations rebrand

If a business has pivoted its proposition, there is often a real need to reach an evolved audience. As the entire globe lives through a period of change, companies are being tasked with adjusting their business model to survive. This can often lead to diversifying how they speak to existing and new customers, and how they deliver their product or service to reflect the current climate.

All this comes back to perception. Ultimately, if the identity does not match an organization’s fresh approach, then it is perhaps time to consider a rebrand.
Another new direction might occur following a company that has experienced terrible PR and damaged its reputation beyond repair. There is, admittedly, difficulty in how this should be tackled – it is no good to simply paper over cracks.

Pulling the wool over customers’ eyes – and not addressing underlying concerns authentically – does nothing for an audience who will not only lose faith but likely move on to a competitor.

The first step here would be to tackle these matters head-on, admitting that mistakes have been made but address how the firm is committed to improving practices so that errors do not happen again. A new brand identity can reflect how a company has diversified but it cannot fix broken promises – that work needs to be in place before an overhaul begins.

Diversifying to stay ahead of the curve

As businesses continue to evolve to meet ever-changing customer demands, it is possible that some organizations may have been involved in a merger. If this has happened, many pitfalls must be avoided – from focusing too much on one brand to not fully understanding the individual trials and tribulations of amalgamating two firms.

In this case, it is advisable for an effective rebrand project to adopt a more ‘stepped’ approach, so that each phase works towards an overall identity goal. This could mean featuring both companies concurrently – and eventually phasing one into the other – or taking each through their own journey and leading to an overarching picture. Honest conversations between the business and the creative must continue for a seamless process to take shape.

In conclusion, once employee buy-in is achieved, an objective is set, and a new direction understood by all, each key building block must challenge existing practices and clearly define where the organization is heading. Accomplishing these phases should help organizations – and their chosen creative partners – to roll-out an identity that embodies everything an enterprise stands for.

Cover image source: Na Urchin