Once you commit to rebranding, you need to make sure you’re following a sound process. A basic methodology, used by most agencies, includes the following four phases:

  • Discovery
  • Positioning and Messaging
  • Visual Brand Expression
  • Launch

Phase 1: Discovery

You can’t do a successful rebrand without research. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, but it should provide some insights into market opportunities and competitive positioning. We like to cover all the bases whenever possible:

Internal staff: Your company’s management team and staff provide an internal perspective on your brand. This is particularly useful (and eye opening) when compared to the perceptions of external audiences.

Current customers: Interview existing customers to understand your perceived strengths and weaknesses.

Former customers: Probe former customers for weaknesses of which you’re unaware.

Prospects: Surveying prospective customers for awareness of your company versus competitors will give you a baseline to measure against.

Influencers: If you can identify influencers in your industry, such as technical analysts or bloggers, find out how they perceive your company’s strengths and weaknesses.

Competitors: Evaluate your competitors, direct and indirect, to broaden your understanding of where opportunities exist to differentiate your company and clarify your advantages. Collect brand-relevant data wherever possible, such as their logos, brand colors, taglines, key messages, key service offerings, and visual style.

Phase 2: Positioning and Messaging

Brand positioning: Develop a single paragraph that succinctly describes your unique value proposition, market positioning, and key differentiators.

Key differentiators: List the characteristics that define your company and set it apart from similar companies in the marketplace (especially your key competitors).

Messaging architecture: For each identified audience, provide individual messages, potential barriers, responses to overcome each barrier, and supporting evidence.

Phase 3: Visual Brand Expression

When people talk about branding, they usually think of logos, colors, type, and design. In this phase, that’s what is developed.

  • If you are considering a name change for a product or your company, do that first.
  • Develop your logo and tagline next.
  • Develop support materials, including stationery, brochures, PowerPoint template, sales sheets, proposal formats — until you have a full set of business tools.
  • Rebrand your website. this can be cosmetic to adhere to new visual style guidelines, or it provide an opportunity for improvements to functionality, navigation, and user experience.
  • Develop guidelines for your visual brand that govern usage, document styles, and provide visual guidelines for different media.

Phase 4: Launch

To be successful, you need to develop a detailed launch plan that takes into account internal and external brand success factors.

Internal launch. Don’t let the marketing team be the only ones who know about the new brand. Before you let the outside world into your new brand, introduce it to your entire organization. This can be as big an event as you want it to be. The idea is to get people excited about where the company is headed.

Education. Remember that your brand is much more than the new logo, signage, website, or tagline. A successful brand is supported by what the people in your company do and say. This needs to be handled with training. Even non-sales staff need to understand and be able to articulate the new brand, new positioning, and important talking points that differentiate your company from competitors.

Public Launch. Your public brand launch is a newsworthy opportunity to command attention in the marketplace. Make the most of it. Your brand rollout plan should provide a detailed timeline to announce your new brand — targeted, as appropriate, to key audiences, including prospects, customers, partners, analysts, and the media.

Rebranding Strategy Session