Is it Time to Rebrand? What to Expect from a Rebranding Process
by Deb Harrsch
How do you know if you should rebrand your company – or whether it’s time to refresh your brand? Rebranding your company isn’t something you do simply because you’re bored with your current look. While I know that can happen, a brand refresh (or an entire rebrand) should only occur when you ask yourself the following questions and the answers are no.
- When you look at your brand, does it represent who you are?
- Is your brand consistent across all divisions and regions, as well as marketing collateral?
- Does your brand deliver on the value and vision that you have for the company right now?
The reasons behind starting a brand refresh or rebrand process all come down to this: your company has changed. You aren’t who you were when your current brand was developed.
Maybe you’ve grown, adding new divisions along with products or services far beyond what you used to offer, or maybe as you look around at all of your communications properties you found that every department or division has been doing their own thing – creating chaos and inconsistency across assets and digital platforms.
If any of these have you saying, “Yes, that’s us.” Well then, it is likely time for either a brand refresh or a full rebrand that will take your company into the future.
Consider Pfizer’s recent rebrand, for example. The former blue pill-shaped oval representing the medications they have made for 171 years has been transformed into a fresh new logo representing the new vision for the future of the company.
What Drives a Company Rebrand?
I’ve seen companies do brand refreshes without a major need to do so. To me, that is a waste of your budget. This is why the people inside your company are so important. You can be with a company for many years and not realize that a change is even needed until everyone gets in a room (virtually these days, of course!) and starts talking.
Because it starts with the company’s vision for the future, leadership needs to drive the process. They are responsible for executing on the vision and mission of the company. It’s critical to have everyone involved, and that means the entire C-suite. The CEO, CFO, COO, CMO, sales and anyone who interacts with your customers – because it all comes down to your customer. They should be at the forefront of your mind throughout your branding exercise.
Before the creative process can start, however, you’ll need to go through a strategy-setting exercise in which you’ll answer two overarching questions and develop the key information needed for your graphic design team.
You’ll first answer:
- Who are we?
- What do we want to be in our market?
From those answers, you’ll develop your company’s:
- Mission statement
- Vision statement
- Core attributes
The Rebrand Working Group
When it’s time to get the rebrand process rolling, the same critical players at the table for the strategy-setting will be back in the room. Everyone who will be involved in the sign-off of the new brand must be engaged from the start.
What do you suppose would happen if the CEO, CFO, COO and sales and marketing all need to approve the new branding, but the CEO wasn’t engaged from the start and throughout the process? What if the CEO was only presented with the final versions of the creative work then turned around and said, “Oh no, this isn’t right for us at all?” I’m fairly certain you can imagine the turmoil, wasted time, and resulting budget overruns to redo the work!
None of the C-suite needs to manage the project. A rebranding project is typically managed internally by marketing, but involves key players from every critical part of the company.
What Should You Expect from the Rebrand Process?
It can be challenging to grasp the full scope of a rebranding creative process. There is significant upfront work which involves understanding the company’s customers and goals, in addition to the visual work.
To the creative team, the input of every individual in your working group is incredibly valuable. All of our work is developed using the mission, vision, core attributes, and values. For instance, if innovation is identified as a number-one priority, then that will be worked into the visual and brand delivery – but creative needs to know that innovation truly is the number-one priority and that everyone agrees with that assessment at the very beginning of the process.
The development of the visual aspects of the creative brand platform is an iterative process. Typically, creative presents two to three distinct visual directions for the client. We always want to ensure that what we present can be utilized across all the company’s different communications platforms, both print and online.
We’ll pull together all the different components of a brand platform, including a color palette, typography, imagery and photography styles, icon styles, an overall look and feel, and tone and mood to set the foundation for all those different elements.
Then we typically apply all of those elements to a couple of select marketing tools to show proof of concept. Most of the time we’ll choose tools that are print-based, digital-based, and social media-based so that the client can clearly see how each visual concept would look in use. We find it’s easier for clients this way and they are able to say, “Oh, so this is what my business card would look like if we use this palette of choices. This is what my website’s home page would look like if we used this brand platform.”
We do all of this in two or three very different, distinct directions and give the client the ability to “try” things out and see a broad range of the options in action. Then the client will select one of those directions, and creative will go through the necessary refinement until we get brand platform approval.
We always deliver “the logo house.” This includes the logo and the tagline in all of the different files and formats for both print and online use. At the end of the process, the client always has that as an asset.
Creative works in tandem with the content writer so that what is being developed visually resonates with the messaging. We always conduct internal reviews before presenting any work to ensure that it aligns with strategy and we’re showing our best work.
Every client is different – some can be very definitive in their review process, while others need more back-and-forth. Moving each client to a brand that fits them now and for the future is what is most important.
What Timeline Should You Assign to a Rebrand Project?
As you plan for a rebrand you’ll need to factor in time for roll-out. A complete creative brand platform development process could range between 12 and 20 weeks (3-6 months), while a smaller brand refresh could be done in about 4-6 weeks. Much of the timeline will depend on your working group and how quickly and clearly feedback is provided to the creative team.
Next month we’ll explore the difference between a brand refresh and a complete rebranding effort and share stories of two we’ve recently completed.
Ready to rebrand or need a brand refresh? It can be difficult to do the entire process in-house. An outside agency can provide a valuable outside perspective, as well as proven strategy and creative processes to guide you through the project. Give us a call if you’d like to explore how we can help.
Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, technology, and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – that want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.