When I decided to rebrand my business in January of 2017, I almost immediately felt completely overwhelmed and a little sick to my stomach. I honestly couldn't really imagine how I was going to pull it off. I couldn't even wrap my head around all of the things I'd need to do, and when I pictured a to-do list in my head, it wasn't pretty.
I knew that mindset just wasn't going to do, so I did what I always do when I'm feeling overwhelmed about something: I started to make an actual to-do list to see whether or not I was stressing out over nothing.
As usual, once I sat down and really thought about what I had to do, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I started to move through the list, and, in the end, I was able to get through that list with way less stress than expected. There was definitely work involved and some late nights on my part (largely because I was doing all of the design myself), but with that list in hand, it was relatively painless.
When you start your rebrand, you'll want to address a number of general areas. I've provided an overview of each below, I've also provided a lovely and useful checklist with specific to do's at the end of this post.
First and foremost, you need to make sure that rebranding is truly necessary. (Check out my Rebrand Quiz to help make that decision.) Perhaps a refresh is all you need. Maybe your logo will still work but the graphics that support it need to be updated. Either way, no one wants to do all of the work involved with a full rebrand if they don't have to, so think about it seriously before you take this leap.
Once you've decided that rebranding is indeed what your business needs to get where you want to be, take a look at your current brand and think about why you want to chuck it. What about your brand is no longer working for your business? Are there any elements you want to keep as you move forward? What are your new brand vision, mission and values? Who is your ideal client?
Now that you've decided you definitely need a rebrand and are excited to get started, where do you begin? If you're doing what I did, which was change a ground up rebrand including business name, keep reading. If you're just changing your visual brand and keeping your original business name, you can skip a lot of things that are in this section.
Before you decide on your new name, you absolutely must make sure the url (or something close that you can live with) is available. You should also make sure that your new name isn't trademarked by some other company or in use by another company with a similar product or service. There's nothing worse than getting a cease and desist letter after you've invested in a rebrand and are starting to build a reputation under your new name!
After that, you'll need to take care of a number of other administrative tasks like registering a DBA with your Secretary of State, purchasing the domain name, getting an associated email address, getting a new signature card at your bank, and registering a trademark yourself if you want to go that route.
Brand Mood and Overall Visuals
When I say "brand visuals," I'm talking about the visual elements (or graphics) that you use to represent your brand. These include things like your logo, the colors and fonts you use, and any additional imagery you will use on your business materials.
If you're rebranding, I strongly recommend that you hire a graphic designer who has experience working with businesses like yours. In all honesty, if you still feel you can't spend the money to take this step, I'd recommend holding off on your rebrand. I don't think it's worth the effort if you can't ensure that your new brand will be a step up from what you originally had.
Because I'm assuming you will hire a designer to do this part of your rebrand, I won't go into a ton of detail, but any designer you hire should take you through a detailed branding process. Most designers have their own specific process, but it's likely that the process will look something like this:
- You communicate your brand vision, mission and values along with things like how you want people to feel when they interact with your brand, what emotions you want your visuals to evoke, what your target market is, etc. to your designer.
- Your designer will create a mood board to express the overall feeling of your new visual brand.
- She will then design your logo and submark, select colors and fonts, and determine what kind of imagery you'll use to support your logo.
- Your designer will then create a style guide for how best to use your new visual brand.
Marketing Collateral & Other Materials
Once your logo and look have been established, it's time to start applying it to your marketing materials. Ideally, you'll use the same designer for these pieces. You'll want to think carefully about everything you use to market your business.
Usually, this list will include things like:
- website and social media presence
- business card and other stationery items
- brochures, flyers, etc.
- templates (PowerPoint, enewsletter, course decks, etc.)
Updating Social Media accounts has gotten easier in recent years. There was a time when you would have had to create a completely new Facebook page if you were changing your business name, but that has changed. In fact, updating my Facebook page to my new business name was one of the easiest to do.
Thinking it might take a while, I made the request a couple of weeks before I was launching my new brand. It took about two hours, and I had to answer loads of questions about my rebrand before I was ready. Better early than late, I guess.
I'm also on Twitter and Instagram and both of those accounts were easy to change over, as well. All you have to do is change the info in your account settings or details.
Pinterest (technically a search engine and not a social media platform, but we'll lump it with social media for simplicity's sake) was a bit more difficult. Changing your business name and description is not at all hard, but redirecting all of my pins was another matter altogether.
Because I'm offering the same services as I was previously, all of my blog posts are still relevant, and I wanted them on my new blog. I was able to transfer them all over to my new site, but once I shut down my old site, all of the pins to my original blog posts would no longer have active links attached to them.
One solution was to create redirects, but I hadn't duplicated all of my blog post slugs exactly, so I was going to have to create a redirect for each individual post, and it was tricky to say the least.
"What's a slug?" you ask. In a nutshell, a slug is the part of website URLs that describes the content of the page. For instance, my site URL is braveandcodesign.com, and every page URL starts with that. What comes after it is the slug.
If you do plan to transfer all of your blog posts to a new URL, learn from my mistake and be sure to USE THE EXACT SAME SLUGS FOR YOUR BLOG POST URLS. Had I done this, I could have easily created one redirect that would have linked all pins of my old posts to the corresponding post on my new site. Instead, I had to create one for every single post, which was a giant pain in the neck!
Other Materials & Communications
You'll also want to take a look at your current business materials and think about all of the different ways you interact with your audience - clients and potential clients included. Ideally, you've got a Client Management System in place, and updating things like your questionnaires and invoices will only require updating your content and uploading a new logo. If you prefer sending pdfs directly to clients from your own email, you can have completely new designs created for these items. It just depends on how consistent and comprehensive you want your brand to be.
Last, but certainly not least comes your launch. To create some buzz around your upcoming new brand, consider creating a contest or giveaway of some sort a couple of weeks before your launch date. Then post on social media often as you lead up to your launch date. This will generate excitement and anticipation for your launch.
I'd recommend doing a soft launch a couple of days before your official launch to be sure all systems are a go. My launch date was a Monday, so I went live with my website on the Friday before and asked a couple of friends to go through it and check links to be sure all were working (I also did this myself before the soft launch, and your graphic designer should do this, too.)
Then, on the my launch date, I switched over all of my social media account names and made my announcement. Because I'm a designer, I created fun images to go with each post, and I strongly recommend doing this if you've got a budget. After all, an image is worth a thousand words, right?
After it's all said and done?
It's time to rock your new brand and take your business to the next level - that's what's next!