Your brand is more important than ever, especially for an organization seeking to be recognized over an expanding number of marketing platforms and sales channels. Shifts in the market, mergers and acquisitions, and other company changes also drive brand updates. It’s why 75 percent of companies have undergone a rebrand since 2020.
The reasons why a business may choose to rebrand vary. Maybe it needs to evolve and shift to drive growth. Maybe the organization’s leaders want to reposition their brand within their current market, or to expand into a new space. A recent merger or acquisition might also force a company to rebrand. In this scenario, the acquired business needs to adopt the brand of the company that acquired it. This can sometimes be more challenging if rebranding takes place when employees are getting up to speed with their new organization’s brand and culture. Regardless of the reasons, the rebranding strategy needs to be developed upfront so all stakeholders can have a strong plan for success.
Formulating this strategy is only the first step in a long process. Once the financial analysis, planning, and logistics of the rebrand are complete, you will invariably need help implementing the new brand. A dedicated team can ensure quality control across multiple media in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
There are hundreds, sometimes thousands, of assets to track and update. Think pitch decks, training guides, sell sheets, marketing brochures, email templates for newsletters or executive communications, deal-announcement templates, and product or technique guides ― any assets typically owned in large quantities. A meticulous, thorough approach will be needed to ensure these assets conform to the new brand style.
Along the way, effective project management and clear communication are critical to keep your rebrand on schedule. No organization wants to outsource this work, only to be left with a ton of “homework” and other major time commitments. A thorough implementation process that keeps everything on track will include organization, prep, production, review and approval.
Know before you rebrand
When rebranding, it’s not unusual to be up against some kind of deadline for mergers and acquisitions and any associated regulations. That’s why developing and signing off on a realistic timetable is a crucial first step. Few people are qualified to plot the course for such a massive undertaking, because not many will experience one in their careers. Where to begin?
Start by taking inventory. Inventoried assets can be grouped together by audience, use case, and/or sub-brand. Once groups have been established, these assets can be further sub-grouped by type and relative similarity. A thorough review of each marketing asset is conducted to ensure assets aren’t duplicated or rendered unnecessary by updates to systems or processes.
At this critical first step, try to maximize efficiencies in scale. There are often ways to group materials that allow one set of decisions to apply to a body of work. If you dive in right away without doing the legwork first, you will lose that efficiency.
At this point you can assign each group an implementation roadmap, including timing for checkpoints and reviews. Stakeholders involved with each group should meet to review and approve your production plans, timing, and estimates.
Prepare your assets by creating a project brief for each. Be sure to include details like:
• End-use of the asset. For example, does it need to be printed or output as a pdf?
• Imagery directives/guidelines (i.e., should the assets match existing pieces?).
• Update any content that may be outdated (old images, copy, contact info, or urls).
• Additional branding information beyond what is in the brand guidelines.
Stakeholders may need to approve individual project briefs before production can begin. By this point, you will have an appreciation for the power of effective communication during the rebranding process. Working on such a large project means the client and agency will need to get on the same page quickly, be open and honest, and communicate freely. Consider the cadence of live check-ins, and which communication channels work best. If these are expected, predictable, and reliable, it’s easy to establish trust and a work rhythm to support efficiency.
Once the assets and project briefs have been approved, production can begin. Each asset and brand update must be scheduled and tracked internally. What’s the status of every piece of inventory? Where are they in the stage of updating or review, and what is coming next? What dependencies or contingencies do we need to keep our eyes on? These are the questions that should guide the production stage of the rebranding process.
For each asset group, consider a weekly status call with client stakeholders and other agency partners. Share a status-tracker document for visibility to all active and upcoming assets. Provide a written weekly progress update, identifying any risks or needs. Schedule ad-hoc meetings to address issues outside of the status calls. Keep the brand-management team on call to ensure proper interpretation and application of the brand.
It’s typical to have a lot of balls in the air at the same time. One batch of assets might be with the legal team while the design team is tackling another batch. Another batch might get sent back to the product team based on feedback. Organization is key to keep each of these balls in the air.
After all assets have been approved by the appropriate stakeholders, the rebranding agency should collect and deliver the final files exactly how and when you agreed. A few keys to keep in mind at this stage are the following:
• Digital file and folder-naming conventions should follow the approved structure
• Files should be provided based on end-use needs (e.g., print-ready .pdfs or digital .pdfs)
• Store a second copy of all files on a secure server as a backup
Once a phase of assets is completed, the same process can be used for any future phases. By now, you should be able to answer “yes” to the following questions: Is our brand ready to activate? Have we finished more than just a logo, font, and basic color palette? Have we ensured quality and consistency?
No one wants to complete a big chunk of work only to get blasted by a brand panel or legal team. Thinking through this extra step can prevent later rounds of edits or having to start over altogether.
Launching a brand is not an easy undertaking. Significant effort and resources go into rebranding. In fact, so much energy goes into this effort that many companies lose steam while building the asset-update plan. Creating a solid launch plan will ensure that the work that went into creating the new brand won’t fall flat once it hits the market.
Brian Bekins is the creative director at ddm marketing + communications, a marketing agency for highly complex and highly regulated industries.