We’re exploring the basics of what rebranding is in business and the high level process for how it’s done.
As a new business owner, it makes sense to jump right into the visual brand – get a logo, a color palette and fonts so you can get out there and get to marketing.
But there often comes a time, maybe one or two years later, or five to ten years later, when you realize that the brand you started with is no longer serving you or supporting your vision for the future.
Or, perhaps you’re new to the business’s marketing or communications team and you’re hitting a wall with the existing brand elements – there’s no substance to the brand, the visual identity isn’t completely built out or feels too outdated.
Regardless of the reason, the idea of ‘rebranding’ starts to circle in your mind. Quickly followed by a whole host of questions.
“How much of an investment is this going to be? Because when I think about what needs to be done, it feels like a lot.”
“I don’t even know what I’m looking for or should be looking for to even get started with the rebranding process.”
“All I know is that the logo just doesn’t feel right but I really like the colors. Does that mean I need a whole rebrand?”
All great points that are definitely worth exploring.
But first, let’s cover the basics. The what and how of rebranding a small business.
IN THIS ARTICLE
→ What does rebranding a business mean?
→ When is rebranding necessary?
→ What is the process for rebranding a business?
→ What’s typically included in a small business rebrand?
→ What’s the time commitment for rebranding a business?
What does rebranding a business mean?
Here at Witt and Company, we define brand as the perception someone has of your organization – how they think, feel and act in regards to your organization and the experience it provides.
Given this, a rebrand is intentionally changing the perception of that business – the thoughts, feelings and actions. More often than not, this is done by updating the brand’s strategy, messaging and visual identity.
When is rebranding necessary?
I think it’s most important to try and understand why the topic of a rebrand comes up in the first place. Since it’s generally a big undertaking that requires deep consideration, getting to the heart of the ‘why’ will be helpful in determining if it’s a viable option or a random idea thrown into the mix.
While this list is by no means all-encompassing, it will at least give you an idea as to why someone may consider a rebrand as their next right step.
You’re serving a new audience
Whether you’re adding to an existing market or completely pivoting, it makes sense to revisit your brand when you introduce a new market that you want to attract.
Your visual brand doesn’t accurately reflect how you want to be portrayed
This could be something as simple as the colors or fonts feeling misaligned or as complex as the entire visual identity not serving your business and its goals.
You DIY’d your brand or hired out various aspects, so it feels more duct-taped together versus cohesive and working together
When you’re just getting started, it usually makes the most sense to either DIY your visual brand or hire a designer on a site like Fiverr or 99Designs – after all, the goal is to get up and running. But there usually comes a time when piecing together the various brand elements becomes a hindrance rather than a support.
You’re changing the name of your business
A name change is a big decision and the result of said change will affect your entire brand experience.
You’re pivoting or updating the direction of your business
This could mean changing your offers or services, or perhaps you’re combining several different offers and want to bring it all under one entity. This can also be a catalyst if you’re changing from a personal brand to a business brand, or vice versa.
What is the process for rebranding a business?
Just like the definition of a brand, every brand studio, agency or professional likely has their own unique twist or system for rebranding a small business or organization – here is ours.
Phase one – brand strategy
As a strategy-first brand studio, it should come as no surprise that yes, we always, always, always start with brand strategy.
This looks like walking through steps one through four of our Brand Authority Method.
After working through the internal brand essence, positioning, message and personality, it’s at this point that we are able to determine if a new name and/or tagline is necessary.
Often, a client will have an idea of this before getting started but sometimes after going through the strategy process, it’s clear that some element within the name would be most supportive if it were updated. If this is the case (or if they know a new name is needed from the start) we then dive into the naming process, armed with all the great information from the strategy work so that the name can have meaning and substance behind it.
Phase two – visual brand identity
With the strategy in place, it’s time to bring the brand to life with a visual identity.
We’ve worked with clients who need to keep their logo structure but are okay with updating the typography or layout, clients who want to keep their main logomark but need different or new variations and clients who want to completely revamp everything.
Oftentimes, the strategy will support the next right decision in terms of what visual elements need to be updated – if a client’s desired brand personality and experience is to be fun and loud and boisterous but the visual identity features a calm, cool and reserved aesthetic, than it would make the most sense to do a complete overhaul.
Phase three – brand implementation
With the strategy and identity in place, we can move onto the fun part – implementing the new brand!
This can look like creating necessary brand collateral (think business cards, presentation templates, social media graphics, etc.), training the team on basic implementation guidelines and determining a rebrand launch strategy for communicating the new brand with your right market, stakeholders and community.
What’s typically included in a small business rebrand?
The scope and deliverables for a rebrand project can be as vast as there are brand studios who perform them and it depends on what you’re specifically looking to change.
Let’s say you’re wanting the whole shebang – a full rebrand from start to finish.
Internal brand deliverables
A comprehensive Brand Playbook that outlines all the key brand strategy takeaways. This includes things like your brand’s purpose, mission and vision, as well as your positioning statement and ideal client persona profile.
External brand deliverables
A full visual brand identity that includes a logo, logo variations, color palette, font recommendations and a custom brand pattern.
Depending on your needs, you may also walk away with supporting visual collateral like business cards, rack cards, presentation slides, social media templates or a website.
What good is a beautiful new brand if you aren’t sure how to use it?
A one-page brand style guide and a detailed brand guidelines PDF will give you all the information you and your team needs to take the visual brand and consistently communicate it with your audience.
Brand training session(s) for your team to internally share and get buy-in from team members on the ‘why’ and importance of the new brand.
A rebrand launch strategy so your community and audience can be just as excited as you are about the new look, direction and vision for your brand and business.
What’s the time commitment for rebranding a business?
Here’s that annoying answer that isn’t really helpful: The time commitment depends on the scope of the project and promised deliverables.
But, since that isn’t too supportive, here’s what to expect if you’re going to embark on the full rebranding process with WCO.
Before the project
You’ll most likely be in research mode here, so on one hand, you have the ability to spend as little or as much time as possible. On the other hand, it’s important to do the research and explore answers to questions like:
- Is there anything that we want to keep from our existing brand because it’s working well?
- What parts of the brand experience need a full overhaul?
- Is there anything that we can or want to do on our own?
- What’s our budget for a rebrand?
- Who will be involved in the process?
- What does success look like?
During the project
While the goal is to make the active project phase as seamless and ease-filled as possible, rebranding is a collaborative process so expect to be engaged throughout the timeline.
The main point of contact can expect to devote 2-5 hours per week to the rebranding process while we’re actively working through the rebrand. This looks like attending workshops, providing feedback and communicating with your team and ours.
Supporting team members can expect to devote 1-2 hours per week, depending on their level of involvement and necessary decision making.
After the project
The best time to establish good habits with the rest of the team that will be communicating on behalf of the brand is right after the new brand launches. Traditionally, the brand manager gets to decide what specific guidelines must be followed and where there is more flexibility with brand management.
I’d recommend 1-3 hours per week in those early days to ensure the brand communication is consistent and cohesive, and the brand vision is accurately represented. As the team becomes accustomed to the new guidelines, your time investment will likely decrease.
A few final thoughts
While there may be a lot of questions floating around when it comes to the possibility of a rebrand, it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or all-consuming process. Bringing in a trusted brand partner is a great way to ensure the project moves smoothly and all the necessary bases are covered.
And shameless plug, if you decide that your next right step is to get rebranding support, we’d love to collaborate with you on this journey! Simply fill out the application to get started.
All my best,
Need additional branding resources?
How to get your service-based business ready for a rebrand.
In this blog post, we cover 5 common signs you are ready to dig-in and rebrand.
The top 5 most common brand myths and misconceptions that may be holding you back.
Branding vs. marketing: see the difference and learn how they work together.
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