Steps to a Successful Rebrand

COG Branding Agency in Sydney successfully carry out complex rebranding projects, on time and on budget.

So, Who will find this piece of content useful?

Anyone who manages, promotes or is responsible for the brand. If you are considering a rebrand or brand change, you are likely to realise that this will impact the whole organisation, its business and its stakeholders and will require a great deal of effort from all parties concerned. The tips and advice contained within this guide are laid out to help you assess, plan and execute a successful brand change programme on time and on budget.

COG Branding are focused on the transfer of knowledge from our skills to you our client. What you can learn from our rebranding approach is one thing the everlasting insights you’ll gain are even more valuable.

Rebranding is a complex and challenging trajectory. You’ll need to understand why you would want or need to rebrand before you start a rebrand project with COG Branding. (Or we can help here too, though we’ll get to that later).

So why rebrand anyway? There are a top 10 most common reasons to rebrand and we unpack this below.

  • 10
  • Step 1
    Your business case: what is the impact, cost and benefits?

  • 15
  • Step 2
    Brand in the boardroom: engaging the right sponsors

  • 20
  • Step 3

    Selecting the right partners and agencies and preparing a brief

  • 50
  • Step 4

    Possible rebrand scenarios: which is best?

  • 75
  • Step 5

    Preparing the implementation: planning is key

  • 95
  • Step 6

    The roll out of the new brand: what should be considered

  • 100
  • Step 7

    Maintaining a strong brand

Rebranding your brand and company identity is a complex and challenging task.

A brand should be a living, growing, morphing entity – though often they’re static dust collectors. Managing a powerful brand requires continuous attention and development. From time to time, brands need to be refreshed or revitalised; whether it is a completely new positioning, a name change, or a small adjustment to their visual identity.

An company typically changes its brand every 7 to 10 years. It may be difficult to recognise the moment your brand needs an update, however there are moments during the lifespan of an organisation that may prompt brand change. These can include: mergers, acquisitions, demergers, a new brand portfolio, a name change, or simply the fact that your brand positioning or style is not up to date. In practice, the last reason is often underestimated.

The world is changing…

Consumers are more critical of brands these days and choose ones they feel they can identify with. Social relevance and trust have become more important. If your brand lacks a clear purpose, then a rebrand could be essential. In addition to this, and with digitalisation continuing to grow at a rapid pace, artificial intelligence, voice control, the rise of 5G and VR/AR are all developments that have created a need for brands to evolve.

Ok, so it’s time to rebrand, what now?

Once the decision to change a brand has been made, where do you start? What are the first steps? What is it going to cost? How can you convince the Board to invest? And which scenario is best for your rebrand project? Our seven steps will help guide you through your rebrand project to make it a success: from preparation through to roll out and maintenance.

We live in a time of continuous change. Everything around us is changing; consumer preferences, markets, technology. This results in the need for organisations to be viable and adaptable. Continuous development will improve your position compared to your competitors, loyal customers and the right to exist.”

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In Australia the most common reasons for embarking on a rebrand project is as below.

Your business may have recently embarked upon a merger or acquisition; you may have decided to enter an international market; your portfolio may have expanded, leading to your current brand being redundant for the products and/or services your business now provides. Although there may be one specific motive, the choice to rebrand is often based on a combination of several factors. These can include:

  1. Your organisation going through a merger, acquisition or demerger.
  2. Recently undertaking a rebrand which led to conflict or the new brand being negatively affected.
  3. Your company expanding its international presence, leading to your existing brand portraying the wrong message to its future stakeholders.
  4. Your logo and corporate identity not being modern enough to meet new trends in visual appearance.
  5. The launch of a new brand positioning or brand promise.
  6. A new CEO introducing a change of strategy for the organisation.
  7. The needs of your market changing, and while your proposition has been adjusted, your brand has not.
  8. Difficulties in translating your current visual identity into digital touchpoints.
  9. Damage to your reputation with your brand receiving negative associations.
  10. The need for a more unified brand architecture to save business costs and increase operating profit.

Naturally, many more factors can lead to a need for brand change, whether they are small or large changes. Whatever the most important reason is, making the right decision requires a robust business case which includes the justification for rebranding design, the proposed business impact and all necessary investments. In addition, you will need to convince important stakeholders to invest in the change. These elements are discussed in the upcoming chapters.

“The new brand design marks the start of the new era for Volkswagen. By formulating new content and new products, the brand is undergoing a fundamental transformation towards a future with a neutral emission balance for everyone. Now is the right time to make the new attitude of our brand visible to the outside world.”

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Your business case: what is the impact, cost and benefits?

When companies consider changing something about their brand, their first impulse might be to contact a creative agency, a partner that can help create a new brand identity and a new brand name. However, it is wise to take a step back and to begin with outlining what the business impact of such a change will be, how much it is likely to cost and importantly, what are the short and long-term benefits?

Our advice is to start by drafting a business case for your rebrand and to draw up a well-substantiated budget application. Your business case is an excellent tool for pitching your plans to your most important stakeholders: the Board or management of your organisation. A rebrand can have a major impact on the organisation and its business results. This is why rebranding is first and foremost a strategic decision, not a creative choice based solely on creative sentiment.

What is my brand worth and what is the impact of a brand change?

One of the first questions that arises when creating a business case for a rebrand is, ‘What is my brand worth?’. This is often difficult to determine as it doesn’t only mean financial value, but also commercial value. The relevance of brand (an intangible business asset) is often underestimated, but research shows that a brand accounts for, on average, 19% of the market value of an organisation.

It is crucial to have a good view on how your brand value has built up over the years, especially when you are considering a rebrand exercise.

Strong brand awareness and an emotional brand preference can have a large, positive impact on business results and on internal brand value. Some employees may work for many years in your business and yet identify with a former brand. Estimate the positive impact a rebrand can have on business results. It could be an improved reputation, a more appealing digital appearance, or an elevated position when compared to your competition.

What are the costs and what are the possible savings?

An important part of your business case is the operational impact and associated costs of a possible brand change. Both will depend on the project scope, degree of change, certain legal factors and the required speed of implementation. Unfortunately, many companies consider the possible implications too far down the line in the rebrand process. Because of this, many rebrand programmes often slip in terms of budget and planning. The costs for brand strategy and design are considered, but the costs for the implementation are underestimated.

1. Outline the scope of the rebrand

To make accurate estimations, you will need a view on the scope and size of your possible rebrand. Does the project just involve a change of logo, or is a completely new rebrand required? How many branded items does your organisation have? What are the costs (expressed both financially and in terms of time/resources) for changing these brand touchpoints? Which change scenario is best for you? Are there any specific legal factors which need to be considered that could mean an increase in costs; any brand registrations, licenses or legal documentation updates?

2. Required resources

A rebrand is a complex and time-intensive project that cannot be completed in tandem with normal business as usual tasks. To undertake such a programme, you will need a dedicated project team, consisting of people within your organisation and support from external agencies. Most organisations do not possess enough knowledge on brand strategy, design and the development of brand touchpoints across the business. In addition, it is wise to hire brand consultants and specialist project managers to help guide you through what is a complex implementation process; to map out all the resources you need, internally as well as externally, and create a complete estimation of necessary resource costs.

3. The opportunities for savings

Often organisations are unaware that a rebrand can actually save money in the future. A rebrand can create an opportunity to do things more efficiently, cheaply and sustainably. A rebrand allows you to look at all your brand touchpoints and to question whether you still need all your existing branded assets, or to choose a smarter colour palette that saves costs. Often a rebrand is used to further digitise an organisation and to implement more efficient and sustainable mechanisms. There are also internal efficiencies: it may be possible to rebrand at the same time as running an internal initiative or project. In short, think upfront about the opportunities a rebrand can open up and do not forget to apply these to your business case.

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Answers These Questions Before You Rebrand as It’s You Business Case

  1. What problem are you trying to solve? Start your business case with a clear overview of that goal.
  2. What has changed in the organisation that means a rebrand is required?
  3. What is the timeline of the project? When it will start, end and important milestones?
  4. What are the most important reasons to rebrand and why is now the best time?
  5. What are the risks of maintaining your current brand if you decide not to rebrand?
  6. Are there factors that limit the performance or growth of your brand?
  7. Does the project align with any other internal initiatives or projects and how can these projects support each other?
  8. What do you expect from the rebrand project and when will it be completed?
  9. Which resources are needed for the project: internally, agencies, suppliers, and what is the budget?
  10. What are the overall benefits from a rebrand project? (Be as concrete as possible, incorporating predicted business results)
  11. Are there any optimisations or cost savings that can be achieved through a rebrand?

A Key Element Is To Get The Right People Onboard With The Rebrand Project

Rebrand projects that fail are often unsuccessful because they don’t receive the backing of people who sit at the top of the organisation, or because important stakeholders, such as the CEO and other Board members, do not fully support the brand change.

What do all strong brands have in common?

A successful rebrand starts at the top. An inspiring leader who promotes the brand in everything he or she is does, encouraging employees to do the same. Building a strong brand begins at the top of an organisation. The most successful companies take brand as a starting point for all actions and regard the brand as a means to distinguish themselves from their competition. The Board is invested in the brand and it is strongly linked to the strategy of the organisation (this is known as ‘Brand 3.0’.).

Only when the top layers of an organisation are promoting the brand does a rebrand project have a chance of succeeding.

“A strong brand starts with support at the top of an organisation. If the CEO or other important stakeholders on the Board do not see the importance of the brand, you start with a backlog. The top management layer is very important and must believe in the brand. They directly communicate the importance of the brand to employees.”

There Is A Strategy To Ensure Your Companies Brand Is In The Spotlight

Convince the Board of the value of the brand. Show that the brand and its value are important engines for growth. Demonstrate the importance of a strong brand by providing insight into the value the brand represents.

Illustrate how your brand is performing on a regular basis. Utilise a Brand Dashboard containing your most important brand KPIs. The Board expects hard data, especially when it is necessary to invest in the brand.

To inspire and motivate an organisation, it is recommended that at least one of the Board members has brand as part of their portfolio, acts accordingly, and plays an active role in communicating and promoting the brand (internally, as well as externally).

If your CEO is not the right person to inspire employees in promoting the brand, then look to other important stakeholders at the top; for example, the CMO or CCO.

Involve the entire organisation in the brand and seek collaboration with departments that work directly with the brand (marketing, communications, facilities, IT, HR and UX etc.). The managers of these departments, in particular, have an important task: if they do not recognise the importance of the brand, neither will their employees.

To prevent the brand from being seen as the property of the marketing and communications departments, it is sometimes better not to use the word ‘brand’. Words such as ‘purpose’, ‘identity’, ‘mission’, or ‘DNA’ generally are better as a starting point for initiatives.

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When Rebranding It Is Imperative To Align With The Right Branding Agency and Brand Strategists.

You may have convinced the Board about the importance of a brand change, but undoubtably multiple concerns will have now come to mind. What if the new brand is not well received? What if you cannot stick to the plan – or even worse – the budget? A rebrand carries many potential risks with it. The fact that most CCOs, CMOs and Brand Managers go through a rebrand only once or twice during their careers and have little experience with this type of challenging project, is not ideal. For this reason, it is wise to select the right partners and suppliers to galvanise your project with relevant expertise and to guide you through the process; from strategy and creation, through to the actual implementation of the new brand.

The Low Down On Rebranding Partnerships – select from a pitch or from a a personality match

To avoid risks in terms of planning and budget, and to limit the commercial risks as much as possible, choose an experienced partner who will guide and take on the workload during the rebrand process: from mapping the impact, determining the strategy and selecting the right partners and suppliers, to the actual roll out of the new brand – bringing in the right people to help will pay dividends. It may seem like a costly exercise, but it is often an investment that brings many benefits. Not only do you limit the risks, but with the right advice you can also save money by making smart choices in design, planning, and roll out.

In addition to parties that can help you determine the strategy, positioning and the actual implementation and planning of the roll out of the new brand, you will need a creative agency to design your new brand identity. Creative agencies come in many shapes and sizes. But how do you find the best partners to work with? There are different strategies for selecting the right branding agency.

Selection based on a pitch

This widely-used method involves having agencies pitch their creative proposals, for strategy and positioning as well as design. The befit here is that you receive multiple proposals (often for no or minimal costs) that give the impression of choice and a carry a smaller risk of being disappointed by one particular agency. Though the bad thing about this is the brand strategy/corporate identity is created in a short space of time with minimal preparation. There has been little invested in the client/supplier relationship, internally, you can quickly get caught up in a subjective aesthetic discussion, certainly when there is no strict strategic briefing underlying the design.

Selection based on personal match

You can also select agencies without a pitch or creative proposal. Instead, you enter into dialogue with various parties and base your choice on the agency’s strategic vision, personal compatibility, experience and portfolio. The good thing here is that this method makes sure you focus on achieving a good match between client and supplier. The chance of a good, collaborative relationship over the long-term is more likely – a major advantage in the intensive and challenging design process that you enter with a branding agency. There is more space for the exploration phase and preliminary research. Though just like in The Pitch method, the negative is that you get an early idea of what your visual style will look like during the selection process: the (first) proposals from your selected agency may not immediately meet your expectations.

So how do you choose the right Sydney branding agency?

If you’re looking for a guide on choosing the best Sydney branding agency you’ve found it!
Though seriously – initially you need to identify what you are seeking do you require a small creative cottage business, or a solid design engine that always delivers on time, or a strategic party that can also translate and shape the principles of your brand? Create a clear overview of the criteria that you set for an agency: This can be based on experience, method, and/or personality. Draw up your longlist and shortlist based on these criteria. Whatever selection method you choose, invest in getting to know each other as a client and a supplier. A good match in personality and ways of working is essential. Pay close attention to the digital experience of an agency. Some agencies still lack a ‘digital-first’ approach, even though this is an extremely important skillset. Not familiar with strategy or design agencies? An independent intermediary who knows the market can advise you on the right choice for both your long and shortlists.

The brief you submit to a Sydney Brand and Marketing Agency should include elements of the below.

  • The background and heritage of your business: how your organisation originated and why.
  • The current business, brand and marketing strategy, such as the purpose or the ultimate long-term goal of your company and the way in which the brand contributes to this.
  • A description of your organisational culture.
  • Aesthetic, communicative, technical, practical and legal requirements for the new brand.
  • Business agreements, such as the intellectual property of the corporate identity.
  • Other aims and expectations for your new brand.

There are numerous scenarios in a rebranding project. You need to understand what is the most efficient, effective and most likely from your Sydney brand agency.

Now that you have selected the right agencies for strategy and design, you need to think about the practical implementation of your rebrand before your begin creating your new brand identity. During the previous steps, you will have mapped out your rebrand, your aims and requirements, available budgets and the impact on the organisation. Next, it’s time to look at your choice of rebrand scenarios.

Here are a number of possible options:

  1. Gradual Evolution: Efficient replacement of branded items, utilising natural replacement cycles or when recreating/reordering assets.
    – Low costs for the replacement of brand touchpoints
    – Minimum burden for the brand team
    – Minimum impact on the business
    – Minimum exposure of your new brand
    – Greater risk of brand confusion in the market.
  2. Tactical: Tackle the rebrand of branded assets in a smart way, looking for the right balance between good visibility of your new brand and its cost to implement.
    – Good brand exposure by changing brand touchpoints that have the highest priority and/or can be adjusted easily for a low cost.
    – Saving spend through the use of natural replacement cycles for branded assets that have a long-term impact.
    – Average burden for the brand team.
    – Average impact on the organisation.
  3. Blast: The maximum number of branded items rebranded in the shortest possible timeframe, enabling your new brand to be launched as quickly as possible. Other brand assets are converted following your launch date.
    – Maximum exposure of your new brand.
    – The chance of brand confusion in the market is as low as possible.
    – Higher costs because natural replacement cycles are rarely utilised.
    – High burden for the brand team – High impact on the organisation.

Your Rebranding Project Is Like No Other

Which approach is most suitable for you depends on your type of organisation, the level of ambition, scale and potential impact of your brand change, and of course your available budget. Scenario 1 (Gradual Evolution) typically works best with a small brand change with minimal adjustments to typography and colour use. However, when dealing with a repositioning or a completely new visual identity, Scenarios 2 (Tactical) or 3 (Blast) are often more suitable to maximise a project’s success.

So Far, There Is A Bit To A Rebrand Right?

In doubt about the best scenario for you? As already established, the choice of rebrand scenario is dependent on many factors, so there is no easy method or formula which determines the best scenario most suitable for your situation. If you are unsure about your best approach, then our experts can help you assess your options.

Need a Rebrand? Drop Us A Email Below

Planning is a key starting point in any rebranding project.

Once you have opted for your scenario, you may think it’s time to get started on your brand change programme, but independently of the scenario you choose, it is imperative you are able to translate your scenario into a comprehensive implementation plan for your new or refreshed brand. Our experience shows that good brand planning with insights into work processes, responsibilities and timelines is crucial for a smooth rebrand.

Ask yourself which branded assets need to be converted, and when? What are the important milestones in the project? What are the project milestone dependencies? How do you collaborate and who is responsible for which area? When are you going to communicate your rebrand to your organisation and to the outside world? These are all examples of questions you should be able to answer in a practical implementation plan that supports your preferred scenario throughout the rebrand project.

Choosing the right project approach It’s a given that a rebrand requires good project management. Choosing the right approach here is an important step to complete before creating your plan:

Waterfall method

The Waterfall method is a more traditional approach that has recently fallen out of popularity. According to this method, project activities are split into linear successive phases. Each phase is dependent on the result of the previous one. The approach is well-arranged and clear, though it offers little room for progressive insight. And when one phase delays, the timing schedule of the whole project is shifted

Agile approach

A more modern and flexible approach is the Agile method. This approach assumes adaptive planning and project progress based on short sprints. Cleverly composed teams often work together on different parts of the project. This method is flexible and viable it allows room for progressive insight and adjustment. Though working Agile is not an easy process. It isn’t a good choice if it goes against the nature of the organisation, a project manager who is familiar with Agile principles is required.

Internal project organisation

Regardless of the approach you choose (Waterfall, Agile, or a combination of the two), a well considered project organisation is a must. In practice, there can be a lack of clarity about project responsibilities, which often causes the right people to be in the wrong place during a rebrand project. This, combined with a lack of capacity, can be a great risk to corporations as they often tend to believe the communications or marketing department can execute the rebrand in addition to business as usual activities. However, this is frequently assumed at the expense of current business tasks because during a rebrand regular daily tasks must continue. The time and resources you need from other departments must also be carefully planned and coordinated. Think of UX, IT, HR, Facility Management, and Purchasing etc. Check with the various departments to uncover the level of help they will need to rebrand their particular brand expressions. To get a rebrand right, you can introduce a brand steering group that includes managers from different disciplines and departments and at least one person from more senior management. For a practical implementation of the new or refreshed brand identity, set up a brand project team of internal employees and external specialists. It is important that everyone understand their role and responsibilities.

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Housekeeping – You Can’t Squander The Effort!

Your rebrand project is complete; all brand touchpoints have been converted and people are getting used to the new brand. You are now free to continue your daily routine and the brand can be left alone to flourish. Unfortunately though, the work doesn’t end here. The best time to focus on your brand is immediately following a rebrand. The rebrand has put brand on the agenda for the Board, so they will want to hear how it is performing and your employees are more involved than ever. It could be a waste to let this attention fade. Brand aftercare is often put to one side, but for a strong brand – both now and in the future – you should to pay even more attention to your internal brand organisation and further development of your brand because well-organised brands perform better.

Optimise your brand based on insights Insights into the value of your brand and how various channels and brand assets contribute to your total brand performance are key metrics to measure to allow for continuous optimisation of your brand. There is no ‘holy grail’ in the field of brand metrics. Which metrics best represent your brand performance depends on your organisation, the business’ objectives and the brand strategy that has been implemented. Frequently, different metrics from different sources are combined for a more comprehensive indication of how your brand is performing, for example, your social platforms, ERP, CRM, and financial systems.

“Unfortunately, no standard KPIs are available for measuring brand performance that are the same for every organisation. In recent years, much has become possible in the field of data analysis and this also offers the possibilities to make brand performance better. It is key for your organisation to look for the relevant brand metrics with which you as a brand can grow and gain competitive advantage.”

Think of something creative for the onboarding of new employees. You can always ‘tell’ people about your brand, but it is better to let them ‘experience’ the brand. Have you ever considered an online game or an escape room?

Once You’ve Rebranded – Exceptional Brand Management Can Be Achieved Via These Tips

From brand governance to brand collaboration Release fixed structures. Do not think in terms of separate functions and specialties but think in a broader sense; work collaboratively on the brand so that it flows through the veins of the organisation, at every level.

Keep your brand steering group active Maintain the activities of your brand steering group, with managers from all relevant departments meeting regularly to further enhance your brand.

Encourage brand coherence, instead of enforcing consistency Strict guidelines are a thing of the past. Brands are adopting a more flexible application approach for their brand, one which creates a clear brand experience between all online and offline brand touchpoints.

Define future responsibilities Who is to be continually responsible for a defined area of the brand, internally and externally?

Appoint brand ambassadors throughout the organisation As the guidelines for your brand are less detailed, you will find that you may have to test whether all brand expressions convey the correct message. Therefore, within the organisation, assigning designated ‘brand ambassadors’ who are well trained and able to monitor the brand’s application across various departments, will pay dividends.

Perform a regular brand audit It is also wise to conduct a brand audit on a regular basis and certainly in the period following a rebrand. Collect the brand expressions that have been created through the organisation over a certain period and test whether the visual identity has been applied correctly and that the brand is being promoted in the right way.

Use the right tools With brand portals and template management systems you are able to make it as easy as possible for employees to work with your brand in the right way, ensuring they can locate all the files and information they need, first time.

Make the brand part of the onboarding process How do you introduce new employees to the brand? For good internal brand management, good collaboration with HR and training teams is important. How you can attract people who fit in with your brand values and how can brand become part of your employee onboarding programme?

These technological advancements have an impact on brand in our modern age.

Keep innovating for a future-proof brand, it extends far beyond just basic digital marketing. The world is changing fast: new technologies are introduced at lightning speeds, shifting the customer journey. Consumers are becoming more critical and expect speed, convenience and simplicity. To be ready for the future, your brand needs to keep evolving. New developments offer opportunities, but also challenges. It is clear that organisations need to act fast: doing nothing can cause a loss of brand value.

The rise of 5G: Unlimited data and extreme connection speeds mean unlimited content, tailored to the user and even higher demands on UX and brand experience

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) The advent of AI and ML has allowed customers to be better and intuitively served with product and brand suggestions via their devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) The mutual connection between devices has a direct impact on brand experience. IoT is leading the way here.

Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR) Digital realities offer customers and prospects new, creative and multisensory ways to experience products, services and brands.

Voice-controlled devices: voice marketing/branding Voice control has become much more common in recent years (Alexa, Google Home etc.). What does this mean for your SEO strategy, the importance of your user interface and your brand voice?

Rebranding Session

Is rebranding on your companies agenda?
Request a Rebranding Session, no obligation.
In this session we aim to discuss the reasons for the change and look to identity the best course of action.

In the session we look at:

  • How to approach your project in a business-like way: impact analysis, business case, risk inventory
  • Which implementation scenarios are available to you and which best suits your organisation and ambitions
  • Best practices and ways to save costs and gain efficiency benefits through the rebranding process

We will also discuss the specific brand issues of your organisation and aim to inspire you with case studies from similar businesses.

Start a branding agency partnership with a proven and skilled marketing company.

Phone COG Branding Today (02) 9523 6007

Email Welcome@COGbranding.com.au

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