Conducting a rebrand is no small feat. It requires courage, commitment, and time from your organization. Do it right, or not at all.

We’ve seen our fair share of rebrand successes, and failures. The bad news is that rebranding is never a straight line — it’s a delicate process that will differ from organization to organization. The good news is, these five questions will help guide you before you embark on the branding journey.

1. Why rebrand now?

Would you take a roadtrip without planning your route first? If the answer is no, then we wouldn’t suggest starting a rebrand until you define your goals and objectives. Consider what you hope to achieve through rebranding: are you looking to reach a broader audience, enhance your visibility, or update your messaging to align with evolving trends? Often the goal is to create a more relevant and resonant brand that best aligns with your organization’s purpose and target audience. 

The ‘why’ can be influenced by external factors—perhaps the market has shifted and your organization needs to pivot to remain relevant. Or, internal factors like new leadership with a different vision for the future. In any of these cases, a rebrand can help realign to meet your current organizational goals.

2. Who will be leading your rebrand?

Every rebrand needs a champion. Typically, this person has a solid understanding of your brand’s history, organizational structure, values, and mission. It’s also important to recognize that rebranding takes time. This time intensive commitment needs a leader who is available and dedicated to advancing the process from start to finish. You may think that everyone should be involved in your rebranding process, but be strategic. It’s easy to fall into the “too many cooks in the kitchen” trap when rebranding. Input from the full team can be gathered at the beginning of the branding journey — however, making final decisions with buy-in from the whole organization is close to impossible. Have a small decision-making team, with one brand champion to steer the ship.

3. What’s the best order of operations?

Rebranding involves a lot of moving pieces. It involves a comprehensive review of your organization’s values, culture and strategy, and how they are communicated through all aspects of your brand. It’s important to take a step-by-step approach in order to reach your goals. Don’t put the cart before the horse, or try to do everything all at once. Rebranding is a process. For instance, a new website should be built after your brand guide has been established. And your brand strategy should come before you design anything. Every rebrand is different, but (roughly) we recommend following this process:

Research & Discovery → Strategy → Brand Iteration & Design → Implementation and Launch

4.  How will your organization implement the new brand?

Many smaller, grassroots organizations do not have brand managers, or even a designer on staff. Before you begin rebranding, consider what assets you will require for brand roll out. This might range from letterheads and business cards to full social media packages or a new website. Your branding agency can provide these items, but it’s important to consider and identify at the beginning of your rebrand journey.

Your internal communications department will need to establish a brand guardian. This person will manage the new brand and oversee how it’s applied across all assets in the organization. They’ll ensure the values and mission outlined are relayed in all comms materials by having an eye on any public-facing outputs. The brand guardian also identifies if there’s anything missing from the brand (branded templates, for example) or if the brand needs to be updated.

5. How will we launch this new brand?

Launching a new brand is just as important as creating it. Don’t let all your research and design go to waste — consider the goal you outlined at the start of this process and let that guide your approach to the launch. 

Hoping to reach new audiences? In that case, it would be strategic to launch your brand wherever those audiences might be found, whether it’s a social media platform or a big city borough. Based on the audiences you’re trying to reach and where you would like to reach them, consider what media they engage with the most. A launch plan can be as simple as a social post or as grand as a full fledged campaign. 

Timing matters too. Are there any important dates for your organization or the cause you champion? Examples of these could include awareness days or anniversaries. You also want to be mindful not to compete with other communications campaigns your organization has planned that may take attention away from the brand launch. 

Lastly, if your brand launch date approaches and a major media moment sweeps the internet, weigh the pros and cons of proceeding as planned or deferring to a new date. Don’t risk drawing the wrong kind of attention or alienating prospective audiences for appearing insensitive.

Thinking about a rebrand but unsure where to begin? Emdash has a talented team of creatives who work to rebrand changemakers like you!

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