Five Simple Steps to Planning a Rebrand
By Keeley Hammond written about 10 months ago
Rebranding your company can, frankly, be a terrifying process. As company owners or leaders, we have a great deal of emotional attachment to our current brand. When you alter that foundation, you enter a world of unknowns. What will our customers think? Will they stay with us? Will people still know who we are and be able to connect with us? Will we lose rankings on Google or in publications?
There are a lot of fear-baiting articles out there – so I offer this article to take some of the fear and mystery out of rebranding. It is not meant to be a comprehensive list, by any means. Rebrands are very individual and will change based on the industry and specific details of your company. But I’m hoping that this list will, at a high level, walk you through some of your largest anxieties.
I’ve also included a sample Excel sheet that I use to keep myself organized during the rebranding process. Feel free to take it and use it!
While this seems rather obvious, it’s surprising how quickly you can lose sight of your purpose in the myriad of tactics and checklists that come with a rebranding process. But coming back to that purpose – the reason that spurred you to rebrand and has your leadership excited for the future – is a key part of your new messaging.
This messaging around the purpose of your rebrand should be reflected everywhere: on the front page of your new website, in email newsletters to customers, in your press release to papers (don’t worry, we get to these in a minute). When crafting this messaging, think about three items:
- Who did you used to be, and where are you going now?: What are your customers (both current and prospective) gaining from this rebrand? What inspired you to make this big change?
- A nod to your history: It’s important to acknowledge the people and company spirit that got you to where you are today. Nodding to your history and roots will assure customers that what they loved about you isn’t going anywhere.
- What customers can expect: Get customers excited about what’s to come! Paint a picture for the future that will galvanize your employees and customers.
External Communication: Structure and Plan
Once you have clear and consistent messaging (and you’re going to be going back to this pool quite a bit during your rebranding process!), it’s time to think about who that messaging is being crafted for and how it will reach those people.
When thinking about communication, I like to divide the categories as follows:
- Customers (phone)
- Customers (email)
- Directories – online directors, phone books, organizations that promote your company
- Press and news
When creating your communication tactics, consider what each audience is going to care about most during your rebrand. For example: vendors will want to know if they will need to update their billing information. Employees will want to know when they should change over their business cards, email signatures and other more tactical items.
Customers, on the other hand, will want a more holistic picture. Why are you changing? What does this mean for me? This is why, for customers especially, I recommend several levels of communication as you go through the rebrand, even before your name changes.
SEO Presence and Web Presence
One of the largest question marks when rebranding is how a rebrand may affect your SEO status and a customer’s ability to find your website. Anytime your website changes it’s URL, you’ll experience a small short-term dip in your SEO – this is inevitable. What’s not inevitable is how long that loss is sustained and how you can begin building good SEO for your new site.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but if you want to cover the basics of maintaining your SEO rankings as you change names or domains, here are a few key things to look into:
- Google Search Console: One of the main reasons that new websites are penalized in search engine results is because of a process called “indexing.” Every new URL goes through an indexing process, where Google reads and records the content from each web page. When a company changes its URL, Google will index the page as if it is a new website. During this process, the site is placed into a “penalty box,” causing the site to not appear or appear lower on search results. Google Search Console allows you to change the name and URL for your company’s site, without forcing Google to re-index the entire site. It will also help Google reallocate all traffic and ranking from your old website to your new one.
- 301 and URL redirects: A 301 redirect is, in layman’s terms, a sort of “change of address” form for your website. For example, if a customer is searching for a person on your old website, a 301 redirect will point them toward that information on your new website without them needing to know anything about your new website.
- Structured Data Tagging: This is a bit more technical, and if you click that link and can’t make heads or tails out of the content, that’s okay. In layman’s terms, structured data tagging is adding tags to your website’s code that make it easier for Google and other search engines to understand what’s on the page and make it easier to find them via search. This is actually quite easy for a web developer to do, and the benefits from it are exponentially higher than the small amount of work involved.
Your web designer or agency will be able to walk you through more technical details as well, but these are three pieces of low-hanging fruit. Don’t be too scared about losing Google rankings! We’ve come a long way since search engines were created in the early 90’s; a good technical team will be able to keep an eye on your SEO.
When walking clients through a rebrand, we complete a “branded touchpoints exercise.” This is a vitally important step, as these are all of the small details that a future client is going to interact with when they see your new brand, and it’s easy for small things to be overlooked.
The goal of this exercise is to create a detailed checklist of all of the brand touchpoints you should consider (business cards, email signatures, coffee mugs, etc.) and being intentional about how you’re going to reproduce them.
Be Clear on Ownership
There is nothing worse than asking about an item in a meeting and realizing, with a sinking feeling in your gut, that an owner was never assigned. When handling the four points above, be very clear about both ownership of items and how those owners should communicate their progress with the team. Consider:
- What are the key deadlines and who is the owner for ensuring that they are met, even if they involve a team?
- Internal Stakeholder Communication: How often would the president like updates? How often would you like updates from your web designer?
- Budget: Who is tracking the budget and who is responsible for communicating when an item has gone over budget?
- Vendor: Be very clear with your vendors on what you expect them to complete and what you will need to complete yourself. A good agency will outline this for you.
Going through a rebrand, or thinking of rebranding, but feel like you need help? Reach us at [email protected] or give us a call at (503) 789-1338. We’ve done this a few times now, and would be happy to give you a hand!