After much agonising, you’ve finally taken the pick from the design proposals you had on the table and you have a new corporate image. Congratulations! But how should you roll out your new brand so no strands are undone?
Rebrands are notoriously tricky. There are so many elements involved that it’s not an exception to occasionally see the old logo pop everywhere (presentation slides, email signatures, spreadsheets, proposals, invoices, you name it!). International rebrand operations are even more complex. That’s why you need a rebrand plan at the ready.
I’ve carried out seven rebrands in the last ten years and here are some of the things I’ve learnt the hard way. Rebranding is a bit like a military operation: all assets need to be distributed at precisely the right time and the comms cascade must run like clockwork, or things can easily snowball into major disasters.
Here are my top tips to make the international rebrand process as pain-free as possible:
1) Project manage, project manage, project manage
Brush up on your project management skills, look at the rebrand as a whole, identify deadlines and then work backwards. An Excel spreadsheet is a great place to start. Detail everything that needs to be done (including sizes and specs if necessary), when it needs to be done by and the person who is going to be responsible for each task.
Some questions to get you started:
- Which marketing assets need to be replaced and which can be binned? Remember to include physical assets, such as merchandise items and brochures, as well as digital ones, such as the company website and any PDFs.
- How about the assets used by the different departments? (You may need some help here, check out point 5). Remember, everything needs to be rebranded, from proposals to invoices.
- What needs to be changed around the building? You’ll need to include every single element, from shutters to buzzers.
- How about your online presence? Do you have the login data for all the social media profiles of the company and the assets to rebrand each one of them (now it’s probably a good time for a spring-clean).
- Do you need to contact partners, suppliers and clients to get them to replace your logo on their materials, both online and offline?
It’s worth doing things right from the start, because the more detailed the plan, the clearer – and smoother – the subsequent steps.
2) Create a centralised information hub
Make sure there’s a clearly labelled and easily accessible central point for all rebrand information (a shared folder, a Dropbox file, whatever works for you). Include the new brand assets (such as logos and templates), brand guidelines or cheat sheets, instructions (e.g. how to change the logo on phone screens or email signatures) and an FAQ document.
Spend as much time on the FAQ document as necessary and update it as needed, it will save you a lot of time in the long run. You’ll be getting lots of enquiries after the brand rollout begins and it will be invaluable to be able to reply to your colleagues quickly and effectively by redirecting them to the asset folder and the FAQ document in it.
3) Get senior management on board…
You have to make sure that you have the buy-in of all the top dogs in your organisation. I don’t just mean that they sign off of the new logo. They need to be well and truly on board with the rebrand if it is to be a success. Invite your MD or CEO to make the first announcement unveiling the new image, giving a brief overview of the rebrand process and requesting everyone’s cooperation.
Senior management will love getting the company excited about the new logo (and the exposure that goes with it) and by getting the comms out it will be clear to everyone that it’s not your little project/obsession, but something that has the backing of the big guys and hence has to be taken seriously.
4) … followed by everyone else
You must understand that, when you’re requiring your colleagues to cooperate with you on your rebrand project, you’re asking them to do something they may not think is that important on top of all their usual duties. Granted, management also wants them to, but it’s not what they’re ultimately measured against, and the risk for you is that they will push it aside to focus on what is on their to-do list.
The solution to this challenge? Make things as easy and as bearable as possible for your colleagues. Chop everything they need to do into friendly, 5-minute tasks. For example, send a daily lunchtime email with a “rebrand task of the day” in the shape of short and clear instructions (preferably in bullet point format) with the necessary links and info required to make the change you’re asking them to carry out.
5) Recruit the brand police
Ask every department to nominate a rebrand champion, ideally a motivated individual who also has a level of influence amongst its peers. Get them to take responsibility for a smooth rebrand of the departmental assets (to enforce this you’ll need the support of senior management, see point 2) above). You want them to be your eyes on the ground.
Send them daily emails, separate from the all staff ones and preferably personalised, reminding them of the tasks that still need to be rolled out in their departments. Do a more serious individual follow-up with them once every few days, for example by sending them a spreadsheet summarising what their department has accomplished and having a quick phone call on what is still pending and what they need to make it happen. You’ll need to have these guys on board, so again, make their lives as easy as possible.
6) Be grateful to the fastidious
At some point during your heavily orchestrated operation someone will point out that the default font in the fifth slide of the new PowerPoint template is half a size bigger than it ought to be. When it happens, because it will happen, breathe. Then be grateful that it’s Alice from accounts and not the CEO.
Your eagle-eyed colleagues are your best buddies. Especially if they from outside of the marketing department and haven’t seen the rebrand assets a hundred times before. This will make them much more likely than you to spot any tiny typos and mistakes. Annoying? Very. Absolutely essential to act upon it? Even more so. Congratulate them on their attention to detail, thank them for their kindness in letting you know what’s wrong and fix those assets asap.
7) Be persistent without becoming annoying
Master the fine art of being persistent without becoming a pain. You’ll need to keep tabs on the rebrand progress and gently prod your colleagues as and when needed. Be courteous, understanding and patient. Remember what we said in point 4: you’re asking them to do something on top of their other chores, so you need them on your side.
Send regular reminder emails and if necessary offer to walk any resistant individuals through whatever steps they may be finding particularly tricky. And remember to tackle like with like: having the right brand champions in place will be invaluable in this respect.
It’s ultimately your responsibility to make the rebrand happen, but you can’t do it all on your own, so ask for help. If you’re professional, thoughtful and nice (and you have the essential backing from senior management) you will manage. And with a bit of luck you’ll only come across one of the old logos once in a blue moon.
Image credit: EdgeThreeSixty TM / CC