In my more than 12 years of working in communications and public relations, I’ve learned that strategy and planning can make or break any business campaign—including a rebranding. I’ve witnessed the epic failures and extraordinary triumphs that can result from a company’s efforts to shift perceptions of its brand.
Some decisions to rebrand may be made reactively, on the heels of a crisis or controversy. Others are made as a proactive means to align their company’s message to fit a shifting business landscape or a contemporary audience. Whatever your reason for rebranding, it’s important to remember that change can be difficult for everyone in life, including your stakeholders and customers.
As your company sails into the winds of change, a solid, thoughtful strategy will help you reduce the risk of losing key stakeholders—or worse, losing dollars. In this two-part series, we’ll explore the essential ingredients of any rebranding journey. First, we’ll cover the three fundamental steps that will provide the ultimate launch pad for your efforts.
1. Know your audience
Before you even think about a new logo or revamped messaging, you’ll need to develop an intimate understanding of your audience. A comprehensive understanding of your audience will help you decide whether your company should pursue a rebranding at all. It will also empower you to make better decisions as you build out your overall rebranding strategy.
Demographics are just a start. You’ll also need to know how to reach your audience and identify your audience’s brand preferences. The process begins with some key questions. Who is your target audience? What do they value in a brand? Are tradition and consistency valued above all else? If so, does it make sense for your brand to move forward with a rebranding?
Once you’ve carved out a detailed analysis of your key personas, you’ll have a better understanding of how to connect with them. You’ll also identify the best social-media platforms to use to engage with them. During this process, you’ll uncover insights that create richer relationships with customers and stakeholders, making your rebranding strategy more effective.
2. Understand the risks
Here’s another huge reason why it’s essential to forge a deeper understanding of your audience: It will give you a better sense of whether your audience will accept or reject any changes your business may make.
Once people have established a great connection to your company, they’ll likely have built a connection to the components of its logo and overall branding. As you look to shift perceptions of your brand, your ultimate decision to rebrand or reposition your company should be considered and reconsidered several times over before ever making a move. It’s crucial to remember that a rebranding project shouldn’t be done for its own sake.
Although it may seem tempting to freshen up your website quickly with some vibrant new colors or to design a sharp new logo, it’s important to be strategic while making these changes. That means keeping your customers and stakeholders top-of-mind as you do so.
3. Get some help
It’s exceptionally challenging for a company to rebrand itself from within its own bubble. As you look to build out your rebranding strategy, never be afraid to ask for input from a third-party source to ensure you’re basing your strategy on unbiased data.
Seeking some outside perspective is often the most accurate way to gain a true understanding of your audience and to position your brand accordingly to fit that audience. From customer surveys to case-study analyses, third-party research can be used to gather direct feedback from your audience. This critical research will allow you to set achievable metrics and measure the overall success of your company’s rebranding efforts.
The results will paint a crystal-clear picture of the strengths and pitfalls that exist in your current branding strategy and help identify opportunities to improve. You’ll likely need help from outside experts to stick the landing.
Part two: Your next steps toward success
Your company’s brand serves as the heart and the soul of your company, and it should always be treated with great care. In part two of this series, we’ll explore three more planning strategies that will ensure the future of your brand is in good hands.