Rebranding can be a long and arduous process. You put all that hard work into the research, definition, and creation of your brand—you don’t want all that to go to waste, do you? I didn’t think so. That’s essentially what happens when you just shove your brand out into the marketplace with nary a mind-your-hat or a see-you-later. Your brand is a living, breathing thing, and all that time you spent hunkered down crafting it is really just the foundation of what is to come.
If you want your hard work to take root and have a long, fruitful life that brings clarity of purpose and joy of concept to all who touch it, then come with me, my friend, because we are about to talk about laying the groundwork for a brand rollout.
The key to a successful brand rollout lies in two things: the planning, and the follow-up. The launch itself is really the midpoint in the journey—not the beginning or the end. If you want your organization to get behind what you’re doing, you need to incorporate them into the journey, and if you want the market to understand your brand shift, you need to facilitate a conversation. Here’s how you can make that happen.
Roll out your brand in phases
There’s a reason we call it a brand rollout and not a brand light switch. Yes, of course there are big brand launches that happen in a single day, with great fanfare and hype videos that then get torn apart in marketing blogs. However, that big reveal is not the beginning of the brand launch journey. It starts well beforehand…
...With brand ambassadors...
We’re not talking about social media influencers here. Instead, these are the people within your organization who have an intimate understanding of both why you undertook the rebrand in the first place, as well as what this new brand stands for or conveys about you that the old one didn’t. Depending on the size of your organization, you might only need a couple people aside from yourself (if you’re a small company), or it could be the internal approvers on the brand project, or a larger group of people (senior leaders, representatives from each department) that sit in key positions across the organization.
How you determine who the best ambassadors for your brand will be is up to you, but their purpose will be to advocate for the new brand (“Hey team! Isn’t this exciting?”), oversee the transition of assets internally (like making sure HR is using the new letterhead), and answer questions from those they oversee (“Why’d we need to change our logo?”).
When you’ve chosen your brand ambassadors, meet with them as a group in a meeting dedicated to explaining the rebrand process. Tell them why they’re critical to the process, and tell them that company adaptation depends on leaders getting behind the movement (which it does). After all, you can’t do it alone!
...Then the internal launch
After your brand ambassadors are on board, you can move forward with the internal launch. The purpose of the internal launch is to make sure your entire company knows the rebrand is happening before the market does (because no one likes to be blindsided) and get them excited about this new chapter. This is really, really important—your brand is a pillar of your company’s culture, and changes can really throw things off. Especially if your coworkers feel like they’ve been left out of the loop as those changes happen. You may choose to communicate over email, in an all-company meeting, or at a department or location level—the right answer here may change depending on the size of your company and the scope of your rebrand.
The key to getting employees to rally around your new message is to have that message come from a place of authority—maybe even the CEO. Even if the head of your organization wasn’t involved in the day-to-day of the rebrand (which is likely—that level of involvement is unrealistic and probably not a good use of their time, even if they’re skilled in the disciplines needed to complete a rebranding process), they’ve signed off on it and are hopefully a driving factor in this undertaking in the first place. To that end, your employees need to know that this big change has support from leadership in your organization and that message is most effective coming from the top.
An internal launch should contain:
- The announcement itself (perhaps an email signed by the CEO, a hype video, and/or a dedicated meeting)
- A way to have people’s questions answered (like an open forum, a point of contact, and/or a request form)
- Something that gets people excited (for example, free t-shirts, new business cards, and/or an all-company outing)
Make sure everyone knows when this information is going public and, again, has time to get their questions answered.
Bringing your rebrand into the wider world
At long last, it is time for the public launch of your rebrand. All of your social media profiles have updated assets and your new website is ready to go, you have new sales materials and business cards for the sales team, and new email signatures are ready to be updated throughout the organization. If you choose to bring your new brand into the world with a bang over a single day, have at it! Brand launch days are very exciting, and you can celebrate with doughnuts and really feel like all your hard work paid off.
Of course, there are also good reasons not to do that. For one, it's expensive. For another, it requires a great deal of organizational coordination. Yes, a one-day launch has more impact in the marketplace and it’s a cleaner transition for your brand, but everyone in the company needs to be prepared to support the transition at the same time. Your IT department needs to be ready for the new website at the same time that your sales team is trained on the new presentations and your customer experience team has answers to all the questions about what this new brand means. It can be hard to get all your ducks in a row all at once for an undertaking of this magnitude.
Should you choose not to introduce your new brand to the market all at once, you can undertake a phased approach. This works well for companies that are undergoing refreshes, rather than rebrands, since the new assets can co-exist alongside older assets more easily without causing a significant disconnect. It’s also great if you’re working with a limited budget, since it allows you to space out costly updates to materials—although we caution against spacing it out too much, since that can lead to brand inconsistency and a confusing marketing message.
So what does a launch look like?
The way in which your launch plays out should depend on who you are and how your market best receives information. You (and/or the agency you’ve worked with through this process) should have reviewed a checklist of assets that you’ll need for a full launch, some of them specifically focused on day one. There are plenty of things you can do to generate buzz—the more assets you release at once and the larger the network you have to share them with, the more impactful they will be. Here’s some examples of what that might look like:
- Website launch
- Social media profile update and announcement posts
- Announcement blog post (from CMO or CEO, and/or a post detailing the process of the rebrand)
- Press release to relevant local media outlets
- Share kit for your employees and clients
- Brand video
Everyone’s brand and market is different, and it can be nerve-racking to put something you’ve worked so hard on out into the world. You might expect immediate results. Be patient. Sometimes it takes a few days (or even weeks) for your message to reach the marketplace, and your brand is a long-term strategy. Results are not always clear right away. A strong brand is meant to give you a consistent message that clarifies who you are, and the market may not react to that in 48 hours.
Growing the seed you planted
So your company is in on the rebrand and supporting you as you launch your brand into the world. Success, though, yet lies ahead of you. To have a brand that’s fully adopted throughout a company and the market, your employees need to feel ownership of it and your market needs to understand your message.
It started way back at the beginning when you identified your brand ambassadors, but employee ownership and stewardship of your brand continues in little ways like making sure everyone has updated email signatures, has access to the new letterhead and presentation templates, knows what fonts to use, and knows what the company’s purpose is. If adoption of assets gets held up because of technical difficulties or adoption of brand language gets held up from a lack of understanding, that will cause a roadblock in company adoption, which slows the brand’s adoption in the market.
Market understanding of the message is reliant on that message being clear and remaining consistent over a long period of time, and it might be hard to achieve right out of the gate. When we’re working on a brand launch with a client at Element Three, we’ll often create a sheet of talking points for the sales team or other client-facing groups so that they have the same answers for common questions like why they rebranded and what customers can expect going forward. It’s important that everyone’s on the same page—or, if you prefer, that they’re all “on-brand.”
But sometimes other questions come up. Know that it’s a conversation. Go on a sales call, talk to your sales team, your marketing team, your leadership team. See what’s working and what isn’t working, and what resources you can provide to give everyone the tools they need to make your brand rollout successful.
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good
A brand launch is a big deal. And with any big deal can come hiccups and stumbles, but don’t let that deter you. With the right planning and open lines of communication you can have a successful brand launch with support from your team and receptiveness in the marketplace.
When Theresa’s not creating award-winning designs, you can probably find her either running, reading or spending her weekends traveling around. She also tells us that she can be really sarcastic at times, but we're not sure if she's kidding. Or just being sarcastic.
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