How to Rebrand a Company: The Rebranding Process Guide

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Tony Hardy

Person standing on multi-coloured block steps.

How to rebrand a company is a topic that we’re yet to cover on the Canny blog.

We’ve covered a lot of topics from brand strategy, brand identity, and even rebranding itself, through to web design, ecommerce, and marketing.

But never “how to rebrand a company” from start to finish.

The Rebranding Brief Template resource cover

The Rebranding Brief Template

How to rebrand a company is a topic that we’re yet to cover on the Canny blog. We’ve covered a lot of topics from ...

For some reason, the “step by step guide” has always been missing.

Until today.

In today’s post, we’re going to take you through rebranding a company from conducting a brand audit to redefining your target audience.

Whether you’re a Marketing Manager or Marketing Director at a new company looking to make a direct impact on their brand, or a startup looking to change your strategy or identity – then this post is for you.

Let’s get started with a simple definition.

Woman pointing at sticky notes on whiteboard in an office

What is Rebranding?

Rebranding is the process of trying to change a company’s position in the hearts and minds of its customers.

It typically involves updating the visual elements of your current branding, such as the logo, colour scheme, product packaging, and messaging.

Rebranding can be driven by various factors, such as a merger or acquisition, a change in target audience or market conditions, a need to modernise the brand, or to distance the brand from negative associations.

FYI: Sometimes a full rebrand is not the best route, and your current branding simply needs some tweaking.

We’ve got a whole post about a brand refresh vs a full rebrand so make sure you give it a read before you start this process.

Why is Rebranding Important?

Rebranding can help refresh and reinvigorate your company’s image so that you remain competitive and relevant in your market.

By creating a new identity that resonates with your target audience and aligns with your company’s current goals and values, you can engage more customers and enjoy more success.

It can also be an effective way to differentiate from your competitors, increase your brand awareness and loyalty, and attract new customers.

It’s important to note that rebranding is not just a cosmetic makeover. It serves as a strategic tool to communicate a change in direction, focus, or values of the company.

Rebranding is important from an internal perspective too as it can help renew the culture and morale of your company by creating a shared vision and identity that aligns with its future goals.

pen on paper marking out rebrand budgeting

What Does Rebranding Mean for Your Company?

Rebranding takes time, effort, and dedication from your company so it shouldn’t just be done on a whim.

Whilst the best option is to bring a branding agency on board, but you’ll still have a lot of things to do on your side.

For instance, you’ll need to be available for meetings, ready and willing to provide feedback, and able to commit to making decisions so that the project meets key deadlines.

On top of that, you’ll need to get buy in from the key stakeholders within your organisation too so that everyone is in alignment.

Make no mistake, rebranding a large organisation is a huge undertaking that requires careful planning, research, and execution.

It can be a significant investment of time, resources, and money, but when done effectively, it can be a powerful tool for building a strong brand and achieving long-term success.

Rebranding services on a screen

Why Should You Rebrand Your Company?

Companies decide to rebrand for a whole host of reasons including:

  • You’re heading into a large period of change (mergers and acquisitions etc.)
  • You’re about to make a play into a new market or location
  • You’re trying to shift opinions after a PR disaster (or something similar)
  • You’re looking to target a new type of customer
  • You want to expand your product/ service offering

Or simply, when you realise your brand isn’t connecting with people in the way you need it to be.

Remember, you shouldn’t just change for the sake of change! You should take deliberate action to solve a problem, and shift customer perception of your company.

One thing we recommend staying away from is the temptation to give your brand a “light refresh” or “spring clean.”

Why half do something just to have to do it again later down the line?

If companies like Dunkin’, Starbucks, and Airbnb can manage a complete overhaul (and avoid ending up on our rebranding failures list) – then you can too!
rebranded Small, medium and large dunkin donuts cups

Reasons not to rebrand your company

As well as knowing the reasons to rebrand, it’s also important to highlight the reasons not to rebrand to make sure this process is right for your business.

We’ve mentioned this above as you shouldn’t rebrand for the sake of it.

The reasons to avoid rebranding are covered below:

  • Unwillingness to rebrand all your visual assets: If it’s just a new business name or logo that you want and you’re not prepared to update all of your company’s visual assets, you will confuse your customers and weaken your brand image.
  • You get bored with your existing brand: Boredom is never a good enough reason as customers like consistency. Building a strong brand helps customers engage with what you have to offer, so avoid changing things simply because you want to see something new.
  • Your competitors are rebranding: Just because a competitor is rebranding doesn’t mean that your company should follow suit. Each company’s brand strategy should be tailored to their unique business objectives and target audience.

Rebranding for the wrong reasons can result in a disconnect with your existing customers and a loss of brand equity, so avoid rebranding for the above reasons at all costs.

Who Should You Bring in to Help on Your Rebrand?

We’ve mentioned bringing in agency help already, but just to clarify who you should bring in for help with your rebrand, you should consider the below options:

Freelancers

If you run a small business, then a freelancer might be your best choice. They’ll be more affordable, and you’ll be able to work directly with them to get what you need.

However, for any sort of larger or more ambitious organisation, it’ll be worth looking at working with an agency.

Small and Mid-Size Agencies

Small and mid-sized branding agencies are a great choice for Startups and SMEs.

Typically having a few points of contact is useful. Startups and SMEs come with pressing requirements and deadlines.

Choosing an agency like Canny with multiple designers and developers can help ensure deadlines are met, and nothing is missed along the way.

If you’re given any sort of marketing budget to work with, then a small or mid-size agency is probably the best choice for you.

Large Agencies

If you’re a larger company, you’re going to want to work with an agency that can accommodate you.

Agencies such as Pentagram, Landor, Wolff Ollins, Design Studio, and Moving Brands all boast client rosters of the largest companies in the world.

Naturally, this comes with budget implications – but these agencies are designed specifically to work in the upper echelons of the business branding world.

They’ll have much bigger teams which means they are much better suited to deal with bigger, more complex projects.

In-House Teams

In-house teams come and go. They’re “in vogue” for a period, then everyone switches back to the agency model, rinse, repeat.

The main reason you should avoid using in-house teams is that you want to get external eyes on your brand.

There are plenty of opportunities to collaborate and share knowledge. But do it with your agency partner, not with an in-house team!

On top of that, in-house teams can get bogged down in the “day to day” of the business, and often the major rebranding project will get put on the backburner.

If you decide on bringing in an agency (which we’d advise for the best results) make sure you download our free Rebranding Brief Template for a head start.

a signpost showing directions of change

3 Key Things to Consider When Rebranding Your Company

There are a lot of things to consider when approaching your rebranding project to make sure you’ve considered each and every aspect pf your business.

That said, there are 3 key things to consider from the outset:

Rebranding might not be the answer

Sometimes, people rush into a rebranding project, but actually, there are problems elsewhere in the business.

For example:

If you don’t have enough leads;

  • Have you tried changing things on your website first?
  • Have you tried making more outbound calls?
  • Is your inbound content marketing strategy setup correctly?
  • Is your social media working for or against you?
  • Do you have a visibility problem?

All of these things could be wrong with your business. And in that case, jumping straight into a rebranding project probably isn’t the right thing to do.

Rebranding is more than just a logo

If you decide that rebranding is the right route, start with a logical point of view.

It can be easy to get lost in the excitement of a rebrand and focus more on having a pretty new logo or fancy new marketing collateral.

However, rebranding is way more than just a logo. There needs to be a logical and real reason for undergoing this process.

Ask yourself:

  • What is the problem we’re trying to solve here?
  • What is wrong with the current brand?
  • What do we want our new brand to achieve?
  • Is our brand strategy right?
  • How does that affect our brand identity?

You’ll see there that visual side of things comes last. Start with the fundamentals and move forward from there.

Remember, rebranding is about repositioning your business in the hearts and minds of your customers.

If you’re not doing it for that, you best make sure you have a compelling enough reason!

Understand the limitations of rebranding

Whilst rebranding can help steer your company in the right direction, it can’t fix everything.

If your business has flaws at ground level, going through rebranding will cost you time, money, and energy – and realistically, it won’t solve the real problem.

As the saying goes ‘you can’t polish a turd, but you can roll it in glitter.’

The problem with glitter is it wears off. And after a while, you’re left with a bit of a mess.

Before embarking on a rebranding project, make sure the fundamentals of your business are right before you start tackling anything else.

neon dollar signs overexposed for blur effect

How Much Does it Cost to Rebrand a Company?

Okay, you’ve made it this far, you must be pretty set on rebranding your company.

That’s great! We love working on rebranding projects at Canny. They’re our favourite.

But now, your thoughts are turning to the more practical things:

  • How much will it cost?
  • How long will it take?

You guessed it:

“How long is a piece of string?”

Depending on the size of your company, your rebranding project could come in at less than £10,000 or more than £100,000. You could be in for a short period of 12 weeks, or up to 12 months.

It all depends on what you’re looking to achieve and at what scale you’re operating.

I think it’s fair to say for most SMEs, you’re going to be comfortably into 5 figures, and the longer you have the better as you don’t want to rush it.

If you want to deep dive into the costs of rebranding, we’ve got a post on the full services and deliverables of a rebrand project, and how to budget for them.

Now we’re getting into the meat of the post: the step-by-step guide to rebranding.

rebranding time scale

Rebranding Phase 1: Assessment and Evaluation

First up is assessment and evaluation as this allows you to take stock of everything before you start the rebranding process.

From weighing up your current branding, to identifying your target audience, this initial stage is key.

Assess your current branding

You need to conduct a thorough brand audit to find out what’s working with your current branding against what’s not.

To do this, you’ll need to identify every piece of collateral that’s being used across your business.

What is the marketing team using? Does it support what the sales team are using?

There’ll be internal comms and external comms. Things going to clients, and things going to stakeholders.

At this stage, you need to ask yourself:

“Does this collateral / item / thing support our vision for the brand moving forward?”

If not, it’s time to bin it, if it does, then hold onto it.

For example, you might decide some of the language in your company brochures works, so you hold onto it. Meanwhile, the business cards have always been rubbish meaning they go the journey.

Identify your current target audience

Understanding your target market is essential for a successful rebrand.

This involves analysing their demographics, psychographics, and behaviours, as well as their preferences and attitudes towards the brand.

You need to dig out your old customer personas and ask:

  • Are these personas still right or relevant to our business?
  • Do they represent where we were, where we are, or where we’re going?
  • What changes or tweaks do we need to make?

At Canny, we advise our clients to take their top 3 current clients, and shape their personas based off that.

Your customer personas should be laser focused on where you’re going, and your top 3 clients are often a good summary of that.

Don’t focus on where you’ve been or where you are.

With your rebranding project, you want to look back on the past for learning opportunities, but be massively focused on where you’re taking your brand in the future.

Analyse your competitors

Competitor analysis involves a deep dive into the branding strategies of competitors in your industry.

This includes analysing their positioning, messaging, visual identity, and overall brand personality.

By studying the competition, you can identify what makes their brand unique, what is resonating with their target audience, and what gaps and opportunities exist in the market that you can take advantage of.

This information can be used to differentiate your brand from your competitors and create a unique brand identity that stands out in the market.

Conduct market research

Market research is a critical step in the rebranding process.

It involves gathering data and feedback from consumers to gain insights into their preferences, attitudes, and behaviours related to the brand.

This can be done through surveys, focus groups, online reviews, and social media listening.

Market research can help to identify emerging trends, determine how your current branding is perceived by consumers, and gather feedback on potential new branding elements.

This information can be used to inform the development of your new brand strategy to make sure it resonates with your target audience and meets their needs and preferences.

Rebranding Phase 2: Developing a rebranding strategy

This second stage is critical in the rebranding process because it sets the direction for the entire rebranding effort.

It involves defining your goals and objectives, identifying key brand attributes and messaging, and developing a brand voice and tone.

Form your project team

For any successful rebranding project, you need to make sure you bring the right people to the table from your company.

You need:

  • People who have enough time
  • People who have enough experience to share
  • People who are in alignment with the goals and objectives of the rebrand

The temptation from the marketing department is often to draft in every single Director or Shareholder.

Stop what you’re doing.

Only bring people into the project team that match the criteria above. On top of that, if you can engage a key decision maker in the process too, you’re likely going to get better buy in later!

Define your goals and objectives

You need to understand what you’re trying to achieve with your rebrand.

As we’ve discussed, rebranding is resource and time intensive so you need to engage in this process for the right reasons.

Ask yourself:

  • What problems are we facing as an organisation?
  • What are we wanting to achieve by rebranding?
  • What is a realistic timeframe to work towards?

At Canny, we often advise our clients to look into the future and see if there’s a big launch or event in their calendar that we can use to accompany the launch of the rebrand.

brand audit sheets on a desk with people around the desk

Revisit your brand strategy

Once you’ve assembled the team, it’s time to look at your brand strategy.

Brand strategy is too large a topic to cover in a few hundred words here, so check out The Ultimate Brand Strategy Development Guide to help you get started.

It’s important to revisit your existing brand strategy and decide whether it’s still working for your business.This allows you evaluate whether your current messaging and positioning are still resonating with your audience and aligning with your business goals.

And if not, it will show you where the gaps, weaknesses, and opportunities are that need to be addressed to strengthen your brand’s performance.

brand identity questions

Identify key messages

Identifying key brand attributes involves defining the core characteristics that make your brand unique and appealing to your target audience.

These attributes can include brand personality traits, such as being innovative or reliable, as well as functional features, such as quality or affordability.

Once these attributes are defined, the messaging strategy can be developed to communicate these attributes to your target audience.

This strategy includes key messages, tag lines, and other brand communication elements that will be used to convey your updated brand identity.

Develop a brand voice and tone

As part of your rebrand, you might decide to create a new brand voice if your current one isn’t connecting with your audience.

Your brand voice is the personality and style of your brand’s communication, while the tone refers to the emotional quality of the communication.

To develop a brand voice and tone, you need to reconsider your target audience and the type of communication that will resonate with them. Perhaps you’ve previously had a corporate brand tone of voice but you want to move away from this and develop something more light-hearted?

Whatever you decide on, you need to ensure that the brand voice and tone are consistent across all channels, including advertising, social media, and other marketing materials.

This consistency will help to build brand recognition and trust with the target audience.

Complete your rebranding brief

If you haven’t already, go read our post on writing a rebranding brief. Download our template too while you’re there.

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Now that you have your rebranding brief open in front of you, you have to make a few key decisions.

  • What level are you engaging with a branding agency at? The strategy? The identity? Or the whole lot?
  • Does your budget cover the entire project (if it does, we recommend getting external help on the whole thing.)
  • Do you have internal resources to consider?

Once you’ve answered these, you should make your way through the rebranding brief as best you can.

Do it with your project team to get the best result. But treat it like a work in progress. The first draft of your brief will never be perfect. But a good branding agency can help you build it out.

Our template is self-explanatory and will leave you with a rebranding brief that gets your discussions out of your meeting room and into the hands of branding agencies!

Choose a branding agency to work with

Brief in hand, it’s time to choose the agency to help you rebrand – if this is the route you’re deciding to go down.

And choosing a branding agency to partner with on your rebranding project is no easy task, which is why we’ve created this handy guide.

We say it in all of our initial meetings with prospective new clients, and I stick by it:

“You should always pick the agency that you feel like (in your gut) you can work with!”

You just know it. If there are red flags before you’ve even got out of the gate, just politely walk away. Not everybody is a great fit for everybody else.

If you have to pay more to work with the agency that you have the best feeling about, then do it!

Better to pay the extra few thousand out of your budget now, than have to do it all over again in 6 to 12 months time. Nobody likes to pay twice.

Use the post above to get your agencies narrowed down, engage with them, go with your gut, do it once, and do it properly.

canny logo

Rebranding Phase 3: Implement the Rebrand

It’s now time to implement your rebrand and jump into action!

This stage involves putting the new brand strategy together to ensure all of the relevant assets are updated and reflect your new identity.

Design a new visual identity system

This refers to all of your design elements that are used to visually represent your brand.

This extends to logo, colour palette, typography, imagery, and graphics – essentially anything that visually communicates your brand identity.

This usually involves the following considerations:

  • Developing a new logo: The logo is the primary visual representation of the brand, and it should be designed to reflect the brand’s new identity and messaging. The new logo should be visually appealing, easy to recognise, and memorable.
  • Choosing a new colour palette: A new colour palette can help to give the brand a fresh and modern look. Colours can convey different emotions and have different associations, so it’s important to choose colours that align with the brand’s personality and messaging.
  • Selecting typography: Typography refers to the font styles used in the brand’s communications, such as on the website, marketing materials, and packaging. Selecting the right typography can help to create a consistent and professional look and feel across all brand materials.
  • Incorporating imagery and graphics: Imagery and graphics can be used to support the brand’s messaging and personality. For example, a brand that values sustainability may use nature-inspired imagery and graphics to convey its commitment to the environment.
  • Ensuring consistency: It’s important to ensure that all visual elements are consistent across all brand materials, from the website to the packaging. Consistency helps to build brand recognition and trust with the target audience.

Develop brand guidelines

Your brand guidelines, brand manual, brand book, brand handbook, or whatever you want to call them are “The Ultimate Guide to Your Brand.”

Every decision you make throughout your rebranding project should be collated, ready to be documented within your brand guideline document.

We’ll not go into the ins-and-outs of building your brand guidelines in this post, we’ve got that covered in our brand guidelines creation post.

But don’t enter into any sort of rebranding project without these pulled out as a separate line item.

They need and deserve their own time and attention. You’re going to use them a lot going forward. Make them as robust as possible!

Update all of your collateral

As we’ve already explained, you’ll know which collateral is and isn’t important from your brand audit.

There are a few approaches we’ve seen work when it comes to creating your rebranded collateral:

  • If you’ve got marketing budget to play with, hand it all over to your chosen agency and get them to do every single thing your business needs moving forward.
  • Or, ask your chosen agency to create base templates in InDesign or as a PDF, then get your in-house team to replicate them as closely as possible.

Both work.

From a time saving and hassle perspective, it’s easier to get your chosen rebranding agency to do it.
colourful website frameworks roughly sketched out

Remember to update your website

Now that you’ve got your identity and collateral taken care of, you need to switch your focus to the online world.

What’s the point in a rebranding project, if you neglect what is probably your most used brand touchpoint?

Your website is your 24/7 shop window and marketing tool. You can’t serve up a disconnect between your rebrand in the real world, and your digital presence.

When rebranding, you need to put significant stock in how important your website is. And even if you’re not about to rebrand, your website is still one of the most important tools in your marketing arsenal!

Here a few things to consider when aligning your website with your rebrand:

  • Does your website get you enough visitors, leads, and customers?
  • How does it perform from a technical standpoint?
  • Do you hear any common complaints about your site?
  • Are you tracking the right sort of data?
  • Is it easy to update and maintain?

These are all questions that you should be asking yourself, because now is the perfect time to put things right!

Sure, your site needs to align visually with the rebrand, but why not tidy up all of those other nagging bits while you’re on with it anyway?

If you’re thinking about going full hog into a website redesign, make sure you grab our Web Design Brief template too.

Rebranding Phase 4: Communication and rollout

This final stage involves communicating your new brand identity to your target audience and stakeholders.

After all, you’ve put in all of the hard work so why would you let it go to waste?

Create a communication plan

This involves developing a plan for how you will communicate the new brand identity to various stakeholders, such as customers, employees, partners, and the media.

The communication plan should be tailored to each stakeholder group and should include details such as the timing of the communication, the channels to be used, the messaging to be conveyed, and the goals of the communication.

Develop a rollout strategy

This involves developing a strategy for how to roll out the new brand identity to your target audience – it’s time to tell the world about your rebrand!

The rollout strategy should take into account the target audience’s needs and preferences, and should include tactics such as advertising, public relations, social media, events, and content marketing.

It should also be aligned with your communication plan, and should ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the new brand identity and are excited about the changes.

It’s important to monitor the rollout strategy and adjust it as necessary based on feedback.

Rebranding Case Studies

At Canny, we’ve worked with some fantastic companies to help them rebrand.

Whether their image is looking out of date or they’re no longer connecting with their target audience, each project is entirely different.

That’s the exciting part of working at a branding agency!

Let’s take a look at two of our rebranding projects and how we helped them achieve their goals.
man and woman looking at an ipad
Read the full case study here

Kyte

First up is Kyte, a company providing managed IT services to SME’s.

The problem?

Kyte’s old branding felt cold and clinical.

Companies in this sector are often seen as being detached and faceless so Kyte wanted to build a sense of trust and position themselves as a trusted advisor.

Instead of hiding behind stereotypical, dark colours, we breathed new life into the brand to emphasise their relaxed, friendly nature.

The solution?

We focussed heavily on imagery to emphasise the human element of Kyte and crafted messaging that spoke to their audience in a clear and friendly way instead of using generic phrases.

The tagline ‘IT like you’ve never known it’ elevates their human approach further and is a key differentiator between Kyte and its competitors.

Using a bright colour palette, we steered clear of conventions which helped reduce the stigma related to IT. From the website, to the print collateral, we simplified the brand identity making it more personable and engaging.

YardLink logo
Read the full case study here

YardLink

Moving over to Yardlink, a business that connects construction companies with plant and tool hire to keep their projects moving forward.

The problem?

Their old identity contained a misspelling in the brand name, previously written as ‘yardlynk’.

This added no value to the brand, and also made YardLink difficult to find on search engines and created confusion with customers.

Not ideal when you’re trying to connect with your target audience and get your name out there!

This led YardLink to engaging our services to help them revamp their identity and explore new markets.

The solution?

We needed to put YardLink firmly on the map and drive customers to the website, so we of course changed their brand name. We corrected the spelling so it was easily searchable and made sense to customers.

The brand was also in need of some modernisation, as other consumer delivery brands had a distinctive brand identity and colour palette so we did the same for YardLink.

By creating a distinctive, burnt orange colour combined with a blue palette, the brand fits into the world of construction whilst presenting a memorable and unique aesthetic.

Job well done (if we say so ourselves!)

neon light sign saying change to represent rebranding

How to Rebrand a Company (The Step by Step Guide)

Rebranding a company is no easy task. It takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication from everybody involved.

That’s why we always recommend bringing in the support of a professional branding agency. We do this day in and day out, and can help course correct when things go a little awry.

Rebranding your company can help you solve monumental problems and business challenges but wanting to “look better” often isn’t the best rationale for embarking on such a mammoth project.

Will your rebrand give you access to new markets? Strengthen your stance in the competitive landscape? Or perhaps, you’re looking to attract a new customer base? Whatever the benefit is, make sure you go into your rebranding project with your eyes wide open!

At Canny, we love delving into rebranding project to help businesses transform their branding to better connect with their audience. To find out how we can help you, get in touch with our team!

Posted

July, 2021

Hey I'm Tony, Founder and Director of Canny Creative. I eat, sleep and bleed Canny to be honest. I'm an absolute workaholic (and yes, I know that's not a good thing!).

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