How to Roll Out a Rebrand

A Step-by-Step Guide to a Successful Rebrand or Brand Refresh

By Alex Schwall, Communications

Rebrand

There’s nothing more exciting than injecting an organization with new life through a rebrand, whether that’s a new name, logo, tagline, website, or all of the above. But—not rolled out properly—the launch of a rebrand can be jarring. Here’s how to prepare for a smooth landing.

2+ Months Out: Perform a Brand Audit

The first step in a rebrand or brand refresh is to audit your current branding. Take inventory of every aspect of your brand that will be affected by the change. Doing so will allow you to create a realistic budget, prioritize your next steps, and stay on top of everything that will need to be updated.

The size of your inventory and resulting budget will depend on the extent of the changes you’re making to your brand, but here are a few examples of brand assets to consider: 

  • Physical branded assets
  • Internal branded documents
  • Website and digital branding
  • Email components
  • Social media components
  • Branded swag

To assist you with this, we have included a Brand Rollout Checklist at the end of this post. 

Once you’ve completed your inventory and budget, create a schedule for the changes’ internal and external launches. If you are working with a partner to complete the rebranding, this is an excellent time to check in with them and ensure all your bases are covered; this includes identifying who will be responsible for updating each item. Begin creating and ordering your rebranded materials. Don’t forget that some items will take longer than others – e.g., installing updated exterior signage is typically more of an undertaking than ordering new business cards – so plan accordingly.

6-8 Weeks Out: Get Ahead of It

Before you can share the new branding with your entire organization, you’ll need to lay a firm foundation. Putting in the proper planning and preparation at the beginning of the rollout process allows you to troubleshoot potential issues and ensure effective communication across all channels.

  • Write your new brand story
    • Clearly articulate the “why” -i.e., why are you making this change? Why now? Was there a specific event that inspired it? 
    • Explain how this aligns with the company – e.g., strategic plan, priorities, mission, vision, values
    • Ensure you’re clear about what this means for clients and other key stakeholders to minimize confusion and enhance success.
  • Formulate Communication Plan
    • Who needs to be alerted? e.g., key stakeholders, clients, and partners
    • How will the information be communicated? For example, you might tell the general public about your changes via a press release or blog post while announcing the change to your existing audience through a personalized email from the CEO. 
    • This is a chance for you to tell the story and reasoning behind your brand refresh. See Slack’s Say hello, new logo for a great example. 

4-6 Weeks Out: Internal Launch 

Before publicly announcing your rebrand or brand refresh, you’ll need to communicate it to your organization. Ideally, this should take place 4-6 weeks before your external launch — long enough to ensure everyone is on the same page but not so long that the word will get out before you are ready.

  • How: depending on the size of your business and the scope of your brand changes, you might communicate your rebrand or brand refresh to your team through email, in-person meetings, or both. 
  • What: tell your team what you’re changing and why. Give them a peek into the process, including themes, concepts, hidden meaning in the logomark, custom typography, etc.
  • Why: staff will be your best brand ambassadors, so make sure they are aware of and excited about the upcoming changes. Doing so will foster a sense of unity and empower your team to communicate the brand changes to your audience when the time comes. 

2-4 Weeks Out: Proactive Outreach 

Closer to the external launch of your new brand, you’ll want to reach out to your partners and vendors to let them know about the changes you’re making. Now is an excellent time to check back with your team and begin disseminating updated pieces. 

  • Tell your brand partners + vendors 
    • Fill them in on exactly what is changing, when the changes will go into effect, and how it will impact them. 
    • This communication will help ensure your new brand is consistent; you don’t want to unveil your new brand name to great fanfare only to discover your vendors are still using your old one.
  • Schedule content calendar
    • Draft and schedule blog and social media posts across all your platforms announcing your updated brand. 
    • Get creative! Videos and infographics are effective storytelling tools for visual platforms like Instagram. 
    • Consider posting a few teasers on your social platforms leading up to the announcement to generate buzz. For example, tell your followers that you’ll be sharing exciting news in the coming days and suggest they check back frequently to stay in the know. 
  • Reinforce employee engagement
    • Address any concerns that may have come up since the initial reveal and reinforce why you are doing it.
    • Giving employees updated swag (t-shirts, tote bags, mugs, and other items with your brand’s new logo) can help make your strategic rebrand feel like a celebration. The sneak peek will make them feel included and excited.
  • Deliver the updated brand to your team
    • Ensure every team member has access to your updated brand documents, such as a style guide or employee handbook. 
    • When possible and practical, provide physical copies. They are typically easier to access quickly and reflect your commitment to the rebrand. 
  • Begin compiling and recycling items with old branding, e.g., old business cards and flyers

Week Of: Soft Launch 

It is vital to give yourselves time to soft launch the rebrand. 

  • Push the website live
    • The website should be up and running for at least a few days before you point people to it, so you have time to fine-tune it and troubleshoot any bugs.
  • Internal uptake and communication 
    • Encourage your staff to communicate the news in professional networks and offer a template for social media posts they can share. 
  • Update your information with:
    • Any organizations you’re a part of
    • Any business tools and software you use
    • Local directory listings
    • Sponsorships
    • Partners
    • Clients

Day-Of: Make the Announcement 

It is time; you can officially shout your rebrand from the rooftops. This last step should be a breeze if you have followed the previous steps and prepared all the necessary content in advance.

  • Execute the pre-determined Communication Plan. Here are some actions we’ve found to be particularly helpful:
    • Add a note to email signatures about the rebrand
    • Pop-up on the new website introducing people to the change
    • Monitor social media and quickly address any questions 
    • If possible, pair the announcement with a special incentive – e.g., celebrate your new logo’s debut with a sale, discount, or contest
  • Make a clean break
    • Switch everything over to the new branding
    • Trash or recycle any old items
    • Why: continuing to use your old branding will only generate confusion and undermine your positioning

Post-Launch: Reinforcement

If you’ve undergone a total rebrand, be prepared for an adjustment period with your audience. Use this time to reinforce your “why” and continue discussing your brand’s relevance and priorities. 

 

Checklist

Items may need to be updated to include any combination of new brand name, logo, design system, and language. 

External Items 

  • Website
  • Logo
  • Marketing
    • Brand style guide
    • Media kits
    • Brand asset library
    • Content guidelines
    • Newsletter templates
    • Ads 
    • Ad words
    • SEO / Keywords
    • Third party directories
    • Other promotional material 
  • Product packaging
  • Print items 
    • Business cards
    • Flyers
    • Posters
  • Trade show items
    • Giveaways
    • Banners/signage
  • Physical space
    • Signage
    • Displays
    • Interior design
  • Social Media Presence
    • Graphics and images
    • Logos
    • Profile pics
    • Bios
    • Handles
    • Hashtags

Internal Items 

  • Internal documents
    • Templates
    • Manuals
    • Contracts
    • Forms
    • Invoices
    • Receipts
    • Checks
    • Presentation decks
    • Employee Handbooks
  • Employee items
    • Uniforms
    • Badges
    • Swag
  • Digital assets 
    • Logos
    • Company images
  • Trademarks
  • Intranets and/or information on internal websites
  • Email signatures and the information they include
  • Voicemail
  • Office equipment 
    • Envelopes
    • Return address labels
    • Stationery

Download our printable Brand Rollout Checklist.

NOTE: This checklist is designed to help you plan the rollout of a new brand. It may need to be adapted depending on the extent of the changes you’re making.

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