What is a Rebrand and What Does the Process Entail?

It’s the new year, so everybody has change on their minds. Maybe you want to improve your health, maybe you want to dye your hair another color, but whatever it is, you’re fixated on the new you. Sometimes stagnation stalls creativity, and that goes for both the personal and the professional.

So what happens when a company feels this way? Whether it’s an emergency response or the slow realization that the brand you created at the origination of the company no longer matches what you’ve grown into, an identity crisis isn’t something to ignore. Companies evolve too. When that happens, it’s the job of the staff–ideally everyone from top to bottom–to ask, what is this company now? Once you know the answer to that, the follow-up question is: How do we make sure our brand aligns with our mission? 

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This is when the rebrand occurs. There are myriad reasons why companies do it, but however you get to this place, know you’re not alone. Welcome, take a seat. This isn’t a quick fix; this is a deep dive into professional existentialism–but it can be fun! This is your opportunity to reflect on where you’ve been and where you want your company to go and grow. 

Don’t take a rebrand lightly. This is an investment of both your company’s time and money. The process can take anywhere from six weeks to six months. A full rebrand can cost $50k-$100K depending on the scope of work and size of your company. It includes everything from high-level strategy to the minute details of font choices. The following is an overview of the steps of the rebranding process, some or all of which you might consider when deciding to rebrand.

Breaking Down the Rebrand Process

Creative Brief

Every road trip needs a map, every story needs an outline. The creative brief is the shared document that makes sure everyone on your team and on the agency/freelancer side is on the same page. Play it safe and plan ahead by utilizing a creative brief to guide this process.

Brand Moodboard

Once you have your guide, now it’s time to visualize it. The brand moodboard captures all the ideas, pictures, colors, and visual language that will tell the story of your brand. For a deeper dive into this subject, check out my recent post about creating a moodboard.

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Naming

Think long and hard about your company’s name as it may be the one thing that best encapsulates who you are, or at the very least is the first thing a potential new client will know about your brand. I once worked for a community-building non-profit named after a fruit and received an actual phone call where I had to explain to the caller that we didn’t sell said fruit. Heed the warning of this creative agency that found out–well into the rebrand process–that it had chosen as its new name the same one as a Russian hacker botnet.

Logo design

The logo is the keystone of your brand’s visual identity, including digital and print collateral. It is your brand distilled to an all-encompassing symbol. Think of the Nike swoosh, the Starbucks siren, and Apple’s apple. They are immediately recognizable, without words or explanation.

Brand Strategy & Copywriting

A new name, logo, or website only gets you so far if you don’t have the why figured out first. Your brand strategy asks that question. It goes back to the idea of alignment. As you determine next steps and plan for the future, your brand strategy helps you stay focused on your company’s mission and ensures that all the ways you present your brand is consistent with your values. Copywriting is the step of the rebrand process that explains those values in a compelling way, whether it’s on your website, in a brochure, or an email blast. Voice, style, and consistency will ensure that you’re getting your message–however, it has evolved–across.

Stationary & Social Media Graphics

The words and visuals that you’ve already created for your logo and copy will be repurposed in many forms, for both print and online. The agency handling the rebrand process will give you deliverables that can be utilized across social media platforms and collateral. These are the fun accessories for your rebrand.

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Keep in mind that a rebrand is more than a superficial change. Just as dyeing your hair purple doesn’t suddenly make you edgy, neither does adding a few new pictures and a new logo to your website make you a different company. Remember that it’s not always easy to self-reflect, but it’s worth the work.

Kait Heacock

Kait Heacock is a writer living in Seattle. Her nonfiction has appeared in Crab Creek Review, DAME, Largehearted Boy, Literary Hub, The Millions, The Women’s Review of Books, and The Washington Post. Her debut short story collection, Siblings and Other Disappointments, is available now. She smokes sativa and dances to Sleater-Kinney records before sitting down to write.