Rebranding? Here’s the Game Plan You’re Going to Need

Vinny La Barbera
Written by

Vinny La Barbera

Have you been thinking about rebranding your company, but have been hesitant at the thought of such a seemingly daunting task?

I totally get it. I have been talking about rebranding imFORZA for well over 4 years now for the same excuses you’ve probably come up with for not pulling the trigger on yours.

Well, 4 years and many stops and starts later, and imFORZA’s brand has been successfully revamped. This article will walk you through the same rebranding game plan that we used to save you time, money, and stress. And don’t worry, I’ll help you decide if you even need to rebrand in the first place, which can often be the hardest decision.

Rebranding Gameplan from imFORZA

Getting Started with a Rebrand

Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook is rebranding to a new holding company name – Meta. Their rebranding and new brand strategy allow them to expand, distance themselves from recent controversy, and generate new interest in their brand.

Maybe that got you thinking, how does a company know it’s time to rebrand?

As your business grows, it will change. You aren’t wearing the same clothes you did in High School because your body and personality aren’t the same. Likewise, your business won’t wear the same branding it started with because it also changes and matures with age.

But completely transforming your business isn’t an overnight job. That’s why you have internet marketers like imFORZA who can come alongside you to get your brand lined up with your new vision.

Here is a complete guide to rebranding and brand strategy to get you started.

How to Know It’s Time to Rebrand

Here are some reasons you may want to consider rebranding:

  • Your business vision changes
  • You offer different products or are expanding your services
  • Your market changed
  • You merged with another company
  • You want to unify your business’s appearance
  • Your company has an outdated look

Rebranding can either take the form of a partial rebrand or a complete rebrand. Partial rebrands may just be changing your business’s design or tweaking a logo. Meanwhile, a complete rebrand comes along with a name change and product changes.

One example of a partial rebrand is Burger King’s 2021 rebrand. Their new look pulls in styles from the original logo, reflecting when their food was less processed. They also restricted their color palette to shades naturally found in food (goodbye cobalt blue swish).

Burger King's partial rebrand in 2021
Image courtesy of Business Insider

An example of a total rebrand is when Smith & Wesson’s holding company changed to American Outdoor Brands to appeal to a larger market. Instead of just being a firearms brand, they wanted to sell a variety of outdoor products. So, in their total rebrand, they changed their mission, market, logo, values, and name.

Another reason you may consider rebranding is to distance yourself from negative associations or stigmas. For example, the Livestrong Foundation did a complete rebrand to distance itself from its founder and athlete Lance Armstrong after he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Another example is when the Washington Football Team rebranded because of their previous brand’s offensive name and logo – the Washington Redskins.

When Not to Rebrand

Rebranding has the power to change your entire business around, but you also risk millions of dollars if not done right. Here are a few reasons NOT to rebrand.

Don’t rebrand just to look different. If what you have is working, there is no reason to change it. If only Gap knew that before investing in a 100-million-dollar new logo only to change it back after a week because of negative responses. If you are successful, then keep your look. It’s a look that people have grown to trust and love. But, switching it up jeopardizes that loyalty.

Don’t rebrand to boost sales. Before jumping right to a brand-new look, try other marketing strategies first. For example, a new ad campaign or expanding your business to other platforms might be enough to reach your audience. It’s also more cost-effective than investing millions into a new look. An excellent place to start is through a customer satisfaction survey, so you know exactly why people aren’t purchasing from you anymore.

Don’t rebrand when your leadership changes. Just because you got a new CEO doesn’t mean your entire company look has to change. Unless a CEO is well known, most people buy from businesses because of the company’s values, not who the leadership is.

So now you might know you need to rebrand. But where do you start?

Here’s an extensive guide to help you outline your rebranding strategy.

Redefine Who You Are

Your mission, vision, values, and goals are your brand’s foundation. But before exploring each one individually, here’s an overview so you know how to differentiate each one.

  • Your Company Mission is what you want to accomplish NOW and your purpose in operating.
  • Your Company Vision is where you want your company to be in the FUTURE.
  • Your Company Values are HOW your company operates, such as a specific belief system or guiding principles.
  • Your Company Goals are STEPPINGSTONES or a strategy to get you from where you are now to where you want to be.

Now that you know what makes each one unique let’s dive right in with the first on the list.

Choose Your New Mission Statement

Your mission statement is a concise, easy-to-understand statement of purpose. In other words, it guides your company in deciding what products and services to sell, how to interact with customers, and what your business should look like to reflect that statement. It also tells potential customers what you are offering them.

The two parts of a strong mission statement are why you exist and why you are different. Those two halves should mesh together into an inspiring message that catches people’s attention without being so unbelievable that people second guest your authenticity.

Disney Mission Statement for Rebranding
Image courtesy of The Walt Disney Company

Here are some examples of company mission statements.

  • Tesla – To accelerate the world’s transition into sustainable energy.
  • TED – Spread ideas.
  • Starbucks – To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – Promote understanding of the natural world and our place in it.
  • Disney – To entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds, and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.

Define Your Company’s Vision

Once you know what you want to do, begin looking to the future and decide your overarching goals. Then, summarize that vision into another concise statement. Your vision guides your employees and informs your stakeholders where your company is headed.

Let’s look at the same five companies as above and see how their vision statements relate to their mission but provide a long-term goal.

  • Tesla – To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.
  • TED – To make great ideas accessible and spark conversation.
  • Starbucks – To establish Starbucks as the premier purveyor of the finest coffee in the world while maintaining our uncompromising principles while we grow.
  • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History – A future-facing Smithsonian Museum that confronts the big questions in nature, science, and society.
  • Disney – To be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information.

Outline Your Company Values

Your company values are an ethical standard that your company follows. While some values should be universal – like honesty and inclusion – your core values directly relate to your business.

For example, if you are an automotive shop, honesty, customer commitment, and hard work are three essential values for your business. However, if you are a charity, transparency, inclusion, and passion are important values.

Whole Foods Core Values
Image courtesy of Whole Foods

Here is a list of some values to help you choose what defines your company.

  • Curiosity
  • Diversity
  • Humility
  • Innovation
  • Integrity
  • Persistence
  • Sustainability
  • Teamwork

Your values can also include a belief system or cause. Here are some examples.

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Vegan
  • Religious affiliation
  • Cruelty-free
  • Family-friendly

Once you’ve chosen your values, write and share them in a way that customers see how those values play out in their customer experience.

Here are Whole Food’s core values.

  • We sell the highest quality natural and organic foods
  • We satisfy and delight our customers
  • We promote team member growth and happiness
  • We practice win-win partnerships with our suppliers
  • We create profits and prosperity
  • We care about our community and the environment

Establish a List of Company Goals

While your vision statement is long-term, your company goals are short-term plans that help move you forward towards that end goal. Unfortunately, more than 80% of businesses don’t track their company goals. So, there is no surprise that 77% of those same businesses haven’t achieved their vision.

More than 80% of businesses don’t track their company goals.

Goals usually fall within four categories – improving customer service, giving back to the community, increasing profits, and growing your business.

When you write them, each goal should be specific, measurable, realistic, actionable, and have a deadline (no longer than three to five years).

An example is increasing your profits by 50% within the next two years.

Research Your New Market

If you rebranded your mission, vision, values, and goals, you might not have the same market as before. Defining your new market helps guide your appearance, language, and marketing strategy. For example, marketing on TikTok is very effective for reaching Gen Z but would be inefficient for middle-aged CEOs.

In 2008 Walmart rebranded itself to change the negative perception people had of the company. Their original slogan, “Always low prices,” caused many people to associate the store with low quality. So they changed their slogan to “Save money. Live better.” With that change came a new market demographic. Instead of just marketing to people looking to save, they were bringing in everyone who wanted to improve their lives.

Image courtesy of Walmart

Here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you define your new target demographic:

What are you selling? Analyzing your products and services will tell you basic information such as gender, profession, and age. For example, if you sell marketing packages, your audience will likely be CEOs of businesses.

Who is your competition? Looking at established businesses in your industry will give you an idea of the type of people to expect in your business. For example, if you are starting a fast-food burger restaurant, you will want to look at the demographic that frequents McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s.

Who is your current market? Once people start visiting your website, social media pages, and business, you can gather data on your existing customers like their age, gender, race, financial status, occupation, educational level, and family status.

What is your customers’ mindset? To dig deeper into your market’s mindset, you can send out surveys or host panels to determine how your customers think. For example, do they have common interests, goals, needs, or values?

Designing Your Company’s Appearance

Your name, logo, slogan, and appearance should reflect who your company is in a meaningful and creative way.

When rebranding, remember to keep your appearance recognizable for your loyal customers, so you retain their trust. However, you can change your entire appearance and name if you also change your customer market or want to distance yourself from your previous brand.

Choosing a Company Name

Choosing a new company name is more than just picking a phrase you like. You also need your entire market to connect with the name. So here are some guidelines to follow to find a unique and powerful brand name.

Chick-Fil-A Branding Tips
Image courtesy of Chick-fil-A
  1. Has Meaning
    Your name should reflect your company’s mission and values. It could be an obvious connection, like Books-A-Million. But sometimes, it might be a more obscure meaning. For example, the radio streaming company Pandora. Their name is symbolic of Greek mythology, where the gods gave Pandora many gifts, such as the gift of music.
  2. Sounds Pleasant
    Of course, your name has to be pleasant. Otherwise, customers might feel off-put by your brand before they even try your product. But, what might not be as obvious is that your name should look good on paper and should sound pleasant when spoken.

    One example is Subway’s rebrand. Their original name was Pete’s Super Submarines. Unfortunately, people often heard “pizza submarines.” This was one deciding factor in their choice of renaming the company in 1968.
  3. Easy to Spell
    Sometimes brands change the spelling of common words to be unique and creative – especially if they want to find an available .com domain associated with their online branding. Some examples are Tumblr, Flickr, and Froot Loops. But those brand names are also often misspelled.

    Chick-Fil-A readily acknowledges the many complexities of their name, like the mid-word capitalization and the hyphens.

    Preferably, try to keep with traditional spellings and easy-to-remember names.
  4. Catches People’s Attention
    Unless you are a big name like H&M, add some creative flair to your company name. It could be an adjective like Friendly’s or use slang words like biz instead of business. Just keep your audience in mind. You don’t want to have a very casual name in a B2B professional industry. On the other hand, you also don’t want a stiff name for a teen clothing brand.
  5. Flexible Uses
    When you post pictures on Instagram, you are Instagramming. The person who posts those pictures is an Instagrammer.

    If you plan on growing big, your company name should be just as flexible as Instagram. Some other examples of nouns turned verbs are Google, PayPal, and Photoshop.
  6. Make it Unique
    If your name is too generic, people may end up at the wrong business or website. Customers may also associate you with other companies with similar-sounding names. For example, Costco is a wholesale retail store, while Cosco is an entirely unrelated furnishing and baby product brand.

    Instead, make your name unique by creating a new word, creatively using a known word, or combining several smaller words into one longer company name.

    In addition, when you choose a name, you should also trademark it to avoid other companies using similar phrases.

Designing a New Logo

People respond more to images than words. Take the following image as an example.

Which one appeals to you more – the picture of the dog or the word?

Dog vs Dog logo example
Image courtesy of UC San Diego

Professor Piotr Winkielman from UC San Diego conducted a study about the effect of images on people. He showed that briefly showing a picture of a happy face to a group of thirsty viewers resulted in those people drinking more versus showing an angry face.

Your company logo can have that same power over people who see your business.

So, what emotions do you want your viewers to experience when they see your logo?

Here are some general guidelines to help you redesign your logo in a way that conveys a message, influences an attitude, and captures attention.

Reflects your brand

Your logo should relate to your brand. It can be an obvious relation, like monogram logos or Target’s logo, which is a giant Target. Or, it can be a subtle connection, like the Starbucks siren, which was inspired by the story of Moby Dick.

Communicates a message

Your logo can also reflect your company’s mission. For example, Goodwill’s logo turns the letter G into a smiling face to show their mission of making a positive impact.

Goodwill Branding Message
Image courtesy of Goodwill

However, if you are going to incorporate abstract images into your logo, be sure to make the picture clear. Otherwise, you may end up with negative or awkward connections – like the latest Hershey’s chocolate logo with an unfortunately shaped stylized chocolate.

Hershey Branding Message
Image courtesy of Hershey’s

Conveys a Feeling

Just like an image of a smiling face made people more likely to drink, your logo can change people’s attitudes towards your business. One example of this is the red, white, and blue color scheme of Pepsi. They chose these colors during World War II to show support for the troops and inspire patriotism.

Pepsi Branding
Image courtesy of Pepsi

If you need some additional inspiration, consider looking at the logos of other businesses in your industry. You can also write a list of defining brand words and find a way to turn them into a picture. Finally, while creating your logo, consider the meaning of colors (e.g., red is related to love) and the script (e.g., cursive for luxury brands).

Be sure to research any underlying meaning of images. For example, lions represent courage. On the other hand, a raven can mean insight but also symbolizes a bad omen and gives off Edgar Allen Poe vibes. Animals, colors, and symbols also have different meanings across cultures, so knowing your demographic is essential before designing your logo.

Rewriting Your Slogan

Your brand’s slogan is a way to make your company stand out, define what you do, and capture people’s attention.

Here are some of the most memorable slogans.

  • Nike – Just Do It
  • Apple – Think Different
  • California Milk Processor Board – Got Milk?
  • Wheaties – Breakfast of Champions.
  • Dunkin’ Donuts – America Runs on Dunkin’

Your slogan should be short and simple and save your long jargon for later. Since you have very few words to convey a message, make each word powerful. For example, you can incorporate actions, precise adjectives, and feeling words for the most significant impact. When you combine your simple, powerful message, it should be easy to say and memorable.

Do you need some inspiration?

Start by listing defining words that express your brand’s mission or relate to your products. When narrowing down the list, remember that the words will usually come next to your logo, so find a combination that reflects what your logo signifies.

Allstate Branding Slogan
Image courtesy of Allstate

Fine Tuning Your Look

Now comes the nitty-gritty of your rebranding – choosing colors, fonts, and an overall design of your business. If you have physical stores, you will even have to decide how to layout your store and design the outside of the building.

Every aspect of your appearance should center around your mission and market. For example, are you a children’s brand? Use bright colors and simple shapes. Do you sell to CEOs? Keep your design professional and muted.

To boost your brand even further, you can choose a “face” for your company. For example, Nike is a company that relies heavily on influencer marketing and endorsements. Their partnership with Michael Jordan even resulted in a line of sneakers named after him. CoverGirl also uses celebrities to promote their brand, like Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.

Time to Put It All Together

Now that we covered everything that goes into a successful rebrand, you are ready to get started. As one last helpful resource, here’s a checklist to follow (as it relates to your company’s online presence) once you’ve finalized your new branding and messaging:

  • Properly update (301 redirect) the primary domain of your company website (if you’re changing your domain name)
  • Update all links and references to your old brand name throughout your website’s content
  • Update all of your social media profiles (profile handles, cover pages, profile images, website URLs)
  • Update your local business and directory listings
  • Notify your customers and prospects (via email and social)
  • Notify any partners or linking websites that are still using your old branding (logo, links, etc)
  • Notify any partners or linking websites that are still using your old branding (logo, links, etc)
  • Send out an online press release (if the change is significant/newsworthy)
  • Update any branding ad campaigns that you’re running to use your new branding

Rebranding is both fun and nerve-racking as you hold your breath waiting to see how people react. Just remember, no brand is forever. You can always rebrand in the future if your new look doesn’t work.

However, if you follow the guidelines for a strong brand strategy, you can avoid common rebranding fails. Instead, you will see your new brand help your company attract more customers, bring in more significant revenue, and thrive for years to come.

And, as always, if there’s anything in this process (or the whole process) that you’d just rather not take on, then please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Need Help With Your Rebranding Strategy?

Our team has completed over 300 rebranding projects (including our own on 2 different occasions). Let us save you time, money, and unnecessary stress by talking through your rebranding plan with you and your team.

Schedule a Consultation
Categories: Branding, Business, Web Design

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