4 Tips for Healthy Rebranding

Posted on March 12th 2013

4 Tips for Healthy Rebranding

ImageMost people don't like change and this is especially true when we talk about beloved brands. However there are times a brand needs to change its look and social media can help guide that process and ease the transition. Rebranding can give a company a shot in the arm and create enthusiasm and excitement. It also provides a great opportunity to engage socially with fans. How do you introduce your new look to your fan base? Here are four tips for creating a smooth transition:

Give brand watchers a sneak peek—Your news will likely be most important to the trade outlets that cover your industry so that is a good place to start. Reporters and bloggers often grumble about agreeing to an embargo but if your brand is influential enough they will agree to keep quiet in order to be the first to hear the news. You can either give one highly prestigious outlet the exclusive or share your news with a small coterie of trusted influencers. Choose wisely though because if one outlet breaks embargo the rest will quickly follow suit.

How you choose to roll out your changes depends on your business. Websites can often announce a change right before it takes place. Brands with a heavy physical presence may need to start a lot earlier. Wendy's recently changed their logo but they announced the change last October. 

Have good reasons behind your decision—Rebranding without any reason doesn’t resonate with anyone. It’s important to let your fans, and your critics know both why you made the move and the steps behind it. Make sure that you can explain not just the why of the decision but also the how. How did you choose the new logo? Whom did you work with? What was the process behind the transition? Social media is about authenticity and having these types of details help your fans get closer to the brand and the people involved. Get quotes from your creatives  including branding execs and designers that really give some of the inside thinking and details of how colors, shapes and slogans were selected. You chose this particular look for a reason so be ready to share that with your fans. That will appeal to both branding and marketing types as well as the general audience.

Be ready to engage—You may love your new look, your entire company may think it’s amazing, but remember, people tend to balk at the unfamiliar. When you release your new brand into the wild it’s important to monitor social responses and engage when appropriate. If you have those quotes from your creative team or stories and blog posts prepared about the brand you can link to those. Taste is subjective and you may not be able to change minds but you can use this opportunity to make a connection. Keep the tone positive, enthusiastic and open. Use your employees who are on social media to help both share their enthusiasm and interact with fans.

Be open to adaptation—Sometimes the best marketing and rebranding plans can go awry. When popular notebook brand Moleskine launched a competition for designers to create a new badge for the company blog, the company was accused by designers of using its fans as free labor.  Despite the controversy the contest did receive over 2,000 entries. Perhaps the most famous example of rebranding gone wrong took place in 2010 when Gap revealed its new logo and was roundly heckled on social media. At first Gap responded to user complaints by saying on Facebook that while they loved their new logo they were also open to other suggestions. Eventually the brand announced on Facebook instead of crowdsourcing a new design they would be returning to the familiar blue box logo. The company hasn’t attempted a rebrand since. Even though the rebranding didn’t go the way they hoped, they proved that they are able to listen and respond to their fans. Similarly, the University of California was forced to rethink their new logo in 2012 after a massive outcry that including over 50,000 on Change.org.

Deidre Woollard

Deidre Woollard

Deidre Woollard has written for AOL.com, HuffingtonPost.com, Realtor.com, JustLuxe.com, Pursuitist.com and more. She teaches in the University of California Irvine Extension Digital Journalism Program.

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Comments

Rebranding needs to be handled with utmost care and attention especially if you are planning to change your company name or domain name. I faced this issue some time back but ultimately decided to cancel my plans. Altghough in theory redirects, etc. can be set-up, in practice it is much more difficult.

Any time there is a rebranding effort with an organization, an internal launch is absolutely critical to its success. Also, employee engagement is key. People support what they help build, so engage key employees early in the process and keep them informed. 

And ... it's especially important to launch your rebranding efforts internally before externally. Creating brand ambassadors from the beginning is critical!

One additional piece of advice for those who are looking to do some rebranding is to avoid confusing the customers. People tend to react badly to change when they get confused, so it is important not to give them the dilemma of trying to figure out your identity. If you are going to make the jump, then commit to it and not hover uncertainly between the two choices.