Rebranding – The Right Approach and Process
Rebranding… whether you’re going into it excited or looking at it as an unfortunate, but necessary, step you need to be ready for a difficult process. But difficult doesn’t mean impossible…
Why Consider Rebranding?
There are many of reasons you might consider rebranding, but here are some of the most common situations:
- Repositioning Your Brand in an Existing Market – Businesses evolve. Maybe you started out thinking you’d like to take your brand in one direction, but after spending time in the market, you think a different area has better potential. To pivot to these new opportunities, you might need to rebrand your business to better fit the market. A common example of this is rebranding is to promote a more “upmarket” image.
- Moving into a New Market – If you’re moving into a completely new market, you may need to rebrand your business to strategically meet these new customers.
It could be cultural differences or you may just want to differentiate your brand between two different markets. No matter what it is, this is a common scenario for initiating a rebrand.
- Legal or Image Problems – Have you ever heard of Andersen Consulting? They’re perhaps best known for their role in the Enron scandal. But nowadays, you won’t find Anderson Consulting conducting business. Why’s that? Because they completed rebranded their operations to “Accenture” in order to avoid the stink of Enron.
Hopefully, this example doesn’t fit your situation. But the unfortunate fact is that sometimes you’ll hit legal or image snags that require rebranding to successfully navigate. Whether you accidentally chose a copyrighted business name or ran into unsolvable image problems, you’ll need to rebrand.
How to Prepare for Rebranding
Rebranding is not something you want to jump into without the proper preparation. Before making any changes, here’s what you should consider and prepare:
Figure Out Why You’re Rebranding and If It’s Absolutely Necessary
Whether you’re rebranding for one of the reasons I listed above or another situation, now is the time to truly consider whether:
You’re rebranding for the right reasons
Rebranding is truly the best solution to your problem
Make sure you know exactly why you’re doing a rebrand and how rebranding will solve the problem you’re facing.
Only then should you move into developing the plan for your new brand.
Figure Out Your New Brand
If you’re certain a rebrand is necessary, you’re ready to develop your new brand. I won’t go into all the details because developing a brand identity requires a whole post of its own.
But here are the basic questions you need to be able to answer:
What values do I want my new brand to communicate?
Which audiences do I want my new brand to reach?
What makes my new brand unique?
How does my new brand communicate with my target audience?
Because digging much deeper moves outside the scope of this post, here’s some further reading if you need help developing your new brand:
How to Build Your Personal Branding
The Marketer’s Guide to Developing a Strong Corporate and Brand Identity
Once you have your new brand identity figured out, you’re ready to start shifting into rebranding mode. But before you start changing things, there’s one more preparation step you need to complete:
Create an Inventory of All Your Brand Assets
Before you start changing things around, you need to actually keep track of everything that needs to be changed. To that end, it helps to create an inventory of all your current brand assets which need to be updated. This inventory will help you immensely in the next section of this post.
These can include internal digital assets like logos, eBooks, and featured blog images. But they also include external digital assets like social media accounts, as well as any physical assets at your disposal.
Once you have everything inventoried, you’re ready to start executing your rebranding strategy. Here’s how to do it…
How to Execute Your Rebranding – Updating Assets
No one said rebranding was easy. Successfully executing your rebrand requires updating a whole slew of assets. I’ll cover the various digital, SEO, and physical assets that you will need to update to execute your rebrand with minimal fuss. Let’s go through them in order…
Update All of Your Digital Assets
Your digital assets are things like your website, domain name, social media accounts, and email marketing efforts. Here’s what you need to update:
Domain Name – This is the big one. If your rebrand involves changing your domain name, you’ll need to register your new domain name and transfer all content over.
Website Design – Rebranding usually involves a completely new look to differentiate yourself from your old brand. You’ll need to both secure this new design as well as set it up on your site.
Social Media Accounts – You’ll need to either secure new usernames for your brand and/or change existing accounts or pages to your new brand.
Social Media Graphics – You’ll need all new cover graphics and profile pictures for all of your social accounts.
Email Marketing – You’ll need to update all the branding in your email marketing software, as well as any newsletter assets that you regularly use. This is especially important to comply with spam regulations.
Promotional Materials – Any existing marketing materials you wish to continue using will need to be updated to your new branding. Here are some examples of materials you’ll need to update:
- Content upgrades
Email Addresses – You need to set up email addresses for your new brand and redirect old mail to the proper new address. For example, you need to set up “email@example.com” to forward emails to “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
Don’t Waste Your SEO Efforts – Rebranding SEO Considerations
You probably put a lot of time and effort into search engine optimization for your old brand. It would be a huge mistake to let all that energy go to waste. That’s why you need to pay careful attention to SEO when you execute your rebrand. Here are the things you’ll want to consider:
Set Up 301 Redirects – Setting up proper 301 redirects to send readers (and search engine robots) from your old domain to your new domain is massively important to maintaining your SEO traffic. Check out this post for a general guide on migrating WordPress content to a new domain.
Inbound Links – All those inbound links you built? Yeah, they’re now pointing to your old brand. And while existing links should redirect readers to your new brand if you set up 301 redirects, it can be confusing to readers when they’re sent to a website other than the one they clicked on.
So this one will take some work – you need to commit to outreach to all your major backlinks. Ask them to kindly update their links to your new brand to avoid any confusion for their readers.
You won’t be able to fix 100% of your backlinks, but you want to change as many as humanly possible.
Directory Listings – Similar to inbound links, you also need to reach out to all the directories listing your business/site and ask them to update your listing to reflect your rebranding. Again, don’t expect 100% success, but try to knock out as many as possible.
Google Search Console – This one is pretty easy to do, but you’ll need to create a new Google Search Console property to reflect your new brand.
Google Analytics – Similar to creating a new Search Console property, you’ll also need to update your Google Analytics account to your new brand to ensure you can accurately track your website’s performance.
Update References / Internal Links – Sorry, this one is a bit of a pain. But it is important, especially if you have a large archive of blog posts. You need to update all of your internal links to point to your new domain. You’ll also need to update any references to your brand in old blog posts to avoid confusing your readers.
Assuming you’re using WordPress, you can use the Velvet Blues Update URLs plugin to easily update all of your internal links. Updating unlinked references will require either running a database query, using Google search operators, or manually combing through old posts.
Update Your Physical / Legal Assets
Okay, this may not apply to all businesses. If you run your business 100% digitally, there may be little to update. But if you’re involved in any type of offline marketing/networking, you likely will need to update some of your physical assets as part of your rebranding. There are also some legal considerations you might face.
Here are some items to consider:
– You’ll need to update business cards for both yourself and all of your staff members (if any).
Other Stationery – If you use other branded stationery beyond business cards, you need to update all of those items as well.
Business Registration – If you need to change your official business name as part of the rebranding process, you may need to update your business registration with the government. This depends entirely on how your business is currently structured.
Tax Information – Again, depending on how your business is structured, you may or may not need to update your tax information with the government. Consider it and consult an expert to determine whether or not you need to complete this step for your exact situation.
Update W-9s – If you’ve issued W-9s to other companies as part of receiving payment, you’ll need to update those documents to reflect your new business name (if you’ve officially changed the legal standing of your brand).
Promote Your Rebranding to Push Awareness of Your New Brand
Once you’ve updated all of your brand assets to reflect your new brand, it’s time for the next step:
Pushing acceptance for your new brand.
People may have known your old brand, but that knowledge goes out the window when you rebrand…unless you properly promote your new brand.
To do this effectively, you may need to shell out some money. But there are also some free methods you can employ. Let’s go through them…
Distribute a Press Release
Step one is to write and distribute a press release announcing your rebranding. Try to get it distributed as widely as a possible. Not only will you have a chance of directly reaching your readers, but you’ll also have a chance to reach them in the SERPs when they search for either your new or old brand.
Leverage Your Social Media Following
Once your rebrand goes live, push this information hard on social media. Most social media networks allow making a post “sticky.” Take advantage of this to make a sticky post notifying followers of your rebranding.
Send an Announcement to Your Email List
Take advantage of your email list to broadcast an announcement to all of your subscribers. Inform them of the change and any other relevant information. You can even send out some emails leading up to your rebranding so readers aren’t surprised by the change.
Write a Blog Post Announcing the Change
This is a simple, but necessary, method. Write a post announcing the change and introducing your new brand. You’ll be able to reach your blog followers directly. But this blog post will also have a secondary effect of ranking another rebranding announcement in the SERPs. Confused readers will be able to find this post through Google.
Add a Notification to Your Front Page
Adding a notification to your front page is a great way to catch redirected users who may be confused why they’re on a different website than they’re used to. Two simple ways of notifying users are lightbox popups or notification bars, both of which are easy to implement in WordPress.
Here’s an example of Elegant Themes using a notification bar to announce a new product release:
You can do something similar to announce your rebranding.
Run Remarketing Ads for Your Old Website’s Audience
This one isn’t free, but if you’re willing to spend some money, you can run remarketing ads to people who previously visited your website. You can run these ads on both Facebook and Google to inform people of the change and get them acquainted with your new brand.