Are you a software company? Or at risk of becoming a professional services company?
How to successfully rebrand a company [w/checklist]
Your brand is your company’s most powerful asset.
A strong company brand can influence behaviors, drive action, and create loyalty across your customers and stakeholders. Still, branding is one of the most difficult marketing lifts for a company in the 21st century because of the increasing number of marketing communication channels adopted.
Once you’ve created a brand that evokes the right actions and emotions from your stakeholders, it’s time to launch and implement your new branding. From old email footers to the changing social media handles, any errors in your brand launch will be a red flag and leave a negative first impression on stakeholders -- all of which you’ve worked too hard to let happen.
Launching a rebrand is a time-sensitive, multi-channel process, and you only have one chance to get it right. By the end of this guide, you’ll know everything you need to know to launch a multi-channel rebrand for your company.
What is a brand?
Contrary to popular belief, a brand is not the company’s logo, color palette, and tagline.
Rather, a brand is the collectivized emotions, thoughts and perceptions surrounding your brand carrier by your stakeholders.
And while you can’t change how others perceive your existing brand, you can redirect the narrative by providing your stakeholders with a different set of messages, values and feelings.
To change how your brand is perceived, focus on driving the right messages to the right people at the right place -- communicating with your customer, employees, and investors to collectively change what your brand means and how it functions as a part of society.
6 reasons companies undergo a rebrand
Rebrands are time consuming, expensive and tricky. Before you decide to rebrand your company, make sure that you’re not opting for the most complicated solution and you exhaust all of your other options.
Whether you’re trying to modernize your brand or your brand is confusing and disjointed, conducting a rebrand is a strategic lift that can repair and boost your company’s marketing function.
Let’s explore six main reasons why companies undergo rebranding campaigns to best understand the type of rebrand needed:
- Out-of-date: Sometimes, a brand’s identity was formed so long ago that it’s become outdated. If your brand is outdated, that’s okay - it shows a successful track record. Many companies don’t stick around long enough to become outdated.
- Expanded offerings: If you’ve expanded your ICP, diversified your offering, or are pivoting entirely from your current offerings or ICP, you might consider a rebrand to establish a clear identity for your new market and customers.
- New company structure: Many companies undergo a rebrand following company mergers or acquisitions. Like the 2018 acquisition of inVentiv Health by INC Research, the two companies were combined to create one new brand: Syneos Health.
- Market shifts: Often, market changes such as shifting consumer preferences or market trends can nudge brands to re-fresh or overhaul their outdated branding.
- Naming conflicts: If your company shares its name with another brand or business, it might be easier (and less confusing) to rebrand to a new name or brand identity.
- Poor reputation: Unfortunately, some brands choose to adopt a new identity when they’ve fallen into negative public light, or PR heat. When a brand has exhausted their other options to make amends and repair their reputation within the public view, a rebrand can be successful at (temporarily) dispelling negative sentiments.
Whatever the driving factors of your rebrand are, it’s worth doing right the first time. You’ll need to put significant resources into creating your new brand identity, and get your leadership’s input and approval continuously throughout the process. Aligning with leadership’s input and feedback will be crucial to creating a brand that’s timeless and effective.
Selecting the right type of rebrand
At Kalungi, we’ve executed two different tiers of client rebrands: a brand refresh, and full rebrand. Let’s explore these different marketing efforts, and review some of my personal favorite branding moments.
Brand refreshes, or partial rebrands, require an update to specific elements (which may or may include logo, color palette, iconography, typography and messaging) of a brand. If you’d like to keep the core elements of your brand but optimize specific brand elements, this type of rebrand is the right choice for your company.
Here’s a wonderful example from a Kalungi favorite, Slack:
As you can see, Slack’s rebrand transitioned away from the pound symbol and toward a pinwheel-esque logo while still keeping their fun, colorful aesthetic. By using a simpler color palette (their original logo had 11 colors), they refined the logo’s visual appearance while still representing the original design.
The key takeaway here is that brand refreshes allow you to make tweaks and changes to your organization’s brand, which allows you to adapt to shifting marketplaces and company identities. While Slack’s refresh didn’t include any core brand value, messaging and positioning, or name changes, they cleaned up their logo to simplify future visual communications and improve consistency across communication channels.
A full rebrand, on the other hand, involves updating all aspects of your branding. From your company’s name, messaging and values to visual identity, the before and after of a full rebrand should bear very few similarities.
Full rebranding is the better choice if your organization has undergone a merger or acquisition, you’ve changed your offerings, or you’ve shifted your organization’s values and mission.
Public sector SaaS provider Clariti (formerly known as BasicGov) underwent a rebrand in 2020 that included a new name, color palette, messaging, iconography, and more.
A few major changes were implemented, including name, logo, color pallet and iconography. But most importantly, their value proposition, values, identity and tone changed:
The brand’s former name, logo and visual identity didn’t accurately represent the brand’s future-looking, modernized cloud offering. Clariti needed a modern, fun brand that stood out from their competitors in the government software industry, as well as communicating a main benefit of their solutions -- clarity, or transparency into once-siloed government processes.
Now, the Clariti logo and color palette (along with their brand voice, website and other assets) provide a clear picture of the brand’s values and offerings of an evergreen and transparent solution for digitally transformed governments.
When you’re rebranding your company, it’s important to ensure that the individual elements of your rebrand compose a well-rounded brand story that aligns with your offering, customers and positioning. If your brand’s identity and offerings are disconnected, your customers and prospects will be confused and your hard work won’t deliver the results you want.
What to include in your company rebrand
When you’re going through the process of a rebrand, your marketing team will be juggling many balls at once. It’s difficult not to drop anything, and doing so can jeopardize your newly-created brand identity.
To combat this, follow our Kalungi rebrand checklist as a basis for your B2B SaaS rebrand, and augment as needed for your own brand’s needs and existing resources.
The comprehensive rebranding checklist
Here’s a comprehensive list of everything you need to create and develop a well-rounded new brand:
- Brand identity. This includes your:
- New name
- Unique value proposition
- Taglines and messaging
- Ideal customer profile
- Competitive positioning matrix
- Legalities. Once you’ve determined your brand’s future identity, your marketing team must do its due diligence and research. Ask yourself:
- Do your competitors have a similar name?
- Are there available domains?
- Are there existing trademarks and copyrights?
- Are there social media handles available?
- Style guide. It’s important to have a single source of truth for your brand. Whether you have an in-house team of designers or use freelancers on an as-needed basis, your style guide ensures that you can scale and remain consistent across your marketing channels. Every style guide should define your:
- Color palette
- Logo usage
- Digital assets. Once you’ve changed your brand, it’s time to create and update all out-of-date resources that your company is still using. Note that you don’t have to rebrand all of your assets -- rather, pick what’s most important for your company right now and make a note of what hasn’t been updated if you need to use it in the future. Make sure to rebrand your most relevant:
- Business cards
- Invoices and letterheads
- Email templates
- Email addresses
- Website. Every rebrand requires changes to your website. From typography and iconography to updated messaging and logos, make sure your brand is consistent and telling the story you want. If you’re conducting a full rebrand, you’ll likely need to migrate your existing website content to your new domain. To do this, set up 301 redirects from all of your old URLs to the new pages.
Additionally, make sure to update all of your active landing pages. It’s critical that you transition all visible design elements and language to represent the new brand, so you’re not confusing or misrepresenting the brand you’ve worked so hard on.
- Internal updates. One of the last (and most simple) steps is to update your internal company’s assets. This might include:
- Email signatures
- Intranet communities (or digital workplaces)
- Employee training and onboarding materials
- Internal forms, invoices, receipts and slide decks
Rebrand launch day
When the day of your brand launch is here, you don’t want to be scrambling. It’s best to prepare fully ahead of time, so that during the day of your launch you can simply publish and make the announcement.
Rushing out email announcements, social media updates and website changes means you have more room for error, and it’s well worth the effort to get it right the first time.
When everything’s ready and it’s time to spread awareness for this new chapter of your company's journey, use these three communication channels for a well-executed launch:
- Blog. We typically create a blog for the company to publish on the day of the rebrand launch. When you’re writing this blog post, you can include:
- Why you decided to rebrand
- What the rebrand means for your customers
- What the new brand identity represents (include your values and vision)
- How the rebrand aligns with your company’s long-term strategic goals
- Social media. Make sure to clearly communicate the changes with your social media audience, whether it’s on LinkedIn or Instagram. Try talking about your brand priorities, and what’s to come in this new chapter. Make sure you’re also updating:
- Social media profile images
- Story icons
- Profile biography
- Google business information
- Email. You should send two emails on the day of your rebrand: an external newsletter announcing the change and inviting your subscribers to visit your new website or social media, and include your blog announcement for additional information. Your internal announcement should be company-wide and to all relevant stakeholders; while people may already be aware of this company change, it’s a good way to kick off the new chapter of your company's life.
Rebrand your B2B SaaS company for evergreen resonance
For organizations that wish to be evergreen and relevant, it’s important to assess brand identity and understand when it’s time for an updated or refreshed brand. Although a large project, using your time and resources well the first time will pay off in the long run.
By putting thoughtful attention and effort the right resources into your brand upfront, the results will span beyond a quarter or year. And you’ll be left with -- rather, a strong brand that will generate customer resonance, loyalty and love for years to come. Good luck with your rebrand, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions.