Bringing a new look and feel to a familiar brand can be an enormous, months-long undertaking. Along the way, you’ll be faced with a lot of questions, comments and changes from all parties involved, especially when working alongside a client on their rebranding efforts.
Having gone through several rebrands myself, I wanted to share a few success stories, learning points and even a couple of flops.
If you’re gonna fail, fail hard
Rebrands can be a tricky (and touchy) subject. If consumers don’t like the new design or concept, they’ll let you know.
Anyone remember New Coke? I’m dating myself here, but New Coke lasted for three months in 1985 before the original Coke formula — now known as Coca-Cola Classic — was put back on the shelf. Weirdly enough, for a product that failed and failed hard, you could still find New Coke in international markets until 2002, some 17 years after it was introduced.
And we all remember the story of the new Gap logo, even if it was only around for one week. After being introduced in October 2010, the new look was met with severe backlash online, with everyone and their mother weighing in (mostly negatively). The overall reviews were so against the new look that within one week, Gap reverted back to its iconic logo.
The best takeaway from this fiasco: The @GapLogo Twitter account, which pokes fun at other brands attempting redesigns and rebrandings. While it hasn’t tweeted since July 2016, it’s always good for a laugh.
Be ready to change
As an account manager, I’ve helped several clients undergo rebrands in the last nine months. One was successfully completed last fall, another is currently ongoing and a third is in the planning stages. I’ll focus on the first two, and talk about the roles we play as a social media marketing agency during a client rebrand. It’s more than just swapping out a Facebook image with a new logo and calling it a day.
Our now-completed rebrand occurred last fall with one of our healthcare clients. While almost all the creative and copy was done by the client, we had a list of our own to check off. These tasks included pausing several active initiatives; adjusting the client’s new name in all our documents and procedures, as well as on hard-to-rename social channels like Google; stop publishing content for about six weeks while the client’s site was scrapped by the web developer; creating new social images for every channel; and finally turn everything over on social at 5AM on the morning of the rebrand.
It may not seem like a lot, but the number of calls, emails, meetings and hours put to this rebrand was staggering. In the end, the rebrand was a success on both ends and warmly received by our client’s followers, with many accolades coming in from the surrounding community.
Our current rebrand has an added element to it, with the company growing and expanding its distribution of its products. The rebrand — which included new packaging, a new logo and a new marketing concept — has been in the planning stages since late last summer, so it was something we were working toward with an ever-changing start date. We teased the coming change for several weeks before changing everything over on social.
The second element of expanded distribution means working with our creative designer to follow the marketing guidelines of all the new distributors and presenting them to our client for their approval. With so many new distributors and the many different versions of packaging for the products, it’s easy to send over the wrong image to the client. So far, the fresh look and the news of new distributors have gone over well with our fans, and we’re excited to share more updates on social soon.
What to expect
With an upcoming rebrand on the horizon for another client, this is what I’ve already learned from the previous two:
- Communication is key: There’s pressure on everyone during a rebrand, and the more you’re in contact with everyone involved, the more you’ll be in the know when changes are made at the last minute — because last-minute changes will happen.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions: When it comes to a new look, the last thing you want to be is uniformed and sending over copy and creative that’s wrong — it’s only going to add to your client’s stress. There’s no such thing as a stupid question, and during a rebrand, every question is the right question.
- Give the client what they want, and don’t be afraid to add to it: If the client asks for X, give them X… and also give them a play on X. A little added creativity could be that missing piece they’re looking for in all the craziness of the rebrand.
- Above all, know you’re creating a new look: At the end of the rebrand, you’re bringing a new life and new energy to the product at hand. Let that be your motivation throughout the entire project.