How to plan a rebrand in 3.5 steps




January 19, 2021

I love design and photography for its ability to engage and delight. It's why I wanted to run my own business, to create brands that engage effectively and make customers unbelievably happy.

I launched Snapper Studio (formerly Martin Sully Design) in 2014 — leaving a flurry of cartoon dust in my wake! In our first five years, I learnt approximately thirteen million new things about branding, which I didn't know when I launched.

Here's a couple —

  • Branding is how your staff answer the phone and respond to emails.
  • Branding is the scented soap you choose to use in your customer bathrooms.
  • Branding is even the thickness of toilet paper you choose for those bathrooms.
  • Branding is the most valuable asset your business owns.

Your brand is not just your logo, your website or the name. It's everything! Your visual identity is incredibly important – it's spread over every touchpoint. 

Your brand is more like an avocado. It has layers — a seed that is vital for the growth (brand positioning). Delicious flesh that customers return for again and again (brand experience), and skin that holds it together (brand appearance).

Your decisions affect how you are perceived, by peers and by potential customers. And, positive reinforcement of your brand is vital for returning customers, they come to expect the same experience each time they engage with you.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, our priority was to offer our support to customers who really needed it. Many simply did what they could to survive. The pandemic decreased our workload, giving us some time to develop the new brand. 

We consciously decided to rebrand quietly. We didn't want long-term customers, or new customers to feel that we had unnecessarily rebranded. Over 3-4 months, we introduced new elements of the brand, logos, emails addresses, emails and the website finally. Giving us a new platform to help promote brands we work with and customers we see as family.

We used our 3.5 step process to discover where we wanted the brand to stand, how we could deliver it to customers and what we wanted it to look like. Ready to find out how you can plan your rebrand as we did?

Step 1 – Brand Positioning

Before you dismantle your website, disconnect your social accounts and deal out all your business cards. You need to know what you do well, what you do poorly and figure out the who, why and what.

This may not sound as exciting as creating the visual parts of your brand, but when you peel back the layers, you realise there's a sweet, juicy centre. It's what gets your brand out of bed, brushes its teeth and puts on some sparkly thongs, just to go to the postbox and back.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Who are your ideal customers? What problems are you solving, and why do they come back for more?
  • Who are not your ideal customers?
  • How do you want your customers to perceive your brand?
  • Are they able to explain to friends what you do? Can they relay your values without confusion?
  • How would you like your customers to describe what you do? What words do they use to describe your brand?
  • How do you want your brand to make your customers feel?
  • What is your why? Why are you in business?
  • Who's your competition? What sets you apart?

Step 2 – Brand Experience

Following on from brand positioning, you need to think about the experience your customers have when they interact with your brand. It doesn't matter if you have a shop or sell purely online. It's essential to break down each step in a customers journey, from stranger to acquaintance to best friend who spruiks how awesome you are to everyone. What are the steps, and how do you plan to interact with them?

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are there any parts of the customer process they struggle with? Are they confused? Are there delays?
  • Are there any parts of the customer process you struggle with?
  • Do you need to alter any parts of your process to improve your brand experience?
  • If you get complaints about services/products? How are they handled? Is it always for the same product/service?
  • Can you streamline your internal services/improve products? 
  • Why do customers choose you, and keep coming back?
  • What feelings are customers left with when they interact with your brand? What emotions do you want customers to feel?
  • Look at your customer touchpoints and analyse what you could do better. Are they consistent with one another?

Step 3 – Brand Appearance

Ok, so you know how you want to position your brand, and the experience you want to give your customers. The third step is to analyse how you communicate – visually, verbally and in writing. 

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Use a combination of descriptive and visual words to describe your visual identity.
  • How would you describe your brand voice?
  • Do you and your team feel proud of your visuals/brand voice? Why?
  • Are your visuals and brand voice consistent across all your brand touchpoints? What can be improved?
  • How can you make the visual identity/brand voice consistent?
  • How do your customers respond to visuals/brand voice? Make a note of comments (good and bad) that are triggered.
  • How do you want your brand to be described by customers? Think about it from a visual identity and brand voice view.
  • What visual identity assets do you have? Logos, fonts, colour palettes, graphic elements, icons, patterns, photography styles, illustrations etc.
  • What marketing assets do you have and use? This is anything to promote your brand — website, brochures, social media templates, email marketing templates, adverts, business cards, email signatures etc.
  • Are there any visual/marketing assets you wish you had? Or, assets you have but never use? 
  • What visual identity/marketing assets do you need to move the brand forward?

Step 3.5 - The Glue

In working on our own brand, we discovered a beautiful half step that sits over everything and holds it all together. It's an area merging strategy and planning with design and implementation. 

There are infinite ways to approach brand identity design. But, without a clear position, you can't target your audience and give them an appropriate brand experience. They'll also likely be less interested in what you have to say and how you look.

Think of branding like a battery. There's a negative and positive, and neither can exist/work without the other. Once you are clear on each step, you can work out a plan of how to evolve and improve.

Action steps:

  • Who is your target audience? Work out their problems and how you will position yourself to answer their unique issues.
  • What will your brand experience look like? Do you need to invest in, create or organise any new processes to keep the experience consistent?
  • Write down how your brand voice will sound? Pick out words and phrases you would like to use. Make a list of all the phrases to exclude too.
  • How will you create a consistent brand voice? Will you create your own voice and tone? Will you hire a copywriter? Side note: you always have the same voice, but the tone is different to reflect the emotional states of the audience.
  • What will your visuals look like? Start building a mood board on Pinterest — look at logos, colour palettes, typography, photography, and other visual elements to inspire your brand. Think about how they will make customers feel, and the goals of your brand.
  • How will you create a consistent visual identity? Will you create your own visual identity? Will you hire a designer to help? 
  • What visuals and marketing collateral do you need to create or refresh? Think about your logo, brochures, business cards, letterheads, website. Create a list of all the items you use to speak to your target audience.
  • Make a rough timeline to plan the relaunch. Taking into consideration how long it may take to recreate marketing collateral, update the website and how long anything will take to print. Give yourselves a generous amount of wiggle room, so you can ensure everything is ready. Nobody likes egg on their face.

I'd highly recommend reaching out to professionals for guidance on any areas you are stuck on – the clearer your thoughts on the direction – the better the results! A creative team is only as good as the research. So get all your ideas out of your head onto paper.

We are planning content for the remainder of the year, so if you have a topic that needs addressing, or if you have any questions, let us know via our contact form.

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Martin loves working with customers, using his design and photography skills to create unique, brave and consistent brands.

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