by Justin G. Roy
Organizational rebranding is a challenging yet ultimately rewarding task. Similar to someone starting an association from scratch, it requires patience, drive and initiative to succeed. When handled properly, however, it can be a fun and invigorating process that will reaffirm your belief in and commitment to the mission of your organization.
The elements involved in rebranding can vary greatly according to the size of your staff and the extent you plan to revamp. Redesigning your logo takes less time than updating your entire message, but having more hands on deck to assist with changes will make any initiative easier to accomplish. Let’s assume that your association needs a full rebranding and possesses limited human resources, as is typical of most organizations. With that in mind, by following these recommendations, you can reach your goal in a focused, efficient manner.
Why You Should Rebrand
Since rebranding takes an extensive pool of physical and personnel resources, it should occur due to dramatic organizational changes. If you plan to change the direction of your organization’s duties, a rebranding is in order. The same applies if you are expanding your service capabilities, venturing into new niches or renaming your organization.
Once you decide to rebrand, inform your employees and target audiences of what is happening and the reason(s) for the change. Update your constituents on the status of activities through your website, social media channels or other forms of mass communication, with a message like “Look for a new, easier-to-read layout of the monthly newsletter soon!” Supporters of your brand will appreciate being informed of your plans ahead of time.
How to Begin
Proactive research remains key to a successful rebranding. Survey your customers about why they enjoy being members of your organization, as well as those individuals who decided against renewing with you, to determine your brand’s strengths and weaknesses. Consider holding focus groups with those who provide services to you, and even talk with prospective clients about your plans. Additionally, examine the demands of the market you serve. These insights will point you to where you need to revise your brand.
Determine how you want to implement your rebranding. Some prefer to make the bulk of changes “behind the scenes” and then roll them out simultaneously. Others want to have elements appear in stages, perhaps first in printed material including letterhead and business envelopes and then on the Internet. Plan at the outset how you want this rebranding rollout to occur for an efficient changeover.
What a Rebranding Will Entail
Let everyone involved in rebranding understand that implementing any changes will probably take at least a year, depending upon your organization’s size and the extent of the effort. This long time should encompass the seemingly endless areas of your brand that you will need to address. Consider all the places where your logo appears – email signatures of your staff, business signs and cards, invoices to vendors and so on. Add to that changing your organization’s voicemail, letting search engines and websites of your partners and supporters know they need to put your new branding on their websites, and providing notification to the IRS if you change your name, among other factors, and you have a lengthy to-do list.
To expertly manage these tasks, assign target dates for completion. While it might take just three months to design a new logo, it is more likely to take longer to rebrand your website, particularly if you want to ensure that every page is up to date with your new look and messaging.
It is helpful to use a spreadsheet to prioritize the top three to five items to accomplish each month, depending on your goals. Upon establishing these duties, if you are making these changes in-house, know they will have to occur alongside regular work activities, and allow enough leeway there. You may find it beneficial to enlist a temporary worker or two or an outside firm to help complete tasks on time without taxing your staff.
The Final Element Needed For Success
You must have a leader in place monitoring all the elements involved in your rebranding, someone who knows what goes where and understands what must take place to proceed on time. This person needs to understand that frustration will be normal, since nothing ever follows plans exactly. Additionally, this person needs to schedule some time away from the project to avoid having it engulf them, although for several people, the excitement of the change positively uses their time. With a strong leader at the helm, your rebranding can be finished on time and on budget.
There is a saying that “Without change, there wouldn’t be butterflies.” That is the aim you want from rebranding – to take what you already have and transform it into something more beautiful and appealing. Perhaps the best aspect of a rebranding is that it allows you time to check in with your community and begin conversations with people as you inform them about your planned changes. You will make new connections and ultimately bring more exposure to your organization, which is what you wanted when you began this ultimately satisfying brand revision.
Justin is vice president for communications and marketing for William Peace University, located in the heart of Raleigh, N.C. Exclusively an all-women’s institution for its first 152 years, Peace began offering coeducational evening courses through the William Peace School of Professional Studies in 2009. In 2011, Peace College transitioned to William Peace University and welcomed its first coeducational class to its day program in fall 2012. On average, more than 90 percent of the university’s graduates are placed in jobs or graduate school within one year of graduation.