10 things we learnt during our rebrand

Bana Shomali and Wim Torfs, founders of ServiceMarket.

Rebranding takes much more than just a simple name change. It is a complex and challenging task and getting it right takes time, research and a comprehensive rebranding strategy.

1. Start early and research thoroughly. A rebrand will take months of planning and work so make sure to start early. We started the process of rebranding over a year before the official switch of the URL. We went through tens of global case studies and spoke to other online start-ups, both international and regional, who had recently rebranded. This research gave us the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes.

2. Plan out every element of the rebrand in detail. Your company rebrand will happen over a series of phases. Plan out every element of the rebrand and create a detailed rebrand calendar that is shared with the entire company so that everyone is on the same page. The calendar should include as much detail as “Upload new cover photo to Twitter” so that nothing gets forgotten, and should have clear deadlines and individual responsibilities outlined.

3. Never do more than one change at the same time. Do not rush the rebrand and do not try to make multiple changes at once. It might seem appealing to change your brand, improve the design of the website, and add more services all in one go - however, this is a recipe for disaster. If you make multiple changes at once, then if anything goes wrong you won’t know which element is to blame and knowing how to rectify it will be a guessing game.

4. You’ll only do this once. So, take your time to make the right choice. Rebranding is risky business and it is important that you take your time to get it right. Make sure that you test the brand with your target market and take feedback seriously. Coming up with the final ServiceMarket brand was a process that took us over 6 months, and involved feedback from our suppliers and online surveys and focus groups with our target audience. We wanted to choose an easily recognisable name that can grow with us as we expand our service offerings and move regionally. It was important to us to choose a brand that is easy to remember and understand but is generic enough to allow for company growth.

5. Create a brand book. Create a guide that outlines all details of the new brand, including the logo, colors, and brand guidelines. Make sure that the origin and meaning of the new brand is clear to all employees, and include as many people as possible in the brand development phase. This helps everyone to get excited and feel a sense of ownership.

6. Remember that rebranding is a cross-team effort. For a successful rebrand, the entire company needs to be working on it. It is important to get everyone involved and have everyone aware of their role and responsibilities during the rebrand. It is also essential that everyone has a positive attitude towards the rebrand - so in-house communication is essential. Make sure that everyone is aware of the reasons behind the rebrand, so that everyone shares the same enthusiasm and positive approach.

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7. Create a “war room” to keep track of the change. Make a “war room” where the team can get together on a regular basis to monitor progress and work on rebranding tasks. This room will be particularly important in the week of the launch and the couple of months following the launch. In these meetings, let each team leader go through key reports and goals with the rebranding team to create a sense of urgency and efficiency. We had progress meetings every two days in the month of the rebrand, which included representatives from all departments including marketing, technical, customer service and operations.

8. Remember that the switch of the URL is only mid-way through the process. The reality is that there is just as much work after the rebrand as there is beforehand. The main things you will need to consider are: post-launch marketing, communication to all stakeholders, SEO optimisation and website optimisation. Make sure to have a clear plan for all these elements in advance. You should also have a contingency plan in place just in case anything doesn’t go to plan.

9. Communicate, and then communicate some more. You need to make sure that all stakeholders are aware of the change. In our case this meant having a communication plan in place for our investors, suppliers, existing customers, and people who were not familiar with MoveSouq. These plans were split up into pre-launch and post-launch initiatives. In the run-up to the rebrand, the initiatives were focused on building up hype. Post-launch, the focus switched to ensuring that all stakeholders were aware, knowledgeable and comfortable with the change.

10. Celebrate. Although it can be a stressful time, do make sure to take a bit of time out to celebrate the new brand!

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