Reach your audience where they are: How to roll out a digital-first rebrand

Reach your audience where they are: How to roll out a digital-first rebrand

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Leigh Furlong, Ade Ajibola

If you’re implementing a rebrand, it’s practically a guarantee your audience will encounter your new brand online before they experience it anywhere else. And whether they visit your website directly, use a search engine to find you, follow you on social media, or access your products and services via a partner channel, they’ll expect your brand to deliver a consistent look and feel — just like they would from your physical assets.

Brand consistency is the key to building and maintaining the credibility and trust that becomes the foundation of your brand promise. And in an online environment, it’s an essential part of helping your audience differentiate your organization from all the others.

The problem is that rolling out a rebrand across all your digital platforms is surprisingly complex. For one thing, it can be challenging to track all the places where your brand appears. But beyond that, converting every aspect of your digital collateral — sales pieces, photography, charts, graphs, iconography, content, URLs, and more — is a heavy lift.

That’s why you need a well-formulated implementation plan that breaks the process down into actionable, achievable steps. Here are three ways to get started.

1. Assess the scope of your digital rebrand

Before you can introduce your new brand to the world, you first need to identify all the areas in which your legacy brand appears. For that reason, the critical first step of any rebrand is to conduct an audit of all your digital assets and channels.

Rebranding your website is just the beginning. You’ll also need to think through all the other digital places and spaces where your brand is presented, including:

  • Social media accounts
  • Any online products and services offered by your company
  • Third-party partner channels that promote your brand’s products and services
  • Platforms your website integrates with, such as CRMs and employee portals
  • Campaign-specific landing pages and microsites
  • Digital collateral like white papers, case studies, articles, videos, and downloadable assets
  • Co-branding situations that are managed by a partner or another entity

Since you’re unlikely to have a complete inventory of all these assets on hand, it can be helpful to approach this process through the lens of your customer’s journey. Map out all the ways your audience encounters your brand to be sure you’ve captured everything. Technology tools can also help you locate instances of your brand online.

And of course, if you’re rebranding due to an M&A, it’s imperative to include key stakeholders from both (or all) entities to inform this process.

2. Create a prioritized branded asset conversion strategy

Digital branded assets typically number in the thousands. Once you’ve assessed your rebrand’s scope, you may feel overwhelmed as you consider how to transition everything to your new brand identity.

Updating everything in your brand’s purview will require your team to carve out significant time on top of their regular duties. But the good news is you don’t have to convert everything all at once. Focus instead on the impact you want to make when you launch your new brand and determine which customer-facing touchpoints will make the biggest impression. Then make a plan to transition the rest over time.

For example, you might prioritize:

  • Website pages that receive high amounts of traffic (e.g., your homepage, key landing pages)
  • Mobile apps that are widely used by your audience
  • Social media accounts with the largest number of followers
  • Partner channels where your brand is promoted or displayed to large numbers of people
  • Collateral your team depends on to do their job (e.g., sales sheets, reporting decks)

Prioritizing wisely allows you to make the market impact your new brand deserves. But it also enables you to build out a realistic implementation timeline based on what your team can reasonably achieve and the lead time your partners require.

Rationalize and reduce digital assets and channels

Rebranding is also an ideal opportunity to identify and eliminate redundancies in your marketing program. After all, brand change is costly and time-consuming. A smart way to reduce the impact on your team and on your bottom line is to consider what you need and what you don’t.

Rebranding is about your organization’s future, not its past. Make sure you don't just update old assets that carry your legacy brand.

For example, if you currently have hundreds of similar forms, you may be able to templatize or streamline them in order to cut down on the overall quantity. Or, you may decide you don’t need to maintain your Twitter or Facebook accounts because most of your social engagement occurs on Instagram.

Whatever the case may be, don’t simply plan to convert everything as a matter of course. Shrinking your rebrand’s size and scope is an effective way to maximize your impact and minimize the cost.

Identify gaps and create new digital assets as needed

Of course, conducting a digital audit may also lead you to uncover gaps where new branded assets are necessary. For instance, you might need to create fresh content that reflects your brand’s new voice and tone. Or you might decide to commission new photography and iconography to bring your brand’s visual identity to life.

Rebranding is about your organization’s future, not its past. Therefore, don’t just update old assets that carry your legacy brand. Ensure you have everything you need (and nothing you don’t) to underscore your new brand identity with your audience.

3. Synchronize your rebrand’s launch down to the last detail

There are many moving pieces involved in launching a digital rebrand. When it’s time to officially introduce your new brand to your audience, it’s important to think through exactly how you’ll coordinate every element.

It’s wise to appoint a detail-oriented project manager to oversee this process. This person should:

  • Recruit workgroup leads and/or marketing team members to help you achieve a synchronized rollout
  • Communicate with your vendors, partners, and internal stakeholders regarding your launch plan and timeline
  • Create a master schedule and timed sequence of events (e.g., launch the website at 9 am, send press releases at 10 am, and update social media accounts at 11 am)
  • Ensure all tasks are completed as planned

Don’t rush this process. Unveiling your new brand is exciting, but you only have one chance to do it right. Give your team plenty of time to develop a solid plan so you can generate the excitement and attention your new brand identity deserves.

Deliver a consistent brand experience in all your digital channels

Launching your new brand is a pivotal milestone, but it’s just one moment in time. Your rebrand’s ultimate success will be measured by how well you deliver your brand promise to your audience day in and day out.

That’s why it’s so important to train and equip your employees to function as ambassadors of your rebrand. Build a rock-solid implementation plan for them to follow. Then, make sure they know your brand processes, guidelines, and standards so they can deliver the consistent, memorable experience your audience is looking for, online and everywhere else.

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