How to plan a digital rebrand without sacrificing hard-earned brand awareness

How to plan a digital rebrand without sacrificing hard-earned brand awareness


Leigh Furlong

Modern brands are increasingly digital, regardless of industry. It’s likely that website and digital marketing channels form the foundation of your marketing and business development efforts. So if you are considering a rebrand, you must pay special attention to the digital elements of your brand transition.

If you’re like many marketing leaders, you probably can identify the majority of the digital assets you will need to transition. Where it gets tricky is figuring out how to do so without “disrupting the digital apple cart” — losing hard-earned search engine rankings, social media followers, and digital leads — in the process. That’s especially true if your rebrand involves a name change.

Marketers often fret over the ways a digital rebrand might impact their digital marketing activities and performance. The good news? With the right digital strategy and a careful plan in place, you can seamlessly execute your new brand across all your digital properties while at the same time guarding your brand’s digital equity.

The top 4 questions marketers ask before a digital rebrand

Successfully executing a digital rebrand with a name change means more than just converting your branded assets in an organized fashion (this in itself is a challenge!). You must also anticipate and address the consequences of brand change on your digital marketing activities in primarily three categories: search engine optimization (SEO), social media audiences, and lead generation.

Below are the top questions marketers ask before a digital rebrand:

1. Is it possible for my business to preserve its search rankings during a digital rebrand?

If your digital rebrand involves a name change, you’ll almost certainly need to migrate your website to a new domain name. You might be worried that transitioning your website(s) will automatically result in lost search engine rankings. It’s a valid concern.

However, by taking the proper precautions, it’s possible to migrate to a new website domain with your digital reputation intact.

In order to safeguard your business’ search engine rankings, you’ll need to tend to many technical details as you migrate your website. You may want to hire a digital agency with expertise in SEO. They can help you set an SEO strategy and guide you through this important change with your firm’s rankings intact.

2. How can I execute a digital rebrand without losing social media followers?

A digital rebrand with a name change entails another risk: that of losing social media followers as you transition your accounts to reflect your new brand. As with protecting your search engine rankings, there is plenty you can do to minimize any negative impact.

When it comes to transitioning your individual social media accounts to your new brand, the exact process will vary depending on the platform. Your first step is to do a little digging. Once you’ve learned about each social media platform’s requirements, put together a strategy that takes all of them into consideration. Your goal: to synchronize the transition so that all your social media accounts transition at the same time.

Next, work with your social media team to create a communications strategy leading up to the rebrand. Beginning a few weeks or months in advance of your scheduled rebrand, start preparing your audience about your upcoming brand change. Use those social channels to build excitement about your new brand and what it represents. Set the stage so your customers aren’t confused when your brand name finally changes. In addition, your social media channels are great places to share live updates of your rebrand as it happens.

3. Does a digital rebrand always mean a drop in leads?

Pay-per-click (PPC), paid social ads, and retargeting: All your paid digital media efforts stand to take a hit when you change your business’s name as part of a digital rebrand.

Here’s the reality: If you don’t change anything about your existing paid media strategy, you should expect to see a drop in leads, at least in the short term. It makes sense. When your brand’s name changes, you automatically lose some of your existing brand recognition. Your audience will need some time to acclimate to your new brand. It will take time for you to build up to the same degree of brand recognition you had before.

To correct for this expected dip, plan to increase your paid media spend during and immediately after your rebrand. Start by looking at how many leads you’re currently generating via paid media. What is your average cost per lead? Next, try to estimate your anticipated drop in leads. For example, if you anticipate losing 20% of leads across social media, native, and paid search, you might plan to increase your budget by 40% for the next four months. As your new brand gains traction, you can incrementally walk back the additional outlay.

4.  How can we efficiently transition digital collateral used across all departments and divisions?

This can seem like an overwhelming task so it’s important to break the transition of digital collateral down into phases, starting with a high-level inventory then diving deep into the details around names and trademarks. Use checklists and apply best practices including a digital asset management system to ensure proper use of branded assets and secure approvals, and use the rebranding as the opportunity to simplify and rationalize digital collateral systems.

Preparing for a digital rebrand: Setting the stage for success

The digital aspects of your rebrand need to be part of an overall strategic approach to your brand change. Before you get started on the digital ramifications, take the following steps to get your project going in the right direction.

  • Build a cross-functional team. The effects of any digital rebrand extend far beyond the marketing team. Begin by putting together a cross-functional rebrand planning group to ensure you create an integrated and coordinated plan that doesn’t allow stray details to fall through the cracks.
  • Identify your rebranding strategy and guiding principles. Focus your team’s energy and facilitate proper prioritization by setting some big-picture goals. What is the overarching reason you are rebranding? What do you hope to achieve? Where do you want your new brand to go? By answering these questions and others like them, your team can align around a set of guiding principles for your digital rebrand. These principles will enable your team to more quickly and accurately prioritize activities as you develop a comprehensive rebranding plan.
  • Set a realistic schedule. Time goes by quickly, especially when you are in the midst of a digital rebrand. Involve your team (including external vendors) in establishing a solid timeline for your rebrand. For the duration of the rebrand, your rebranding team should hold regular recurring meetings. Use this time to update the team on progress and hold each other accountable to your schedule.
  • Invest in digital brand governance. A digital rebrand is a unique opportunity to get your digital “house in order.” In doing so, you ensure that your digital presence is on-brand and consistently expressed. That’s true no matter where your brand shows up, from your social media channels to a PDF download on your website. As you convert your digital assets, identify which ones make a valuable impact and which can be rationalized away. In addition, review all aspects of your digital marketing operations. Take a look your operational brand governance practices and seek opportunities to gain efficiencies.

Nailing a digital rebrand means tending to strategic digital marketing concerns in addition to the many logistical details. Get it right, and you can launch your new brand successfully and preserve digital brand equity in the process.

Related Insights