How long does it take to rebrand? Planning beyond the design phase

How long does it take to rebrand? Planning beyond the design phase


Eniana Vrenozaj

In many ways, a rebrand’s success rests on a company’s ability to plan and execute a realistic rebranding timeline. Rebranding is a large and complex project with many internal and external players. If a company doesn’t get the schedule right, the project could spin out of control. From blown budgets to brand fragmentation, missed deadlines can equal major setbacks.

Of course, organizations planning to transition to a new brand identity often want to know how long it will take them to rebrand. Often, their line of sight stops at the completion of the new brand strategy and design. There’s far more to rebranding process—beyond the approval of the creative and the initial public launch of the new identity. Rolling the new identity out across all branded touchpoints requires planning for branded asset change, gaining funding and management approval, addressing regulatory issues, educating stakeholders, and much more. So, it’s impossible for you to answer the question “how long it will take” without first gaining a detailed understanding of your particular situation and rebranding goals. In order to plan (and budget) appropriately, companies preparing for a rebrand need grounded, data-driven time estimates.

The tips below are useful for both companies that are rebranding and their brand strategy and design agency.

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Key factors that impact a rebranding timeline

Building a realistic rebranding timeline goes far beyond simply scheduling the new branding creative and cataloguing your organization’s key assets. Many additional factors will impact how long it takes your company to fully transition to a new brand. The more accurately you account for the following factors, the more realistic a company’s timeline — and, by extension, the budget — will be.

  • Branded assets and their lead times. One of the first steps in planning any rebrand implementation is to take a comprehensive inventory of your branded assets. After all, you can’t know how long it will take to rebrand until you know what you are rebranding. Conducting that inventory as a precursor to creating the rebrand implementation strategy is something BrandActive has down to a science. We use industry-specific benchmark data, special tech tools, and tried-and-true processes to guide the inventory of branded assets and determine the lead times necessary to transition them. For example, business cards will require a much shorter lead time than signage, which will likely take months to plan and manufacture. BrandActive takes asset production lead times and layers these lead times into a cohesive rebranding schedule.
  • Operational cycles. Your operational cycles will also impact the overall rebranding timeline. The most efficient rebrands take advantage of existing operational cycles to transition assets in the most cost-effective manner possible. In addition, you will need to get a detailed understanding of current inventory levels and the rate at which that inventory will be depleted.
  • Internal review and approval processes. How does your team handle reviews and approvals? Who will need to grant approval, and at what points in the process? Your rebranding schedule must take these details into account and include realistic intervals for reviews and approvals. Be realistic—don’t assume that people involved in the approval processes will sign off on new materials in the same meeting in which your team presents them.
  • Resourcing allocations for internal staff and vendors. You can’t build a realistic rebranding timeline until you have a solid understanding of who is responsible for each task. Roles and responsibilities for implementing the rebrand must be crystal-clear. That includes your internal staff as well as vendors and any other partners. You must get a realistic understanding of what time allocation each person or vendor can devote to the rebrand before you can finalize your rebranding timeline. Again, this is something that BrandActive can help you manage.
  • Regulatory and legal requirements. Almost every rebrand has legal implications of some kind. In addition, different industries must comply with different regulatory requirements when they rebrand. You must have a detailed understanding of what legal filings and regulatory requirements need to be fulfilled as part of your rebrand. And you must make sure to bake the time needed to meet those requirements into your final schedule. Some branded assets may have legal dependencies, too. For example, a hospital’s template for patient bills may have a logo element as well as a legal requirement, both of which must be transitioned appropriately before the form can be updated.
  • The interdependency of roll-out timing, business drivers and budget. Rebranding within a particular time frame is a common goal that organizations set. However the ability to meet a timing objective is inextricably linked to fiscal constraints and business considerations. For example, let’s say you choose to sequence the conversion of branded assets in a way that prioritizes the buyer’s journey on your top-performing products. This approach to asset prioritization will significantly impact scheduling and timelines in a way that adds complexity, but is the correct strategic business decision. Similarly, a company’s rebranding budget has a huge impact on cadence, and it’s driven by the availability of capital and operating funds. We cover that topic and offer tips on creating budgets in this article, “Timing matters: how to build a rebrand budget that meets your organization’s financial needs.”

Achieving alignment on a realistic rebranding timeline

A successful rebranding timeline is one in which people, processes, tools, commercial objectives and budget all come together in synchronicity. In order to predict the right timing, you need to gain a solid grasp of all the details and minimize the unknowns.

But creating an effective rebranding timeline isn’t just about putting the right scheduling pieces in place. It’s also about alignment and clear communication.

Before getting started on a rebrand, companies must build consensus and alignment around a data-driven rebranding timeline- where numbers and facts enable fiscally responsible decision making. It’s critical to get buy-in and advance commitment from all the key stakeholders. This includes everyone from the CFO approving funding for the project to internal workgroups assigned with various rebranding tasks to the legal staff and vendors actually doing the branded asset transition work. Everyone needs to know exactly what will be required of them and when. And everyone must be on board to make it all happen on time, according to plan.

So, when your management asks you how long it will take to rebrand, resist the urge to give a loose estimate. Tell them the importance of taking the time to get the rebranding timeline right. And turn to an expert resources like BrandActive to make it happen.