HMA has worked on many rebrand projects and seen some amazing cultural, visual and performance-related transformations as a result.  We also recently experienced this process first hand on the run up to the recent launch of HMA’s new visual identity and we wanted to take this opportunity to reflect and provide you with some practical tips on how to manage the rebranding process internally to help you come out of the other side with a visual identity you can be proud of.

So, you’ve got buy-in from the management team, a budget and have appointed a creative agency to help you with the process. What next?

1. Invest in discovery and planning

It’s time to look at your organisation more closely than ever before. A rebrand isn’t just a new logo, it’s about creating a promise, instilling a belief that your organisation can deliver what it says it will and giving you the opportunity to control people’s opinion of your brand.

This not only takes time but a commitment from the management team to effect change.

We often start by reviewing the vision and mission or ‘purpose’ of the organisation so we can align the principles of any visual output to these.  We’d encourage active participation in this process from all areas of the organisation, not just the management team as encouraging contributions from your team and involving them on the journey will make the implementation phase run smoother.

Within this process, also try to answer the following questions as the answers to these will help form your creative brief and rationalise your decisions throughout the process.

  • What do your stakeholders (prospects, customers, employees etc.) currently think about your organisation?
  • Do you want to change the perception of your organisation and if so, how?
  • How are your competitors presenting themselves? – do you want to fit in or stand out?
  • What is important to your stakeholders? Can this be prioritised?

Try to back up the answers with evidence and not make too many assumptions – even involve your customers if you get the opportunity to!

2. List your assets and collateral

Without realising it, over the years, you will have probably built up a wealth of assets and collateral containing your current visual identity.  We’d recommend making a list of all of these things up front so that a) you can create a task list and allocate responsibilities and b) you can more effectively plan your budget for the project.

Storing the list in a centrally accessible area (i.e. google docs) ensures that everyone involved in the project can contribute to it and you can keep a close track of progress.

You might want to split the list into manageable groups i.e. ‘Online’ and ‘Offline’ or categorised by area of responsibility.  You can download the template of the spreadsheet that we used for our rebrand here.

Including the information for each line item in one place can keep you organised and make sure nothing slips through the net – information we’d recommend you include is:

  • Description of requirement
  • Associated cost (if applicable)
  • Status
  • Priority (pre or post launch?)
  • Required by date
  • Person responsible

3. Communication is key

Keeping your internal stakeholders informed at every stage of the process can really help them buy into your vision.  More often than not, the first visible output of a rebranding project is your visual identity and if your team doesn’t understand the rationale behind this or the process you took to achieve the final result then their opinion will be purely subjective.   If people are involved in a process and can contribute to its success throughout, they will be much more receptive to the final solution – they are, after all, your biggest brand advocates so you need them on your side.

To manage the project, it’s likely that you’ll appoint key members of your team to be part of a ‘steering group’ – these people will help shape the project and be involved in some of the major decisions to be made.  It’s a good idea to document everything in writing including stakeholder meetings and creative decisions. It will help you later on when the new identity is scrutinised (and it will be but don’t take it personally)!

For those that aren’t actively involved in the management of the process, you might want to consider an internal blog to keep people up to date and make them feel part of the process.

4. Plan your launch

For any internal project, it’s always difficult to create a realistic project plan as the day job often gets in the way!  Nevertheless, setting a strict deadline can really focus the mind and ensure you and your delivery partners are working towards a common goal.

Once you’ve set a launch date, work your schedule back, highlighting interim milestones that need to be met to achieve the ultimate delivery date.  Make sure you allow plenty of time to rolling out the visual element of your brand which should be based on the delivery of items within your asset and collateral list you’ve already created.

Make sure you have a plan for communicating your brand launch to the following audiences as there may be a different marketing plan for each;

  • Employees
  • Prospects
  • Customers
  • Partners/Stakeholders
  • Suppliers
  • General public

5. Appoint a brand guardian

Once the roll-out is complete you’re finished, right? Wrong!

The most powerful brands have one thing in common – continuity. The best way to ensure this is to create solid brand guidelines and appoint a ‘brand guardian’ whose responsibility it is to ensure that everyone creating collateral for the organisation sticks to the guidelines.

At its most basic your brand guidelines should include:

  • The company vision and mission
  • The creative rationale behind the design implementation
  • Logotypes and usage guides
  • Typefaces and styling guides
  • Colour palette and associated print and screen colour values

You might also want to consider:

  • A lexicon to set the tone of voice for collateral produced
  • Examples of design implementation
  • Cultural or behavioural direction for staff to follow

The guidelines should be rigid enough to enforce consistency but flexible enough to encourage creativity.

You can download a copy of HMA’s brand guidelines here as an example.

To accompany this, the brand guardian should make available a central repository of brand assets to help everyone in your organisation access the relevant information and encourage people to get in touch if they aren’t sure about usage.

More information

I hope this post has given you food-for-thought as you begin your rebrand journey. Be sure to check out Head of Design Matt Pearce’s upcoming insight into the creative process he went through when working on HMA’s rebrand and if you’re interested in how we work with our clients on projects of this nature, you can view our case studies here.