Branding & Strategy
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What to Expect When You Undergo a Rebranding Initiative

Are you ready for a brand makeover? Dive into our guide to understand what happens during a rebranding process. Get ready for a fresh new look!

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In many industries, organizations need to make significant changes as they grow, which are crucial for businesses to evolve and better connect with customers.

Rebranding is an essential tool organizations use to improve their brand image and adapt to a competitive market. Whether for-profit or nonprofit, there are many reasons why you might consider rebranding.

In the sections that follow, we’ll explore these reasons and explain:

  • Why this decision is so important
  • What you can expect when rebranding
  • What strategy works best
  • How to avoid mistakes along the way

What is the point of rebranding?

Rebranding isn’t just about giving your organization a fresh look. It's often a response to outgrowing your current identity or adapting to changes in the market. This process involves changing how people see your organization, so it's essential to do thorough research.

The goal of rebranding is to address various signs that it's time for an upgrade:

  • Changing the way you serve people and do business
  • Introducing new programs or services
  • Targeting new issue areas or communities you serve
  • Merging with another organization
  • Growing faster than your current brand can handle

What's the best rebranding strategy for you?

When it comes to the rebranding process, keep in mind that the major steps will look different depending on what you’re trying to rebrand.

For example, rebranding one specific program is quite different from rebranding your entire nonprofit. In the latter scenario, you’ll likely need to deal with major changes to the organization’s identity, vision, mission, and purpose.

If you’re a purpose-driven marketer who wants to know what to expect when you rebrand, reference the following roadmap to help you get started.

Start with your “why”

As you’ve already learned, rebranding an existing brand or organization is no minor feat. Before you devote adequate time and resources, make sure that you understand why this process is so important.

When you clarify the reason why you’re embarking on the journey, you create positive buy-in. As a result, internal team members have better clarity as to why the organization needs to move forward with a new strategy.

Setting a strong foundation also creates confidence and assurance for your nonprofit. During the rebranding stage, it’s likely that you’ll encounter some setbacks, bottlenecks, and even a bit of opposition.

When you know why the rebranding must take place, you'll have a clearer vision and can address potential concerns with confidence.

Perform a brand audit

Brands often make the mistake of rushing into the opportunities they can create, even before identifying their strengths and weaknesses.

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Before you rebrand, you must take inventory of where your brand currently stands and how cohesive all the elements are. A comprehensive brand audit may take multiple things into account, including:

  • Current and future logo
  • Color or visual palette
  • Brand voice or messaging
  • Current branding strategies
  • Active brand awareness initiatives
  • Social media presence

The purpose of a brand audit is to understand which assets and activities currently serve your nonprofit. Additionally, the audit should reveal the areas of concern or showcase activities that aren’t contributing to your brand’s mission and vision, or bottom line.

As part of a full rebranding audit, you may also consider looking at your competitors and their programs, current identity, and strategies. A competitive analysis helps you understand your unique selling points (USP) more clearly, helping you develop a more effective plan.

Delegate crucial tasks

If you’re conducting your rebranding in-house, notify the potential team players of their future roles. This initiative includes more parties than simply those on the marketing and communications team, so make sure to communicate clearly with anyone whose skills or opinions might be needed.

2. An individual working on a laptop while using a tablet.

Throughout the process, you'll need to enlist the expertise of various team members, including graphic designers, social media managers, copywriters, members of the development team, your executive director, and members of the board.

The more clearly you communicate rebranding expectations and goals, the more seamless the entire process can be. To address potential questions and confusion, nominate a point person for the project who can oversee major checkpoints and keep the rebrand tasks flowing smoothly.

Get specific on your stretch goals

Since rebrands often happen during a period of accelerated growth, you should pay careful attention to your nonprofit's stretch goals. These metrics might not look the same for each nonprofit, but they usually include some reference to the following data points:

  • Brand Awareness: Measure recognition and familiarity levels among your target audience before, during, and after the rebrand.
  • Engagement Metrics: Track website traffic, social media interactions, email open rates, and event attendance.
  • Donor and Volunteer Acquisition: Monitor new donor and volunteer numbers and retention rates.
  • Fundraising Performance: Assess changes in donation revenue, average donation size, and campaign participation.
  • Media Coverage: Track mentions and sentiment analysis to gauge public perception.
  • Website Performance: Analyze traffic sources, bounce rates, and conversion rates.
  • Social Impact: Measure outcomes of programs and initiatives post-rebrand.
  • Internal Stakeholder Feedback: Gather input from staff, volunteers, and board members on the rebrand's impact.

As you perform and finalize your key initiatives, keep these metrics and growth goals at the forefront of your brand. When you understand precisely where your nonprofit is headed, you can more accurately adjust your tasks to mirror the intended outcomes.

Perform quality assurance

As you complete your rebranding tasks (regardless of which tasks those are), always send them through a comprehensive quality assurance (QA) process.

Not only does a QA routine promote cross-team collaboration, but it also helps identify major mistakes or gaps in your rebranding initiative before they are seen by the public.

Moreover, a QA process ensures that you catch any lingering marks of your previous brand, which could confuse your customers and stakeholders.

Run an official campaign

Once you’ve completed the behind-the-scenes branding work, it’s time to reveal those efforts to your community. But first, make sure to run an internal rebranding campaign within your nonprofit.

An internal campaign brings everyone up to speed on major changes to the brand voice, identity, mission, or messaging so that they can better represent those things in their everyday work.

A public-facing rebranding campaign might include the following steps:

  • An official brand announcement email (often from the founder, president, executive director, or head of marketing)
  • Social media posts (organic or paid advertisements)
  • Signature or profile changes for public-facing employees
  • Updated website elements and digital assets
  • New content marketing materials that complement the new direction

The essential part of any rebranding initiative is transparency. As you announce your rebrand or new identity, you must be clear on your objectives for making the change, what the brand represents after, and what your supporters can expect in the future.

Remove the uncertainty by reassuring your community that while your look and feel may be different, the heart and soul of your nonprofit remains unchanged.

Mistakes to avoid in the rebranding process

With good planning and prep work, rebranding can be the step your organization needs to take in order to truly soar. At the same time, it’s important to be aware of major rebranding pitfalls that can crush your efforts.

The following mistakes can sink even the most well-meaning rebrand initiative.

  • Failure to check trademarked brand assets – It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of rebranding, but you must always be careful to run any new logos or identify assets through standard trademark processes. Nothing is more hurtful to a rebranding effort than having to pull a new logo because of copyright infringement.
  • Lack of reliable brand research – Rebranding must be comprehensive, which means your organization must dedicate time to performing good research. Never rebrand based on assumptions that can’t be supported by good data.
  • Copying competitor branding – While market and competitive analyses are important, simply duplicating what your competitors are doing is never acceptable. Your brand should always be distinguishable and unique, even when it comes to colors, style, messaging, and design.
  • Releasing rebranded assets slowly – When you’re ready to announce publicly, make sure everything is ready to go. A piecemeal rebranding initiative could create confusion and produce doubt for your audience. Plus, a slow or delayed rebrand makes quality control and brand monitoring very difficult.

What happens after you rebrand?

After you rebrand, keep your new initiatives top of mind. Generate buzz and excitement by promoting your new brand assets, increasing the number of donor conversations you have, and gaining as much press as possible.

Rebranding concepts to remember

If you believe your nonprofit could benefit from a rebrand but are concerned about the effort involved, a solid plan can alleviate those worries.

While rebranding without proper preparation may deter some, once you recognize the need for change, don't hesitate to proceed.

Remember, rebranding has enabled nonprofits of all sizes to remain relevant in the market and to their ideal audience. The good news is that it can do the same for your organization.

Don’t allow fear and hesitation to hold your brand back from what it is meant to accomplish in the world.

If you need help rolling out your rebrand and updating your assets and marketing materials, we are pros at that. Check out our marketing/promotion design and education resource design services to learn more.

October 18, 2023

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