How to rebrand like a fast-growth online business

An effective rebrand is organised, intentional and galvanises business stakeholders and the C-suite from beginning to end. Nick Darken outlines the full process and provides tips on how the best fast-growth businesses approach a rebrand.

The pandemic has created some clear winners and losers. For the businesses that suffered in 2020, there is added pressure to ensure a rebrand is successful and opens opportunities for future growth.

Online businesses that can scale have fared better for obvious reasons. Fast growth online businesses understand they have to trim their brand sails as they go. This adaptive approach can be a great way to build momentum on your rebrand and get real results. In this article I explore the top tactics that fast-growth businesses use to effectively rebrand in an agile way.

Not just a rebrand, an opportunity for a complete business reboot

Fast moving businesses aim for momentum, not perfection. However, it is important to note that a rebranding process can refocus the whole culture and values of a company. Create a process for leadership to take stock and ask the tough operational questions. This will form the beginning of a company-wide battle plan to fix all known issues with the product so it matches the shiny new brand at the other end. This is hugely galvanising and reduces friction for rolling out a rebrand as the whole business will rally around a timelined project to take things to the next level.

Who are the internal stakeholders?

Start at the top and get buy-in for a rebrand from the C-suite, investors and board. Explain clearly the reasons for the rebrand and the timelines, costs and implications. But most importantly explain the outcome and opportunities. What’s in it for them? A branding process goes way beyond this year’s profit and loss statement. Brand equity is the perceived magic that motivates employees and customers. Paint a  picture of the future brand value.

Share early and secure the resources you need for the roll-out

The rebranding process will run more smoothly if you invest time in engaging stakeholders across the business. Think about the impact of rolling out a rebrand and the costs and time required from the whole team. The earlier you share information, the easier it will be to build a smooth runway for your new brand. Teams love to say ‘we didn’t know about this project’, so make sure they do. Seed the excitement of the initiative far and wide. What you are doing IS exciting.

Who gets a say on the rebrand and when?

Be clear with your stakeholders on when they will see progress and what influence they will have on the process. Be strategic with how and when you share development. Big controlling personalities in your C-suite or board are worth over-investing in early on, but not given the permission to dictate the whole process. Deliver them a strong recommendation that plays back to the ambitions expressed in their early engagement.

What stays, what goes?

Do an informal workshop with sales, brand, marketing and leadership teams to list two columns: brand assets and brand liabilities. Brand assets are things that are known to be effective and to create momentum or coherence. Brand liabilities are things that are detrimental. This becomes your working list of components that stay and go. Some things may fall somewhere in between. A logo, for instance, may be viewed as neither an asset or a liability. You may begin a process by saying ‘we may or may not’ change the logo. Workshopping the basics gets everyone on the same page and helps pave the way for a refined brand.

Blended agency and internal teams

Blended creative teams deliver a rebrand that is road-tested and fit for purpose. Agency teams naturally think big picture. Brand-side creative teams live and breathe the brand every day. If you have a creative team leader they should obviously be a key consultant on selecting any external branding agency and feeding back during the creative development process. Just make sure who you choose is a good fit for your business needs and that the agency has the right expertise in rebranding. It goes without saying that it’s not a popularity or name dropping contest.

Road testing the branding as you go

Once the rebrand is in development, adopt an entrepreneurial mindset by doing quick design sprints with the internal design team to road test the emerging rebrand. In doing so you can get feedback from the team that is less emotional and more practica, for example: Do the fonts, logo and other brand assets work in the required channels? External and internal creative teams can become a blended team in these sprints working towards the single goal of creating a new brand that everyone loves and feels vested in. Iterating the new brand also means the roll out happens in real time.

Momentum not perfection

Fast-moving businesses iterate their brand roll-outs. The technicolour version doesn’t have to go live from day one. Staged roll-outs accept a little choppiness as the upgraded brand unfolds across the channels. The advantage of this approach eases customers into the brand transition. A staged process also allows for continued refinement of messaging.

A final thought fast-growth rebranding

Rebranding is hard. Bloody hard. At times in the process you may wonder whether it’s worth it at all, as the punches keep coming from changing business conditions. But whatever category you work in, thinking like a fast-growth business helps keep the process robust, but agile.

Nick Darken is a creative partner at creative branding agency Hunter.

Photo by Andrew McElroy on Unsplash.