If you’re anywhere in the process of branding or rebranding your company, service, or product, you already need to be thinking several steps ahead about your brand roll-out. If your new brand has a message to communicate, then you need to determine when and how communication of that message starts. Roll-out should be thoughtful, strategic, and in many cases insightful of the motivations and design processes that resulted in your new brand.
To help you formulate your plan of attack, here are some best practices around launching your new brand, or rolling out your brand refresh.
If your new brand has a message to communicate, then you need to determine when communication of that message starts.
Name the new brand system.
As you engage in the design process, you and your team will talk about this new brand constantly. You’ll appreciate having a name for it. This also helps with energy and enthusiasm around the brand. Examples of brand names include Airbnb’s “Belo” and the Whitney Museum’s “Responsive W.”
Brand launch begins with your inner circle.
Define your inner circle. That can include your staff, longtime work partners or vendors, friends, family, even customers in the case of small companies with an intimate customer base. Reach out to them well ahead of the design changes and inform them about the process as it’s happening. Define the problem for them, why change was necessary and how a new brand system benefits them and the company.
You want these people to feel included in the excitement, like they are an irreplaceable part of how you got there. Because they are. Remember that people are naturally afraid of change. So, monitor internal responses and engage when appropriate. Be positive, enthusiastic, and open. Have patience with this process and encourage this inner circle to become your brand ambassadors.
Assemble a launch team.
Not to be confused with your inner circle, this team should include company visionaries, heads of all major company divisions, and even a few staff members on the front lines who deal directly with customers. If given the option, more people will want to be part of this team than will bring value to it. So be strategic in selecting the team that will help strengthen the overall launch experience.
Once assembled, convene the team and present them with the new brand and brand launch materials. Discuss implications for implementation of the new or refreshed brand visuals, communications, etc. on individual divisions. Set realistic targets for rollout and widely distribute any new brand guidelines to ensure that the integrity of the new brand is maintained across all touchpoints.
More people will want to be part of this team than will bring value to it. So be strategic in selecting the team that will help strengthen the overall launch experience.
Decide when to launch.
To maximize the exposure of your new brand, avoid holidays or popular vacation times among your target audience. Early January is generally embraced as a good time. Consider industry timing trends (sporting goods time with sporting seasons, cookware with weddings and high school graduations, food items with annual seasons, etc.). Are your competitors planning any noise-making in the near future? Avoid any industry timing conflicts.
Most importantly, consider your business calendar and choose a time when you aren’t as busy. Work with your launch team to determine final date and time for launch. Mid- to late-mornings are preferable times for launch, but avoid launching on Mondays or Fridays.
Create a moment around your new brand.
This is a big deal, so plan accordingly. Throw a party to make it festive and give a speech explaining why you participated in a refresh or rebrand. Create an “aha” moment where you unveil the new brand. Give a gifts to those in attendance featuring the new brand.
Publicly, make the transition as seamless as possible. The best approach is to update everything at once if you can. It makes the strongest statement and helps avoid any confusion. If you can’t update everything simultaneously, then budget the cost of roll-out and approach the most visible things first—website, app, social media, critical collateral and other major print items, packaging, etc. At least account for a landing page if the full website is still in design production.
Don’t forget the hidden or automated stuff: your email footers, automated emails, staff social media where relevant, etc. And clean out the office closets; dispose of as much outdated physical and digital material as you can. You don’t want this reappearing and diminishing or confusing the modified brand.
Publicly, make the transition as seamless as possible. The best approach is to update everything at once if you can. It makes the strongest statement and helps avoid any confusion.
Make a splash.
The most important consideration is to make your brand identity part of a larger story, e.g. Airbnb. Why did you do it; what inspired the brand; and how does it affect your audience? Spread that storytelling everywhere. Some companies take a multimedia approach, using motion graphics and/or video to tell the brand rebirth story.
Prepare a flurry of PR activity. Send press releases to industry media, repeatedly if necessary. Write a post for your own blog or website, when applicable. Ideally, this will take the form of a case study. Throw customer events or distribute new-brand freebies. Oh, and don’t forget about e-marketing and social media noise-making.
Take stock and run interference.
People will react to your new brand. Plan for that in advance and develop a response structure through email, phone, or social media. Address their questions and provide rationale. Monitor social responses and engage when appropriate.
To maintain the integrity of the new brand, monitor internally for appropriate usage of the brand visuals, communications, etc. and correct issues as they arise.
Be enthusiastic but be tempered.
Don’t overload your audience with self-congratulations. Also be prepared for haters. It’s inevitable. And if Airbnb is any indication, an initial wave of criticism does not a failed brand make.
If Airbnb is any indication, an initial wave of criticism does not a failed brand make.
Tend to and nurture your new brand.
As your brand lives on, educate new hires on the brand history and the new brand experience, and recognize and elevate your strongest brand ambassadors. In regular intervals, be prepared to analyze and alter internal procedures across divisions to be in-brand. You’ll want a cohesive and comprehensive approach to living the brand.
In closing, give the new brand time to succeed and exposure to your audience. If you’ve worked with a good design team and followed these guidelines for launch, you shouldn’t need to revisit your brand for a long while. In moments of hesitation or impatience, don’t take additional steps that might confuse your new brand message or dilute the new brand experience.
Make Some Noise