What’s that old saying? Brand early, not often? While this is great advice that you should strive for when launching a campaign, product or even a company, sometimes it’s not all that simple. Sometimes, the name you chose at the beginning of your venture doesn’t fit the product you find yourself with down the road.
When that happens, it’s important to adapt and open yourself up to rebranding because staying the course with a brand that doesn’t fit the mission is not sustainable.
Having been around two recent rebranding initiatives – one that I drove, changing Tweet Drive to Operation: Social Santa — and one that I’ve been a part of, where our four-year-old company, 2tor, changed its name to 2U, I’ve realized that, as beneficial as these changes can be, they are not easy. Both have been successful because they were communicated in advance of the change and better represented the organizations and their missions.
Here are some tips if you’re contemplating going through a rebrand, and how to make it a successful one.
Don’t stray too far from what got you there.
Chances are that you have already built a core community (no matter how large or small) that has gained familiarity with your brand. And while people are often okay with change, it must be done in moderation. Especially in a world where digital and off-line loyalty is at a premium, it’s important you don’t stray too far from the brand you’ve built your community around. Whether it’s a new logo or keeping the core of your original name, people will welcome a familiar transition, rather than a complete change that they will have trouble connecting with or remembering.
Just because you’re not thrilled with your current name, don’t rush into the first alternative idea you can think of. Making these decisions on impulse is the reason why many entrepreneurs or marketers find themselves in this position in the first place.
Think through ideas, brainstorm on your own, source ideas from your team members, or whatever else you can draw inspiration from. Your best ideas often come from piecing different elements together and building off of several ideas. Ultimately, you should have a list of choices to choose from, that you can narrow down and come to a conclusion that will stick because rebranding once is doable — twice? No way.
Communicate to your employees/team.
Rebranding can’t be something that happens overnight. It’s important that you communicate these changes to your team so they know what to expect and prepare for the shift. Your employees are a big part of your marketing and if they aren’t familiar with the rebranding, the transition will not be a smooth one. Additionally, getting your team on board early on can help you source ideas around the rebranding, formalize the transition, and, ultimately, leads to the final step.
Embrace the change
This may seem obvious, but isn’t always executed properly. If you’re unable to embrace the rebranding and move forward 100%, it will be impossible for your community to do so. That is why communication is key here. Being able to communicate the change and stand behind it can not only get your community comfortable with the rebranding, but also excited about it. In the end, the way you embrace it — or not — will drive the outcome of your rebranding initiative.
Harrison Kratz is the community manager for MBA@UNC, one of the top mba programs online offered through the University of North Carolina, which is consistently in the top 20 mba rankings. Harrison also sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Operation: Social Santa. He is also my boo. When he’s not working, Harrison switches his focus to great food, watching any sport that’s on TV, all things Disney and traveling. You can find Harrison on Twitter @KratzPR.