Rebranding a company: one of those once (maybe twice) in a lifetime projects. It comes with equal parts excitement and abject terror. Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but it is a daunting task. The effort comes ripe with opportunity to reinvent your business, increase brand awareness, and attract new customers, but it is also a complex process that requires a ton of collaboration along with mindful planning and execution.
Since we’ve recently gone through the rebranding effort here at Sentinel Insights, we thought we would share some tips and lessons learned throughout our experience.
Start with Strategy
Before diving headfirst into the rebranding process, it’s important to think about and establish a clear brand strategy. This should include your mission, vision, and values, as well as your target audience and brand personality. It’s crucial to have a solid understanding of who you are as a company, what you stand for, and who you are trying to reach.
If you’re not sure what “strategy” means in this situation, think about it this way – you want to achieve a goal. The strategy is the plan to achieve that goal, and tactics are what you use to get there. As a simple example, let’s say your strategy is to feed your family a delicious and healthy dinner. In this example, your tactics are the specific actions you take to achieve that goal – buy ingredients, research recipes, ask your family what they might enjoy, set up your cooking area, prep the food, and cook it. A brand strategy is not much different – you want to build and grow your company’s brand. How will you do that?
For brand strategy, it helps to focus on your unique value proposition and what sets your company apart from competitors. In our case, we knew that our people and perspective set us apart – we built the software we wish we had as MarTech consultants – and set our brand strategy around that origin story and the themes of trust, transparency, and timeliness.
Some resources as you start thinking about your brand strategy:
- Sprout Social: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/brand-strategy/
- 99designs: https://99designs.com/blog/logo-branding/strategic-branding/
Audit the Brand You’ve Got
Conducting a brand audit is an essential step in the rebranding process. This means taking a critical eye to your current brand identity, messaging, and marketing materials to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
When we were Data Sentinel, we knew we had several weak spots that needed to be addressed during the rebrand to Sentinel Insights. Our visual identity needed a lot of work (new logo, new website, new sales material, lots of content massaging), but the big picture – the messaging related to our brand strategy – was not too far off from where it needed to be. Based on our audit, we found that a consultative approach and communicating with authenticity were important to us as Data Sentinel. This “big picture” persisted as we transitioned to Sentinel Insights.
Develop a Cohesive Visual Identity
A rebrand is the perfect opportunity for you to take a fine tooth comb to every visual representing your organization. For Sentinel Insights, this meant a new logo, color scheme, typography, and other visual elements that reflect our personality and values.
We worked with several designers to hone in on a logo that reflected us as a company.
The letter S in our iconography is fairly clear but there are other elements that come into play:
- Hints of up and down arrows and check marks as a nod to our ability to grade your MarTech implementation
- A nature-inspired hexagonal design to indicate trust and strength
- A vague notion of a shield as a sign of our technology’s protective bent
- A vibrant green to allude to action, positivity, growth, increased ROI, and sustainability (and the health of your digital data, of course)
Our fonts are clear and crisp – part of our personality as friendly, knowledgable consultants here to make your job a bit easier. Our user dashboard uses the same modern, clean approach in its design:
Get Yourself a Content Strategy
A content strategy is essential for driving traffic to your website and building brand awareness. This includes creating blog posts, social media content, and other marketing materials that align with your visual identity and brand strategy. Our rebrand content focused on product features, industry trends, our experience, and customer success stories and we plan to add much more in the coming months.
If you can, we highly recommend working with a pro. Our marketing and content advisor Libby was absolutely invaluable throughout the process. However, if you’ll be building your content strategy on your own, we found HubSpot’s framework a helpful resource too: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/content-marketing-plan
Update Your Digital Presence
Your website is often the first impression of your company so it is an absolutely critical piece of your rebrand. Whether you decide to work with a professional (like we did – thank you Jason!) or do it yourself, you’ll want to research competitors, see what structure you like, and when you get going with design and build, be sure to run the website through many rounds of review with trusted friends who will give you honest feedback.
Clarity is key – does your website explain what you do, and why you do it? Does it speak the language of your target audience? If you were in the market for a product like yours, would your website inspire you to make a purchase?
In addition to the website, you’ll need to update your social media accounts to use your new logo, all of your product sheets and sales material – there’s a ton of content that needs to be refreshed.
Collaborate and Plan (and re-plan, then plan some more)
Of course, establishing a timeline is essential for ensuring that all aspects of the rebranding effort are completed on schedule. This includes developing a launch date, setting milestones for completing key tasks, and ensuring your teammates are on board and ready for go-time. We knew we wanted our launch to coincide with some industry events we planned to attend, so we worked backwards from those dates.
Expect pop-ups and delays – plan those into your timeline if you can. Be willing to settle for “good enough” at times. There was one day, in the middle of a lengthy homepage content review session that kept diving into tense territory, where we needed to say to each other: “our website is built using an authoring platform, not a chisel and stone.” That reminder helped us to agree to move on and pledge to revisit any lingering concerns later.
Along the way, make sure you’re keeping your team engaged – talk about impacts to the team, what the rebrand means for the company, etc. They can be some of your most vocal supporters, and it is awesome to watch a team come together to celebrate little wins along the way. For example, we encouraged our whole team to vote to decide on our company’s new logo. This was not only a fun creative exercise but it also reinforced that their opinions matter and they are an important part of who we are as a company.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help – be clear about what you need and from which member of your team. From a marketing perspective (and arguably customer support, sales, and recruiting as well), there are few things more important than your public facing brand. The website is a big piece of the puzzle, but everything from content strategy to visual identity to social media posts to brand personality layer into this effort. So, if you need it… Ask. For. Help.
Sneak Peek… and Launch!
Building anticipation for your rebranding effort can generate buzz and excitement among your target audience. While we were not doing some of the things that other companies may do (social media teaser campaigns, Tik Tok dances, etc.) we did send personal notes to clients to let them know that a change was coming so they would know what to expect. We also talked with friends of the company about our rebranding effort during one on one conversations. If you’re able to spend the weeks leading up to a rebrand sending out social media posts, building buzz and excitement, definitely do it. At very least, make sure your inner circle is in the know so that they’re able to share your excitement on Launch Day.
Before you know it, it’s launch day! You did it!!! The launch of your rebranding effort should be a major event that generates good feelings and cheers heard ’round the world. For Sentinel Insights, this meant a lot of LinkedIn activity – especially from our founding team – and several newsletters to our clients and network of friends and associates. Excitement is contagious and most people want to see each other doing cool things, so why not share with the world? There is no better time!
We wish you the best of luck with your rebrand. If you take anything from this blog post, remember two things:
- Know thyself. (Rest in peace, Socrates!) Set a standard that you and your company can sustain.
- You got this!