Seven challenges to a successful rebrand—and how to conquer them

Rebranding is one of the most exciting and creative journeys your business can undertake. At its best, it sparks the imagination, crystallizes aspirations and unites people around a shared vision that can lift your business to new heights.

But every year, great brand ideas tumble to earth, stalled by poor planning and failure to realize that the process is as important as the product. Like any adventure, a successful rebrand requires planning and discipline as well as vision and desire. After more than 20 years of helping clients rebrand, we’re sharing the toughest challenges our clients face and our hard-won wisdom on how to overcome them.

Challenge: Aligning Perceptions

Action: Take sufficient time on the front end to do external research that tests internal perceptions and identifies potential gaps.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to talk to your headhunters. They are a great resource and often have valuable insight on how the market perceives your firm.

Challenge: Generating Internal Buy-In

Action: Make sure that people across the firm feel they’ve been heard and understand how the new brand is being developed.

Pro tip: Use a web survey tool to gather input—great ideas can come from sources that might not otherwise have a voice in the process.

Challenge: Don’t Get Derailed

Action: Involve final decision makers early enough in the process to ensure that not too much time is invested in the wrong direction.

Pro tip: Carefully curate your committee members to include a wide range of practices, ages and more recent laterals.

Challenge: Everyone’s a Designer

Action: Anchor your design strategies by following a defined positioning strategy, not personal taste.

Pro tip: Avoid creating a “Frankenstein”—a monster created by committee. Successful design is rarely accomplished by combining elements from one design with another. Rather, discuss the aspects that you like and trust that the design team will explore whether they can be combined or not.

Challenge: Get the Word Out

Action: Explain clearly why the rebrand is needed and how the change is grounded in what clients want and expect.

Pro tip: Consider the use of video when launching the new brand if you can’t gather together physically. It is engaging and enables your firm’s leadership to communicate with everyone regardless of location. The better internal audiences understand the rationale, the better it is received.

Challenge: Herding the Cats

Action: Appoint a “final say” leader to make the final decision—branding committees should aim to gain input, not approval.

Pro tip: Avoid having members of the branding committee voice thoughts individually. You will end up putting too much weight on the opinions of the more outspoken.

Challenge: Prevent Lackluster Rollout

Action: Build momentum by regularly communicating updates before and after launch.

Pro tip: Hold lunch-and-learns before the rollout to show the visual direction of key communications pieces. When stakeholders start to see the new identity come together, they become motivated to provide content ideas to help support the new value positioning. And after the rollout, events like lunch-and-learns are a great opportunity to train users on the new brand collateral.

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