Recently, on an otherwise uneventful spring day, millions of people around the world opened their phones to find that a part of their everyday experience had forever changed. It may seem insignificant, but for many, Instagram’s iconic logo had come to represent warmth and comfort as a gateway to images of their friends, families, and favorite entertainers. When the badge’s neutral hues and vintage illustration was replaced by a vibrant gradient and minimalist symbol, users were nothing short of personally offended. The brand has been running damage control ever since.
Instagram’s failure is just one in a long line questionable brand launch strategies. The trend is proof that a carefully planned and seamlessly executed brand launch is one of the most critical elements of a successful rebrand. And yet, with all the blood, sweat, and tears that go into the rebranding process, many companies sputter out when it comes to launching their new brand. Making sure that your brand launch follows the strategic tips below will save you countless headaches (and as many dollars) when you introduce your new brand to the world.
Plan Your Brand Launch Well in Advance
A wise man once said that “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” There are many small, moving parts that must be accounted for in planning your brand launch. Adequate preparation takes time. Launching a new brand can be a thrilling thing, and many companies are impatient to see it happen. But a bit of patience will make the big event all that more rewarding. Give your team plenty of lead time to make sure that a sound launch strategy is in place before you drop the curtain on your new brand. Start planning early, too; don’t wait until the final hour. A well-planned brand launch enables you to reengage with existing customers, attract new ones, and significantly boost sales. A poorly planned launch creates confusion and customer backlash. You’ve only got one chance to make a first impression, so make sure you get it right by planning early and thoroughly.
Make Your Brand Launch Part of a Larger Story
The best approach to any brand launch is to position it as an integral component of a larger narrative. What changes in your industry or society as a whole indicated the need to rebrand your company? What does this new chapter of your brand mean for your customers? When Airbnb launched a new identity in 2014, it was able to mitigate the mockery that ensued by making sure the new logo was inextricably tied to a deeper story about belonging. By elevating your brand launch and connecting it to a story bigger than the brand itself, you give the transition a more meaningful purpose than just the need to refresh your logo.
Finalize All Touchpoints Before the Brand Launch
The number of different ways your audience can experience your brand is enough to make your head spin. Your website, social media channels, marketing collateral, signage, business cards, stationary system, email signatures, advertising initiatives—the list goes on. Extensive though they may be, it’s critical that all of these touchpoints are finalized before you unveil your brand to the world. Each of these touchpoints requires a different lead time to finalize. Figure out which is the longest and plan backwards from there. There’s nothing more confusing and ineffectual than a gradual brand rollout.
Identify Key Audiences in the Brand Launch Sequence
Apart from your customers, who are the stakeholders your brand launch will affect? Employees, investors, business partners, the media—it’s critical to know the relative value of each of these audiences so that you can strategize your launch appropriately. High value clients, investors, and key partners, for example, will often deserve a personalized, advance introduction to your new brand by way of a pre-launch event. These types of stakeholders can be invaluable allies and ambassadors of the brand, helping to spread a positive, influential message about its new incarnation.
Start Your Brand Launch Internally
It’s crucial to begin your brand launch internally before introducing it to the world at large. Your employees are your brand’s most important ambassadors. They are the brand’s storytellers on the front lines, so it’s imperative they embrace its new chapter. Only by fully understanding the meaning behind the new brand can they tell an authentic and compelling story. A brand launch is a prime opportunity for a CEO to rally the troops and articulate his or her vision for the future during a celebratory event. It shouldn’t be left to a formulaic and ineffectual mass email. Your internal launch should include the release of brand guidelines. A single document that can be provided to employees and partners alike, well-defined guidelines prescribe with precision how your brand should be represented in every possible medium.
Unveil Your New Brand to the World
Introducing a new brand to the world is a thrilling thing to do. It’s not every day you get to showcase something so rich with meaning, strategy, and creative inspiration. That said, it’s important not to jump the gun. You don’t want to dilute the big reveal by having random employees haphazardly updating their email signatures. Don’t risk leaking the new brand before its official launch date. Give your team enough time to make sure all of the new assets are ready to be deployed at once. When every piece is in place, an integrated multimedia approach will give you maximum impact. Everything from email blasts and press releases to social media and events should be leveraged to create widespread buzz about the new brand. Just as important as the introduction of your new brand is the phasing out of your old brand. An overnight switch is ideal, but not realistic for most brands. Make sure you have a strategy in place to do away with old iterations that will cause confusion in the marketplace. Lastly, it’s wise to put in place a system for collecting feedback on the new brand to ensure that the rollout has been well received. Any consumer confusions should be addressed immediately. It’s always good to have protocols in place to address widespread backlash in case unforeseen problems arise.
Stay the Course
A properly executed brand launch is only the beginning. What lies ahead is the future of your new brand and the many ways that your customers will experience it. So it’s important not to take your foot off the gas. A successful brand launch sets the stage for new content creation, marketing campaigns, advertising initiatives, and more. Underneath all of this should be vigilant brand maintenance and ongoing brand development. You should never grow complacent or rest on your laurels when it comes to moving your brand forward. A brand, after all, is a living, dynamic entity that requires continual maintenance to survive.
For all the time and energy it takes to rebrand, it makes sense that a brand launch should be carefully executed for maximum impact. But too often companies are in a rush to unveil their new incarnation to the world—or simply out of energy to do it right. The unfortunate consequences of a poorly planned brand launch can all but negate the wise investment of a rebrand. By making your launch part of a larger story, planning your launch well in advance, and making sure that your brand is aligned internally and externally, you’ll be certain to get the most out of the moment of truth.