Time and again we’ve talked about the value of rebranding your company. So we won’t waste any time in this post trying to convince you of that. No, this article is for companies who have already decided to take the plunge on a rebrand. For those standing on the precipice of a profound transformation and wondering: what comes next?

Rebranding is a complex endeavor. It takes time to do it right. But these two facts don’t mean that your rebrand has to feel ominous and overwhelming. With a bit of preparation and an understanding of the process, a rebranding initiative can be an exciting, cathartic adventure.

Here are a few tips for getting the most out that adventure, and for rebuilding a brand that is compelling, cohesive, and unforgettable.

1. Plan Ahead

As with most things in life, when it comes to branding there’s no substitute for preparation. Considering the investment that a comprehensive rebrand entails, it’s imperative to plan ahead to ensure you maximize your return on brand investment. The more preparation you do in advance, the more efficient and impactful your rebrand will be.

Of primary importance is getting buy-in from senior leadership on the value of branding. There’s nothing worse than spending six months on a rebrand only to have your executive team shrug it off as inconsequential when you finally hit the finish line. The imminent need for, and practical value of, a rebrand should be made crystal clear to leadership before the process begins.

Next up, you’ll want to identify the internal stakeholders that will make up your rebranding team. This team should include the C-suite and other key decision makers, including representatives from Marketing, Sales, Human Resources, Customer Support—anyone in a managerial position who interacts with either customers or employees on a daily basis. When senior leadership is an integral part of the rebranding process, they have a stake in the strategy and positioning, and are able to implement brand alignment from the top down.

Finally, you’ll want to gather existing collateral for the discovery phase of your rebrand. The best rebrands begin with a comprehensive understanding of how the brand is currently positioned. By collecting a representative sampling of marketing, advertising, and PR materials, you paint an invaluable portrait of the strengths and weaknesses of your current brand for your branding partner.

2. Find the Right Partner

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Speaking of partners, one of the best tips for any rebrand is to select the right branding agency. Identifying a partner with proven results who understands your needs and with whom you can forge a trusting relationship is essential. It’s important to spend the time vetting multiple agencies to make sure you’ve got the right fit.

A few questions you should ask when searching for the right partner include:

  • Do their values and culture align with your own?
  • Do they guarantee senior-level talent and expertise?
  • Is their process founded on rigorous objective research?
  • Do they have a track record of success borne out by detailed case studies?
  • Do they excel at creative execution in a variety of media?
  • Do they seem nimble and adaptable to the inevitable changes that will arise?

3. Don’t Skip Steps

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Rebranding is a five-step process, each as important as the next. It can be tempting to skip steps to save time and/or money, but take it from the experts: cutting corners will only cost you in the long run. Taking the time to move deliberately through a proven course of action ensures that the final product—your new brand—is optimized for performance and will stand the test of time. It’s useful to know what the five phases of branding are, and what to expect during each of them:

Research

All successful branding initiatives start with thorough, in-depth research. Brand research will give you an understanding of who your brand is currently, how it is perceived by your customers, and where it fits in the competitive landscape.

Strategy

Brand strategy is the process of defining the psychological makeup of your brand, and positioning it for growth and success. Core messaging, brand personality, competitive advantage, brand promise—these are the foundational elements that are revealed during the strategy phase.

Identity

Your brand’s identity is more than just a logo. It is the visual embodiment of the positioning work done in the strategy phase. A powerful identity will capture your brand’s defining attributes, its purpose, promise, and personality.

Expression

Expression begins the process of introducing your new brand to the world. It is a profound, far-reaching narrative that comes to life in assets including your website, marketing collateral, and social media channels.

Alignment

Achieved both internally and externally, alignment is the ongoing process of ensuring that your customers and your employees understand your brand’s purpose, and behave in ways consistent with that purpose.

4. Know What to Expect

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The final tip for rebranding your company is simply to know what to expect out of the process. The positive effects of a rebrand are many, but among the most valuable are three things: consensus, clarity, and confidence.

Rebranding allows you to finally do away with the vague and ill-defined tenets upon which your brand is built. Foundational pillars like purpose, mission, vision, and values will be clearly defined and agreed upon by key stakeholders. It’s hard to overstate the value of this type of consensus among leadership. Its positive impact can be felt throughout an organization.

Another result of the rebranding process is a clearly articulated competitive advantage. By expressly defining the unique benefits you offer to your customers, you’re able to create a much more compelling argument as to why they should choose you over the competition.

Finally, what a rebrand gives you and your company is confidence. From leadership to frontline employees to customers themselves, few things are as important as confidence when it comes to branding. A cohesive and compelling brand inspires confidence in internal stakeholders to be proud brand ambassadors. And it inspires confidence in customers to align themselves with your brand.

The Takeaway

Rebranding is one of the most cathartic endeavors a company can undertake. It gives you the power to shape your brand into an authentic, cohesive entity with agency and purpose. Letting go of the past can be a difficult proposition. We find safety, after all, in that which is familiar. But charting a confident course for the future of your brand is well worth any discomfort along the way. Putting the above tips into practice will ensure you get the most out of your rebrand, and build an impactful brand that inspires customers to take action.

The Definitive Guide to Rebranding

Everything you need to know about rebranding your business-and avoiding costly mistakes.

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A prolific blogger, speaker, and columnist, Brian has more than a decade of experience in design and branding. He’s written for publications including Forbes, Huffington Post, and Brand Quarterly.