6 Steps to a Successful Rebranding Campaign

Rebranding from the organization’s perspective.

Guest Author Anne Romens 1.27.2015

5 by 5 Design has shared some great tips about when an organization should rebrand and what to expect during the rebranding process. But what about rebranding from the organization’s perspective? How do you ensure your new brand is successful from start to finish?

Arts Midwest manages 13 different programs that span multiple artistic disciplines, audiences, and geographies. Some of our programs are exclusively our own—that is, we control every element from artistic creation to communications strategy. Some are produced on behalf of other organizations, where we manage the day-to-day operations but don’t have exclusive control over the program’s look and feel.

While this program portfolio serves our audiences well, it does present some challenges to the Arts Midwest brand. For years, our programs followed multiple design standards and answered to different decision-makers. Fonts, header treatments, colors, email signatures, and promotional materials looked vastly different across the organization.

We knew we wanted to unify our materials, but we knew it would take some time. Here’s what we learned during the rebranding process:

  1. Conduct a thorough needs assessment. Talk to every department about their internal and external-facing materials. What are they using? Do they work with designers or create materials in-house? These conversations help you get a better sense of any inconsistencies and might help identify new opportunities for collaboration and cohesion.
  2. Be realistic about your budget and timeline. From the needs assessment, to the design and testing phase, to the roll-out, these projects take time. Be realistic about time so you don’t have to rush at the end. Also, be sure to get multiple bids and determine what can be done in-house (which has costs too) and what requires outside expertise.
  3. Get staff involved in providing information and feedback. While no one likes design by committee, it is important to keep staff in the loop at the beginning, middle, and end of the project, especially if you’re expecting them to own the new brand. Provide periodic updates on what’s happening with the project, and when they can expect to see new materials.
  4. Take the time to make it easy to use. When you get the final content from your designers, it may be tempting to hit “forward” to all staff. Hold back. Make sure that the designs are easy to use by creating new styles sets and stationery templates in Word that take the guesswork out of preferred header treatments, fonts, and margins.
  5. Train, train, and re-train. Don’t limit your training to one or two sessions when you launch. Give everyone a couple weeks with the new material and then revisit. Ask if anyone is struggling with certain elements, or whether there might be something you could do to make the new look easier to use.
  6. Be firm, but flexible. At first, it may be difficult to update existing materials, and you may find staff wanting to default to former layouts and font choices. Be firm and try not to make exceptions, or else you may sacrifice the consistency you were seeking. But after a few months or even a year, reevaluate. Are there some elements of the new brand that just don’t work? Once your brand has been firmly established, be willing to revisit those problem areas and create a workable solution for everyone.

I’m pleased to report that Arts Midwest rolled out our new brand in 2012 and has been happily (and consistently) using our new designs ever since.

Anne Romens is the external relations manager at Arts Midwest, an arts organization based in Minneapolis that serves audiences and communities across the Midwest, the nation, and the world.

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