Five considerations for a successful rebrand
We live in a world that thrives on speed, built on the mantra of “the faster, the better”. As consumers and competitors change quickly, so must a brand evolve to stay ahead of the curve and appeal to its audience. At times the evolution can be slow, with incremental adjustments leading to a subtle shift. Other times it’s a more drastic refresh – a rebrand.
I recently led a rebrand at WorldRemit, a digital money transfer service. Our users span the globe and work across virtually every industry, and communicating to such a dynamic, diverse customer base requires constant re-examination of our brand in order to make sure that we’re speaking the same languages as our customers. Our last rebrand was in 2014, and while there was once a time when four years hardly meant a thing in the lifespan of a brand, we were approaching a pivotal time in our company’s growth, a rebrand seemed not only logical, but necessary.
For the consumer who simply sees the ultimate decision unveiled, much of the meaning, creativity and struggle is lost. Rebranding is a self-discovery and reflection process, and as much about the journey as the destination. Having recently gone through the exercise and seeing many start-ups like ours mature and reach a turning point in their growth, I thought it important to share what the execution of a rebrand involves – distilled into five major components.
1. Design to transcend all boundaries
Today, brands are rarely confined to a single geography, audience, or even language, which means there’s a premium on universal concepts capable of transcending artificial and social boundaries.
There’s always going to be a temptation to design for the audience you already know, but the gold standard in a rebrand is to design for all of your existing and potential users and ensuring that they can relate to you in a positive way. Considerations might include how particular colors are associated with certain cultures, or shapes that convey a certain business quality.
It’s also important to consider the medium as well. For example, we are an online brand with a strong offline footprint, and the temptation here is to prioritise one over the other. However, this is simply not how an audience interacts with your brand, and you have to think about where the user is at every point of the journey.
2. Marry the brand and messaging
A brand can be complex and multi-layered and convey many meanings at once, but in a rebrand, you’ll need to identify a clear focal message that remains front and center throughout the process – a North Star that resists the influence of personal preference and other bias.
For example, as part of our rebrand we wanted to engage our customers by speaking to their diversity and vibrancy. At the same time, due to the nature of our business – we are a financial services company handling our customers’ hard-earned money – we needed to also convey trust and security. We knew that we had to get the two to work in harmony together, and that became a guiding principle for us.
3. Test everything with the people that matter (and if it feels right, that’s a good place to start!)
Ultimately, the only people that matter in determining the success of a rebrand are the end-users, and it’s essential that they have a voice throughout the process. For our particular project, we went through numerous rounds of consumer testing, all to ensure that that our design would appeal to new customers, while remaining relevant and recognizable to our current customers.
We began with trying to understand what our customers associated with certain iconography and imagery, and how that aligned with the identity we were trying to achieve. In the later phases, it became more about iterations, and finding the best combination of what our customers told us worked.
Through the intensive testing, we had confidence in what we ended up with. In a sense, our customers had ‘given’ it to us.
4. You have to work together
A rebrand should never be dictated by the brand team. Every company has functional experts in their own specific areas, from the customer service team to the product team to the user experience team, all of whom have regular touch points with customers and a first hand experience of communicating the brand.
During the design process, it’s very much about reaching consensus among these experts and incorporating their unique perspectives. Without these different views, the end product may not have the same “versatility” talked about earlier and feel awkward on certain platforms or formats.
5. The “Ah ha!” moment
So how do you know when you’ve got it right? For our rebrand, we tested 8,000 people total (a mix of existing and potential customers). We tested around the world, across genders and age groups. The moment we realised we “had it” was when we identified a design that was significantly and consistently preferred over our existing brand.
A company only chooses to rebrand when they feel that the existing design can no longer support the goals and growth of the company into the future. This meant that the new identity simply achieving parity with the existing one was not enough – you need proof that it is in fact better and preferred by customers. That’s when you know.
By Linda Sooprayen, senior brand marketing manager, WorldRemit