Get Your Service-Based Business Ready for a Rebrand

Mar 4, 2024 | core identity, design, messaging, personality, positioning

Embarking on the journey of rebranding your business is a significant decision; one that goes beyond just changing colors and logos. We’re exploring the crucial steps to preparing for a successful rebrand, from understanding the intricate research phase to selecting the right brand partner who aligns with your business goals and values.

So, you’ve decided… or decided-ish that it’s time to rebrand your business.

First, congratulations!

Rebranding is a pretty big deal (yes, I know I’m biased). It’s exciting and fun and new; the possibilities seem endless and you may already be envisioning the transformation that is going to happen to your business once you complete the process.

But here’s the thing. Rebranding isn’t just about new colors and fonts and a new logo. It’s about changing the entire experience someone has with your business. And in my experience, the more groundwork you do in preparing for the rebrand, the more impactful the process will be.

So without further ado, let’s jump into everything you need to know about preparing your service-based business for a rebrand.

Let’s first chat about what’s involved in a rebrand

It’s hard to prepare your business for something if you aren’t sure what to expect, so I think it’s helpful to understand what exactly the process is for rebranding your business. But also, just like the definition of a brand, every brand studio, agency or professional likely has their own unique twist or system for rebranding a small business or organization. Here’s the process that I take clients through and if you end up working with a different brand partner, it’s likely that their process will be some variation of this.

Side note: Not sure if it’s a rebrand that you need? Check out this post, walking through the difference between a refresh, rebrand and brand update, as well as the signs to look out for to know if rebranding is your next right step.

Phase one: research

You can’t determine your next right steps as a brand if you don’t know where you currently stand in your space. This in-depth research process is the foundation of a successful rebrand and is all about understanding where you stand in the market, how your audience perceives you and what you’re currently projecting as a brand.

What this often looks like is combing through your brand questionnaire and then poking around your marketing channels. Think website content, emails and social media. The goal is to see the gaps – what you say you want to communicate and what is actually happening.

This isn’t to create shame or judgement but rather, to best understand where you’re at today so we can map out the best path forward.

  • Internal brand research
  • Customer research
  • Brand audit
  • Market analysis

Phase two: brand strategy

Next is the strategy.

This phase is all about getting clear on the heart and soul of your brand. By defining core elements like your purpose, vision, values and beliefs, you develop a brand with substance that lays the groundwork for building connection and trust with your right audience.

The difference with strategy for a rebrand is that our conversations revolve around what’s currently happening compared to what you actually want to have happen.

We do this by talking through the five pillars of your brand strategy – core identity, ideal client, positioning, message and personality – and more often than not, one pillar will need a drastic change to align with where you want their brand to go. I.e., the brand personality is calm, cool and collected but you’re envisioning a personality that’s bold, bright and lively.

Side note: Want to dig in deeper on those brand strategy pillars? Check out this post.

Phase three: visual brand identity

With the strategy in place, it’s time to bring the brand to life with a visual identity.

The visual identity is the tangible representation of steps one and two – the research and internal strategy. The goal is to bring the brand’s personality to life in a way that connects with your right audience. Together, the entire brand identity suite will leave a lasting positive impression that fosters engagement and accurately conveys your brand’s essence and story.

When it comes to updating the visuals, the step-by-step process can look different depending on your needs. I’ve worked with clients who need to keep their logo structure but are okay with updating the typography or layout; clients who want to keep their main logomark but need different or new variations; and clients who want to completely revamp everything. 

Oftentimes, the strategy will support the next right decision in terms of what visual elements need to be updated. I.e., if your desired brand personality and experience is to be fun and loud and boisterous but the visual identity features a calm, cool and reserved aesthetic, than it would make the most sense to do a complete overhaul.

Phase four: brand implementation and application

With the strategy and identity in place, we can move onto the fun part – implementing the new brand!

This means expressing the brand at all the various brand touch points that an audience member could engage in. Application is about showcasing the brand’s story and essence in a consistent and cohesive manner. From the website to the collateral, each instance is a direct reflection of your brand’s identity and is meant to reinforce and uphold the brand’s authenticity.

A few examples:

  • Brand guidelines
  • Brand playbook
  • Marketing collateral
  • Team training
  • Launch strategy
  • Website
  • Copywriting
  • Photography

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Get prepared: Make sure you have support from leadership and team

If you’re killin’ it as a solopreneur, great. All you have to do is check-in with yourself and make sure you’re able to make the investment (both time and money – see below for more info). But, if you have a team and/or you’re wanting your CEO/owner to embark on this process, the first step is to get everyone on board.

Rebranding isn’t a quick, one-week endeavor. Because you’re changing the identity and experience of your brand, it should be something you are intentional and strategic about doing. And when everyone is supportive, the entire process goes a lot smoother. Both for you and your team, but also for the brand partner you are working with.

So how do you get buy-in? Check out this list about the reasons why you may be ready for a rebrand and use the ones that resonate as a starting point for pitching the process. And remember, that a brand is supposed to enhance the experience but when even just one of them isn’t aligned, the brand can be more a detriment than anything else.

Get prepared: Conduct a brand audit so you are crystal clear on the starting point of this endeavor

A brand audit will help you get crystal clear on what your brand is doing well and where it can improve, so that you can then define the desired outcomes from the rebrand (step two).

Side note: read all about the steps of auditing your brand here.

Because while yes, a rebrand is when you overhaul everything, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hire out everything. Perhaps you need your brand partner to create just the templates and then you or your virtual assistant can be in charge of actually making the updates.

The goal is to walk away with an understanding of every brand touch point, the asset(s) that that touch point has and the priority level of updating those elements.

Get prepared: Understand where you want to go and the full scope of your rebrand

As we’ve discussed already, going through a rebrand is no quick process. So, if you’re going to make the investment (both time and money), then you best be damn sure what you want to get out of it.

If you go into the process with an ambiguous idea of what you’re hoping for, it’s more likely that you’ll get a result you aren’t entirely happy with.

So, sit down and get clear on what success means for you and your business. Are you hoping to connect with the right people, get more clarity on what your brand stands for, have consistent and cohesive visuals across all the touch points, or bring more of your personality into the brand? The list can be pretty endless in terms of results but I promise you, the more clarity you have on what you are really looking for, the better the outcome will be.

The benefit of having clarity on the direction is two-fold: Not only will it help you communicate what you want to your potential brand partner but the list itself can be used to help find the right person in the first place.

Get prepared: Have clarity on what available resources you have – specifically your budget and time

As with most important business decisions, the size and scope of the project depends on the size of your business, the nature of your challenges and the version of success that you’re envisioning a rebrand will support.

The cost of rebranding can vary significantly but a few things that will impact that price include:

  • Whether you’re hiring an individual or a team
  • The level of support that you’ll need throughout the process
  • The depth of changes that are being made by the brand partner versus what you/your team will handle

The time commitment also depends on the scope of the project and promised deliverables.

But, since that isn’t too supportive, here’s what I’d tell a potential client who wants to go all-in.

Before the project

You’ll most likely be in research mode here, so on one hand, you have the ability to spend as little or as much time as possible. On the other hand, it’s important to do the research and explore answers to questions like:

  • Is there anything that we want to keep from our existing brand because it’s working well?
  • What parts of the brand experience need a full overhaul?
  • Is there anything that we can or want to do on our own? 
  • What’s our budget for a rebrand? 
  • Who will be involved in the process? 
  • What does success look like? 

During the project

While the goal is to make the active project phase as seamless and ease-filled as possible, rebranding is a collaborative process so expect to be engaged throughout the timeline. 

Operating under the assumption that you, the founder, will be leading project, you can expect to devote 2-5 hours per week to the rebranding process while we’re actively working through the strategy and design phases. This looks like attending workshops, providing feedback and gathering any outstanding information. 

After the project

The best time to establish good habits with the rest of the team that will be communicating on behalf of the brand is right after the new brand launches. Traditionally, the brand manager gets to decide what specific guidelines must be followed and where there is more flexibility with brand management. 

I’d recommend 1-3 hours per week in those early days to ensure the brand communication is consistent and cohesive, and the brand vision is accurately represented. As the team becomes accustomed to the new guidelines, your time investment will likely decrease.

Get prepared: Find your right brand partner to support you in the rebrand process

Which brings us to the last piece – be intentional about choosing the right branding professional.

I know that’s a loaded phrase, so here’s an example: Let’s say you decide that success means bringing more of you as a person into your brand. It would then make sense to find a brand partner who specializes in helping businesses make the transition from business-brand to personal-brand. Or, if you know that you want to pivot your ideal client and start targeting corporate clients, it makes sense to work with a brand professional who works with or is familiar with the corporate setting because they’ll be more likely to know the right questions to ask and/or how to design for that type of clientele.

That being said, ensuring that your brand partner specializes in your specific use-case isn’t the be-all, end-all. I believe there’s a lot to be said for personality and likeability. Meaning, if you really get along with your brand professional but they aren’t necessarily the go-to for your space, it could still be a great fit. That’s why I’d recommend hopping on a call with at least two or three branding professionals to make sure you’re finding the right fit. And, here are some considerations that you can mull over as you find your right fit.

  • Do their brand values and company culture align with your own?
  • Do they seem adaptive and nimble to the inevitable changes that will emerge?
  • Do you feel comfortable with them; do they create space and listen to your ideas?
  • Do they understand and respect what you’re trying to create?
  • Can they show you past work that’s in line with what you’re envisioning?
  • Do they have a proven process for delivering results that’s clear and easy to understand?
  • Are they able to support you and the rebrand needs your business has?
  • Do they have a brand of their own and practice what they teach?

The TL;DR rebrand preparation checklist

While the excitement around a rebrand can make you want to jump right in, the project’s success is largely dependent on the preparation that’s completed before you even get started. 

Said another way, the more clarity you have going into the project, the better the collaboration (and results!) will be between you, your team and your brand partner.

  1. Get leadership and team buy-in
  2. Understand what a successful rebrand looks like for your business
  3. Identify who on your team will be partaking in the rebranding process
  4. Establish a budget based on the project’s needs, goals and size
  5. Create a rough timeline, keeping major events or projects top-of-mind
  6. Gather together your current brand materials
  7. Get clear on what is and is not working with your current brand
  8. Select the right brand partner to support you in rebranding process

Just remember, you have the power to make your rebrand hugely successful, even before you get started with your brand partner. By laying the foundation for this new endeavor and doing some upfront legwork, you’re ensuring that the end-result will be as supportive as possible.

And with that, happy (re)branding!

All my best,

Want to dig in even more? Read these next!

In this post, understand the nuances and signs to look out for that let you know a rebrand is likely your next right step.

A brand audit can help you get crystal clear on what your brand is doing well and where it can improve, as well as what next rights steps to take with the audit results. Learn the brand audit process in this post.

Follow this easy-to-implement brand strategy template to create a brand foundation that’s grounded in connection and meaning.

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