How Long Does Rebranding Take?
This story originally appeared on Forbes.
If you've made the decision to rebrand your business, your goal might be to launch within the current fiscal year to showcase ROI and give your sales a much-needed boost. Best of luck on this endeavor.
A common misjudgment we encounter in many rebranding requests and RFP solicitations that our agency receives is the belief that a new brand can be conceived, established and launched within a mere three to four months. While it may have taken months, or even years, to realize the necessity for a rebrand, it's crucial to set an adequate timeline to ensure its successful completion. Often, business leaders are inclined to rush through the process, eager to tackle the next challenge, inadvertently putting the precision of this brand transformation at risk.
The Norm: 12 Months
Our own research on rebranded companies shows that the majority of brand transformations take approximately 12 to 18 months to go from business approval to a full-fledged launch. Considering that brand value alone contributes 19.5% of enterprise value on average, it's essential to invest the time required to execute a rebrand correctly.
It's worth noting that we've rarely observed a rebranding launch aligning with the initial expectations of leadership. More often than not, the timeline is adjusted to ensure a thorough and vigorous launch, free from unnecessary deadline pressures.
Each Rebranding Step Takes Time
Let's delve into the stages of the rebranding process and the time allocation necessary for success:
1. Brand assessment: Often referred to as the archeology stage, this phase involves digging deep to comprehend your brand's legacy, its core values, which equities must be carried forward and how stakeholders perceive your brand. Conducting brand perception studies among customers can take approximately two to three months alone, considering the time needed for design, fieldwork and summarization. A solid brand is built on insights and data, not hunches. Give yourself four months to set the table.
2. Brand development: This is the phase of building an entirely new brand platform based on the insights garnered. The creative process includes crafting a new positioning statement, defining the brand promise, outlining its architecture, drafting a manifesto statement, creating tag lines and refining messaging. Give the creative team a span of three to five months to craft their work without undue pressure.
During this stage, it's important to initiate the trademark search and application process. Keep in mind that due to extended turnaround times, approval from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office might take up to a full year. This emphasizes the importance of selecting unique names with minimal existing use by other entities, as such names can lead to delays. Trademark attorneys should offer a high likelihood of approval, enabling you to prepare for the rebrand and proceed with announcements even prior to official approval.
3. Visual identity development: Your brand needs a look and feel of its own. After establishing the brand name, the design team will require a couple of months to generate logo options for review and adjustment. Additionally, they will identify typography, color schemes, imagery and other visual elements that collectively constitute your brand's visual identity.
4. Internal preparation: With the brand solidified, use a comprehensive audit of all branded assets to formulate a project plan for prioritizing updates. This strategic planning ensures that assets are updated in accordance with time constraints and dependencies. Concurrently, strategize campaigns to introduce the rebrand to employees, providing them with the necessary training to understand its implications for their roles. Subsequent campaigns will then engage customers and external audiences, keeping your new brand top of mind during the transition.
As these significant efforts commence—which can take one to six months depending upon your size and business complexity—you'll gain clearer insight into the optimal timing for your announcement. Consider leveraging anniversaries, cultural events, trade shows, product seasonality or periods when employees have more availability for preparation.
5. Launch: This is the moment of truth. Once your employees and systems are fully prepared to deliver the new customer brand experience, you can inform your customers, educate them about the new promise and expectations, and roll out a campaign to keep the brand change at the forefront of their minds. The activities involved in the announcement process can span an entire month.
Collectively, you're looking at a reasonable time frame of around nine months for a successful launch under normal circumstances.
Should I Announce My Rebranding In Advance?
The timing intricacies often lead to the question of when to optimally announce your rebranding. Generally, to avoid confusion among employees and customers, it's advisable to announce your brand change with enthusiasm, unveiling as many of the necessary branded assets as possible, and transitioning to the new brand name. This encompasses digital presence, websites, employee emails, collateral materials, headquarters signage, packaging, customer-facing marketing and more. Some assets, such as vehicles, packaging or signage, might take longer.
Why synchronize the transition of your name and branded assets? The aim is to prevent any aspect of your rebranding from raising doubts or criticisms. Inconsistencies between the brand name on your website and the name used for orders or invoices on a legacy technology platform can cause confusion and chip away at enthusiasm. Mismatched dynamic advertisements and outdated packaging can create a sense of distrust regarding the meticulousness of your rebrand execution. The recent Twitter-to-X rebranding episode serves as an example of how hurried changes can invite widespread criticism.
It's wise to announce your rebranding in advance only under specific circumstances:
• Public entity obligations: If you're a public entity obligated to disclose budget allocations, resource searches or branding research that can't remain private, advance announcements might be warranted.
• Extended asset transition: When the timeline to change all of your branded assets exposes you to leaks, maintaining control of your announcement becomes paramount. In such cases, you may need to preview the brand change and educate stakeholders about the transition timing.
Rebranding is a multifaceted process that demands strategic planning, creative ingenuity and meticulous execution. Quality work necessitates time.