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No Such Thing As an Overnight Rebrand

Americans are obsessed with quick transformations. We love “before and after” comparisons. We watch a season of the “The Biggest Loser” to see who sheds the most unwanted pounds each week. We cheered when the popular “Extreme Makeover” TV show renovated an entire home seemingly overnight for a needy family. We tune in for the Today Show’s weekly “Ambush Makeover” which remains one of the program’s most popular segments. We love our makeovers, especially when executed quickly, so we can appreciate the positive advantages of transformative change.

Transforming and rebranding an organization however takes considerable time. Those embarking on such an initiative should be patient and take the appropriate time to rebrand properly versus quickly. While the rebranding process can be accelerated with a strong sense of urgency and internal alignment behind all important stakeholders, our experience shows that it is in your best interest to build an eight-to-nine-month time frame at minimum to bring your new brand to light. Larger organizations, especially those that need to sign multiple locations and re-uniform employees nationwide, can easily take up to 12 months to complete a rebranding start to finish.

The most significant factor in determining the timeline for your rebranding process is your own internal structure and ability of multiple stakeholders to reach consensus. It is important to evaluate how “change ready” your organization is, what levels of decision making, and approval need to be factored into your timeline. The process can be executed on an expedited timeline, but it is the time required to consider options, align stakeholders and manage internal politics that put pressure on rebranding timelines.

Rebranding should always we be viewed as a strategic growth accelerator. It’s the strategy to reposition your business or organization to be more forward facing, attract better talent, more easily enter new markets, and to capture new growth. The potential is so promising: a striking new name, a more relevant promise to customers, a rallying cry to engage your employees. All these outcomes can be achieved with the rebranding of an outdated or past-its-prime image. With the wave of business transformations today, we’re seeing an unprecedented number of companies, non-profits, destinations and even sports teams embarking on a rebrand to gain this differentiated edge.

Here are the overall steps in the rebranding process and timeframes you can expect to take at minimum:

1-2 Months Building the Case for Rebranding – The process outlines the need for rebranding and the repercussions of not. It aligns leadership behind the strategy and confirms their commitment to success.

2-4 Months New Brand Discovery – Research needs to be conducted among internal and external audiences to gain clear understanding of the equities of the existing brand that roll forward and explore new opportunities.

3-6 Months New Brand Platform Creation – A new branding platform starts with the articulation of a new brand essence, purpose and attributes, plus possible new names, taglines and supporting language. Then a new logo and visual identify are created for the physical manifestation of that brand. Consensus must be built around the new brand platform before proceeding.

2-8 Months New Brand Activation – Employees much be aligned behind the new brand promise and how they deliver it through words and behaviors. Production of new materials, websites, signage, and all expressions of the new brand need to synchronize before you hold internal and external events to formally launch the new brand with a bang. The complexity of this execution and the production lead time varies based upon the size of your organization.

Plan the appropriate time to opportunistically design an exciting, forward-looking organization loaded with the opportunity that will stand the test of time.

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