How to Create Ambassadors for a Seamless Rebrand Initiative

rebranding strategyKarrie Wozniak is an expert on mobile fundraising. She is Vice President Marketing at OneCause, the leading mobile fundraising software company that helps nonprofits engage more donors and raise more money. Since 2008, OneCause has helped nearly 2,800 organizations raise more than $1 billion and connect with over one million unique donors.

2017 was an instrumental year for our company, OneCause, as we undertook a comprehensive rebranding project. After a decade, we felt our name (BidPal), limited us as a mobile bidding company, and we wanted a new brand to better reflect the full suite of fundraising solutions we offer nonprofits. The rebrand project took just over 12 months, and involved everyone in the company.

A successful rebrand project starts with getting buy-in; galvanizing everyone around the new brand takes good planning, excellent communication and finding innovative ways to bring your new identity to market. Having gone through this process, there are core lessons learned to help guide any rebrand initiative.

Here are seven tips for creating a successful new brand launch.

Tip 1: Start with why and get executive buy-in

Rebrands by nature are high profile efforts, so it’s necessary to get the support of the C-suite and the board. Involve key executives, build alignment and secure the strategic support you’ll need to rollout the rebrand company wide. Start by asking management to confirm the “Why”: 1) why we exist as a company, 2) why we think we add value, 3) why the rebrand is important to the business?

Tip 2: Gather input and keep an open mind

Next get your teams involved. Use discovery exercises to ask stakeholders for their views on the current name, what they think your brand stands for and what is limiting you now in sales, product innovation, recruitment, and employee engagement. Keep an open mind; you can’t be sure what feelings or feedback your employees will have about the rebrand. Listen, acknowledge input and provide clear timeframes for key brand milestones to keep everyone aligned and bought into the rebrand project.

Tip 3: Listen to your customers

Next take the time to talk to customers. Customers can help clarify what they value and perceive in the current name, what they see as the company’s strengths and weaknesses, and how the company compares with competitors. It’s important to understand the level of customer loyalty and intimacy with your existing name.

We found that our original name BidPal was viewed favorably by our customers; it was a brand they recognized, trusted and identified with, so we decided to keep it as the brand name for our flagship product.

Tip 4: Crystalize the new vision

Next, it’s time to turn the discovery feedback into a new brand vision. Develop position statements and reasons to believe that detail who the company is, what it does and why it matters. Present these findings along with potential new corporate names and taglines to all stakeholders. Listen to their reactions, emotional commentary and feedback. From here, you can begin to refine your top choices.

The vision phase takes patience, multiple iterations and can last months. Hearing what people like and don’t like in new names, is important to moving closer to a final decision. It can be challenging but this is where you need to rely on the strategic vision, the why and the consensus you’ve built in the organization. Stay the course!

Tip 5: Create the new brand

Once a name is chosen, the new brand comes to life. Work with your creative team to finalize the new brand elements, the style, voice, key identity markers. On the design side, this is the time to finalize color palettes, type fonts, logos, taglines and marks. If someone doesn’t like part of the logo or creative design, probe to find out why. That person may see something in the design or color palette that you never considered.

Tip 6: Develop a strong rollout plan

A company name and logo touch every department in the company. It’s important to have representatives from each department involved in the rollout planning and launch. The rollout needs to be coordinated, launching internally first to get your teams comfortable with the name and then training them on the new brand guidelines. Aligning your teams prior to public launch ensures that everyone in a customer facing role, is prepared to support and champion the new brand.  At OneCause, we used an Operational Readiness Plan to detail each step, deliverable and team involved in the rebrand initiative.

Tip 7: Employees – Brand Ambassadors & Email Marketing

Finally, employees are front line advocates for the new brand. Find ways to engage your employees as brand ambassadors. One way we created individual brand exposure and a broader reach quickly was through Sigstr, our email signature marketing solution. It provided us a unique way to increase new brand awareness through individual personal email interactions. By using email signature marketing, each employee email became a mini-rebrand announcement. Every communication from our marketing, support, customer success and sales teams created a customer rebrand touchpoint. The callouts were an easy and effective way to create brand visibility by using personalized call-to-action banners in employees’ email signatures. These callouts also allowed customers to redirect to our new website and interact with OneCause. This simple communication strategy was important to our public rollout.

rebranding strategy

Finally, realize that a rebrand takes significant resources and time to complete. If done right, you will come away with a brand that all your stakeholders can rally around. Using a methodical approach that involves stakeholders and employees from throughout the company will help ensure a successful and seamless transition.