I’ve been in the agency business now for 11 years. During that time, I’ve led a number of naming, branding, and rebranding initiatives for clients large and small. But, in these roles I’ve always played the role of the consultant. Recently, I experienced something entirely new — a rebranding effort from the perspective of a client (well technically, our agency was the agency; and we were our own client so it’s a bit muddled, but you get the idea).
The Things You Overlook
Anyway, it’s been almost two weeks since we introduced the Rattleback brand into the market, so I’m starting to reflect on the experience. Because we’ve done a lot of rebranding work in the past, a long time ago we developed a “comprehensive” checklist of brand assets for clients to use as a reference tool when going through a renaming or rebranding process. So, my first point of reflection is how many little things need to be tended to that just don’t quite make it on any checklist. Things like:
- Voicemail. This really only becomes an issue if you’re renaming your firm like we just did, but it’s easy to miss the details. Sure, there’s the obvious master call tree message, but don’t forget sub menus, employee mailboxes, and employee mobile phones.
- Ancillary Social Media. No one is really going to overlook company Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. But, don’t forget employee profiles, that less often used Scribd or Newsl account, that Wikipedia page an intern put up, your Manta media account and any other directory listings pointing to your website.
- 301 Redirects. This is kind of technical, but really critical. If you’re launching a new website on a new URL, make sure you issue 301 redirects for all the pages on your old site to all their counterparts on your new site. This basically tells a search engine what happened to the page it has indexed. For pages that will have no counterpart, make sure you redirect them to a similar page on the new site. As a suggestion, it’s a lot easier to plan to do this before your new site launches while your old pages are still live.
The Things You Underestimate
Another thing that I noticed during the process was how easy it was to underestimate the amount of work required for certain aspects of the process. Some examples:
- Content Migration. Obviously, a big part of a rebranding initiative is reframing the message of the firm — how it explains what it does, for whom and the value it creates. Obviously, as an agency, the crafting of this message is a large portion of what we do for a client. That said, many firms we work with already have a large backlog of content they’ve used to educate and inform potential clients to attract them to their firm. This may take the form of previous articles, blogs or research. Generally, it’s the client’s responsibility to migrate content or populate a new CMS with content — after all, this is the best way for a person to get comfortable in a new system. That said, migrating that content to a new website or CMS takes significantly more work and time than it would ever appear on the surface.
- Documentation. As part of any branding program we generally provide a system of document templates to be used internally by the client. These includes things like case study templates provided as a design file and Microsoft Word templates for use with internal business documents. It’s one thing to have the template, but it’s another thing to apply its use across the entire firm. There are documents floating around at every nook and cranny of your firm — on central file servers, on desktops, in email messages — that people are using every day. Some of these are obvious and others you don’t even know exist. I think any firm can expect that finding all these and getting them brought over to a new look-and-feel could be a multi-month task that extends well past a brand launch.
I’m sure I’ll share more reflections on this experience in the months ahead. In the meantime, if you think your firm has a problem with how it presents and communicates itself to the market and you’re exploring the idea of a rebrand, I hope you find this post helpful to avoid overlooking the many details that need tended during the latter stages of the process.