How to rebrand authentically and reach the right people

Three simple steps to define what makes you, you

There are many reasons why businesses and organisations decide to rebrand.

It might be because customer or visitor numbers are down. Perhaps an old brand is no longer relevant, and needs to be transformed so that it appeals to the right people. Or maybe the organisation wants to improve its reputation with a new professional identity.

Whatever your reason for wanting to rebrand, it’s common to feel overwhelmed when starting the process. After all, changing the way people perceive your business isn’t something to be taken lightly. For a rebrand to appeal to your ideal audience, it needs to be carefully planned and thoughtfully executed.

Most importantly, your rebrand needs to be authentic. A key mistake that organisations make is to copy someone else’s style, or to grow fixated on visual elements that fail to reflect their particular approach to business. By pretending to be someone you’re not, your rebrand will give people the wrong impression about your organisation.

So what does it take to rebrand in a way that not only appeals to your ideal audience, but that authentically represents you and your company? This post will guide you through the crucial first step of the process: identifying what makes your organisation different, interesting and appealing.

Defining your brand: vision and values

Think of your brand as the living, breathing personality of your business.

While visual elements like your logo can certainly affect the way people perceive you, your brand is so much more than this. Your brand is how you behave and communicate. The way you conduct yourself. The values you live by. Your vision for how things should be done, not only within your organisation, but throughout your sector.

For this reason, it’s important to begin the process of a rebrand by defining your vision and values. This will help you to lay the foundation for everything that follows.

Your vision

State your vision. What drives the decisions that are made in your organisation? This will be your North Star – your ultimate aim.

Think bigger than money. It’s a given that all companies, even not-for-profits, need to make money to survive and thrive. While cash is important, your vision is the reason you chose to work in your industry in the first place. It’s the impact you want to make; the outcome that you strive to achieve whenever someone engages with your organisation.

When defining your vision, keep it simple. Set a vision statement that resonates with people both inside and outside your organisation. By getting this right, you’ll ensure that your rebrand represents your organisation’s current aspirations, not just the aims and goals it had when it first started.

Be honest about what you want to achieve. Being assertive about your vision will result in a rebrand that stands out from the crowd, instead of blending into the background of your sector.

If you’re not sure where to start, answering the following questions can help you to define a vision that’s authentic to your organisation:

  • What will success look like?
  • How will you best serve your audience?
  • What problem does our organisation seek to solve, or what goals do we want to achieve?

Your values

It’s difficult to define a brand that doesn’t stand for something. Writing down a list of three to five phrases that describe the values of your business will provide some much-needed context for your rebrand.

People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. If a company doesn’t have a clear sense of WHY then it is impossible for the outside world to perceive anything more than WHAT the company does.

Simon Sinek, Start With Why

Try to pick values that make your organisation distinct and compelling. Defining your values at this early stage will help to ensure that your target audience identifies with your organisation, giving them a higher purpose for engaging with you.

Some useful questions to ask yourself when defining your brand values include:

  • Does this value mean anything to our audience?
  • Is it more likely to make them engage with us?
  • Does the value help to make us distinct as a brand?
  • Can the value be brought to life in the way our team behaves?

Rebrand case study: The Design Museum’s vision and values

The Design Museum defines its vision and values on its website, inviting its audience to share in its mission of connecting design with people’s lives and passions.

The organisation envisions a world where everyone understands the value of design. Its core values – collaborative, welcoming, enterprising and forward looking – are experienced across every touchpoint, from printed brochures and digital marketing to large format displays in the museum itself.

Aligning your brand: character and positioning

Since your brand is your organisation’s personality, it can help to think of it as having human characteristics to align it with your audience’s interests.

We often recognise brands through the emotions we associate them with – when an organisation makes us feel something positive, it humanises them and makes us want to associate with them.

Your character

The best known brands in the world have recognisable character traits that make them appealing to target customers. The National Trust is sincere, while Channel 4 is exciting. Visit Wales is rugged, and The Ivy Brasserie sophisticated.

Brand Character Sheet downloadWhich character traits does your brand epitomise? If you’re struggling to identify your brand’s character, our printable brand character sheet will help. Be selective when choosing the words that describe your brand – more than five will likely lead to muddled messaging. Remember: the more precise you can be about your brand’s character, the better the chance you have of connecting with a likeminded audience.

Your positioning

What makes your brand different from your competitors? By defining your audience and understanding the things that appeal to them, you’ll be able to position your brand as the best choice for them.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you need to appeal to every type of customer. Brands that try to please everyone ultimately end up pleasing no one.

As well as thinking about the differences that set your brand apart from the competition, consider the frame of reference within which the context of your brand works. The features your brand shares with competitors are also known as points of parity. Certain points of parity must be met if consumers are to perceive your brand as a legitimate player within its marketplace.

Questions you might ask:

  • Are we leveraging our points of parity?
  • Are the points of difference compelling to consumers – are they relevant and believable?

Rebrand case study: Positioning Visit Bath

While assisting Visit Bath with their rebrand, our team learned that Bath is the only city in the UK with a thermal spring. This, combined with the city’s UNESCO World Heritage status, gave us a point of difference.

By focusing on these differences, we were able to position Bath as the must-visit destination for anyone seeking relaxation and historical intrigue in the heart of an English city.

Delivering your brand: turn ideas into action

Once you have a clear picture of your brand’s vision, values, character and positioning, you’ll be ready to undergo a rebrand that’s both authentic and appealing.

Your brand identity will consist of several components, including:

Visual identity: The visible elements of your brand, combining colour, form and shape to create an identity that’s tangible, eye-catching and distinctive.

Tone of voice: The careful choice of language your brand uses when expressing itself via written copy and multimedia content.

Application across touchpoints: Your brand identity needs to be applied consistently across all touchpoints, including print, digital and large format.

Brand guidelines: Documenting your brand identity via brand guidelines will ensure credibility and recognition as internal staff and external agencies apply your visual identity.

While we’ve only skimmed the surface of what it takes to pull off a successful rebrand in this post, following the steps outlined above will put you in an ideal place to begin the process.

Ready to turn those ideas into action? Teaming up with an experienced design agency will ensure that your rebrand is executed with the care and professionalism it deserves.

If your old brand is flagging for attention and needs reinvigorating to energise your plans for growth, we can help with one of our facilitated brand workshops. These get to the heart of what makes your organisation unique, authentically defining your vision and values while positioning you as the ideal choice for your audience.

Contact Touchpoint Design today. We’ll show you just how far good design can take you.