At me&you we’ve helped many businesses launch a new service or refresh their brand. From better communicating the difference a client provides over their competitors for Lustre Consulting and BCarm or introducing a new product range for Nutricana and Original Drinks. We’ve learnt a lot working on such varied branding projects.
There are some common recommendations when guiding our customers to ensure their brand launch is successful. Sadly we’ve also seen when it’s been handled badly. So we’ve made this guide to ensure your next launch or rebrand is a success.
We share our recommendations, provide a few checklists and highlight the opportunities that a well executed brand launch can deliver for you, your team and your audience.
Let’s dive in…
What are the benefits of getting a launch right?
First up there’ll be a core reason why you choose to refresh and invest in your brand. A common reason for our customers is their brand no longer reflects the services they now provide or how they communicate. Realigning your brand is a big project, it’s not something you can successfully achieve in a few weeks. We typically allow 4 to 6 months for a rebrand project.
So with that investment in mind - doesn’t it make sense to ensure you launch successfully?
Here are a few ways that a successful launch can benefit your business:
- Motivate and excite your team
- A new brand identity that your team has been involved in can be a real motivator. When they see how they’ve been listened to, that the businesses values align with theirs and the exciting new visual approach and tone of voice. All these factors can empower your team. Plus a new brand is a helpful recruitment tool to attract and retain the right people. Also think about making key people brand ambassadors - see more about this in our Fizzbox case study.
- Engage your audience
- Now you’ve got a brand that you’re proud of, it will give you the confidence to shout about it. Such confidence and clarity will attract your target audience. Just make sure when you do shout about it, what you say is meaningful and positive; not just a ‘we’ve got a new look’ message. See our tips on a communications strategy below.
- Raise awareness
- Your new visual identity and tone of voice will stimulate conversations. So think about ways to capitalise on this. For example if there are key blogs, influencers, local business networks or sector press - get them involved. Give them a sample, an exclusive story about the positive change this brand delivers. Use your new brand to springboard your company's awareness.
Soft Launch or Big Bang?
Short answer… it depends. We’ve had clients who have decided to do a soft launch, whilst others choose to go big, activating all brand changes in one very busy week. Factors which will help you make the right decision include:
- Capacity - when you look at the checklists below consider whether you’ve got the time and team in place to make these changes swiftly, or if you need more time to roll things out.
- Materials - sometimes not every marketing material can be ready all in one go. That’s ok and completely understandable. Perhaps a printed brochure is going to show your new brand identity first and the shiny upgraded website simply won’t be ready for a few more months. If that’s the case it’s absolutely fine to start using materials before everythings ready (as long as that fits your audience and sector).
- Audience & Sector - if you are in a fast moving market, perhaps a business to consumer brand, then frequently they’ll be looking for trust signals, and if they see packaging that doesn’t align with social media graphics, an online shop or point of sale piece that looks different. Then that could reduce their trust in your product or service. Meanwhile if you’re in a consulting, b2b or professional services sector where sales and service delivery is more about personal relationships built over time - a soft launch will normally be fine. No matter what, think about your audience needs. Ask yourself how will the rebrand affect my audience?
Benefits of a soft launch
Perhaps you want to ensure your team is fully trained up on the new way you present your services. In a practical sense a soft launch gives you and your team time to get comfortable with the new brand before using it in outbound communications.
You may also find it’s less expensive to soft launch as you don’t need to draft in extra resources or get rid of old printed materials. Identify the key touch points and ensure they are updated with the new brand, but allow stocks of support materials to run down before updating.
Finally, there’s also the opportunity to tweak and test, gathering feedback from a sample audience. This shouldn’t be overstressed as a benefit as we aren’t recommending you launch if you aren’t sure the brand is right - but with a soft launch you can adjust items. For example; perhaps you're considering a new brochure - you could do a short print run, gather feedback from the sample before then committing to a full rollout.
Benefits of a ‘big bang’
Awareness, excitement and engagement can all be enhanced by a big launch. A memorable event can enhance recall and encourage everyone to get onboard the ‘new brand train’. This is something we coordinated for one of our pharmaceutical clients. Every sales person was invited to a social event, all the new brand materials were introduced and they all went away with a new sale pack.
We often talk about the importance of brand consistency. From the sign outside, to the environmental graphics, to your website, to how your team speaks - if every touch point is in alignment your voice is enhanced, trust is raised and the chance of conversion more likely.
Brand Launch Communications Strategy
What’s your plan to communicate your new brand? Make sure you focus on the benefits and value the brand will deliver. I’ve seen plenty of ‘we’ve got a new look’ or ‘excited to share our new website’ posts that lack a ‘why’. Everything you craft to communicate your changes should focus on the positive intent and weave in an emotive story that means something to your audience.
Consider the following method:
- Tell the story of why you decided to take your business on this journey
- Explain the benefits the new brand will deliver to your audience
- Make sure your audience is fully considered and you communicate clearly what’s in it for them
Here is an example of the simple email I sent our customers when my creative agency rebranded to me&you. Note prior to this email we had sent out a ‘hello from me&you’ welcome pack in the post:
Why has hansell changed to me&you?
You’ll have been hard pressed not to notice that we’ve changed our name from Hansell Design & Marketing to the shorter and snappier me&you. What you might not yet know is the reason for the change. So let me tell you a story…
Back in March, I was having a drink with the team in the pub next to our studio, chatting about some of our latest projects, when conversation moved to our own marketing. “We need a new website”, said Paul, our creative director (probably for about the 20th time), which was received with enthusiastic nods from around the table. Whilst I agreed, I couldn’t help but pose the wider question “Is our website the real issue? Does our name communicate what we do and where we want to be? Perhaps what we really need is a new brand identity?”
And so that is how ‘project rebrand’ got underway. It’s taken a while – we’ve been lucky enough to work with some fantastic clients and deliver some remarkable projects over the last few months, which has meant that our own rebrand has stalled a few times. But now, 6 months on, we’re finally ready to launch.
The name and new visual identity is all built upon a key insight we gathered when we looked at the most successful projects we’ve been involved in. A common thread with all these projects was that we had established a relationship with our client which was built on trust, collaboration and working side-by-side. So it was with this insight in mind that we renamed and rebranded. The new name is proudly relationship focussed - ‘me&you’ working together to deliver the best creative results. Our new visual approach is also all about breaking down barriers, removing any stuffy agency lingo and using vibrant, welcoming colours and design.
“What does this mean for us?” I hear you cry…well, I’m pleased to report, it only means good things. We’ll continue to do all the things that you’ve always valued, for the same competitive prices (hurrah!), but you'll also get a better idea about who we are, where we want to be, and what more we can do for you. We’re the same team, just with added awesome!
What do you observe in the above message? We wrote it in our new friendly tone of voice, we told a story explaining why we decided to rebrand. Plus we also explained the benefits and reassured our audience.
We recommend you brief your team separately to your customers. In the timings section below we recommend you let your team know at least a few weeks before outbound communications. Ensure you cover the following points:
- Why we’re doing it - explain clearly and frequently why the business has rebranded. Think about crafting a few simple phrases and using them again and again with your team. This will help them explain with confidence to your customers the reason for the rebrand.
- Make it memorable - whether it’s branded cupcakes, new uniforms or a keepsake it’s really important to engage your team as they can be the most powerful promoter of your business.
- Assign brand ambassadors - hopefully you’ve involved your team in the rebrand process. Frequently a few team members come out as brand super-stars, perhaps they contributed the most or demonstrated a real understanding of the importance of brand. Use these people as brand ambassadors to keep communicating and talking about the new brand.
Consider how you want to update your customers of the change and benefits your new brand will deliver. This really depends on your customer and how you interact with them. For example; if you're a kindergarten, shop or restaurant brand, the most obvious touchpoint may be the physical space with new signage, colours and brand. If you’re an ‘online first’ business then before your website updates you may want to prepare a sequence of email and social media communications hinting and highlighting that a change is coming.
Don’t forget about new customers too. A rebrand can be an opportunity to say hello to some target customers, perhaps those that you’ve not spoken to recently? Well a new brand can be a motivating and interesting way to get their attention.
Industry experts and local PR
Do you have industry partners or perhaps key member directories and associations? They’ll all love a news story to promote and support. So get them onside; prepare a press release, with supporting imagery and if you are doing a launch event, invite them along. If your brand is all about a particular location then get local news media, influencers, and maybe even the council involved. Everyone is looking for content and stories to tell so help them out by having your story ready for them to retell.
Just make sure as we’ve highlighted before you’ve got a more compelling ‘why’ story. Make it emotive, positive, compelling - craft it in a way that encourages people to share your news.
Produce a realistic schedule by:
- Identifying which assets will require a longer time to produce
- Mapping out any time-sensitive activities such as an exhibition or public launch
- Preparing your internal team communications rollout
- Preparing your external communications rollout
When you’ve completed the above you’ll have a clearer understanding of what time to assign to each step of the process. Build in a contingency of at least 30% more time, as you’ll tend to underestimate the time needed to complete a launch. Don’t forget that you will still be running the day to day activities of your business too.
Also think about time after the launch. Follow-up with your team, audience and wider market. Emphasis and repetition is vital to cut through the daily noise. Think about post-launch activities and other ongoing brand education and engagement. This will help ensure all employees still ‘get it’ and get the most value out of your new brand.
Brand launch checklists
Below we’ve prepared a few checklists that should help you. Use these as quick guides when planning out your launch. We’ve done our best to think of the most common items to prepare - however it’s not exhaustive. If you think of something to add please contact me and I’ll get it updated!
What assets should your creative agency or designer supply you?
You should get a brand toolkit (what’s a brand toolkit) with key assets released for your use including:
- full colour version of your logo in CMYK (for print)
- full colour version of your logo in RGB (for digital)
- single colour version of your logo
- reversed or black version of your logo
- variations of your logo for different applications (for example a simplified version for your website header)
- animated version of your logo
- favicon for your website
- social media templates
- social media header graphics and icons
- stationery - from business cards to letterheads
- core imagery, textures, patterns and brand graphics
- bespoke icons or illustrations
- marketing best practice examples - this could include signage, environmental graphics, powerpoint templates, banners and advertising templates
Ok and what should you do with these files?
Within your bundle of materials there'll be lots of odd file types, some you may not even be able to open. Ah the joy of cryptic file types and names! What on earth are you supposed to do with them?
PNG - this is typically used for your website, app or anything presented on screen. It’s a great file type as it can include transparency (so no white box around your logo). It isn’t great with photos so should be mainly used for your logo
JPEG - an efficient file format that’s best used for images that have lots of details and colours. If part of your branding project included new headshots or brand photography expect to receive these files as jpeg (or jpg they’re the same thing)
EPS or PDF - an eps file is commonly one that you may struggle to view and we’ve had clients in the past even delete these, don’t! An eps or pdf file correctly supplied is often the best version of your logo for other suppliers because it’s a vector file. Simply this means that it can be scaled to any size without loss of quality. Ideal for signage companies.
Mp4 - if you’ve commissioned an animated version of your logo or perhaps arranged for some explainer videos (like these for our client Lustre) the videos will be often supplied in this format
What online records should you update?
If you’re changing any company details make sure you update the following records and graphics across the following platforms:
- Google my business
- Facebook business page
- Online memberships and directories
- Email signatures
- Email addresses
- Website migration - if you're moving from one website address (domain) to another we recommend you employ an SEO expert to ensure the migration is planned for and all aspects of seo considered.
What offline materials should you update?
Make sure your new brand is applied to all materials including:
- Stationery; including business cards, letterheads, brochures and leaflets
- Vehicle and staff uniforms
- Promotional materials such as pull-up banners to branded ‘swag’
Any other Admin tasks?
It depends on the scope of your rebrand, if you’ve changed your name then you should:
- Contact your bank and update name records
- Notify all suppliers of your change of name (from insurance to office services)
- Change your limited company or charity name (or at the very least make the new name a trading name). Your accountant will help with this and typically will involve notifying various HMRC departments and Companies House.
- Payroll and payslips
Meanwhile if you’ve kept your name you should still update the following:
- Accountancy programme, whether you send printed invoices or digital get the new brand onto these templates
- Trademarking, this is an important topic (see my guide here) protect your investment!
Summary & 5 Top Tips
Wow you’ve made it all the way to here! Well done. When I started writing this article it was because a couple of customers had asked for guidance on this process. I really had no idea how much there is to a successful brand launch.
Hopefully you’ve found it useful. I’ll also add a download version and audio recording soon.
Of course if you need any help in branding, brand launch materials or anything you’ve read above get in touch with me and my team at me&you. Unsubtle plug over.
So what are my final Top 5 Tips for a successful launch?
Plan - fail to plan, plan to fail goes the saying. It’s absolutely right though, it’s really important to put a plan in place. Don’t feel you have to do everything - if you’ve an excellent project manager in your team then delegate the planning to them. Just make sure you do put a plan together.
Emphasis - repeat, repeat, repeat. You will be very familiar with the new brand by the time the launch date comes. Your team, your customers and everyone else won’t be. As a rough rule of thumb if you feel you’ve been saying the same things about your new brand too much; you’ve probably got it about right. We’ve been called me&you for over four years now, yet I still repeat to our existing customers the reason we’re called me&you. How we’re all about long term, meaningful relationships, working side-by-side with our customers.
Stay strong - listen to feedback but don’t lose faith. You may get some negative feedback from customers or a staff member may not see the point of the rebrand. Just remember the point of the rebrand, recall the effort and research that went into it. Do invite feedback, but also understand that sometimes people say things just because they’ve been asked to do so.
Consistent - stick to the story. Once you’ve crafted your new tone of voice and new visual elements, use them again and again and again. You may be tempted to add more or change some phrases - don’t. With everything in alignment you really shouldn’t need to adjust your messaging.
Be realistic - you’re not John Lewis (the day their new brand identity was launched I spotted new packaging in store, new rebrand vans on the road and new tv ads). It’s ok if a few items slip through the cracks. It’s ok if a few team members take a while to adjust OR you spot some old materials being used.
Do focus on key touch points but also accept that it is a time of transition and that’s fine. I delayed launching me&you until everything was sorted, when I switched the new website on….nothing immediately changed, no customers ran away! In hindsight I should have made the change earlier. So don’t put things off, get that new brand out in the world and be proud of the work you and your team has delivered.
Founder & Creative Director
me&you - your creative company