How to Lead a Rebrand (Without Going Crazy)

6 minute read

Upland Admin

Is your visual style going through a facelift? Or, perhaps your company, on its way to world domination, has bought out a competitor?

Either way, one thing’s for certain: It’s time to rebrand everything you’ve ever made. How to begin? Take it from a veteran of both situations: You don’t want to go in blind.

When Extreme Networks, where I oversee Brand, Creative, and Digital Marketing, acquired three companies in less than a year and a half, it was our team that handled this sizeable task.

Every piece of collateral—including our established collateral—needed to be assessed and adjusted to reflect our new offerings and the messages that accompanied them. And it needed to happen right away.

Leading a rebrand encompasses much more than simply slapping a new logo on an old asset. A well-done project is a strategic endeavor that requires honesty, cross-team collaboration, and a whole lot of coffee.

Luckily, I was no stranger to the challenge. In 2013, Extreme underwent an internal rebrand while simultaneously acquiring another company. I led the charge—and learned a lot along the way. This time around, faced with absorbing multiple new divisions in a short period of time, I knew our team needed to build an efficient, strategic process to ensure we got the job done right.

Here’s how we did it:

8 Steps to Rebranding Bliss

1. Audit What’s Out There

To avoid wasting hours of your designers’ limited time rebranding assets you’ll never need, invest the effort up front to audit your new and existing content. Content audits are already something you should do on a regular basis, so consider this an opportunity to kill two birds with one best-practice stone.

First, I connected with my counterparts at our newly acquired organizations. Since they knew much more about their own content than I did, I leaned on them to tell me what was important enough to bring over and what could be left behind.

This process was and should be a meticulous one. I asked for a list of every asset that could potentially be rebranded and had stakeholders go through it line by line to determine what should be updated and what could be retired.

To help the process go smoothly, I’ve found that it’s helpful to create priority levels that separate assets into those that must be ready by a go-live date, those that will be followed up with afterward, and those that will form an ongoing backlog.

2. Match Content Types

You say to-may-to, I say to-mah-to. You say “customer success stories,” we say “case studies.”

The next hurdle we needed to overcome was figuring out how our various content types differed among our new divisions so we could get everyone on the same page. In some cases, this meant adding content types to our existing list. In others, it meant tweaking similar approaches—like customer success stories vs. case studies—to fit them in with our existing approach.

These inconsistencies may seem small, but without addressing them up-front, they’ll go on to create the kind of disjointed customer experiences that can impede your company’s ability to advance a deal.

3. Build Templates and Get Moving

Once we knew which content we needed to rebrand, it was time for our designers to get to work. They built Extreme Networks templates and moved the meat of existing assets into them to ensure everything we absorbed was aligned with our visual brand.

4. Root Out Conflicting Messaging

As is the case with many acquisitions, Extreme Networks had purchased several former competitors, which threw an extra variable into our efforts.

Once visually updated, we needed to evaluate language in our own assets that attempted to undermine competitors-turned-friends. Our final assets needed to form a united front that shared a cohesive value proposition.

5. Get Collaborators in One Place

Every piece of collateral we rebranded had to get from the designer who updated it to the relevant manager for approval. To do so, we made sure to get everyone in a single platform (Kapost) to streamline the approval process and keep track of workflow status.

Containing a project with these many variables within a single system made the lives of everyone involved infinitely easier. Instead of sending hundreds of emails back and forth, we could centralize the process in a single system with standardized workflows to maintain version control and track progress.

6. Organizing Product Pages

Absorbing so many new products meant we needed to figure out which should be on our corporate and regional websites. This often involved identifying which products had a stronger presence in various markets so we could make strategic decisions about what should be featured where.

7. Localize

Similar to the process we undertook in step five, we passed our updated collateral through field marketers to ensure our refreshed local language content was up to snuff.

8. One Last Audit

Finally, it was time to go back through our finalized content inventory to check for clarity and consistency. We needed to make sure every piece of rebranded content fit logically into place within our content landscape—which meant no conflicting messaging, no confusion, and everything working together to tell a unified brand story.

The Secret Sauce of Rebranding

The biggest challenge in overseeing a rebrand is a simple one: It takes a whole lot of work. Manual, hands-on, time-consuming work.

But having gone through this process now multiple times, I can say with confidence that the right approach can make all the difference.

The secret to success? Honesty.

It starts at the very beginning. When you begin to scope and prioritize the project, it’s essential that subject-matter experts (often those who themselves have created or overseen the creation of the content) are encouraged to provide a frank assessment about the importance of any given piece.

The first time I oversaw a rebrand, I made the mistake of believing my new counterparts when they told us everything was important enough to be put through the rebranding process. This was not—and probably never will be—the case.

But it’s easy, given the circumstances, to have these types of unproductive conversations. When people fear for their jobs, it’s natural for them to become defensive and overplay the importance of their work. After all, if you don’t need their content, you might not need them. That’s why it’s your job to create an open and honest space where people are comfortable taking a serious look at prioritizing the content they own.

Not only will this save the team countless hours of work, but it will also build a stronger portfolio of content—one that prioritizes quality over quantity and empowers the entire organization to speak in one voice across every customer journey.

Want to see how else Extreme Networks is scaling their content efforts? Read their full success story.

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