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Rebranding means more than typography choices, color selections and new logos. They're a reflection of your company's vision PHOTO: Jeff Sheldon

“We need to deliver what?!?” I said to my brand marketing leader when she told me we needed a home page video eight weeks before we launched our new brand. 

Creating a video that adequately represents the ethos of your brand is a significant undertaking in and of itself. But doing so while redesigning every piece of company collateral in existence was not something I wanted to attempt. 

“No way,” I said. “That’s insane.” 

“But then we’ll have to redesign the home page to fill in the hole,” she explained. 

“So be it,” I said. I calculated that taking the wrath of the home page designer was preferable to doing a slapdash job on an important piece just to make a deadline.

That, my friends, is my first lesson when undertaking a rebrand — pick your battles. I was ready to take on this battle. But I had to let go many others.

5 Hard-Earned Rebranding Lessons

Rebrands are not for the faint of heart. A lot of moving pieces, negotiation and work go into pulling one off. While picking your battles is a good lesson to take from our recent experience, it's only one of the many lessons we learned along the way. 

Agree on Your Vision

Our rebrand did not start with ideas for a new color palette. It didn’t even start with our new logo. It started with a more fundamental corporate building block: our company vision. 

By developing and understanding our company vision before undertaking the project, we had the tools and guard rails in place to identify what did and did not make sense in the new brand. 

Along a similar vein, we had to agree on who we trusted to translate our company vision into our new brand. We started with an agency who gave us interesting ideas, but couldn't quite capture the full essence of our vision. 

Ultimately, we delivered our new identity internally through a close partnership with our in-house designer and our brand marketing director. From this solid foundation, we launched a successful logo design contest with our design community that epitomized our new vision. 

Make it a Priority

A rebrand is a huge undertaking requiring tremendous coordination across multiple functions that’s about as easy as cat-herding. If you want it done well without a lot of organizational carnage, you need the entire executive team to stand behind it. 

Our rebrand required pretty much every developer to work on it for two months straight. As you can imagine, this approach held up a lot of features. But we felt galvanizing everyone around the effort and time-boxing it was the most efficient way to get it out the door. 

This approach had the added benefit of fostering more team spirit. People who did not generally work closely together had the chance to do so. Marketing had a better understanding of what product did and vice versa. Everyone had a better appreciation of each other’s valuable contributions to the company and we were able to roll out the rebrand across all international sites at the same time — a tremendous feat.

Designate a Leader

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but you need to bite the bullet and pull someone off their day job to make something like a rebrand happen. Ideally, that individual is a well-respected leader, passionate about the project and super organized. 

Our brand director led the charge and served the role as overall project leader as well as project manager for the marketing assets. Similarly, we found it valuable to have a talented front-end engineer lead the development effort and one of our best task-masters to lead the product effort. 

Bring in Reinforcements

We could have taken on all of the work ourselves, but that would have meant taking significant attention away from the day-to-day of the business — something we did not want to do.

Additionally, there was the risk of employee burn-out before the rebrand was complete. So we hired extra copywriters, graphic designers and project managers to crank out updated landing pages, email templates, social media cover pages, etc. It was a bit of an extra cost, but worth our sanity. 

Savor the Moment

When the site went live and nothing (major) fell apart, we all breathed a sigh of relief. It was a really special time for us as a company. Since we are a marketplace, our customers and designers are an integral part of our brand. We chose to celebrate the moment with them by hosting parties at our various global offices, thanking them for helping us along this journey. 

We created a book of 99 customer and designer stories to help them and our employees commemorate the occasion. Rebrands, by design, do not happen frequently. We recognized this and took the opportunity to appreciate our community of users, our employees, our new brand and all the hard work that went into turning the vision into reality.