April 22, 2021

How to approach a rebrand

BY NATALIE KHOO

Natalie and Francis

When I decided it was time to refresh Avion’s look, I never thought it would be such a departure from our existing brand. I was apprehensive accepting a new colour palette, but I’m thrilled with where it landed. What I learned is even if you think you know best (marketing specialists and business owners, I’m talking to you!), it’s important to balance your expertise with getting out your comfort zone. You’re looking for a change, after all.

For those thinking about a transformation in 2021, here’s what to consider when rebranding based on my experience. While Avion is a content agency with 10 staff, my thinking is still useful and scalable to organisations of different sizes.

Revisit your positioning

If you want to reinvent your brand, it’s probably because your products or services have evolved. At Avion, our clients are often mid-sized companies that have great marketing, but the messaging is outdated and no longer reflects their offering. Content also becomes redundant when companies shift their focus to another demographic (moving from start-ups to enterprise is a very common scenario).

The type of product or service you offer (low cost or high cost, for example), and the type of customer you want to attract (e.g. B2B or B2C), plays a big part of any rebrand. Shortlist the attributes you want to be associated with. In Avion’s case, they included “sophisticated”, “strategic”, “clear”.  These helped me determine the look and feel I was aiming for, which ultimately impacted the creative my designer delivered.

Know what you need

A rebrand is more than just a new website. Think about all the creative and assets your customers see—you’ll need to update these as well. For us, I pinned it down to:

  • The Avion website
  • Our email signatures
  • Our newsletter template
  • Our proposal template
  • Our copy decks
  • Our social accounts.

Make sure you keep a list of these and cross them off in preparation for go-live. You may have noticed that Avion has rebranded with a new domain name, too. Moving from avioncommunications.com.au to avion.agency meant we needed to partner with someone who was super tech savvy. Successfully installing redirects and new email accounts were more pieces of the puzzle to account for. (Shout out to Francis Di Tanno and the SWiM team for their stellar work).

Seek inspiration WITH your designer

It’s important to compile examples of other websites you like—and talk through each one at a session with your designer. This is because it’s not just aesthetics you’re researching, it’s also functionality. Carefully consider features such as navigation styles (top bar, collapsible sidebar, or hamburger menu) or micro-interactions (images or animations that are activated upon hovering or scrolling). What’s critical at this early stage of your project is BUDGET.

The fact you need new branding in addition to a new website means you must have a ballpark in mind—this will determine what you can and cannot afford. If you’re keeping things lean, your designer may suggest reserving most of your budget for the creative process. You can then use a website template that ticks most of the boxes rather than a custom build.

Be prepared for change

Your creative may change dramatically, depending on how adventurous your designer is.

  • First came the evolution of the logo. That was pretty straightforward as it remained a paper plane, but this time with a sense of movement.
  • Second came the colour palette and fonts. I really struggled here because I was so accustomed to Avion’s branding, I couldn’t imagine anything different. After lots of indecision, SWiM diplomatically pushed me to trust them, and I’m glad I did. The move was backed by a story behind the colours that resonated with me.

Set realistic production goals

Making change takes time, and it’s important to accept your new look may roll out in stages—or even be a bit inconsistent when things start to go live. Further to that, you’re also trying to manage your day-to-day, so completion can take longer than you’d originally planned.

Here’s what the timeline looked like for me (while juggling other things):

  1. Research and mapping deliverables required – 2 weeks
  2. New logo development – 1 month
  3. Content planning and copywriting – 2 weeks
  4. Web design with 2 rounds of feedback – 1 month
  5. Web development with 3 rounds of feedback – 3 months
  6. Design and upload of other collateral like templates and icons – 2 weeks
  7. Final tech set up and QA (quality assurance) testing – 2 weeks

Some things can happen in parallel, but others need to be deployed in order. In total, Avion’s new branding took approximately 6 months. If you think that’s fast, please note our website is only 6 pages.

Going through this exercise was really interesting for me, as I’m usually involved with driving someone else’s rebrand. If there were 3 critical takeaways from my experience, they’d be:

  1. Letting go and trusting others to do great work. Welcome fresh perspective.
  2. Being calm and kind when things need more time. You also need to do your job.
  3. Remembering that a website is just a small part of who you are. Investing in good relationships (and even better work) always makes up for the fancy features you couldn’t afford. 

If you haven’t checked it out yet, please have a browse and explore how our messaging and brand personality has evolved.

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