Successful Rebranding: Campaign Examples & PR Tips

Brand identity is one of the most important aspects of a business. A good brand is easily recognizable and stands out in the marketplace. However, there comes a time when your current branding no longer works for your business… 

And here comes rebranding, a marketing strategy that creates a new identity for an existing entity in the eyes of its stakeholders, such as its customers, investors, competitors, employees, and everyone else who cares about it.  

There are countless reasons why you might consider partial or total rebranding. Your company might want to expand its business internationally or into another industry that looks promising. It might also be a part of a merger, acquisition, or demerger. 

Alternatively, after years of working in one industry, your experience and data might have shown you that to succeed, you have to switch up your branding and communication styles. As a result, you decide to start from scratch by choosing a new brand name, logo, slogan, and concept for your company. 

Whatever the reason, reinventing a business’ identity might appear like an intimidating journey, but it does not have to be. Here are six PR tips to help you communicate a rebrand, with a few examples of successful rebranding campaigns.

How to communicate a rebrand 

Treat rebranding as a process, not an event

People’s perceptions of a business do not change overnight. Rebranding does not simply happen by redesigning your website and updating your social media accounts with your new visual brand identifiers. 

It is not a one-time event, but a process that involves detailed research, meticulous planning, and deliberate introduction of your business’ new vision, mission, values, logos, brand colors, and messages.

The rebranding of Airbnb back in 2013 is a great example of this. Airbnb’s initial brand identity was established in a hurry, and the company was not distinguishable from its competitors despite having a unique brand story. Airbnb’s rebrand was preceded by thorough research conducted together with a London-based agency, which resulted in new brand colors, an easily recognizable logo, and inclusive messaging. 

Successful rebranding campaign example from Airbnb 

The point of Airbnb’s rebranding was not to completely change the identity of its business. The entire process slowly introduced guests, hosts, and other stakeholders to the updated brand visuals and business values and built familiarity through relatable rhetoric that sought to solve travelers’ issues with the accommodation.

A good tactic to ensure such a smooth rebranding process is using a detailed PR plan in place. The template can help you keep track of your rebranding marketing activities and help you formulate SMART goals that will keep you focused on your desired outcomes.

Monitor mentions and personalize your messages 

You should always stay on top of conversations about your business on all channels, including traditional, broadcast, online, and social media. Effective media monitoring is necessary during the rebranding process because it can show you how people are reacting to your rebranding efforts and can help you quickly identify mentions that might need addressing. Once you identify the target audience, it will be easier for you to formulate responses and create new brand messages that speak directly to them. 

This is exactly how video production house Foszer Sawicki utilized Brand24 during its rebranding. They monitored all publicly available mentions of their old name, Mumin’s Interactive, and their new name, Foszer Sawicki. By doing so, the company was able to learn how people felt towards its new identity, and whether they understood why the company had decided to rebrand.

Media monitoring tools can give you insights into your Share of Voice (SOV), assess the overall sentiment towards your brand, and help you control brand awareness. 

Besides just tracking how your target audiences’ attitudes change over time, you should also have a good customer relationship management (CRM) system in place that can further help you manage your relationships with leads and existing customers. Combining good media monitoring and CRM practices can help you personalize the communication with your stakeholders and ensure that people welcome your rebranded identity. 

Make sure your employees feel involved

During a rebranding process, businesses can make the mistake of focusing too much on the opinions of their external stakeholders that they neglect their internal stakeholders. Brand loyalty should start from within the company. Part of your branding strategy should focus on getting your employees on board with the rebrand. 

Here are three ways you can make your employees feel involved in the process:

1. Send out exclusive updates – if you do not have an internal digital bulletin board, you can always send out emails in the form of newsletters. The main idea is to make employees feel that they are up-to-date with the changes happening in their company.

2. Organize a meeting or a call – involve your C-Suite or managerial staff and have them directly explain to the employees how the rebranding will help the company and, consequently, benefit them. Online meetings are a great way to inform employees of ongoing changes and explain the creative process and logic behind the rebranding.

3. Create feedback points – your employees should also feel heard. You can create surveys and polls to get their feedback on the rebranding. One way to show them that you value their opinion is to implement some of their ideas and openly credit them. 

You can also form a team of representatives from each department who can pitch ideas and highlight potential problems with the rebranding process or messages.

However, be mindful of how much workload you are dumping on your employees during a rebrand. More often than not, employees who participate in the rebranding also work on their ongoing projects. You do not want them to burn out.

Take care of all your touchpoints

Touchpoints are any points of contact or interaction between your business and the public. That includes your company website, press page, emails, social media accounts, media kits, newsletters, business cards, promotional materials, offices, etc. 

Here is a helpful checklist of what you should do to ensure you are covered on all fronts:

Distribute your brand style guide  – start by sharing your updated brand style guide with your employees and partners or collaborators. The guide should contain all information about your new business name (if it changes), logo, colors, fonts, etc.

Plan a timely domain migration – this includes website and email domains. Have all your employees update their email signatures. You have to make sure that whoever clicks or types your old URL is instantly redirected to your new landing pages. 

✓ Update all your social media accounts – unify your branding across all social media platforms. Your profiles should be consistent and feature the same handle, profile and cover photos, bio, hashtags, etc.

✓ Replace physical items that carry your old branding – this includes blank paper templates for printing, pens, notebooks, business cards, folders, internal documents, etc. Once your company goes public with the rebranding, you have to make sure that no current materials, both physical and digital, reference your old brand.

Build anticipation around your launch day

Although rebranding is not a one-time event, it’s a good practice to plan a launch event. The purpose of the event is to officially introduce the public to your rebranded business and celebrate the transition. 

However, unless you are a big company, the chances of your business gaining a lot of media coverage on your launch day are slim. That means that only a fraction of your target audiences will know about your new brand. 

Think of it like this: why should people care about your rebranding? Always plan your promotional campaigns in a way that gives a solid answer to that question. 

You should: 

1. Clearly state why you needed to rebrand – articulate how this transformation will help your company and your target audiences. 

2. Build anticipation – start dropping hints weeks before the event and promote your brand messages with attention-grabbing content. Plan a social media posting strategy that will slowly introduce the rebranded logo and messages to your target audiences. Do not reveal everything, and reserve some mystery about the final branding for launch day. Involve influencers and publications that will cover your rebrand from different angles and help create buzz.

3. Create eye-catching and visual press releases – Do not just send out random press releases and pray that someone will pick up your story. Pitch directly to people who are most likely to be interested in your story and design them in a way that would be easy for journalists to share.

You could also consider a soft launch. That way, you can see how people react to your new brand story and get their feedback. This might help you spot possible problems on time and fix them before your actual launch. 

For example, when Dunkin’ Donuts decided to rebrand and drop “Donuts” from its name, they tested the waters by changing the name of a store in Quincy, Massachusetts in late 2017. The following year, they rolled out the change to 50 more locations. 

Rebranding campaign example from Dunkin’ Donuts

Although Dunkin’ faced a good amount of backlash from customers, after a year of testing, it decided to move forward with the rebranding because the company had a well-thought-out strategy that aimed to position the company as a lifestyle brand. Dunkin’ wanted to let everyone know that the company had evolved and moved beyond just coffee and donuts.

Prepare enough content for post-rebranding 

You might think that launch day is the pinnacle of your rebranding efforts, but the truth is that your new brand story is only starting. Continue to promote your new brand through a timely and well-thought-out content strategy. Your main goal is to increase retention of your new brand visuals and messages and generate new leads that will help your business grow.

Rebranding gives you the opportunity to find your brand voice and start compellingly communicating with your audiences. Social media is your friend, and when planning your content strategy, you should consider creating content in all formats, including text, images, GIFs, audio (think podcasts), promotional videos, etc. 

Survicate’s efforts serve as a great example of a successful rebranding campaign that revolved around the change of product positioning and involved storytelling in the process. First, it was a website survey software used mainly by marketers. Then, it became a collaborative customer experience platform used by any team for any use case related to customer feedback or customer experience. The rebranding simply had to bring the brand up to date with what the product is now.

Successful rebranding campaign example from Survicate

If you are expanding internationally or already covering other markets, make sure all your content gets correctly translated into the languages of those communities. It is not necessary to be active on all social media channels. Find where your target audiences are most active and focus on the platforms that bring you the most engagement.

Feeling inspired by the successful rebranding campaigns yet? 

Always remember that branding mainly exists in people’s minds. Our brain connects the dots between symbols, colors, and messages and creates a brand image that we instantly think about when a business is mentioned. A change in any of those brand identifiers should be introduced slowly and with good reasoning, so people can accept the rebranding and see the value in it.

Regardless of whether your business is going through a partial or total rebranding, you should always aim towards creating a strong brand image that people cannot ignore.

Cover photo by Faizur Rehman