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Tracie 2015 002 scaled

Lessons I Learned When Rebranding My Company

Rebranding is an intricate process, as CEO Traci Kenyon learned recently through her own experience. Today she's sharing the valuable lessons she learned.
Lessons I Learned When Rebranding My Company - Lioness Magazine
Tracie Kenyon is the President/CEO of Montana’s Credit Unions .

What comes to mind when you think of T-Mobile, McDonald’s, or Target? Chances are, after thinking of the products or services they offer, their logo comes to mind.

A company’s logo is arguably one of the most important elements about a brand. From the logo comes the aesthetic of the entire brand – from the colors they use to the creative assets they use at their business, on social media, and in their advertising.

Brands become so synonymous with their logo, so recognizable, that the process of changing that mark or rebranding can be incredibly difficult in terms of maintaining consumer trust and loyalty, and even retaining your company’s recognition.

Finding the right brand aesthetic and logo for your company can be one of the most challenging things you’re faced with as a business owner or CEO, so what if your already established brand needs to make a change? It’s an intricate process, as I learned recently through my own experience, which taught me some valuable lessons that I’d like to share.

Know your market

The first thing my team thought about was the industry we represent. I am the CEO and president of Montana’s Credit Unions (MCU), an association that exists to promote and enhance the credit union community within Montana through a membership model, so we are firmly rooted in the finance and credit union world.

Knowing whether or not your current brand image fits the market and audience you are speaking to is a key component in deciding if a rebrand is necessary. As Gap learned from its failed logo redesign, if you have a mark that’s already incredibly well known, or a brand that is established with no real need for a rebranded aesthetic, it’s best to leave well alone.

If your organization is not attracting the target market you would like, or your brand image isn’t congruent with the industry you’re in, then perhaps the money spent on a rebrand would benefit the company in the long run. The potential outcome must outweigh the financial commitment and effort involved.

Although many credit unions may have attractive brand marks, the credit union industry itself isn’t incredibly notable for innovative logo designs or recognizable brands. This is something that as a CEO, I don’t buy into. I think it’s especially important to stay current and have a brand image that reflects a company’s corporate culture, so I wanted to be ahead of the curve with MCU’s branding. Moreover, our old logo wasn’t exactly recognizable or attractive, so the rebrand was a no-brainer for us.

Lessons I Learned When Rebranding My Company - Lioness Magazine
[Our old logo]

Decide what you want your brand to represent

Knowing the underlying message of your company will help incredibly with the design of your new logo. Images translate subtly, but powerfully, into words and meanings, so thinking of the core principles or values of your organization will help a designer to represent that within the mark.

Cisco’s logo is a great example of this. The blue lines in their logo depict electromagnetic waves, a reference to the technology and communication field. The waves are in the shape of a bridge – a certain Golden Gate Bridge, which pays homage to the company’s birthplace of San Francisco.

Lessons I Learned When Rebranding My Company - Lioness Magazine

Credit unions work cooperatively with each other and the communities they serve helping to maintain financial wellness and providing not-for-profit financial solutions. For this reason, we wanted our new logo to embody that intertwined, helpful nature. We were also keen to weave in our ties to Montana and the credit union members that we represent.

Get help with the designing process

Unless you’re a graphic design whiz, I would recommend enlisting the help of a designer or depending on the size of your company, a creative agency that can help with the entire process of rebranding, from ideas for the mark design to revamping all of your company stationery and business cards.

We’re a talented bunch at MCU, but unfortunately that doesn’t extend to any form of graphic art proficiency, so we enlisted The Summit Group, an advertising agency based in Salt Lake City, Utah, to take the lead on our rebrand.

Without a doubt, the most challenging part of this process was finding the right mark. Finding a logo that really speaks to the collaboration and interconnectedness of the credit union system yet still clearly states who we are, was a journey. Our agency did a great job of offering us a lot of choices from fairly traditional marks to more contemporary ones. We went through several designs, however once we saw it, we knew it was the one. What we chose, I believe, will stand the test of time.

Lessons I Learned When Rebranding My Company - Lioness Magazine
[Our new logo]
If your business isn’t in a position to hire an agency to assist with your rebrand, sites like Fiverr, Carbonmade and Upwork are useful for finding freelance designers.

Plan the big reveal

Once you’ve found the perfect mark and have successfully updated your company’s website, social media, branded materials and office décor to represent your brand new aesthetic (yes, there’s way more involved than just a new logo!), it’s time for the big reveal.

At MCU, we decided to have a smaller reveal with our employees first. We unveiled the new logo to much excitement (and possibly relief that we had finally chosen one we liked!) by giving each team member a jar of M&M’s in the new corporate colors along with their personal name badge. It was a great way to induce renewed enthusiasm with our team.

After we had our staff’s blessing on the new image, we launched our revamped website and announced the change on our social channels and with our credit union members.

How you reveal a rebrand to your staff and consumers is very personal and something that big brands take very seriously. You may remember Old Spice’s viral social media campaign with their new “Old Spice Man” Isaiah Mustafa. The campaign generated 186 personalized videos as part of its effort to get the brand’s new image out to their audience.

Some brands plan a launch event, while others prefer a quieter reveal, but whatever you decide to do – don’t neglect to announce the change to your core audience! The worst thing for a rebrand is for it to be unrecognizable because consumers are confused.

Reap the benefits

Getting to the aftermath of a rebrand is probably the best part. The process can be an emotional rollercoaster, with the highs and lows of trying to find a mark that works, the euphoria when you get to “the one”, and the anticipation you feel right up to the big reveal. Once it’s out there and everyone loves it, you can breathe a sigh of relief and really enjoy looking at your beautiful new brand mark every day.

Your office might also reap the benefits as rebranding can force you to do some spring cleaning while you replace signs and get rid of old stationary. It really forced us to do some much needed cleaning up and allowed us to go into the New Year with a truly fresh start.

Have you ever helped with a corporate rebrand? What are some of the best lessons you learned? Let me know in the comments!

Tracie Kenyon is the President/CEO of Montana’s Credit Unions and provides leadership for Montana’s credit unions in: advocacy and government relations, compliance, outreach and development, education and training, communications and public relations, vendor relationships and fee-based services.

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