Bottom Line Up Front: Ready to rebrand but nervous about the cost? Don’t be. You don’t need to hire an expensive agency. You can do it all yourself. Successfully. Here’s how.

If you’re joining us from Part I then welcome back. If this is your first stop, we’d recommend you look at that introductory article before diving into this one. (It’ll give you the foundation you need to truly hit the ground running.)

Now that that’s out of the way — let’s get down to business. When you think of rebranding, you might picture big agencies, big-time commitments, and big invoices. You’re not the only one.

But the purpose of this article is to make it clear that that’s not the only path forward.

You don’t need to sign up for daunting specialists, detract your team from their primary responsibilities, or fork over unsettling amounts of cash to rebrand the right way. You just need to be up for the challenge of doing it yourself.

This article is as much a how-to guide as it is a pep-talk — because, ladies and gentlemen, a DIY rebranding is possible. And not only is it possible, but it can be life-changing for the state of your business.

We’re going to walk you through the six steps for a seamless rebranding experience here, and then we’re going to give you a couple of our favorite tips & tricks. But more than that practical insight and more than those real-world use-cases, we’re going to push you to believe that you have what it takes to handle it.

From start to finish, from beginner to expert, you’ll be using your unique creative genius — and your intimate understanding of your brand’s goals — to generate excellence.

You already have the capabilities. This article is here to help you activate them.

Step 1: Determine Your Needs

Before you can formulate the right plan of action, you’ll need to zero in on your target. Ask yourself three questions:

  • What prompted the need to rebrand? (What is your branding currently lacking?)
  • What are you hoping to achieve? (If everything goes well, what’s the expected outcome?)
  • What resources (time, money, workforce) are you willing to give to the effort?

Asking these questions will pinpoint the roots of your why, what, and how. And having that vision before you get into the process is a crucial safety net for ensuring you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. Or spend more than you have to give.

So what does that real-word vision look like? Let’s go through it step-by-step.

  • What’s Lacking: Maybe you’ve just gone through a merger or acquisition, or maybe you’re expanding your offerings and looking to infiltrate a brand new market. Perhaps you’re seeking out new regional audiences, or maybe you’re finding yourself stuck behind a negative brand image. Maybe you’ve just outgrown your name. Maybe your whole range of branding is all over the place, unlinked, and unclear.
    • Whatever’s not working, this is your moment to call it out. Be specific, be objective, and be precise. If you know what needs changing, you’ll be better equipped to change it with intention.
  • What’s Expected: Maybe you’re looking to establish your brand as an industry authority more vigorously. Maybe you’re looking to attract customers that more closely align with your ideal target, or perhaps you’re looking to attract higher-quality talent. Maybe you’re looking to increase audience retention and loyalty, or you’re looking to differentiate yourself so uniquely that your competitors stop mattering at all.
    • Whatever your goals are, this is where you articulate them. Add details. Get specific — and earnest. Be hopeful, be ambitious, and be realistic. When you give yourself versions of tangible success to shoot for, you’ll be better prepared to achieve and analyze down the line.
  • What’s Spent: Maybe you’re rolling up your sleeves and looking at this process as a long-term investment — where you’re committed to putting a good deal of time, effort, and funding into a full-blown overhaul. Or, you’re envisioning rebranding as a short-term project.  
    • Wherever you fall on that spectrum, this is where it becomes integral to know. Refine your comfort level. Clarify your spending ability. Get familiar with your expectations — and orient them around your tastes. Do those things at the beginning, and you’ll mitigate the chance of surprises. And disappointments.

Step 2: Answer the Checklist

You’ve clarified your needs, your expectations, and your goals. Excellent work — and welcome to Step 2. Here’s where you move from the conceptual to the practical. You’ll put your ideas to the page in a way that can be replicated in your operations. 

It’s no longer just about your hopes and dreams. It’s about making those hopes and dreams real — through an entirely manageable process. This checklist sets you up by defining the foundational path forward, giving you a clear-cut route to meaningful productivity. And success.

So? Let’s get into it. Brave rebrander, meet your rebranding checklist:

  • Top-Down Excitement: Rebranding isn’t just the evolution of your brand materials — it’s the evolution of your brand as a whole. And that means it’s the evolution of the people inside it, too. Changing the public’s perception of who, exactly, your brand requires a united team effort. And it’s your leadership’s responsibility to foster that alignment. This checklist item dictates you get buy-in from senior leadership on the significance of rebranding — so that they voice their excitement consistently and everyone else follows suit.
  • Goal Alignment: In Step 1, you pinpointed your goals and the resources you were willing to expend to achieve them. Here’s where you take those goals and quantify them, taking them from an abstract mission to a concrete target. Example? You want to infiltrate a new regional market successfully. Okay — what does that success look like? Is it X number of buyers? X dollars in sales? This checklist item requires you to double-down and get specific — while ensuring every relevant team member is excited about their targets.
  • Team Clarity: No matter the size of the undertaking, rebranding always benefits from having more than one pair of eyes on the process. So, here’s where you weigh the talents and capabilities of the people on your team: who can offer what to each task at hand? Who’ll be involved with the big-picture brainstorms? Who’ll be responsible for project-managing the operation? This checklist item asks that you mark which internal stakeholders will be doing what on the rebranding team — so that there’s no confusion when it matters later on.
  • Streamlined Logistics: So you’ve quantified your success metrics and chosen your players — now, you’ve got to focus on your logistic pillars. Those pillars include your overall budget, your timeline, and your team’s schedule. 
    • Overall budget: Understand your budget cap and allocate portions of it to different aspects of the rebranding, ensuring organization from the beginning. 
    • Timeline: You’ll need a general “due date” in mind for the completed rebranding, which will allow you to split your timeline up into smaller ‘done by fragments for peak productivity. 
    • Team Schedule: Make sure that your timeline doesn’t interrupt your team’s business schedule. If you know there are bursts of sales at certain times in the year, don’t inundate your team with rebranding tasks. Use common sense — and a lot of foresight — to plan for smoothness throughout.

This checklist item requires that you get a real, practical handle on the moving parts of the process — ensuring that they stack up with your general framework and abilities in as efficient a manner as possible.

  • Material Collection: To start on an informed foot, here’s where you should be compiling all of the existing brand collateral you have, and sharing it. Get an end-to-end picture of what public perception is based on by putting all brand materials — from digital ads to web pages to physical signage — in one package. This is your starting point. Once it’s collected, get your whole rebranding team’s eyes on it — so everyone’s clear on what their efforts will go towards changing. This checklist item incites your discovery phase — and gets everyone moving enthusiastically in the same direction.

That’s your planning checklist. Once those tasks are squared away, you’ll be primed and ready for your entrance into strategic action.

Step 3.  Research

Here’s where your DIY approach finds its footing. With this stage, you’re looking inwardly as much as you’re looking outwardly. You’re getting to know your brand intimately — from an objective standpoint — but you’re also getting to know your market intimately. The goal, of course, is to get to the bottom of how your audience perceives you.

When they hear your brand’s name, what associations spring into their heads? What values? What promises? Are they able to easily distinguish you from your competitors? Are they able to recall your brand at all?

You’ll need to step into the POV of your audience to find the truth. How do you do that? Here are a few of our recommendations:

  • Define Your Audience: As a successful business, you should already have customer research in your strategy repertoire. Now’s the time to refine it. First and foremost, make sure your general target demographics are where they should be — today, not when you opened up shop 20 years ago. Then, go even deeper. Develop personas that pinpoint the characterization of ideal individual buyers; what are their needs? Their interests? Their motivations?

    Going this deep will give you a leg up as you try to think how your audience thinks. You’ll be able to slide into their headspace with ease, analyzing your brand in a whole new way as a result. And that’s the goal here: to think, long and hard, about where your brand is at current — and where it needs to be.
  • Learn Your Competition: Understanding your audience’s needs, expectations, and desires can’t happen in a vacuum. If you want to see things as they do, you’ve got to have the same view of the market. And that means getting a three-dimensional look at the competition. It’s time to start visiting your competitors’ online set-ups, familiarizing yourself with their unique value offerings, and getting a sense of who their branding says they are.

    A competitive brand audit should be your first step here, enabling you to condense your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses into one document — stacking them right up against your own. Then, once you think you have a good idea of where you stand in the competitive landscape, you can deploy a brand equity survey to help you know for sure.
  • Analyze Your Messaging: Once you’ve sufficiently looked outwards, it’s time to turn inwards for the sake of your core messaging. Suppose your business’s current positioning-its value, offerings, uniqueness-will stay similar after your rebranding. In that case, you must do everything you can to make sure you’re portraying it in the right way. You do that by message testing.

    Message testing is the process of trying out two (or more) variations of core messaging. It accumulates data that shows you precisely what’s most impactful for your audience. By testing different versions (on your website, in emails, or across social media), you’ll glean insight into what prompts higher response rates — and those findings will help you understand what your audience is moved by for the rest of your rebranding process.

Step 4. Core Attributes

You’ve made it through the research. Now, it’s time for the tried and true strategizing: getting to the root of who your brand is and focusing on how to tell its story in the most impactful, engaging, and distinctive manner possible. Phew. Ready?

The first step here is identifying the four elements that comprise your brand’s character. These elements — your core attributes — might stay consistent through the rebranding (with some slight adjustments), or they might move through a significant transformation. Whichever it is, know this: your core attributes are the foundation from which everything else will grow. So getting them right matters. Let’s meet them:

  • Purpose: If you could reduce your business’s why down to a straightforward line, what would it be? Is your team grinding to give musicians, performers, and other touring professionals a wider selection of creatively charged customization options? Are you devoting your career to making eco-friendly decorated apparel more accessible?
  • Values: These are the principles that uphold your purpose, allowing it to evolve into action. What are the primary truths driving your business forward? What are your workplace standards? What are your team’s agreed-upon ethics and ideals? From boundary-pushing creativity to environmental activism, your options are plentiful. So get specific.
  • Mission: Now, it’s time to discuss the practical facets of your operations. Maybe it’s your mission to bring every touring customer a minimum of six customization options — from design to kitting — for every order. Or perhaps it’s your mission to work with an organization that offsets carbon emissions, so even after production and distribution to your customers, you (and they) are still leaving a positive impact on the planet. It’s the how of making your purpose real, so it should be realistic.
  • Vision: Imagine your business a year down the line. Now imagine it in three years. And five. What is it known for, and how does its audience perceive it? Your answers here comprise your vision — your aspirations. Using it as a North Star, it’ll help guide your strategy intentionally — shooting towards a future, you can already see.

Once you’ve established your business’s new (or gently revised) set of core attributes, it’s time to embed them inside a broader framework: the Brand Brief. This wider-lens report is a way for you to pinpoint the elements of your brand’s character — including, of course, your core attributes — within a landscape that also takes the larger market into account.

Here’s what you’ll want in your Brand Brief:

  • Brand name
  • Brand purpose
  • Brand mission
  • Brand vision
  • Brand values
  • Brand culture
  • Target audience
  • Marketplace position
  • Key differentiators

That’s the foundation for your rebranding strategy. Now let’s bring it to life.

Step 5. Identity & Expression

Based on your new goals — and the character you’re building for your brand — it’s time to turn strategy into action. First, that means your business’s identity: what will it look like visually? What are its colors? Its core icons? Its typography?

The parts of your business’s visual identity include its color palette, logo, typography, iconography, and image style. All of these physical markers, when chosen with purpose, help to convey your brand’s character — its personality — to your audience. 

For example we all know that bright, exuberant colors tell a different story than muted pastels, and large, powerful block letters evoke a different feeling than the subtle swoops of cursive. So here’s your chance to zero in on telling the right story. 

Thanks to your professional skillset and your team of talented creatives, the good news is that you already have access to the insight and capabilities you’ll need to pull the process off. So get thinking, get collaborating, and get designing.

And then shift your focus to the expression. What does the expression entail, exactly? Think about it as a neatly wrapped package that contains every occasion where your business connects with its audience: website, packaging, marketing collateral, signage, and social media are all examples — but they’re not the only outlets.

Anywhere you include language and images to build your story and interact with your people is part of it. So your copywriting, photography, social strategy, and yes, even your sales calls should be aligned. Every branch of your brand’s expression will, in an ideal world, be coming from the same cohesive tree. So make sure you have that alignment in mind for every task. 

And remember: no matter how inconsequential a Tweet or an update on your Online Store might seem to you, if it’s the first time a prospect hears the voice of your business, it can make or break their urge to connect — and buy.

Step 6. Activate

The components of your new branding are locked and loaded, and now you’re ready to ensure they’re showcased to the world — seamlessly. Like they were always the branding markers your business was meant to have.

Enter: your activation strategy. The process where you take continual action to guarantee your internal staff, and your external audience truly understand what your branding is giving them. It’s as much a maintenance protocol as it is an insurance policy. So take it seriously.

Steps to proper activation include internal brand guidelines and training, intentional brand rollout and implementation, active brand management, and the prioritization of employer branding. Many of these steps are geared towards your business’s internal makeup — your staff, volunteers, brand ambassadors — because they’re the ones who’ll be steering the ship. 

They’re the ones who’ll be speaking with customers, engaging with prospects, and producing content and collateral on an ongoing basis. They’ll be the ones working in tandem to reach the vision you established early on. When you put effort into guaranteeing their alignment, you put effort into achieving the thing you set out on this journey to success.

The most important thing about this step is its ongoing nature. With rebranding comes the responsibility to uphold the new brand character you’re exuding; it’s not enough to create a new strategy and new parts once — you’ve got to actively maintain the process by building out new components, again and again.

Keep training and retraining your staff. Keep rolling out and emphasizing your story. And keep activating your sponsors, longtime customers, and community to help you get the right messaging across. 

Creating distinctive rebranding elements is great — but without effective strategies to get them out there, they’ll be sitting stagnant in a room far away from your audience’s attention.

A Few Tips

This guide’s already packed tightly with directives and checklist items, but we thought we’d throw in a couple of our favorite tips to round it out. Because, while you’re more than capable of tackling this process, having a few options for upping the smoothness factor never hurts. So here goes:

  • You can outsource. It’s not a required factor for success. Still, if you have the budget for bringing in experts — whether specialized (like graphic designers and social media strategists) or more general (like branding agencies) — it’s certainly something you can consider. Particularly if you’re looking to free up some time.
  • You should collaborate. While having leadership involved in the rebranding journey is always a good idea, you don’t have to limit the collaboration to leadership. Whether you use the process to strike up new team-building exercises, opportunities for customer involvement, or community engagement events, the potential is vast. And more eyes on the creative challenges at hand is always beneficial.
  • You cannot underestimate the details. From your brand’s color palette to its tagline, customer personas, packaging, and signage, every piece of its puzzle is important. Because every piece helps to paint the larger picture. If you find yourself rushing through components, skipping over steps, or simply without the bandwidth to execute properly — it might be time to look at why you’re in rebranding mode to begin with. Whether you bring in outside help, reset your list of priorities, or hold off on diving deeper until your schedule allows, you have options. But one of those options is not to put in 50% effort and expect 100% results.

The Wrap Up

If any professionals in any industry have the talents to take on a DIY rebranding, it’s your industry. From your design expertise to your abundance of creativity, your collaborative systems, to your commitment to staying relevant, you already have a head start here. So use it.

Determine your needs. Check off those boxes. Do your research, pinpoint your core attributes, and develop your visual identity and brand expression. And then strategize your activation. 

It’s six steps. Six steps between here, your starting place, and the vision you have for your business. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll reach that reality. So get moving. Enlist your trusted advisers, jump into the shoes of your audience, and try new things. Brainstorm. Experiment. And then decide.

And remember: the option of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a branding firm is always there for you. But you don’t need it. Because you know your business best, you know its purpose, goals, and character better than anyone you can outsource. DIY isn’t just a convenience — it’s a surefire method of ensuring the people who get to speak for your business are the people you trust.

You can do it, and you can do it well. We can’t wait to see you execute.
And, if you’re looking for a tech solution that makes implementing your new branding easy as pie, InkSoft’s Online Store set-up empowers you to customize your site. Seamlessly. Personalize your colors, messaging, and media, and show off your brand the way it was meant to be shown off: authentically. Take the Online Stores tour now.

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