Behind the Scenes: 5 Steps to a Brand Overhaul

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’ve really excited today because we’ve just pulled back the curtains on a major brand overhaul of the online magazine that I produce.  The new site?  Plum Deluxe.  The new focus is on simple luxuries and “treating yourself” and includes both an editorial expansion as well as a lot of new branding, including a new manifesto, Everyday Epicure: Life is worth Savoring.

I’ve done a lot of branding work and branding overhauls as part of my work as a creative producer, but many clients find the process of airing their dirty laundry a bit sensitive, so I don’t talk about many projects.  But since this was my own gig, I’m happy to share some insights I found in the 5 month process of overhauling our brand.  Here’s a bit behind the scenes of the process.  (And please, go check out the site!)

brand overhaul

1. First, Admit You Have a Problem.

I don’t mean to sound irreverent here, but making a major brand change is a serious emotional commitment.  And, it’s risky – it is possible to end up with something worse than you started with.  So, you need to admit that you’ve got a problem, that you’re ready to tackle it.  For us, we kept bumping out heads into the fact that our brand wasn’t memorable, and frankly, kind of sucked.  I’d been putting off a fix for awhile.  Finally, some commercial business issues finally pushed me over the edge, and after a lot of discussions with my team and others, I said: ok, I’m ready.

2. Then, Clearly Define the Problem.

Once you’ve committed to change, it’s time to sit down and define the real issues – important because you don’t want to just create more problems for yourself, since rebranding is a LOT of work.  In this talked through the various issues about our brand that we wanted to fix: we needed a shorter and more memorable name, and our mission had changed and so the supporting website and materials really needed to cater to our new business direction.  Plus, all of our stuff sucked on mobile phones, an explosive growth area for us, so that would be a critical part of the overhaul.

3.  Circle the Wagons

That saying “circle the wagons” is totally underrated, and it’s apt here: when it comes to an overhaul, you’ve got to pull in a lot of different experts to help you accomplish the task at hand.  An overhaul is too hard to do alone, after all – you’ve probably had your brand for awhile, so get that fresh external prospective.  With a list of problems in hand, I sought out a number of experts on particular issues.  This process was crucial to taking the new brand to a place I couldn’t reach alone, and it’s an integral part of the overhaul process.  Big thanks to Victoria for all her support in this process.

4.  Prepare Your Implementation Plan

A plan is a beautiful thing, and with a brand overhaul, you must have a plan of action.  You’ll have three focus areas to the plan:

    • Implementation:  Simply put, your plan of how to get this thing out of your head and off paper and into the real world. 
    • Transition:  How will you lead your customers into the new branding?  What’s the story you will tell?
    • Promotion:  What’s the plan for you to blow the doors off once the new thing is live?

With such a big change in our brand, I spent a lot of time on our transition plan, given how big the change was.  I recruited several folks from our community to form a “street team” to get feedback on the transition – you know how I am about getting feedback.  I’ve also hired help with the promotion phase (I can’t do it all).  For your project the areas that need more attention might be different  but all three are critical paths for success.

5.  Launch without Fear

Remember back in step 1, when I talked about acknowledging the decision to change?  Here in step 5, it all comes together.  And if you’re like me, you’ll start thinking about all the things that could go wrong.  You’ve just got to trust that with your clarity on the problems, your expert advice in hand, and having executed on your plans, that you’ve done the best that you can do.  I won’t lie: I’m worried about the future of this rebrand, but I’m also confident that we did the best that we could do with what we had.  (I also know it’s a lot better than what we had before.  So there’s something.)

Rebranding and relaunching is unfortunately a necessity of business.  Thanks for letting me share some tips from behind the scenes of my relaunch – give me a shout if you are in the midst of a branding problem and need a hand. :-)

plum deluxe

The new brand.  So. Excited.

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