Why the ‘Discovery Phase’ Can Make or Break a Rebrand


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From meeting timelines to staying on budget and involving the right stakeholders, launching a new brand is no easy feat. Add a global pandemic to the mix and the complications are even greater.

For companies who take the rebrand plunge, having the right team in place with the right market insights to drive your strategy are crucial. Here’s a breakdown of recommended steps for starting this complex process, and why the discovery phase can make or break a successful rebrand.

First things first, assemble your team.

• It takes a village. Always start with a core team to establish a well-defined project scope and strong strategy. But remember, it’s equally as important to bring in the right collaborators early and communicate with them often to drive meaningful action.

• Project managers save lives. This may be a stretch, but they definitely save projects. And sanity. Have a dedicated project manager from the onset who can sit above your project with a bird’s eye view of the whole process. Identify someone who is not emotionally attached to any particular idea or person, but can ensure you’re tracking and managing all considerations, meeting timelines, staying on budget, and involving the right stakeholders. This person should act as the glue holding the rebrand together.

• Let people in. Let employees have a peek behind the curtain at the making of a brand. Give them something to feel proud and part of during the brand launch journey. Employees are your best advocates for helping to spread the word when you launch a new brand or product, and if they feel like they’ve been brought along for the ride, they’ll want to share the news with their networks. That’s a win-win for your brand!

You’ve got your team. Now it’s time to dig into the crucial discovery phase.

• Research. Hone in on both your audience and your competitors to truly understand where your challenges and opportunities lie. This can make all the difference when rebranding an existing brand or launching a new one. Determine how you can differentiate yourself from your competition, and make sure you have a good pulse on what’s trending in the marketplace and why.

• Test. And then test again. Leverage consumer testing at every phase – be it naming, logos, taglines, or color palettes – to help illuminate the right path forward. It’s not enough to be an experienced marketer who thinks they know an audience – it’s important to litmus test theories with people who align with your targets. Focus groups are your friends!

• Challenge your own assumptions on target personas. Here’s where you can really dial up the consumer-centricity and foundation in research. It’s a given that the consumer needs to be at the core of everything you do as a company, but it’s important to challenge assumptions on who your target is and what they really want.

• Expect the unexpected. There will be obstacles that surface that you weren’t anticipating. Sometimes those obstacles may consume budget and/or impact timelines. Some things will be easier to accept, while others may require strategic consideration. It’s important to be flexible.

You’ve done the research. Now what?

• Don’t forget to mine your own assets. Your rebrand must live holistically with any brand elements you’re planning on keeping. Attempting to launch a new brand doesn’t just require ideating new assets, it also requires determining which assets are continuing to perform well and whether those tried-and-true assets could benefit from an extra dose of personality. It’s also worth noting that, after a year of disruptions and uncertainty, the number of consumers saying they’re more likely to purchase from brands or stores they trust is up. Marketers need to be cognizant of this insight and keep their messaging positive and authentic to their brand values.

• Spend money to make money. This old adage is trite but true. Market saturation is a real thing. Algorithms working against your brand are a real thing. Just “winging it and hoping to go viral” is not a real thing. Have a media plan to reach your audience efficiently and effectively.. This often means building several unique paths of content and media channels that will work for distinct audience personas. And in a post-pandemic world, this includes communicating with deals and bargains, seeing as money is still tight for a lot of consumers.

• Have fun. Not just you, personally. But let your team and brand have – and exude – fun throughout the process. Find ways to celebrate moments and milestones to capture excitement!

In our rapidly changing media landscape, companies must evolve to stay relevant. That’s where full or partial rebranding can help your company tell a stronger brand story, stand out in a crowded market, and convert first time customers into loyalists.

Due diligence remains the crucial component of creating a brand that will continue to resonate with existing and potential customers. And, it will make the process of explaining your rebrand to those customers that much easier – you’re listening, pivoting, and continuing to deliver a superior product or experience.

Sarah O'Grady
Sarah O’Grady is the Vice President of Brand Marketing for Vericast. As a 15+ year veteran of content, brand and social media marketing across CPG, beauty and technology, she brings an experienced yet experimental point of view to brand-building and customer engagement. Prior to joining Valassis, Sarah served as the Head of Global Social Strategy for Lenovo. She’s worked in-house at L’Oreal and Ethan Allen, and with brands like Sony PlayStation and CVS Pharmacy. Her work has been recognized through Webby, Shorty and ADDY Award wins and nominations.


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