The process of rebranding your charity can be a complex and a daunting one. In this post, I share some tips on how to prepare for a rebrand. These will help you maximise your charity's internal capabilities and get the most from an outside branding agency.
For a deeper dive have a read of our in-depth guide to creating or refreshing your charity brand.
1. Need a charity rebrand? Don’t rush
You want your new charity brand to grow with your organisation for many years to come so it’s worth doing right. Be realistic about time frames and communicate these to your charity's trustees and key stakeholders at the earliest opportunity so as not to create unmanageable deadlines. The more time you invest in understanding your own needs, the easier it will be to communicate this to a branding agency. In the long run, this will save you time and money.
2. Define roles and get people involved
Identify which parts of the rebrand you need help with and which you can take care of in-house. It's also crucial to understand your users. Perhaps consider some brand consultancy at the beginning of the process before committing to a full-blown rebrand service upfront.
It can be painstaking and long-winded but involving the right stakeholders, staff and even supporters at the early stages can pay dividends. It may seem efficient to dictate decisions and keep things streamlined but this can alienate staff and reduce the sense of brand ‘ownership’. Involving people is a great way to get them excited about the process.
- Try circulating a simple, manageable questionnaire among staff teams
- Host a charity branding workshop with open questions to let people speak about how they feel about the existing brand
- Draw a small and focused team around you who will help lead the process internally
- Seek out the longest standing employees and see if they know things you don’t
3. Define the scope of the re-brand
The concept of 'branding' can be hard to pin down both in terms of definition and scope. The following segmentation may be a helpful introduction to the definition of branding:
- Visual identity – all of the graphical elements that make up your communication. Type, photos, logo, colours etc
- Verbal identity – the way you talk and write. Key phrases or words, grammatical rules, copywriting and editing
- Behavioural identity – the way you manage the representation of your brand. Your staff, advocates, supporters etc
Focus on your immediate requirements and set out the scope of the rebrand as you see it. An agency will then be able to help you refine this through a detailed specification.
4. Do some research
- Find a friend in a similar organisation that has recently rebranded and quiz them about want went well and what they struggled with.
- Research your competitors’ brand identity and communication style. Makes notes of useful techniques.
- Establish your target audience and learn as much as you can about their needs. Which other brands are targeting them?
- Start writing snappy, summary sentences for ‘who we are’, ‘what we do’ or ‘what makes us different’.
- Get a look at someone else’s brand guidelines to see what sort of rules they have in place
- Find brands to which you aspire and ask what it is that they do so well. Try looking beyond your sector.
5. List your ‘non-negotiables’
- Establish any constraints that will not change regardless of what crops up along the way. This will create a helpful framework within which creativity can thrive.
- See if these criteria easily translate to any helpful design constraints to work within such as name, colour, existing photography etc.
6. Find a charity branding agency
At some point, you will need to enlist the help of professionals. It can be tempting to leave this until late in the process to save on costs. However, getting a small amount of input at the early stages can give direction and clarity to the preparation you do in-house. There is more on engaging professionals in our guide to refreshing your charity brand. It’s a good idea to take up references, most agencies will be happy to put you in contact, otherwise just browse their portfolio and contact their clients directly. As well as measuring objective competencies, find an agency you think understands your cause as a charity and will be amenable and fun to work with. The more interested they are in your work, the harder they will work.
7. Stay focused on business objectives
There will be solid organisational requirements that drive and justify the rebrand. Ensure you have a good integrated communications strategy in place. Try to keep these in mind throughout. If it feels like things are getting out of control or you are struggling to get consensus it is often helpful to re-focus on objective factors that are driving the process.