Whether it’s because of a merger, a new service or simply because you have outgrown your name, rebranding your company will have many implications for your online presence. Make no mistake, rebranding has an effect on everything from your e-marketing initiatives to SEO and social media.
It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, but if done correctly rebranding can have a huge positive impact on your business, from improving your search engine ranking to making it easier for people to spread the word about your brand on social networking sites.
So, what advice do the experts have for companies considering a rebrand?
Rebranding online: Communicate
Communication – both internally and outside the company – is crucial to a successful rebrand, says John Dunne, strategy director at online PR and social media company Radical.ie.
“You have to make sure that the name change is well communicated online and offline. This is where most websites fail – they don’t have the marketing power to reach people on a broad enough scale,” says Dunne.
“A large amount of time needs to be spent educating internal staff about the project, allowing input from everybody and making sure they understand and support the re-brand,” says Dunne.
Dunne offers some top tips for SMEs considering a rebrand:
- Be organised and map out a detailed checklist. What are your reasons for rebranding? How will your website be better off? Appeasing user needs and expectations is an important task, and that requires a lot of preparation.
- Walk in your customers’ shoes. Become your customer for a day to better understand what they want. Carry out user testing, even with only a small group of users if resources are limited.
- Don’t be superficial. Aim to tie your rebranding efforts to a fundamental shift within your company, and don’t be afraid to talk about the strategic significance behind your change.
- Crowd source. Continue to tap into your existing customer base for constant feedback and opinions, which should factor into your evolving communications planning.
- Start from the inside and work out. Employees are your ‘brand ambassadors’. Begin the internal transformation early to ensure consistency of your message.
- Learn to let go. It may be difficult to cut the ties with your original brand identity, but you can’t look forward if you’re still looking back.
Rebranding online: Plan ahead
Companies planning a rebrand should begin preparations at least a year in advance, says Caelen King, who has first-hand experience of rebranding as CEO of WhatClinic.com, which recently changed its name from RevaHealth.
The decision to rebrand was reached following online research conducted by the company which found that the name RevaHealth wasn’t working for consumers.
“The feedback that we got was that RevaHealth was difficult for people to remember, it wasn’t self-explanatory, and people didn’t know how to spell it,” says King. “And because people didn’t know how to spell it, and they didn’t know how to pronounce it when they saw it, there was a tendency for them not to tell other people about it, because they didn’t want to seem foolish.”
Rebranding online: Use social media
Social media was a crucial part of WhatClinic.com’s rebranding process – not just in terms of highlighting issues with the original name, but also for keeping customers involved throughout the process.
“Social media was pretty painless. In fact, it was very positive,” says King. “We went out there and told people about it and we told the story behind it. And the story spread -effectively providing us with free marketing. Most importantly for us, several people tweeted and blogged about it and that helped because new links coming back to our site tells the search engine that we are a trusted site and that moved things forward.”
King recommends dramatically increasing the amount of man-hours dedicated to social networking during the rebranding process. This helps get the word out and provides a way for customers to give feedback.
This article originally appeared in the eBusiness Live newsletter from Enterprise Ireland’s eMarketing Unit and was written by ENNclick.