A Rebranding Checklist: Manage Your Company's Rebrand with This Step-by-Step Guide

A guide to managing all the tedious to-dos that come with rebranding your organization.
Shareef Defrawi
by Shareef Defrawi on August 4, 2015 in Strategy
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featuredBuilding strong brand recognition hinges on getting your name out there.

Way out there.

If done well, your company’s information might be in hundreds, if not thousands of places both online and otherwise. So if you’ve decided to rebrand - well, let’s just say you’ve got your work cut out for you. From mentions around the web to the pens and notebooks that brandish your logo, you’ll need to update everything. 

We recently rebranded here at Bonafide and it was a piece of cake. Oh wait – that’s right – it was hard as sh*t.

We knew it would be a lot of work. But what we didn’t anticipate is how cumbersome the logistics would be – that is, keeping up with everything that needed to be done so nothing was missed.

While we really could have used a nifty checklist to help us through the process before we got started, we didn’t have one. So we kept track of everything as we went along so we could share it with you.

This post covers a lot of ground, but we also created a downloadable spreadsheet with 150+ tasks organized like a checklist to help you manage the process, assign owners and deadlines, etc.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REBRANDING CHECKLIST SPREADSHEET HERE »

Otherwise, let's jump in.

 

Planning & Prep

1) Make sure your name’s available.

Picking the right name for your new brand is one of the hardest parts of the process. It took us over a year. Seriously, I wish I was kidding.

Once you’ve settled on a few top contenders, take the time to check their availability. A quick search at Knowem will let you check all of the following at once:

  • Trademarks
  • Domain names
  • Social media handles (like, over 500 of them)

know-em

2) Create a timeline and budget resources.

One mistake we made was not creating a timeline for our rebrand from day one. Like I mentioned earlier, we got held up deciding on a name and it really set us back. Pinpoint all the major milestones for your rebrand and give yourself realistic deadlines. Then stick to them.

While you're at it, take a stab at estimating the amount of time you're going to allocate to the entire project. It should help from a resource-management perspective. We live and die by our time tracking system - Harvest. We used it to budget about 300 hours for the project.

Clearly, we suck at budgeting.

rebrand-budget

3) Create a system.

Logistically, a rebrand has lots of moving parts. You need to figure out a system to organize them all, ideally in one place. Tools like Evernote, TeamworkPM or an Excel spreadsheet can help you manage your to-do list and track your progress as you go.

Here’s what ours looks like:

rebrand-spreadsheet

4) Assign ownership.

Decide early on who should be in charge of doing what. There’s plenty of work to go around. You want to make sure responsibilities are clearly communicated so everything gets done, but nothing gets done twice (or not at all).

5) Gather your resources.

You’ll need contact info for outside parties or vendors, instructions for more complicated tasks, passwords, and a number of other resources. Grab all of that in advance and stick it in your system.

6) Pre-announce the news. 

Once you’ve got your timeline in place and things start moving, you’ll want to quietly get the word out to some key people – your vendors and suppliers especially. Depending on the nature of your business, you may also want to give advance notice to your customers. They’ll feel privy and you’ll avoid blindsiding them.

 

Administrative

7) Update the post office.

Contact USPS to update the business name they have on file for you. You can either call them at 1-800-275-8777, or fill out the change of address form on the website with your updated information.

8) Update your email host.

With most exchange-based or hosted email services, you can set up a domain alias if your domain has changed. All the old email addresses will still work when you decide to flip the switch and start using the new domain.

We use AppRiver's Secure Hosted Exchange product and they're amazing - they basically handled the whole thing for us in about 3 minutes.

These articles may help:

9) Update your utilities accounts.

All the utilities accounts you depend on to run your business need to be updated. These likely include:

  • Gas
  • Electric
  • Phone
  • Internet
  • Water
  • Cable

10) Update your information with any organizations you’re a part of.

Most businesses are involved with local and trade organizations. Contact all of them to update your name in their systems. These may include:

  • Your local chamber of commerce
  • The Better Business Bureau
  • Local and national trade organizations

11) Update your information in any business tools and software you use.

In all the internal tools you and your employees use regularly, you'll need to update everything from company info to email addresses. A couple of examples:

  • Your email marketing program
  • Your accounting software
  • Your CMS
  • Your CRM
  • Your ERP
  • Your project management system
  • Your database software
  • Your e-commerce service
  • Your POS system
  • Your merchant accounts
  • Remote access software
  • Your cloud storage
  • Intranet
  • Your time-tracking system

12) Add a note to email signatures about the rebrand.

Update your email signature with the new information. Be sure to include a note about therebrand to help people make the connection. Here’s what ours look like:

signature

13) Ask employees to update their personal profiles.

Ask employees to update the employer section of their social media accounts, especially Linkedin.  Others include Facebook, Twitter and any industry-specific platforms you may use.

14) Update voicemail.

You’ll need a new message for all your voicemails. Don’t forget the various departments as well as individual messages. And if you use an answering service after hours, let them know too.

15) Update internal documents.

Most businesses have lots of templates and other forms that’ll need to be updated. Here are some of the most common:

  • Contracts
  • NDAs
  • Job applications
  • Credit applications
  • Office templates (PowerPoint, Word, Excel)
  • Fax templates
  • Invoices
  • Receipts
  • Purchase orders

 

Legal and Financial

16) Update government records. 

The amount of work here depends on whether you’re changing only your DBA/assumed name vs. the incorporated name that you file your taxes under. Check with your CFO/CPA for the particulars of your situation; but generally, these are the three areas you should look into:

  • Local – Head on over to the County Clerk’s office to file a new DBA or update your old one.
  • State - Get in touch with your Secretary of State. Most offices will have a form online you can use to update your business name but you may have to visit the office in-person. Here’s a good resource from the SBA.
  • IRS – What you do here depends on how your business is organized. The IRS has a page with specific instructions on how to handle this.

Here's an excerpt:

IRS

17) Update your business credit cards.

Make sure the name is updated on all of your business credit card and debit card accounts company-wide.

18) Update your bank accounts.

Visit your bank to change the name on all of your business bank accounts and order checks with the new name. Don’t forget your Paypal and [ahem] Bitcoin accounts.

19) Update financial agreements.

Make sure to keep all your business loans, mortgages and equipment leases updated and current. Lenders tend to get a little cranky when you don’t.

20) Update intellectual property

Be sure to update any existing trademark, copyright and patent registrations; and don’t forget to register your new company name and logo if possible.

21) Update all necessary permits and licenses.  

Each state has different permits required for businesses. Research what’s required in your state and make sure you submit the proper paperwork to update them all. In Texas, for example, we had to update our sales tax permit. Don’t forget about industry-specific licensing.

22) Send updated W9s to customers.

Any customers that have a W9 on file for you will need an updated one with your new company name.

Grab a copy of the most recent version here.

 

HR & Benefits

23) Update your insurance plans.  

If you have a benefits administrator or agent for your insurance plans, updating them all should be fairly simple. Just let them know about the update, and they should be able to take care of the rest. If you don’t have an agent, you can call or email your insurance companies directly. They may request a copy of the DBA and/or a letter certifying the name change. Your insurance plans may include:

  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Business insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Property insurance
  • Commercial auto insurance
  • Worker’s compensation insurance

24) Update your retirement plans.

As with your insurance plans, you’re likely to have an agent who can help you update your retirement plans. Otherwise, contact the plan administrator directly.

25) Update your HR & operations manuals.

Whether you distribute these in PDF form or good ol’ fashioned paper – you’ll need to update both the copy and the design with your new name and branding.

26) Update your payroll.

Whether you do it in-house or use a third-party provider, be sure to update everything from the administrative info to the check stock.

 

Online

Note: I recently wrote a tutorial on the Hubspot blog (screenshot below) about managing the SEO implications of a rebrand. It goes into a lot more detail to help walk you through some of the more technical items below.

hubspot-post

27) Update your website.

You may be planning a complete website overhaul or just swapping out the name and logo. Either way, don’t forget to update everything – including title tags, meta descriptions, location pages, the about us page, contact us pages, and the footer. Depending on the technology, you may be able to use a “find and replace” tool to facilitate the process.

Here’s a good one for Wordpress sites.

28) Update your marketing tool(s).

We used to have about 17 different tools for managing our marketing. Now we have one (Hubspot - it's awesome). Whatever products you use, make sure to update them with your new information.                           

29) Update analytics.

If you’re changing domains, you’ll want to update your Google Analytics profile so it’s tracking the new website. If you want an easy way to compare the change in traffic from the old site and new, set up an annotation that makes it visually clear.

30) Set up 301 redirects

Again, assuming a domain change here, you’ll need to set up 301 redirects from your old site to the new one to make sure your visitors (and Google) can find you easily. 

31) Update social media profiles.

Most of the bigger social media platforms will let you change your info without too much difficulty; but do a little research before you get started. Some put limitations on the number of times you can change your name, for example, so if you’re quick on the trigger you could mess up your chances to get the name you want. Don’t forget to update all the supplemental profile info too like the description, logo and so on.

32) Update local directory listings.

Maintaining visibility in the search engines is based on a lot of things – one of which is the consistency of your company information in trusted, local online directories (think CitySearch, Yelp, etc.).  You’ll want to make sure the information is updated in all of these. There are a few services that can help speed up and simplify the process like BrightLocal, Yext and MozLocal.

33) Make the announcement.

When it’s time to go public, make the announcement in a personal, heartfelt email and/or blog post from the business owner or CEO. Explain the reason for the rebrand and if applicable, the new positioning.

34) Promote the rebrand on social media.

Announce your rebrand on all your social media platforms and monitor closely to answer any questions people have and address any concerns that come up.

35) Purchase paid ads to promote the new brand.  

People will still be searching with your old brand name for a while. If it makes sense, set up a campaign in Google Adwords or Bing Ads to capture searches for your old brand and communicate the new one.

36) Update important links to your site.

Use a tool like Moz, Ahrefs or Majestic to grab a list of all the other sites that link to you. Reach out to all the important websites and ask them to update your info. It’ll take some time but it’ll help you stay visible during the transition. 

 

Assets

37) Order new business cards.

You’ll need new business cards. Enough said.

We splurged on some fancy-pants cards from RockDesign. Highly recommended.

business-cards

38) New signage.

Update your signage. Signs come in many forms so don’t forget any - like the lobby, parking lot, front door, interior, exterior, building directory and so on.

39) Notify your landlord.

Let your landlord or property manager know about the change – they may need to update your lease.

40) New stationery and letterheads.

Most companies these days have both digital and print letterhead so both will need to be updated.

41) New trade show displays.

If you’ve ever participated in a trade show, you probably have some sort of display collateral. It ain’t cheap but you’ll need to update it anyway.

42) Update all sales and marketing collateral.

All the stuff that helps you sell and market your business. Examples include:

  • TV, radio and billboard ads
  • Newspaper, magazine and print ads
  • Direct mail and coupons
  • Brochures
  • Flyers
  • Posters
  • Media kits
  • Product images
  • Product sales sheets
  • Product packaging
  • Marketing content
  • Promotional products

General office

43) Miscellaneous items:

  • Envelopes
  • Mailing labels
  • Return address stamp
  • Security badges
  • Uniforms

Well, that's it. Hope that helps and best of luck with your rebrand...

Wait, what’s that you say?

Not enough? Want even MORE stuff to do?

Download a copy of the spreadsheet below – checklist style, organized by business function and a heck-of-a-lot more detail than this post.

lets_talk.jpg
Shareef Defrawi

Shareef Defrawi

President & Founder of Bonafide. Father of 2 adorable little girls. Counterproductive obsession with productivity. And seriously committed to helping other businesses grow.