No part of a corporate rebranding initiative is easy—including each and every painful, enlightening and controversial step along the way. But that’s another blog altogether. I want to focus on the culmination phase of the rebrand—the visualization and actualization. Where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Not to dismiss the importance of the strategy, research, analysis, wordsmithing, crafting of voice and message, but having design at my core, the last phase of the process is the most exciting for me.

This is the exact point that we are entering in with a client of McKnight Kurland’s right now. They have gone through an extensive rebranding research and messaging development phase. Now it needs to come to life. Enter design. Sure there’s strategy, concept, insight, and hard work underscoring all of this, but what an employee, client, prospect or influencer sees and reacts to is entwined with creative and design. So our charge is to ‘bring the brand to life.’ Every brand should have such a goal in all it does. After all, that’s what makes it relevant, meaningful and actionable. Now, to the drawing board!

Basic Steps in the Re-branding Process (not in marketing speak!)

Determine the distinctive value: This is what your brand promises and delivers at its most basic level—the one thing that separates you from your market. You should know this. Your employees should know this. Your clients should know this.

Define your key audience(s): Know and understand your audience. Your brand’s differentiation lies in meeting needs no other organization can meet. Understand who your brand is built on. Understand who the future of your brand depends on.

Craft core messaging: Keeping these two things in mind, create your positioning, key value propositions and elevator speech. Use language that clarifies—plain speak combined with common industry terms. And always include the benefit to clients—why should they care?

Determine voice: Tone and manner matter. Reflect your organization accurately in the style of writing and the use of the language.

Develop the creative strategy: Think practically about what will communicate our message and make our primary target audience remember it. Research what the competition is doing—sometimes you mirror it, sometimes you turn 180 degrees away.

Implement: Be clear what the new brand image is. That’s all of the visual and verbal attributes that can be used to present the organization. Then implement it with passion. A new visual look, a new way of speaking, doing events, recruiting, selling, reaching prospects, recognizing clients and more.

Measure and improve: Make sure that you are set up to measure the effectiveness of your strategy. Organizations that succeed long-term are always listening and adjusting.

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