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*OPINION* Looking to rebrand your business? This is going to hurt.

Over the years, I’ve lost count of the number of companies I’ve helped to rebrand. The most memorable and successful outcomes, however, are pretty much always the result of a long, unpredictable, prickly process. A journey where people get upset. Tempers flare. On both sides of the equation.

Given the stakes, friction is kind of inevitable.

For a rebrand to be truly successful, as a working group you have to be prepared to ask, and answer, the difficult questions. From day one to the moment the solution sees the light of day. I have an outline process that I use to govern these types of project. Something I’ve drawn up over time informed by the experiences I’ve had with the multitude of brands I’ve helped to shape.

It all starts off very well mannered and impeccably organised as we follow our prescribed steps to the letter. But, by the very nature of the scrutiny that the process puts a company under, it begins to uncover things both we and our client never expected to find.

I always start with a period of discovery. To discover the truth, you need to listen to a lot of viewpoints. There may well be a brief of sorts but that document will be biased. Toward marketing, toward the business owners and their personal goals. Toward a corporate party line. The truth is out there, but to find it, you need to ask everyone.

Ask the staff – and not just management either. Ask the shop floor, the apprentices and interns. The grafters. Ask the finance guy – they’re always good value. Ask customers. Ask suppliers. Leave no stone unturned and, when you’ve done that, you may well find that the original brief you had starts to look a bit sketchy.

Now the fun starts. 

Now, the timeline starts to get skewed. Now, the things you were told were untouchable start to look like fair game. Now, you’re taking your client into uncharted waters.

This is when the job really starts. These are the hard yards. You’re out of the comfort zone of your cozy little process and your client’s brief. Their guard is down. The aim of a truly successful rebrand should be to touch every manifestation of an organisation’s inward and outward persona. Right down what they say when they pick up the phone.

If it’s not hurting, then you’re probably not trying hard enough.