Rebranding can help companies reach new audiences and win more sales, but isn't for every business. Leaders need to weigh the risks involved and seek advice and external validation before pursuing an overhaul.

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Some of the most popular names in business today all started under different labels. These organizations abandoned their early identities to give themselves more room to grow. Case in point: Would a website called BackRub take over the internet? That’s debatable. But the rebranded company, called Google, sure did.

Rebrands can help showcase the full lineup of what a business offers. However, rebrands aren’t always a sure decision for a brand ready to grow out of its adolescence and into adulthood. They require quite a bit of contemplation.

In the case of my company, the choice to rebrand from VARIDESK to Vari came from an understanding that we couldn’t reach our full potential without a change. When people heard our name, they thought "desks," when we actually offer more than 200 different workspace products. Though we wanted to keep the equity, credibility and loyalty we had built over the years, we felt the original name leveraged staple products—namely standing desks and desktop risers—too heavily. The new name we settled upon gave a nod to our beginnings while opening the door for an innovative future.

Rebranding with Eyes Wide Open

Rebranding isn’t for every business—there are risks involved in switching up the status quo. Consumers can be notoriously fickle and can feel disconnected after seeing your company’s new name or even logo. At the same time, they can be very supportive if the rebrand seems natural and positive.

What’s the bottom line, then? Companies ready to embark on rebranding need to consider the challenges and surprises inherent in the process.

First off, rebrands are massive and necessitate far-reaching changes. As part of our rebrand, we had to refresh all existing sales and marketing content, which encompassed a huge amount of marketing assets, video and messaging. We made sure to involve every department in the process, because rebrands don’t just affect marketing. Marketers may own the project management aspect of the rebrand, but everyone from the sales team to human resources will have an important part in the process.

Second, a rebrand runs the risk of affecting your talent or supplier pipeline. Potential employees who apply for positions may interpret the new name, logo or even business purpose as a sign of failure or indecisive leadership—why change the name if everything is going well? Suppliers, too, may be surprised or confused after receiving a differently styled invoice. This may particularly true for earlier stage companies, or companies whose rebrand is very different from what it originally was.

The upshot, though is that when we finally unveiled our new name and logo, the reception was overwhelmingly positive. No one seemed confused. Our base clients understood that we had expanded our workspace product line beyond our signature standing desks. Likewise, potential clients were ready to hear about our full-service solutions. It was a textbook win-win.

Getting the Rebrand Right

Whether your business name has suffered a bit of tarnish or it no longer aligns with your product pivot or business mission, it’s important to first seek advice.

We worked with a third-party vendor to validate our decision before jumping into rebranding full force. We conducted tests and focus groups, and we were told that we risked losing 36% of unaided brand recognition because of a rebrand. Despite that, all signs pointed to a tremendous opportunity there for the taking. We went for it.

Should you elect to take the plunge and rebrand this year or sometime down the road, keep a few pieces of advice in mind:

1. Gather support throughout the entire organization.

You need everyone on board from day one, so build a cross-departmental group of advocates. Why? You need support throughout the whole organization, or you’ll have trouble completing your initial audit and maintaining the necessary momentum to fulfill your goals. Plus, having different voices will help you identify missing gaps in your process so that they don’t come back to haunt you.

2. Keep the rebrand under wraps.

Make it clear to everyone in your company that discussions about rebranding must remain confidential. Leaks to the press or customers can complicate matters. Of course, the longer the lead-up to your official rebrand unveiling, the less exciting the news becomes internally. That’s precisely when people start to forget that it’s not for public consumption. Therefore, stay on top of communicating the importance of keeping everything classified until you can unveil the new brand in one swift move.

3. Create an organized, thorough transition plan.

During and beyond your rebranding, keep the project moving. Our rebrand was comprehensive enough that we had a lot of moving parts. As a result, we had an extensive tracker that kept us in line, indicating which work groups and individuals were in charge of various items. Even if your rebrand is less complicated, having a documented plan will be useful.

Rebranding might not be your biggest concern at the moment. Still, if you’re in the midst of other changes, now could be a good time to consider the possibility. By approaching the rebrand conversation early, you create a smoother path to a refreshed identity when the timing is right.

View original article posted on American Express