It’s official—we have finally completed our rebrand project! Three years in the making and countless iterations of everything from our name to our logo to our website, all of the pieces have finally come together. It formally wrapped up with the launch of our new website, a deliverable that we didn’t anticipate launching as the final piece, but something that we felt like we wanted to invest the time into getting right. Since then, we’ve continued to polish it up and are ready to announce it to the world. We’ve done it before and we will surely do it again in a few years, but it feels great to have it in a place where we’re proud of it.
We work on projects like this all the time for our clients, but when it came down to doing it for ourselves, refreshing our brand identity top to bottom felt like a massive undertaking. Not only did we decide to refresh our brand, we also wanted to change our name and launch a new website. If you’re overwhelmed at the prospect of a rebrand, building a new website, or taking on a project like this in the future, here are some things we learned during this project that will hopefully help make for a smoother journey.
You don’t realize how many things your brand touches
One of the first things we did within our project roadmap was put together a list of all of the places where our brand shows up. This included all of the obvious places, like our website, business cards, and signage, but also some unexpected things like pens, apparel, and document templates. By the time we finished the list, it was several pages long and we were overwhelmed with the amount of deliverables we would have to work through to truly be “done” with our rebrand. Which brings us to lesson number two.
It’s ok to do it in phases
We went into this project thinking we had to release our brand identity all at the exact same time in order for it to be effective; however, we quickly realized that not only is that not always realistic, but it’s also not necessary. If we’re treating ourselves like a client, tackling a rebrand spreads out the cost investment and it minimizes the pressure to get everything perfect at the same time. We found that our brand identity and materials that we used every day like business cards and social media graphics were much easier to complete whereas our website needed more time invested into it. Not only was everything not ready to launch at the same time, but we were able to gradually roll out our brand to our target audiences so things like our name change (going from Webspec Design to Webspec) and our new logo took time to settle in.
Is there a right or a wrong way to roll out changes to your brand? Not necessarily. You have to figure out what works best for your organization; your team’s availability, the amount of changes that are rolling out to your customers, and the impact of your new brand on your business are going to influence your roadmap. Just because it’s done gradually, doesn’t mean it’s not effective.
Get all of your stakeholders on the same page
Throughout this project, we had a few key stakeholder groups that weighed in at different times. Our design team was responsible for coming up with the initial concepts and building the brand elements, our websites division built out the new site, our digital marketing team worked on messaging and SEO, and our leadership team served as the client. While we knew this to be true from working with clients, we found it to be especially true for our own team: stakeholders rarely agree. Even with a shared vision of what you need to accomplish, it can be hard to communicate your feelings about a brand and even more challenging when it’s one that you’re emotionally tied to.
The start of your project may feel overwhelming with everyone’s priorities and visions pouring in; we recommend taking a survey of your team to get everyone on the same page with their goals without having to give input on the spot. For example, if you’re trying to build a website that loads fast, generates leads, serves accessible content, and displays your brand through animations and visuals, it may take more time to accomplish or certain goals might not play well together. Setting those expectations up front so you can refer back to them through the project helps it go much more smoothly, while leaving room to change your goals along the way.
It’s hard to dedicate a lot of energy to a project like this
Being a branding, web design, and marketing firm, it should be easy to take on this project for ourselves, right? We were very wrong about that. We have excellent resources on our team to do this project; however, it was more challenging to stick to a timeline than we expected. When you have other priorities in your business, it can be very challenging to devote time, energy, and resources to things like reviewing deliverables, giving meaningful feedback, and approving final designs. Add a global pandemic on top of this and we eventually learned to let go of timeline expectations and just focus on giving each step of the process the time and attention it needed to get it right.
The internet changes so fast, it’s hard to keep up
Our last website first went live in 2015, and while we made changes to it over the years, it had a hard time keeping up with things like rapid growth in our business, a global pandemic, and major changes in internet technology. Another major portion of this project was just getting our website and digital presence up to date with everything that had changed since our last major website build. In 2015, Google had just started to say they were prioritizing mobile-responsive websites and since then major initiatives for a more inclusive internet experience like site speed and accessibility have woven their way into our process for building client websites. We realized that not only did we have to consider all of the things that have changed since 2015, but we also had to think about what’s coming up next, and that adds to the timeline.
Time goes a lot faster than you think
Initially we had hoped for a 12- to 18-month timeline for this project. While that may have been aggressive based on how much we had to do, it also felt very doable. We had the team in-house ready to take it on and we were treating ourselves like a client as much as possible to keep the project on track. Fast forward to today and it all ended up taking just under three years to complete. Not all rebranding projects are going to take that long and it definitely doesn’t take that long to build a website, but the biggest thing we learned is that timelines go a lot faster than you think. Sometimes they get extended by factors outside of your control, and other times you just need more time to get it right.
Keep your brand moving forward
Even with the challenges, delays, and revisions, we’re very happy with where our brand is at today. It not only represents who Webspec is in our next phase of growth, it also made us appreciate how personal a project like this can feel for our clients. Taking the plunge to rebrand and redo your website might feel intimidating, but it’s well worth the work. It also helps working with someone who’s been in your shoes. If you’re ready to give your brand the refresh it deserves, we’d be happy to strategize a roadmap for you.