Let’s say you’re about to take a leap into the future – a project launch, a new collaboration, a complete brand overhaul. You might be a small independent, yet established business who outgrew your logo along with your first office-space years ago. Or, like many of our microbusiness and artistpreneur (one-person-show) clients, you’ve finally grownup enough in your confidence, expertise and offering that your website your college roommate’s cousin designed for you just isn’t hacking it anymore.
Regardless of your small business style, or size, it’s a great day when you can finally close the gap between the brand you’ve always wanted and the one you’re finally about to get. So it stands to reason, that if you’ve spend the time, effort and money to take your brand to the next level, you want to share it with anyone who will look or listen. The more attention the better, especially when it comes to all your dream customers-to-be out there.
We don’t disagree. But before you share your rebrand with the world, you better stop, drop and roll it out to the people who matter most. A brand update, facelift, or just plain reboot means a change (even if a good one), to an existing brand (even if a bad one), that your employees and customers have gotten used to. Which is why when it comes to a rebrand, you should roll it out to your inner circle before it ever rolls out the door.
So the idea of a roll out isn’t rocket science. Obviously there are some pretty great reasons to give the people closest to a brand a sneak peek. To get buy in. To help them better communicate the brand themselves. To get their shirt sizes so you can give them a new logo tee. And, well, to just get everyone rallied around something you spent a good amount of energy creating.
But we think the most important reason is this – to make sure your biggest fans and your biggest critics (who can sometimes be the same people, people) feel “in on it.” These are usually either your employees, or your customers, but can also be longtime working partners and vendors, and even friends and family who have supported you along the way. They know the truth of your brand firsthand (even if they don’t call it that). They know the good and the bad and the ugly, the thick and the thin, the richer the poorer and all that jazz. So you want to make sure they don’t feel disconnected or alienated by something as seemingly harmless as a rebrand. You want these people to feel included, like they are an irreplaceable part of how you got there. Because they are.
So here’s a swell idea. Throw a party. Now this can mean different things depending on your size or style. But the intent is the same – to create a moment around your new brand. Create a moment to reflect on where you’ve been and then show where you are going, to say “isn’t this cool!” For a small business this roll out should start with your employees. For the microbusiness it starts with your friends, family, vendor partners and most of all your current customers. But however you define your inner circle, and whatever the scale of this celebration – the key ingredient is appreciation.
For The Small Business: Employee Appreciation Roll Out
An all-staff breakfast is one way to make sure everyone can attend before the work day begins (but happy hours can work if you have a smaller group). Give the team a heads up, and send out the calendar appointment a couple weeks ahead of time. Build some excitement and anticipation around the brand reveal, let them know the “why” of the gathering but don’t give anything away. Keep everything under wraps as long as you possibly can. Now, hopefully some of your employees have had some involvement in the brand development on some level leading up to this point, but we mean keep the final look and feel secret until the end. Remember, your goal is to show appreciation and to create a moment.
Roll Out Checklist
Festivity: Food, music and decorations. Themed along with your new brand is nice, too.
Speech: Short and sweet, but delivered by the leader of your small business.
Visuals: Creative documentation along with a short presentation can include a few slides or even posters on easles showing how you arrived at the new brand. This is a great way to give everyone a sense of the journey. Think inclusive, so if you have any quotes or pictures that bring the employees into that process, definitely highlight those.
Magic Moment: Unveiling the new logo, name, tagline or overall look and feel can be a really cool moment. If you have the budget or means to create a brand video (just 1 to 2 minutes) this can really bring it all to life in a way that is hard to match. Then you’ll always have it, to use it on your website or in future new business presentations after the roll out.
Logo Gift: It may seem like a small thing, but if you can give at least one small gift to each employee that captures the spirit of the new brand, a tshirt, a framed piece of desk art, a tote bag, along with a note (especially a personal note) conveying your appreciation for them as the biggest part of your brand – it can really help make the new look and feel more tangible.
For The Microbusiness: Client Appreciation Roll Out
If you are just a couple people or just one person running the show, you can take many of the ideas listed above and just adapt them to a happy hour, an open house. Or you can take it on the road and plan a week where you visit with each of your clients, sharing the new brand. A gift is nice, a bit of that “behind-the-curtain” explanation of how and why you got here is great. Don’t forget to stress how they helped you get here and don’t create an upsell feeling about it. Keep it casual and fun. If many of your clients are from different parts of the country or world, create a nice mail piece and follow up with an email and/or phone call combo. If you spent the money or time to have a brand video created, by all means, share it.
You can push out a beautiful brand, but someone’s gotta catch it.
We recently had a branding client, who after spending weeks developing a rebranded look and feel for their logo suite, sales collaterals and website with us, hadn’t yet gotten around to launching it with their team. In part, because we hadn’t pushed it, and in part because they got busy, like people and businesses tend to do.
Feeling a little frustrated with the lack of an employee launch, this client told us she felt like we had all spent this time and effort giving birth to this really beautiful baby together, and then everyone let it fall on the floor. Ouch! Since then we’ve started planning a belated internal launch together, following the same suggestions listed above.
But that description will stick with me for a long time I think. So don’t let your rebrand just roll every which way before you unroll it to the people that matter most. And don’t let this beautiful little brand you created fall on it’s head on the floor. Create that moment, give the people in your “inner circle” a chance to be part of it, let them hold it – and then roll that baby out the door.