Last month, I was honored to present to association professionals at ASAE19, in a session I co-led with Hilde Marnul from the Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing. I consider Hilde and her organization as a client, a friend, and a rebranding success story. But the prospect of rebranding can be a daunting challenge to many organizations. Some don’t understand the purpose of a rebranding campaign, and some may not think they need it. 

It’s important to understand that brands go through a life cycle, which varies based on the product, services or needs of the audience. At some point, all brands will fall out of relevance, and will require a refresh to make them once again compelling. This can be as simple as updating mission, vision and tone, or as comprehensive as an entirely new look and feel. On average, full rebrandings are necessary every 7-10 years. It had been 37 years since BCEN had addressed its brand, so it was long overdue!

If you’re at the end of your brand’s current life cycle, it might be time to shake things up. Here, I’ll outline 10 steps that will give your brand a new lease on life.


1. Do Your Research.

Let’s say your brand is in a mason jar (trendy!). When you’re inside the jar, you can’t read the label… but your audience can. You must step outside the jar to see what’s on the label, and compare it with what you know is on the inside. In the gap between these two perceptions lies your ideal brand. 

2. Read Between the Lines.

When customers or clients give you feedback, listen. Not just to their words, but to the things they don’t say. You may not agree with their perceptions, but when you really hear them, you can start to make judgments about what your brand needs to be.


3. Consider Internal Audiences.

Don’t forget to check in with your employees, board and others close to the organization for their input. Often, they have a unique perspective you can tap into, if you involve them in the rebranding process.


4. Define Your Archetype.

Brand archetypes are used to outline and explore the traits and qualities that contribute to your brand. Are you the Sage, spreading knowledge and wisdom, or the Citizen, advocating for what’s right and standing up for your members? Conduct some exploration into the 12 archetypes and find out who you are… and who you want to be.


5. Consider the Three Vs.

These are vision, values and voice, and they are imperative to resetting your brand in a way that aligns with your business and with your audience. Keep your vision bold and succinct. Live your values. And speak with the voice the reinforces your brand, using carefully chosen language to communicate your message.


6. Train Their Brains.

Once you’ve carefully put together your vision, values and voice, make sure your employees are on-board and fully versed in how to speak about and for your brand. Set up training sessions, create guides and how-tos, and more than anything, help them get excited for the new brand.


7. Get Ready for Launch.

You’ve put in the time and energy to research and reshape your brand, so now it’s time to put it out into the world! Determine how and where your rebrand will launch — your website, social media, at a convention — and then make sure you set aside a robust budget to give it the rollout it deserves.


8. Change Your Space.

Create a sense of consistency by changing your physical space, updating signage and proudly displaying new logos, color pallets and more.


9. Deliver on the Deliverables.

Make sure the assets you’re creating for your refreshed brand deliver on your new vision, values and voice — and that they are funneled through the appropriate channels to hit your audience.


10. Give it Time. And Money.

Two things that might be hard to come by, but make all the difference in the success of your rebranding. Anticipate around six months’ investment for a full rebranding, hours for necessary staff, and a healthy marketing budget.


This is a simplified overview of the rebranding process, but if you’re still in the consideration phase, this should help you understand whether or not the time is right for a revitalized brand. If you’re looking for help with your organization’s rebranding, contact us. And, be sure to check out a recap of my branding presentation. You’ll also be able to download our Communications Audit worksheet to use in your organization, as well as we share our Culture Worksheet, an activity that will help you to better identify your organization’s values.  

Brad Gillum headshot

Written by Brad Gillum

"We’re business consultants who happen to specialize in marketing. We help people and have fun doing it."