No matter what industry you’re in, it’s safe to say that your team has worked hard to develop and maintain a consistent brand identity. The truth is, businesses can outgrow their brands or begin exploring new horizons and opportunities, which often calls for a rebrand. Sometimes, your brand needs a little update. Other times, a complete brand overhaul is in order. Whatever rebranding goals a business might have, a website is a critical component of communicating a company’s vision, identity, and values to their audience. We created a website rebranding checklist to help ensure that your business rebrand is smooth sailing all the way.
Complete Website Rebranding Checklist
From the very first brainstorming session to launching your new site, here are the essential steps in any website rebranding checklist:
#1: Define Your Aims
Before getting into the weeds of the rebranding process, take the time to clearly articulate your reasons for a rebrand. A set of aims will help determine the scope of the project—for example, whether it’s a partial or full rebrand—and will act as signposts along the way.
There are a host of reasons why a business might opt for a rebrand. Whether your company has been around for a long time or is just finding its feet, re-creating a business identity delivers the opportunity to shake off the old and move past whatever no longer reflects who you are.
Here are the most common reasons for the decision to rebrand:
- New leadership or team
- New products or services
- A brand that feels outdated or “dull”
- Intention to compete in a new target market
- Intention to attract a new target audience
- New values and mission
- Mergers and acquisitions
#2: Articulate Your New Brand Vision
Now that you’ve settled on the why of your rebranding strategy, it’s time to decide on the what. In short, what aspects of your brand have changed and how? As your team develops and refines a new vision and voice, your site should stay true to your brand essence and be consistent with your brand positioning.
If you were to capture your brand in a single idea, thought, or phrase, what would it be? That’s the essence of your brand, its very soul. As soon as you’re able to assert your brand essence, following a website rebranding checklist becomes a lot easier. Why? Because each step and component of your site will be aimed at cultivating or expressing a single thing: your brand essence.
Look at every aspect of your site, from the typography to the icons, and ask yourself whether they reflect the essence of your brand. Anything that doesn’t correspond with the new you either goes or gets a reboot.
For your messaging to be consistent, it’s important to recognize where your brand fits into the market. Are you the reliable one, the cutting-edge one, the exclusive one? Whoever you are, your target audience should be able to recognize it just by looking at your site.
#3: Take Stock of Where You Are
As the next step of your website rebranding checklist, think long and hard about your current site, your competitors’ sites, and your audience needs. Here are the questions you should be asking at this stage:
- How’s your site? Scrutinize your website with a critical eye and get feedback from your customers to highlight any pain points. Does the content on your About page align with your values? Do your Calls to Action (CTAs) strike a tone that’s consistent with your brand essence (playful, professional, trendy, authoritative, etc)? Are the colors too 1990s? Be honest about what truly resonates with your brand and what doesn’t.
- How are your numbers? This is where website analytics come into play as you determine which pages perform well, which pages are quickly abandoned by users without taking any actions, and which pages see the most conversions.
- How’s the competition? Since you considered your brand positioning in the previous step, you’re ready to size up your competition. Investigate how the websites of your competitors communicate their brand vision. What do they get right? Take notes. What do they totally miss? That’s where you can shine.
- Who’s your audience? This question is particularly important if you’re hoping to attract new customers. Even if you’re not, however, no site rebrand is complete without a strong sense of the people who will be using your website. Don’t rely on the perspectives of your own team—we all have biases! Conduct research and surveys to dig deep into your target demographic and take the time to build a customer persona to anticipate how your audience will be interacting with your rebranded site.
#4: Prioritize Users
As you design your new site, keep all the valuable intel you gathered in the previous steps in mind, paying special attention to brand essence and your target audience. After all, it’s your customers who will be using your site, so rebrand with them in mind. Here are expert tips to help guide you:
Make it easy
Some returning customers might get a little disoriented by your new look, so be sure to mention your old name (if it has changed) and make sure your contact information is easy to find. If you’re changing up your hours, product information, or any other content, be sure to communicate the changes clearly and simply so nobody gets left behind.
Keep it seamless
No matter how fresh your site looks, if it isn’t intuitive and easy to use, customers will abandon it in droves. During your website rebrand, keep track of the factors that have a major impact on how customers experience your site:
- Speed. Does your website load quickly? Users don’t have the time to wait around for an image to become visible or an icon to be clickable.
- Navigation and site structure. How you group together, link, and display the pages that make up your website determines how easy it is for users to find what they need.
- Mobile friendliness. Most of your customers will be using mobile devices to explore your site, so make sure it’s optimized for mobile.
- Responsiveness. No matter what browser or device your customer is using to access your site, it should always look great. If text is cut off in places or images don’t load properly, no amount of effective branding will save your website.
Create moods and meet expectations
It’s obvious that every aspect of your new website should be relevant to your new brand identity. It might be less clear, however, that every aspect of your site should also help evoke moods and meet emotional expectations.
Simply put, as customers browse your site, they experience certain emotions. A high-quality website will gently encourage the emotions that you want people to associate with your brand. For instance, do you want to surprise users? Persuade them? Reassure them? Whatever your aims, they should be reflected in the following design elements:
- Site hierarchy
#5: Don’t forget the details
As you near the end of the rebranding process, it can be tempting to charge ahead and neglect all the little details that make a big difference! Keep these elements in mind as you polish up your site:
Revisit Your Logo
No website rebranding checklist is complete without a logo upgrade. Redesigning your logo to be more fresh, colorful, or creative is one of the simplest and most effective components of a rebrand. Remember that a new logo will jump out at your returning customers, signaling straight away that you’re shaking things up, so be thoughtful about crafting a logo that aligns perfectly with the look and feel you’re going for.
Rethink your primary CTA
While you may have multiple CTAs on your site—make an appointment, fill out a form, buy now, and so on—take the time to identify your primary CTA. What is the single most important action your visitor can take on your site? Whatever it is, phrase the CTA in a way that captures your new brand voice.
Aim for Consistency
Your brand voice, vision, and values should be reflected across every aspect of your website, not just the About Us page. Try an experiment: open every single page of your website and pretend you’re a new user who has never heard of your company. Is it quickly obvious who you are, what you do, and what makes you stand out? No matter what page a user is on, they should be able to identify your brand and why it’s special.
#6: Keep SEO Positioning
The personality of your brand is reflected in your web copy and any other content you might have, such as blogs, case studies, press releases, or articles. While it’s important to update all your content to be consistent with your new brand, you should be careful not to lose valuable site SEO. To preserve your rankings, keep what’s working and improve where necessary.
Using an analytics tool (Google Analytics is a popular choice), determine which content performs well, which pages see the most traffic and conversions, and which pages have the highest bounce rates. If certain pages don’t need any changes from an SEO perspective, then make structural upgrades and adjust sentences without disturbing high-volume keywords.
If it’s been a while since you last crafted web copy or posted a blog, there’s a good chance that the keywords surrounding your topic have shifted or changed altogether. After conducting thorough keyword research to determine what your target audience is looking for, go through your content and optimize URLs, titles, and meta descriptions to make sure you’re making smart use of focus keywords.
Remember: never sacrifice readability, or you risk losing the respect of both your visitors and Google. There’s always a way to incorporate keywords in a natural way that also gives your users something interesting to think about.
To determine whether your content upgrades are working, start crunching the numbers to see how well you’re performing. Are users loving your new content? Are your bounce rates lower? Is your ranking higher? If not, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and rethink your content strategy.
Get Expert Advice On Your Website Rebrand
Going through a website rebranding checklist is ultimately a very satisfying experience, especially when you get to the end! As your business evolves and a rebrand is in the cards, it might be time to sit down with website rebranding experts. Our team at Buddy Web Design and Development is deeply familiar with the ins and outs of building high-quality websites that communicate your brand essence in imaginative and compelling ways. If you’re ready to discuss a site rebrand or refresh, you can explore our work here or drop us a line here.