So you’ve determined that you need to rebrand your organization, or at least to refresh your visual identity. You may have already decided on a scope of work, or chosen a branding agency to work with. Here then is some advice about the rebranding process: both best practices and mistakes to avoid in pursuit of a successful rebranding.

Since you’re reading this, you likely already know what rebranding is (if not, we love the definition provided by the good folks at Hubspot). So here then are the most common pitfalls when rebranding—and how to avoid them—from your favorite Tacoma marketing agency.

Mistake #1 - Tackling your rebrand in-house

Let’s get a big concession out of the way: yes, it’s inarguably self-serving of us to claim that you need to work with an agency when rebranding. Still … we do make that claim, and we’re not wrong.

There are two reasons we’ve seen business owners choose to undertake their rebrand entirely in-house: the most prevalent is to save money. The other (less common) reason is to give work to a friend or relative who is a designer.

Now, IF your friend or relative is a professional graphic designer with experience in corporate brands, then great! You’ve got one piece of your rebranding campaign taken care of. But are they also skilled at copywriting for brand voice? At consumer research? At web design? Or brand awareness and advertising? Social media and content marketing? At tying your rebrand to your growth strategy? If so, then look no further!

Most of the time, rebranding involves more than a new logo and color palette. Yet many business owners seeking out help with their rebrand equate it with just that.

Rebranding certainly can save money in the long run. It’s a mistake to cut costs, however, by deciding that all you need for your rebrand is a fresh logo. Those who understand the complexity of rebranding tend to seek out agency help from the get-go. Think of rebranding as a recalibration of your entire business. Like a car, it needs periodic realignment. A paint job alone doesn’t do the trick.

THE FIX: Hire an agency that’s experienced in rebranding and staffed by people you want to work with. Use your in-house marketing team to help communicate your corporate identity to the agency, and to help execute strategies you and your agency devise.

Mistake #2 - Lifeless values, inert purpose, and mindless mission

We’ll be blunt: more often than not, corporate values suck. If a company lists their values at all, they tend to be vague and overreaching. More often than not, employees aren’t aware of them, or if they are, then they’re not sure how to manifest them in their work.

Similarly, a company’s statement of purpose is often bland and uninspiring. This is true even when a founder is charismatic and/or embodies excellent leadership qualities. Why? Because crafting an inspiring statement of purpose is a different skill from leading a company. It’s the skill of aligning the specific motivations shared by all your stakeholders into a single catalyzing statement, without making it feel overstuffed and flabby.

Then there are mission statements, the institutional fiber of the business world: they’re healthy, natural, and keep things moving in one direction. Many mission statements are crafted as window dressing, or as placeholders, a necessary checklist item for business owners. Most can’t pass the replacement test, however; statements so generic that one could swap item x for item y and not change anything. They completely miss the opportunity to create structure or the obligation implied by “mission.” Often lost in discussion of mission statements is their link to the notion of assignment. Missions are operations dictated by a higher power and evoke a sense of calling and duty. They are an authentic vocation born of specific people’s values and personality.

A successful rebrand depends on a healthy core brand foundation. If you undertake a rebrand without examining these elements, you’re likely just putting lipstick on a pig.

THE FIX: When hiring an agency, ask how they define values, purpose, and mission. Ask what role they feel this foundation plays in your overall growth strategy, and ask about the process they use to develop and tighten this core brand foundation. And make sure they have a sense of how they’ll get stakeholder buy-in.

Mistake #3 - Rebranding without growth planning

Your rebranding strategy can be rock-solid, but if it isn’t aligned with an equally solid growth strategy, then it’s hard to see it actually helping your business in the long term.

Rebranding isn’t just a single marketing campaign; it’s about realigning the corporate identity you project in order to optimize and sustain your market share year after year. If your company doesn’t have a plan in place addressing how it will grow, then the extra market share will prove temporary, and could actually damage an unprepared business (for example, by not fulfilling promises; providing a lackluster customer service experience; or developing an inhospitable work environment, among other dangers.)

You should already be thinking about growth strategies along with any rebrand, and have a clear idea about the most likely strategy for long-term growth.

We can’t emphasize enough the fact that rebranding isn’t just about a single visual design element or new tagline; it’s a structural realignment of your entire corporate identity. Your rebrand won’t just spur growth; it will shape and contain it.

THE FIX: Even before you’ve signed a contract, share with your agency any growth plans you have, whether formalized or not. Not sure what to include or what to ask? Download our checklist of relevant growth planning questions here!

Mistake #4 - Miscommunication

Seems like a no-brainer, but communication is key to any successful rebrand. That means communication not just with your agency, but also within your own team. Here are some problems that can manifest from poor communication:

  • Unvoiced assumptions and expectations
    • Don’t assume the agency will be handling a particular task, or expect your rebrand to yield a particular result, without letting your own team and your agency know
    • You may feel attached to a color, look, name, or typeface. Let everyone involved know your feelings. Take time to thoughtfully explain or justify any strong feelings you may have … or else be willing to be flexible.
  • Operating on old information, or going by gut
    • Rebranding involves knowing your customer, and that involves homework. If you haven’t done yours in a while (say, since your founding?) be prepared to roll up your sleeves.
    • When you’re too close to a brand, it can be easy to miss the bigger picture because of your investment in it, or to make brand decisions based on personal pain points.
  • Bottlenecks and cost overruns
    • Bottlenecks happen frequently as a result of new processes or new people. Bringing in an agency to help with your rebrand involves both. Communicate roles and responsibilities, and establish reasonable workflows and timetables.
    • Cost overruns often happen when the scope of a campaign changes mid-project, which can mean adding on sub-projects. Or it happens when you and your agency aren’t dialed in together. This means additional iterations and rounds of approvals.

THE FIX: For all of these issues, clear and consistent communication is the key to a fruitful partnership and successful rebrand. It’s been said before: the worst mistake you can make with regards to communication is to assume it’s happened.

It helps to think of your rebrand as a relay race and not a tennis match: for every heat, you have to get up to speed in order to pass the baton to your counterpart and maintain an overall cadence. You are on the same team, and not just lobbing a ball back and forth.

Rebranding with a Tacoma marketing agency

Some good news at the end of this list of potential pitfalls: we’ve taken pains to include only items that are well within your control.

If you’re interested in what a marketing agency can do for your rebrand—whether you’re just looking for a logo refresh or a full and proper realignment of your brand foundation, take a glance at our work and, if it resonates, give us a call. Or email us at

About us

Sands Costner is a marketing and advertising agency that specializes in preparing small businesses for—and guiding them through—stages of major growth. We exist to help companies meet their objectives year after year through strategic planning and effective branding.

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