What is the best way to roll out new branding?


If a company has been in business for some time they generally have a stockpile of branded materials in addition to online content.

How should the company handle utilizing a new brand design or refresh?

The two schools of thought I'm aware of are:

  • Option A: Immediately stop using old brand items and regenerate all items with the new brand - both print and web. This works but can be costly.

  • Option B: Immediately refresh all online content. For print content, slowly integrate the new brand, replacing the old brand as items are depleted.

Does option B degrade the new brand?

Which method is better and why?

An example scenario: Company refreshes their brand. Currently in stock are $1,000,000 worth of trade brochures with the old brand on them. This stock customarily lasts for a year or more. But there are only a handful of old letterhead stock left and business cards are reproduced monthly. In addition, then need to order $500,000 of new product brochures immediately. Reluctant to write off the $1 Million in old brochures, which path is best?

9/4/2013 5:23:00 PM

Accepted Answer

Obviously the sharper the transition the better - but sometimes compromises are needed.

I was working at an organisation that had this exact issue. They were large, very budget-conscious organisation with lots of very varied branded products with very varied stock turnaround, and a new brand that was maybe 40% similar to the old brand. They did it in a graded way, and it seemed to work for them. This is a rough approximation with specifics removed:

  1. Internal launch date - new brand identity revealed to staff etc, but kept secret. From here on, anything new must be created in the new brand and held back from launching until date 2
  2. 'Soft' launch. Unveiled publicly, new website skind launched, new products launched, advertising campaign intended to create familiarity with the new brand. Fast turnaround stock replaced.
  3. Refresh deadline, whereby everything must be either new brand - fast or slow turnaround - or marked with a date. No old brand material printed unless it was dated and therefore archival/historical. The initial goal was to have everything new brand by this date, no exceptions, but that proved not to be workable.
  4. 'Hard' promotion. By this point, the new brand identity had been real-world tested and refined, based on experience and feedback. New advertising campaign, expanding on the new identity. Strict on straggling old-brand material after this point.

There were roughly 1-3 months between each step above.

It's obviously always a tradeoff varying based on the size and complexity of the organisation, the role the branding plays, and how big a change it was. The bigger the change in brand style, the less grading you can get away with. The more varied and complex the range of branded products and the tighter the budget, the more grading you need.

9/4/2013 5:50:00 PM

I think that in an ideal world you would dispose/recycle the old materials and rollout new ones at once but this isn't an ideal world.

I would also say that there's actually three types of companies in this class:

  1. Mega corporations
  2. Large companies
  3. Small businesses

I would imagine only the large companies would be able to afford to dispose of their materials. They may have a fair quantity but with good logistics / record keeping they could do their best to plan for right as they're about to order new materials from the printer. USAToday I wasn't able to find anything on but I would imagine could do a one-day roll out. The day the new website launches they also use the new logo on the newspaper and start using the new letter head. Maybe the sign on the building wouldn't be up-to-date or some of their corporate shirts and such but for the most part they could do it.

For a mega corporation it is much more difficult because of all the additional items they may have. Pepsi for example rolled out its new logo over the course of two years. Think about the trucks, vending machines, shirts, hats, signage, all of it had to be changed. Doing it over night simply isn't feasible.

Small businesses may or may not change overnight depending on what they have. If its a professional service company it might be as simple as printing 500 new business cards, and using the new letterhead. On the other hand if they do have brochures they're probably going to continue to use them as they can't afford that kind of waste.

Pepsi Rollout on AdAge

New article on Creative Blog on the subject: 5 expensive logos and what they teach us**

BP's new logo alone is said to have cost nearly $6 million USD while the total rebrand when you include stuff like tankers and manufacturing plants and such cost about $175 million USD.