Rebranding is a challenging and exciting point in a brand’s lifetime. It signals the beginning of a new chapter for the brand, but if not properly handled, can lead to damaging effects. Customers might believe the brand has simply gone out of business, or may not trust the new brand, as new management may be included with the rebranding process possibly resulting in changes to their favorite products.

So how does a company master rebranding for success and retain its customers?

Start from Within

Most companies focus their rebranding efforts on winning over customers, the media, and the public at large. However, companies should begin their rebranding efforts internally. Don’t allow employees – even contracted janitors – to find out about the change in the news. Prepare everyone involved with the company to ensure the process is smooth and is supported by employees and partners.

Just like customers who mistrust new names from new management, many employees may prepare to jump ship or nervously await pink slips under the same premise. Companies must reassure employees. Reassured and confident employees also reduce the likelihood of projecting any uncertainty on customers.

Don’t Give up Everything

After working hard to build up familiarity for one brand, trying to start from scratch with another can intimidate even the most seasoned businessman. One of the best ways to ensure the process runs smoothly is to not give up everything at once.

For instance, when Xerox bought ACS to take advantage of the business process services market, it branded its acquisition as ‘ACS, a Xerox Company’. While Xerox was a much bigger brand than ACS, Xerox knew that ACS held more sway in its field and did not want to cut existing ties the brand had with suppliers, clients, and partners.

Another way to keep the continuity flowing is to retain certain colors, fonts, images, or other memorable pieces of the logo or any other visual piece usually associated with the former brand. Some companies may opt to keep the slogan if the mission remains the same.

Get Creative Juices Flowing

While continuity is important, people don’t rebrand a company to stay the same, even when they recently acquired it. Rebranding is the perfect opportunity to get more creative, and bring something new and improved to the table. It should create the perception for internal and external customers that the change is not just different, but better.

To do this, the brand may benefit from hiring a new creative team, or a few people on a contract basis to stir things up and get creative juices flowing.

Rebranding is a great time for a company to do everything it always wanted to do under a new name and image. However, companies should take care not to deviate too much from their original image, as this may cause both customers and employees to jump ship. Brands should consider the possibility of rebranding in stages, allowing all parties involved to grow with the company as it evolves into something new.