If there’s one thing we are asked more than anything else by clients planning a rebrand or brand refresh, it’s “when do we do this?”.
The answer is a tough one, as it depends on the type of institution you are, what part of the world you’re in (determining the academic calendar), and what your marketing calendar looks like throughout the year.
Ideally, in our view, it’s a great idea to start fresh in the new academic year. This way, incoming students are greeted with the new face of the institution, rather than having a potentially disruptive phase in, mid-session. This is of course just one school of thought — some would say that timing the launch to a major marketing event, such as an open day is the way to go, whether it’s the event itself, or the kick-off of the campaign promoting the event.
In any case, knowing what date you want to launch the rebrand is the easy bit. When to commence the journey — the process of the rebrand — is the tough one. This is hard to define, as again, it depends on the type of organisation you are. Although size is one consideration, it isn’t the only one — we have worked with small colleges whose brand refinement process took as long as major universities that we have helped. Tricky stakeholder politics, fragmented calendars of groups needing to be consulted, internal resistance to change are just some of the things that can slow the process down.
You aren’t just developing a logo here — you are summarising, and in some cases defining the culture, goals and purpose of the organisation, and this can’t happen without extensive stakeholder engagement, it will take time.
Define an ideal launch date and work backward, identifying potential speed bumps, and how they might affect or occur during:
- Stakeholder consultation and feedback (internal and external)
- Consultation with your branding agency
- Approvals within your organisation
If you are a large organisation with a diverse stakeholder group (for example a large university has undergraduate and postgraduate students, potential students, parent groups, alumni, and a wide ranging set of external stakeholders from media to government and industry, where a small college has a potentially less diverse and small student base, parents, staff and alumni) your consultation period will be extensive — in some cases the process will occur in several stages, separated by development work undertaken by your brand agency, and could well take the best part of a year. A small institution needs to allow a period of several weeks, and that even that is at a pinch.
Planning is key, and setting realistic timeframes is paramount in the mapping of the journey you are about to undertake