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How to make the business case for a rebrand

Things aren’t quite right.  Your charity is doing great work but it’s not reaching as many people as you know it should.  You think the brand needs some serious attention? Here's some thoughts about how to get senior management to agree.

Things you'll need

  • Plenty of time.
  • Your organisation's most recent strategy document.
  • Examples of your charity's internal and external communications.

Clarify what the organisation thinks “brand” is

Colleagues might think brand is your charity’s logo or - at a push - its visual identity.  It’s important everyone, and the senior team in particular, shares a common understanding of brand.  Decide together what your charity’s definition of brand will be. Spend time building awareness of this.  Without it, you won’t carry people with you when you start discussing change.


Link to strategy

How have things changed since your last rebrand?  Has the brand kept pace with shifts in strategic focus? Your brand reinforces your strategy:  if the two aren’t aligned, the organisation is pulling in different directions. 
Examine your charity’s strategic objectives and clarify how a strong, relevant brand could support their delivery.   


Gather your evidence

Your management team may not be aware of the specific issues facing your brand. This is your opportunity to bring them up to speed.

Find out where the brand is right now.  A comprehensive audit will show you which areas need work and will give you the evidence you need to convince your charity to take action.


Examine how your brand looks and sounds

Grab everything you can get your hands on – fundraising packs, event posters, newsletters, leaflets, adverts, annual reports, t-shirts – anything that people who come into contact with your charity might encounter.  Don’t forget the internal stuff (guidelines, volunteer magazines, job offer letters, induction handbooks) and non-printed materials, like prompts used by telephone helpline staff or information online.  Think also about how your brand is used online and digitally so on your website, Facebook group, Twitter, YouTube etc as well as in eNewsletters and general email. In the past I’ve also included photos of my charity’s buildings and vehicles in this exercise - they all give an impression of the brand.

Create a checklist of what you want to analyse.  How consistently are visual identity guidelines being applied, and what do your combined materials say about your charity?  Do things seem up-to-date or are they from a different era? What personality shines through when you look at everything together? Is it clear what your organisation’s primary focus is?  Does the tone of voice suit all the audiences you talk to?


Find out what staff, volunteers and beneficiaries think

Those “inside” your charity can be its most powerful advocates. You need to know how they think, feel and talk about your brand.  You can do this through focus groups, interviews, online surveys or over the phone – whichever approach will work best for your timescales and budget.


Find out what the general public think

Unless you’re a very large charity, what the public think of your brand is probably less important than the opinions of those who’re already engaged with you.  That said, you want to help as many people as possible and to find others who’ll donate time or money.  Research with public will give vital clues on how you can reach them.


Get your numbers straight

This is the most important element in building your business case.  You need to prove the rebrand will give tangible benefits to your organisation and its beneficiaries. 

Put together a cost benefit analysis.  Plot the costs of a rebrand against the potential benefits in terms of time, money and your charity’s reputation.  If possible, split the costs and benefits into “implementation” and “ongoing” sections.  That way, once you remove the setting-up costs, you can estimate whether a rebrand will increase or reduce what you spend in the longer-term. 

Colleagues will worry about replacing old brand materials.  If you’re going to run down stocks before you create new brand versions, make sure this approach and its costs and benefits are clear. 

Don’t plan to cut corners in embedding the new brand internally.  It will take time and money, especially if you need to travel to local branches or offices.  Make sure you factor these costs in to your business case.

Look at other recently rebranded organisations for case studies – ask if they will share their “before and after” figures with you.  Include these in your business case to show what the positive impact of a rebrand can be.

Resist the temptation to keep financial estimates down by saying you’ll do everything internally.  Be realistic in your business case about what you can achieve and what you need to outsource. You can devise strategy in-house, but you’ll probably need to work with an agency on visual identity. 


Do you really need to rebrand?

Always remember: any rebrand work you do will be funded by your supporters.  As you put your business case together, keep asking yourself; “does this warrant the cost?”  Rebranding can bring lasting benefits, but only if it’s well done and genuinely needed.

Further information


Page last edited Apr 13, 2017 History

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