Emotions can run high around charity rebrands as everyone is so invested in providing the maximum amount of help for the people they support. Allocating budget to a rebrand can be seen as an extravagance and create a lot of resistance. 

Here at Door 22, we have a wealth of experience in charity rebrands and truly believe that success lies in stakeholder involvement and engagement. Financial investment is only one part of the process – equal measures of time and energy are also required. Once you get people to agree to devote that time and energy, they see things in a different light and barriers come down. 

But how do you get to that point? How do you turn resistance into readiness? Over the years, we’ve fine-tuned our approach, so if you’re embarking on a rebrand for your charity, or even a brand refresh, these top tips should make the process smoother, more enjoyable – and ultimately more successful.

1 – Educate what is a brand?

Often seen as ‘just’ a logo and colours, the depth and complexity of branding often goes almost totally unseen. As a result, many people don’t understand why it’s worth investing in. 

Educating your whole team, from top board members to outward-facing volunteers, will reap rewards. Holding workshops can be a highly effective way of raising awareness of the fact that a brand goes much further than how you are visually recognised. It’s a strategic tool that communicates your vision, mission and values. It creates culture and community, both internally and externally. It’s what people ‘buy into’ – be it investors, donors, employees or supporters.  

Also, explain exactly why a rebrand is necessary. It could be due to a merger with another charity, an image refresh to bring awareness in line with the cause as it’s evolved, a change in direction, or new products or services being added. 

Setting some foundations at this stage paves the way to a more successful rebrand.  

2 – Brand champions

From the word go, select some of your team to be brand champions – people who will be receptive to the new brand changes, from the briefing stage right through to the implementation of the finished product. They will be part of the clear decision-making process of the rebrand and you will guide and support them through. Spend time informing them and getting them excited about the new brand, and they will then ‘spread the good word’, getting more buy-in from the rest of the organisation.

Your group of brand champions should reflect the structure of the charity, so try to select a director-level sponsor and a trustee, plus someone from the following departments: policy and campaigns, advice and support services, fundraising, retail and volunteering.

A word of warning here, though – avoid design by committee. Nothing slows a rebrand project down more than too many people being involved in every fine detail. At the start of the project, share a detailed brief with everyone, which sets out the objectives, audience and purpose. This will be the navigation that allows the project to stay on course, and which you should refer people to. You need to accept that not everyone can agree and that sometimes you just have to move forward. You can’t please everybody. Usually, explaining the reason for the decision is enough to keep the process progressing and enthusiasm up.

3 – Use evidence-based data

Opinions are easy to argue with. Facts aren’t. So make sure you do your research to back up why a rebrand is needed. Make this internal and external. Interview all levels and types of stakeholders either face to face or using questionnaires. Turn the results into evidence-based data that can be presented in a clear and concise way. 

Another way to gather evidence is to test the finished product. Test it thoroughly with outside audiences to prove it’s well positioned, and relay the results back.

We did exactly this in a recent project for Freedom from Torture, which was a delicate but very successful rebrand:

“A rebrand was a complex undertaking. We needed the new identity to better reflect our work fighting for the rights of torture survivors to honour our human rights foundations, while not losing the warmth and compassion that is at the heart of our rehabilitation work. We’re delighted with the new brand and we’re grateful to Door 22 for taking the time not only to fully understand the brief but also for meeting with torture survivors themselves to ensure the brand worked for them.”

– Head of Communications and Campaigns – Freedom From Torture

It will take some people a while to jump on board with a rebrand, but presenting evidence-based facts can really make the difference when gaining the support of those ‘non-believers’. 

4 – Demonstrate how the brand will work

Very few people will read a branding guide in detail, let alone know how to apply it. So, to ensure it gets implemented as it should and creates optimum results, you have to demonstrate how it will work. This is a great opportunity to excite people about the rebrand. Plus, by showing them exactly what can be done, it takes away the fear of the unknown – another thing that fuels resistance. 

Again, workshops are a great way to do this. By providing a usable brand toolkit (logo, colour palette, fonts, photography and supporting key assets), you can teach people about brand flexibility – how the master brand can be adjusted to suit different purposes, products and campaigns. This can really improve people’s confidence and readiness to embrace the brand, as not only do they learn how to use it, they realise that they can still release their own creativity and not be too constrained. You can read more about this in our blog: Brand guidelines – guidance not glue.

5 – Launch internally first

From private meetings with trustees and senior board leaders to workshops for outward-facing volunteers, the best way to achieve maximum buy-in and success for a new brand is to launch it internally first before pulling the cord of the big reveal curtain to the outside world. Significant time should be spent doing this for two reasons. It shows the team that they are an integral part of the charity, and it also starts to build on the internal culture and community that comes from a strong brand. Missing this stage out could have a negative effect on the overall success of the rebrand. 

6 – Monitor, develop, monitor, develop

A brand is not static. It’s constantly evolving and should be flexible enough to move in line with what’s happening within a charity. This means that brand monitoring and development is paramount. Brand champions are really well-placed to monitor key metrics and meet on a regular basis to compare performance, and an annual audit is critical in terms of being able to see what’s working and what’s not. The brand can then be adjusted to align with the findings. 

All of these top tips have been tried and tested many times here at Door 22, and are key to the success of any charity rebrand. By following them, you’ll be sure to change resistance to readiness. 

If you’d like any more information on charity rebranding, then just get in touch and we’ll be happy to chat.