Charity rebranding – a successful 5 step process

Posted by Emma Nicol | 23 September 2013

Categories: Rebranding Third Sector

delightful process

The way to a successful rebrand is simply D-lightful, it’s all about the D’s – five of them to be precise. It’s a well known formula and strategy for a great design process. One that we follow and wanted to share.


A successful rebranding project, or any form of communication actually, whether its a new service brand, awareness campaign, annual report, fundraising advert or event booklet should follow this process. Everything that is designed should be structured and planned in this way.

The Design Council researched in 2005 that the best design is approached with the first four stages: Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver. We’ve added a fifth, no, not ‘Done’ – Drive. Everything needs to have an objective, a meaningful outcome that drives the project through relevant communication channels is the natural and important process progression from delivery.
It’s how good design agencies work, and should be the staple of how everyone in communications should approach a new brief and project.

The 5 D Plan has particular relevance to a charity rebrand where it can smooth the process and be the springboard to a well executed repositioning or refresh that will have longevity and strong relevance to its audience.

Let’s walk through the 5 stages.

This stage is always at the very beginning. The step comes before the brief can be formed. A need or requirement is identified and it’s time to understand why this need has arisen. Questions and research should be undertaken to gather as much information as possible to help form the library of material for the rest of the project to build. Research can be in many formats – such as data analysis, questionnaires, focus groups and online surveys. It is also a good place to find what barriers, hurdles and opposition there may be and form they may take. For instance, in a re-brand there may be a distinct need for repositioning which is understood but there may be opposition to a name change for historical or sentimental reasons. The more thorough the discovery phase the more thorough and on target the rest of the steps will be.

The defining stage is where the planning really starts. After the discovery step a confident and researched outline of the requirement can be achieved. A blueprint of why, how and when can be formed. A targeted approach to the audience, what the outcome needs to be, any behaviour change or what the desired response is. Is it signposting or is it more visceral than that? Alignment of organisational values and goals are defined here. What boundaries and conformity needs to be adhered to if any. Constant reference is made to the discovery phase to realise and cement a strong and robust brief which will direct both creative and language.

This is where visual ideas are explored in response to the definition of audience and outcome required. Design led solutions evolve together with language and tone of voice to create the personality and identities suitable for the audience. Multi-disciplinary teams come together during the development to ensure flexibility, relevance, consistency and fluidity of the next stage – delivery. Consultation and participative approach is strongly encouraged through every phase, especially the discovery phase but is also particularly relevant here to obtain the buy-in and support of your whole organisation and external audience before delivery.

Above all delivery is about consistency, confidence and being thorough and timely. After following the journey through the other phases this stage should be a very satisfying, positive and exciting time. Successful delivery is achieved through relevant channels, discovered and developed for the target audiences. Final testing is done here before launch and measurement mechanisms should be put in place to encourage and allow for feedback. Measurement and response can then flow back into continually improving and evolving the new brand. A brand is a living thing and should be allowed to grow, mature and be organic and not be left to stagnate.

The importance of driving the rebrand through multi-channels most relevant to the cross section of audience is crucial. Online and offline opportunities of rolling the brand out is so necessary to reach your whole audience and be relevant to today’s audience. Social media is important and channels are changing and breeding everyday but making sure you have a solid presence that is relevant but also realistic in it’s maintenance and monitoring. Social media and online are current and instant but don’t forget face to face. Engagement through open days, invitation events, exhibitions, roadshows are still powerful ways to drive your new brand.

The best way to use the 5 D plan is to go back to the start and continually assess, evaluate and fine tune the new rebrand. It is a perpetual process that encourages positive outcomes through reciprocal progress.

High five to a successful re-brand.

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