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What Makes for a Successful Rebrand or Packaging Redesign?

Embarking on a rebrand or packaging redesign can be a daunting task. After all, it’s literally your identity we’re talking about here. It doesn’t have to be that intimidating, though. And with some expert help, the benefits are sure to far outweigh any discomfort.

Follow these suggestions, and I guarantee you’re going to make the process much easier for your internal team and get better results through clearer communication with your creative partner.

  1. Have buy-in from the top and define what success means before starting.
    • It’s hard to believe, but many a rebrand has been completed and never implemented. If your CEO, owner, business partners, board of directors (anyone that may have veto power) isn’t explicitly on board with the process you should wait before getting started. It’s too big an investment of time and money to risk on someone coming in last-minute with good intentions and waylaying the entire project.
    • Success should always include on-time, on-budget, and kick-ass creative—what are the other critical measures of success for your business? Better retailer presence? Increased online sales? Expanding your potential audience? Whatever you’re trying to solve internally with a rebrand, communicate it up front and align on expectations with all parties involved.
  2. Hire an expert—and trust them
    • This may come across as self-serving, but I didn’t say you had to hire us! That’s for you to decide. But I promise you, if you hire us or another expert firm, it’ll be worth it.
    • When I say expert, what exactly do I mean? An expert is someone who specializes in solving the problem you’re looking to solve. In CPG, and specifically food and beverage, if you’re partner isn’t working in those spaces day-in and day-out, they’re probably not an expert.
    • From understanding the subtle nuances of callouts and nutrition panels to the larger design trends or retailer requests, there’s a lot that goes into a brand and packaging design in order for it to be successful. Just having a good looking brand or packaging won’t achieve that goal you outlined in #1. Having a brand and packaging that stands out within your category and entices your profiled shopper to give it a try—that’s the real value of an expert.
    • As far as trusting your expert, let’s draw a parallel. When you go to your doctor, do you give them your diagnosis and demand they perform your recommended procedure? Of course not. You give them your symptoms and allow them to properly diagnose your situation. You have every right to question their diagnosis and their recommendations. You can even get a second opinion, but if you’re looking to tell your expert brand and design partner what to do, save your money and your feedback. You’re not looking for an expert, you’re looking for a freelancer to execute your pre-determined vision.
  3. Be explicit and decisive about any “sacred cows,” those elements that you’re not ready to get rid of just yet.
    • These are often logo elements, colors, form factors, website platforms, slogans/taglines, etc. Ideally, let go of all your sacred cows and be open to the research and strategy that will guide you to the best outcomes, but if there’s something you’re just not ready to let go of, call it out right away. Sometimes it makes sense to keep legacy elements—especially when you’re leaning toward an “evolution” instead of a “revolution”—but if you’re open to change, you’re more likely to get to the best end result. Remember, legacy elements were created long ago, most likely before you knew as much as you know today. Don’t anchor yourself to old thinking.
    • If you aren’t willing to let go of some legacy elements, identify that at the start. Nothing wastes time (and money) like going through the discovery and strategy phases, getting into concepting, and then hearing “You know, these are great, but we absolutely need to keep our primary font—there’s no way our owner will approve this. Can you just swap that out?” We could, but it would be doing you, our very valued client, a disservice. Strategy and design choices are made with intent, and for the purpose of working together collectively. In order to win this game we’re playing, we need to agree on the rules up front.
  4. Focus on the perspective and behavioral tendencies of your category shopper, not on your personal preferences.
    • This goes along with trusting your expert, but it’s worth specifically calling out. Generally speaking, shoppers shop categories, not products. You and your partner should be (or become) experts in your category and understand the shopper segment that you’re trying to reach within that category. To say it clearly, chances are you are not your primary shopper target. Therefore, when you’re considering creative work, your individual preferences should take a back seat to the strategy that’s geared towards your target audience.
  5. When it comes to creative feedback, be honest about what’s not working for you and why—not how to fix it. (That’s what you’re paying the expert to solve.)
    • It’s your business, so your knowledge and feedback are critical to the rebranding being successful. That said, your design direction isn’t critical. In fact, it’s likely harmful to the expert design team faithfully creating brand or packaging for the purposes of attracting your audience.
    • “Could you just make that logo a little bigger? And that illustration a little brighter? And that font a little heavier?” We could, but then the design won’t have any hierarchy and the primary message we all agreed on won’t be understood as clearly. Prescriptive directions tend to break designs.
    • If you’re skeptical of the design work being presented, try to articulate why you are struggling with it. What about what you’re seeing isn’t making a clear connection to the agreed upon strategy?
  6. Keep things moving. More time does not make for better results.
    • A creative rebrand or packaging redesign for an emerging brand should take 3 to 6 months, depending on the scope and complexity of the project. Implementation will extend beyond that, but the assets can typically be complete in that timeframe.
    • When projects last longer than they should, both teams (client & expert) have a hard time sticking to the strategy. Project fatigue is a real thing, and the longer a project takes, the more likely both sides are to make un-strategic, harmful compromises in order to get past indecision hurdles.
    • Also, you don’t get to start recognizing any of the value of the work you’re paying for until it’s out in the world. Not only have you inevitably paid for more expert time than you had planned, but you’re not getting the positive, increased sales that should come from a successful launch. The longer it takes, the more it costs you. Period.
  7. Don’t shortcut the implementation.
    • Whether it’s a new visual identity or new packaging, if you shortchange on production quality, it won’t matter how good the strategy and concepts were. Make sure you leverage your expert partner to support the faithful implementation of the work. This could involve continuing to rely on them for the entirety of implementation work (website design, marketing materials, content development, shopper marketing, etc.), or keeping them on board in a strategic or creative director capacity.
    • You may have internal resources that can take over the bulk of your day-to-day needs, which is great (and preferred), but it’s prudent to keep your expert close by to make sure any ongoing implementation and activation stays on-track with the vision. Generally speaking, your employees are fantastic at their roles, but they don’t have the same level of expertise in brand or design as your partner. Even more importantly, they don’t have the same level of objectivity that an outside partner brings. Your partner should tell you when you’re doing something harmful. Your employee may not want to, and even more dangerously, may not even see the harm because they’re too close to it.
    • Think of this as insurance. You just made a significant investment. Why not spend a little going forward in order to make sure you maximize the value of that investment?

I hope these tips make you think about how to approach your redesign. If followed, I know they’ll not only save you time and money during the process, but drive the growth and value of your brand.

There’s a lot to think about here, so if you have any questions or would like a free consult for your own brand, I’d be happy to chat. Drop me a line at