November 1, 2021 Content Chat Recap: What Marketers Need to Know About Company Rebrands

A #ContentChat header image saying today's topic is what marketers need to know about company rebrands.

Following years of media scrutiny and increased legislative attention, Facebook announced last week that it will now be called Meta. The company claims this will help it more closely align with what it does as it reaches into areas like virtual reality.

From a marketing lens there are two top-of-mind considerations stemming from Facebook’s rebrand to Meta:

  1. How is Facebook’s communications team doing?
  2. Why should a company rebrand, and what does it mean from a marketing standpoint?

In this #ContentChat, we explore what marketers need to know about company rebrands. Read the full recap below, where we explain the common reasons that companies rebrand, what marketing teams should do during a company rebrand, and more.

Q1: Why do companies rebrand? What are some common scenarios that lead to a rebrand?

Companies can undergo a range of rebrands, spanning from light changes to the brand’s visual identity to a full-blown overhaul of the company’s purpose and naming.

A1a: There are so many reasons that companies rebrand. Frequently, when a new marketing leader comes onboard they kick off a visual refresh or overhaul in their first few months. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

Company rebrands happen for a variety of reasons, including a change in team leadership, if the brand has become outdated, or following a merger or acquisition, or to distance the brand from negative press (just to name a few).

A1b: Brands often take a step further to rename themselves when the old name feels outdated (see company names with the word “online” in them), or they’ve changed focus through mergers and acquisitions, like Google rebranding its parent company. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

A1 At my last employer, we rebranded because the company was moving from academic-oriented consulting company to a data-based technology company. We needed a name/branding to reflect that new positioning. #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) November 1, 2021

A1: So many reasons! Sometimes, it’s to overcome a PR disaster and to try to disassociate from bad press. Often it’s because the brand’s name, focus or value prop has changed. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) November 1, 2021

A1 When a company is purchased by another there can frequently be a rebrand that comes soon after, especially if there was mismanagement of the company previously
It can be the new management making a statement that they’re different, etc
-Alyx#ContentChat

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) November 1, 2021

If it was a merger of equals, a rebrand can also make sense so neither party feels like they are seen as the lesser brand. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

A1 If they’re expanding their product or service line is one of the more common reasons I suppose. #contentchat

— Nate (Formerly known as the Jazzy Goat🎷🐐) (@UncensoredNate) November 1, 2021

In the case of Facebook/Meta, the rebrand is intended to reflect larger company goals. However, ‘Meta’ is already a broadly used term and will likely create new challenges for the brand’s marketing team.

A1c: In the case of Facebook, it seems to be that they are trying to distance the company from the slew of bad press the Facebook platform has raked in over the past few years, and to reflect larger goals. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

A1d: However, in going with a company name that is already a broadly used existing word, “meta”, they are likely to have a whole different set of brand association and confusion issues. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

Q2: What are the top considerations for marketers as they prepare for a company rebrand?

Before proposing a rebrand: Stop and ask why. Does the potential ROI outweigh the cost of a rebrand? Is there a legitimate reason to rebrand (to protect the company’s long-term viability)?

A2a: Before you propose a rebrand, you need to stop and ask yourself if the potential ROI outweighs the cost of the rebrand. If the marketing team is just tired of the old visual identity or name, that’s a poor reason to rebrand. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

A2 It’s important to look at the reasoning behind the proposed rebrand – what are the changes that would support a rebrand, and do they still support the idea in the long-term
-Alyx#ContentChat https://t.co/Yjf8MCcNoi

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) November 1, 2021

A2 first should definitely be “is rebranding worth the cost?” I met with a few start up founders a year ago for basic landing page copy and they have since changed their product line 3 times and rebranded their company twice. They’re still not any closer to market #contentchat

— Nate (Formerly known as the Jazzy Goat🎷🐐) (@UncensoredNate) November 1, 2021

A rebrand is a huge undertaking for both your company and your entire partner ecosystem.

A2b: Rebranding your company is a HUGE undertaking—not just for your company’s external and internal owned branding, but for your entire partner ecosystem. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

Marketing teams must consider their customers before committing to a rebrand. Conduct interviews, send surveys, and hold focus groups to fully explore the potential impact a rebrand will have on your customer base, your ability to retain them, and your potential to acquire new customers.

A2b: And of course, considering your customers/audience is essential. Will your new brand reflect their needs? Talk to them, conduct interviews and send surveys. Consider panels and focus groups. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) November 1, 2021

Ensure you choose a new company name and language that resonates with your customers and does not overlap with other communities. Conduct a hashtag search of your new name, and say that name and its abbreviation out loud.

It can be really easy to step in it with your customers if you pick a word that has connotations you aren’t aware of that offend your customer base. See also: you should always # search your new name to see what comes up. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

I worked for one brand where people never looked at the company name hashtag to see it was also used by a large eating disorder community. Not the look they were going for at all, obviously. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

A2e: And one last thing: Say the new company name’s abbreviation or shortened format out loud to another person. You don’t want the common acronym for your company to literally be BAD or convey something off-brand. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

For sure. A lot of education and enablement is needed for clients/customers so they don’t feel like they’re losing things in the process of a rebrand. What they know and love may just be called different things moving forward. It may even be better! #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) November 1, 2021

If your customers are not on board with your rebrand, they will likely continue to call you by your old name.

It’s like baseball parks. Corporations can pay to rebrand them, but if the fans don’t love the brand, those new names don’t stick. See how the @SFgiants stadium is still referred to as “PacBell Park” by some oldtimers. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

Or Sears Tower in Chicago. No one wants to call it Willis Tower. 🙂 #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) November 1, 2021

If a rebrand is the right move for your company, create an inventory of all your collateral, digital channels, content, etc. that will be affected by the rebrand.

A2c: But if a rebrand is the best course of action for your company, start by putting together a comprehensive inventory of all the collateral, digital channels, content, signage, swag, and legal documents that will be affected by the change. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

Thoroughly assess what language will best resonate with your ideal customers and appropriately convey your brand identity.

A2 So many considerations. One is simply the language you want to use to establish that brand. A rebrand is not just visual. It’s about how you tell your story differently. What words will you no longer use, which do you now prefer, etc. Change is not always easy. #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) November 1, 2021

Review all social platforms to make sure you can obtain your new brand name or handle.

A2d: And don’t forget to check all the social platforms to make sure you can obtain the name you want without having to add a bunch of extra characters to the handle. You’d hate for all your social mentions to go to some other co. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

Ensure all employees understand that the marketing team is in charge of updating or creating new social channels to reflect the new branding.

And make sure employees know you have that covered. At my last gig, someone in sales claimed our new Twitter handle, thinking they were doing us a favor. Was a whole to-do to figure out who did it, get him to delete it, and then reclaim when the handle was available. #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) November 1, 2021

And remember that it’s often best to start your rebrand planning with just a small group of high-priority, cross-department stakeholders. If you have too many team members involved at every stage, it will be impossible to reach decisions.

A2: Having just done this: narrow the circle. Too many cooks in the kitchen is bad juju. Do your background work on brand positioning first. Know what you’re trying to communicate with the new brand.

— Kat (@KatInTheCLE) November 1, 2021

Yes to this: too many cooks! Recently had a rebrand, and finally had to say NO and refocus. Everyone doesn’t get a say.

— Renée DeLuca 🎃 (@ReneeDeLuca) November 1, 2021

Q3: When a company rebrands, what happens to its existing content? What should marketing teams do to preserve the value of the company’s previously created content?

As part of your content inventory, evaluate each piece of content and decide if it’s worth refreshing to reflect the new brand. If not, leave it as-is or retire the post. Prioritize content that is still driving significant traffic and hitting target goals.

A3a: Remember that content inventory I mentioned earlier? As part of that, you want to evaluate each piece of content and decide if it’s worth refreshing the piece to reflect the new brand, retire it b/c it’s updated, or to leave it as-is. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

A3c: I prioritize rebranding and resharing content that’s still driving significant traffic and hitting goal targets. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

Combine duplicate content for an enhanced piece when possible.

A3: When we work with hospitals and health systems that go through a rebrand (or an M&A where the new hospital is rebranding), the content audit is an important early step. Figure out what fits and what doesn’t, and where there may be duplicate content. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) November 1, 2021

And when there is that duplicate content, you have a fantastic opportunity to combine the content into an even better piece that repurposes the work, and turns it into something even richer for the customer. Reuse + Repurpose + Upcycle! #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

If your rebrand involves a significant update to your value prop and messaging, though, your existing content may be too costly to update.

A3b: It’s often cost-prohibitive to rebrand every piece of existing content, and if your value prop and messaging have drastically changed, that existing content may no longer be the right fit for your brand. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

We recommend you hire an expert to assist with updating or remapping your website domains and website content.

A3 I am not an expert at this, but the last agency I worked offered a Migration Plan that mapped out exactly what a site should do in this situation. I’d probably ok to find someone who can help put something like this together. #contentchat

— Nate (Formerly known as the Jazzy Goat🎷🐐) (@UncensoredNate) November 1, 2021

You definitely need a detailed plan for remapping website domains and all the associated infrastructure. I agree that you’d want to hire a firm that’s experienced with doing that…so you don’t end up with your 404 page as your most viewed content for months. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

A unified CMS can make it easy to change a logo or parent company name across content, especially if you have a global content strategy.

Absolutely! And I think there are also conversations to have about global/system-wide content vs. location-based content (when talking about a health system with multiple hospitals or a company with multiple brands/components). #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) November 1, 2021

This is where it’s so helpful to have a unified CMS that makes it easy to change a logo or parent company name once and have it propagate where appropriate throughout. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

Q4: How should the content marketing team be involved throughout a rebranding process?

Content marketing partners should join the rebranding conversations from the beginning to assist with research on ideal new brand names and language considerations.

A4a: Bring your content marketing partners in at the start of your rebranding conversations so they can help you with some of your naming due diligence. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

A4: Ideally, from the beginning! Keeping them in the loop helps make sure you’re covering all content bases and leaving no content stone unturned. They can also be incredibly helpful when it comes to planning your new brand/voice/style. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) November 1, 2021

The content marketing team can also ensure that you set a realistic timeline for the rebrand, factoring for any content needs throughout the process. They can also inform potential costs of the rebrand that were not previously considered, like the impact on your social media or events communities.

A4b: If you don’t involve your content marketing team early on, you may significantly underestimate the true cost of your rebrand, or the effect it may have on your events and social communities. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

A4b: Keeping them in the loop at the beginning can also help avoid that rush at the very end of “oh, we need 100 new webpages with this new brand by the launch date…in 2 weeks.” Rushed content isn’t often quality content. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) November 1, 2021

A4 Bring them in before the process gets started they are marketing your content, which is being rebranded. They’ll bring plenty of ideas, and this will help from catching them off guard down the road #contentchat

— Nate (Formerly known as the Jazzy Goat🎷🐐) (@UncensoredNate) November 1, 2021

Later in your rebrand planning, the content marketing team can help craft a narrative for the rebrand.

A4 Content marketing team can help with the story of the rebrand: Why you’re doing it, how to share it, and how to get others (internal and external) on board. They can also help document the process, if that’s something you want to share. #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) November 1, 2021

I see brands do that a lot. It does sometimes feel inspiring, but more often it’s shrug-able storytelling. I wonder how you can nicely get that across to the leadership when you are in the latter position? #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

Q5: What are some ways marketers can steer negative conversations to a positive dialogue if there are critics or trolls that are actively speaking against the rebrand?

Be prepared for negative responses to your rebranding, especially if you did not use customer insights to inform the rebrand.

A5a: No one wants to have to deal with negative responses to your rebranding. And in some cases, there isn’t a lot you CAN do about others’ opinions. I mean, how would you respond to this Tweet if you were Facebook? #ContentChat https://t.co/00X4mBHShX

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

With something funnier than this: https://t.co/JtMxjr5Jlk

— Nate (Formerly known as the Jazzy Goat🎷🐐) (@UncensoredNate) November 1, 2021

ugh. at least they didn’t ignore it…#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

Prepare a rebrand narrative that includes responses to potential criticism.

A5: I’d go back to what @martinlieberman said a few seconds ago — they can help create a story behind the rebrand that you can point to when questions or criticisms arise. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) November 1, 2021

I agree 100%. And you should be putting together that comms plan BEFORE you finalize your branding. That way you don’t get stuck without a response to criticism. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

Thoroughly discuss the rebrand with your internal team, and be open to change throughout the process. Compromises will likely occur.

A5 Some will actively resist. They like the old brand, the old ways of doing things, don’t like change. (Especially if they’re a founder.) In our case, there was some compromise. We’ll change this, but won’t change that. It took a lot of conversations. #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) November 1, 2021

I think these are some of the most contentious parts of any M&A process or brand evolution when a startup outgrows its initial brand. People ARE attached to it. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

A5 give stakeholders an opportunity to share feedback/input before finalizing the brand if possible. Afterwards, they still need a way to #vent and be considered valuable #ContentChat

— lizzie sorkin (@denazzie) November 1, 2021

Remember, too, that team members are likely attached to their company and the work they’ve done. A rebrand can make it feel like that history is being erased. Be conscious of these strong emotions as you navigate your discussions.

It’s understandable. All the work you’ve done, the brand you built, it feels like it’s being erased. I have gone through that as a content leader when we removed lots of blog posts. It’s frustrating to see your work disappear. #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) November 1, 2021

And never change a blog post byline if the content references personal experiences and stories unique to the author.

Similarly, when you leave a company, and watch them take your name off posts you wrote where you shared personal experiences and stories. #ContentChat
(A worst practice if I ever saw one)

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

Q6: If you worked at Facebook/Meta, what steps do you recommend they take next to support the rebranding?

Melanie thinks that humor could help Facebook/Meta, and we agree! What would you do next if you could drive Meta’s marketing strategy? Tweet us using #ContentChat or let us know in the comments.

A6: I’m not sure if this really fits their brand, tbh, but I’d try to inject some kind of humor. Show that you don’t take yourself too seriously — it might fight off some of the haters. #ContentChat

— Melanie Graham (@WriterGirlMel) November 1, 2021

I think that is DEFINITELY needed. #ContentCHat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) November 1, 2021

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