By Fran Johnson
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You’ve got your shiny new rebrand, now how do you launch it?

It is safe to assume that no one wants to launch a brand and get negative press coverage. We’ve all seen press coverage for brand launches that haven't worked - and a few rollbacks too!

Examples like the Royal Mail / Consignia project are projects that perhaps shouldn’t have been undertaken in the first place – when the brand isn’t broken, don’t fix it!

But, there have been plenty of examples of good branding, that has been launched badly. The University of California is a good example of this. A video was produced at the time (which unfortunately is now set to private) that launched the new brand by ‘swiping away the old’. The video itself was misleading, as the old seal was going to remain in place. The launch caused uproar, and the university rolled back on the rebrand.

© University of California captured by Associations Now

A controversy has developed over an element of an integrated visual identity designed for use by the University of California’s systemwide office. This controversy has created a major distraction for the UCOP External Relations Division as it pursues its broader mission: communicating to all Californians the vital contributions UC makes to the quality of their lives and the prosperity of the state.

The controversy has been fueled in large part by an unfortunate and false narrative, which framed the matter as an either-or choice between a venerated UC seal and a newly designed monogram.

Daniel M. Dooley, senior vice president for external relations at the University of California Office of the President

What are the intentions?

When launching the rebrand, it is useful to reflect on the start of the project – why was the rebrand commissioned in the first place? It could be that the old branding no longer reflected the intentions of the company / charity / organisation. It could be that the visual language needed a refresh as it was starting to look dated. Whatever the reason, reestablishing the intention is a wise place to start. The other consideration is your audience …

Do you need anyone to come along for the ride?

Do you have a loyal following that you need to keep happy, or will your rebrand target a new audience? If it’s the former, then launching a rebrand becomes trickier. There will always be people that preferred the old, and wished change could be minimised. So, how do you honour their involvement with your brand thus far, and get as much buy in as possible?

Option 1. Make a splash!

If your rebrand was commissioned due to a change in what you do as a company, then tell that story. Don’t make it about the logo! Make it about the heart of what you do, and the new branding can feel incidental to that message. Shelter’s rebrand by SuperUnion is a great example of this. The old Shelter logo was heralded as one of the best logos around, created by Johnson Banks in the early 2000’s, it was loved by designers. However, it no longer worked for where Shelter is heading, and the political landscape of our times. Shelter needed a brand that felt more activist, and therefore, this was one of the launch videos …



The Burger King rebrand has been launched slightly differently (by the design agency rather than the client) and focuses on the parts that designers get excited about! But, they have made a deliberate decision to keep the product at the centre of what is communicated. What will people want to know when Burger King rebrands? That the product and service won’t change. Therefore, the people and the product are at the heart of this rebrand.


Option 2. Under the radar

Asking people what they think about a rebrand will get you an immediate answer! I for one, will always have a critical answer (positive or negative). If you want a smooth rebrand process, launching with a bang may not be the best approach for you, particularly if you have a more traditional brand following. I know it is tempting when you’ve spent lots of time creating something you love, but occasionally it can be the best approach to gradually implement changes.

In a world of flexible branding, huge rebrands (and logo changes) may end up being a thing of the past. Instead brands could look to refresh their messages and how they wish to be seen by the world.

Recent ‘rebrands’ that may have passed you by, including:

Amazon Prime

© Pentagram

Channel 4

© Pentagram

Rebranding on a budget

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