How to Rebrand Without Killing Your Conversion Rate

Every business will at some point go through a rebrand. Visual looks and logos grow tired, and a refresh can help reach new audiences by targeting a different demographic, all while getting in front of – or fighting off – business stagnation. Think of it this way: if everything is performing above and beyond your expectations, you’re not going to want to touch anything. Rebrands happen when something needs to change.

Whatever the reason you decide to rebrand, it needs to be done carefully and thoughtfully. Otherwise, you risk alienating your existing customer base or the audience pipeline that’s already been built for the sake of a new logo. That’s a costly error – and rebrands are already expensive enough to pull off.

So how do you navigate a rebrand properly without burning the bridges that got you to where you are? There’s a lot of work that goes into a rebrand before any redesigning or color switching actually happens, if you’re doing it right. 

Do your due diligence

An audience does not start or end with a logo. Say a brand with a more masculine design wants to begin targeting women, who don’t currently make up their target audience. It’s much more involved than turning a logo pink and expecting results. 

Brands need to first identify their goal. If targeting a new audience is the desired outcome, then expanding the product line may be the first order of business. Why would your potential customer come to you? Are you selling what they’re looking for? A brand refresh or a new product launch could be what’s needed, rather than a full rebrand. 

It’s important that you don’t arrive at the rebrand in a state of panic. Rash decisions – picture a new executive who comes in taking big swings out of the gate – can lead to money wasted. As with any good decisions in business, it should be armed with data. 

What kind of data do you need to start navigating a smart rebrand? Dig into your site and customer journey and start tinkering and testing while logging the results to figure out what actually needs to change. 

Ease your users into it

The goal of a successful website redesign – typically a key element in a rebrand – is improving the functionality and flow of the site without calling too much attention to the fact that the website has changed at all. Sounds hard, right? Not if you approach the redesign in a deliberate, step-by-step process. The most important thing is to be patient.

One Acadia client recently went through a full rebrand with a name change and website redesign. We didn’t start by wiping the website clean and starting over. The first thing we did was a “rearrange test”: before introducing a new aesthetic, we took the elements already on the site and moved them around. It doesn’t sound like a proper rebrand, because it isn’t – the goal is to simply see how customers interact with your page if it has a different set up. Test and learn. We then ran a “reskin test”, in which only the aesthetics of the site changed, while functionality remained exactly the same. The look was different, but the feel, not so much. 

This type of testing can help ensure you're making the right moves before investing a lot of money in a full rebrand, and the client was able to see how customers responded to two versions of the same site. Through testing, this client also found out that it wasn’t the imagery on the site that wasn’t working as best as it could, it was the copy and product descriptions. When we started changing that, we saw massive jumps and the company is now seeing the highest growth rate they’ve ever had. Today, it’s a site and brand that the owners can feel proud of – and they have the data to prove that this rebrand was responsible for this growth. Now they’re sold in Costco, thanks to this user growth and the data that came with it. 

Risks vs rewards

The biggest risk is alienating or confusing your core audience by coming out with a new brand look or website that doesn’t at all reflect the brand they grew a bond with in the first place. Be gradual in how you navigate the changes, and trust the end results. There may never be one day that you have a “new” website, because the changes have been implemented slowly, but that doesn’t mean you’re not getting closer to the new site. It just means that your customer isn’t going to be spooked in the process.

Then there’s the money spent. If your rebrand misses the mark or isn’t valuable, you’re down the investment in the rebranding without any results to show for it.  

But done well, conversion rate and growth are the outcomes, and rebrands can make a night and day difference. It’s easy for brands to keep working with the tools they have in front of them without realizing they might be broken, like a website that doesn’t have a proper path to purchase. A fresh look can be the difference in lost or made sales. 

Rebrands are an essential part of any company’s growth. They signal that a brand is adapting to its customer, and changing and listening along with them. They can unlock new demographics and improve site functionality. But done too hastily, and you can end up wasting money and tanking your conversion rate. 

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Brittany Flanagan and Jackie Kahn