Published: 10 September 2010

How to rebrand on a shoestring budget

Lasa's Zoe Amar asks if you can afford not to rebrand

Rebranding is expensive, takes years, and will make you unpopular with your stakeholders, right? Wrong. A rebrand doesn’t have to be any of the above. Done right, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, it could be one of the best investments that your organisation ever makes.

Recent rebrands in the sector have had mixed receptions; some of that goes with the territory. What sane communications professional would invest their budget in a project that could fall flat on its face?

But let’s look at the question another way: can you afford not to rebrand? Branding isn’t a luxury. It’s the fundamental promise we make to our stakeholders about who we are, what our vision is, and how we can help them. Get any one of those elements wrong and you’ll miss valuable opportunities.

Here at Lasa we are about to launch our new brand, and we’re delivering the entire rebrand on less than 10% of the normal cost of similar branding projects. I believe that the process can be cost effective, quick and supported by your stakeholders – if you follow these simple rules.

1. Build the business case

Talk to your stakeholders about why you need to rebrand. In Lasa’s case, we found that many of our stakeholders were confused by our current brand, and were unaware that we operated across the UK. They didn’t know that we can help a wide breadth of organisations, from small community groups to the UK’s largest charities and government bodies. We lacked a clear brand which would help us communicate these key messages consistently. In an increasingly competitive market, we knew that if we didn’t invest in a new brand we would be left behind.

2. Design a tightly controlled process.

Expensive rebrands that take years are sometimes the result of processes that have drifted. Decide clear outcomes for each phase of the project and eliminate any activities that will not lead to these.

3. Be clear about what you want from your decision makers.

If you want them to make a decision in a month’s time, tell them. My board were very supportive when I explained that we had to make clear decisions within tight timescales, or project costs would spiral. Turn your tight budget into a positive that focuses the minds of everyone involved.

4. Be pragmatic.

You don’t have to get everything rebranded and reprinted for the launch date (unless you are having a radical change such as a new name). This will save money and minimise waste.

5. Choose a good agency.

We needed a highly skilled supplier to come in and help us build the new brand, and were fortunate enough to work with the brilliant Beautiful World.

6. Be creative.

Once I’d put together the project plan, I was amazed by how much we could do in-house, from market research to implementation to the launch.

7. And now test it!

Again, it’s possible to do this without breaking the bank. We tested the new brand through phone interviews with a small panel of key stakeholders, and also through a much wider online survey using Surveymonkey.

I hope this shows how you can rebrand on a shoestring. In my next blog post in November I’ll talk about cost effective launch options, and how to ensure that your brand remains a success after the launch.


Zoe Amar, director, Zoe Amar Digital

Zoe Amar is founder and director of Zoe Amar Digital, a charity marketing and digital communications consultancy who've worked with Action Aid, CAF, Crimestoppers and many other great charities. She also blogs for The Guardian. Zoe shares charity marketing resources over at www.zoeamar.com and @zoeamar