It doesn’t matter if I’m sitting in the room with a client that knows they need a new name or brand identity, or when I’m with one that doesn’t have that type of clarity and awareness; the fear is the same — I don’t want to lose people through this process. For both businesses and churches, the potential negative implications of a rebrand that isn’t navigated well are both financial, and relational. I know it’s easy for me as an outsider and brand strategist to feel great about seeing my client make the necessary changes, but I get the fear that they are feeling because I’ve seen bad rebrands hurt organizations. Granted, those rebrands are usually the ones where they try to cut corners, keep it in house, and don’t understand what they are really trying to solve. But that’s another story for another day.
At some point you have to move forward with a rebrand if you know it’s is right for your organization and stop trying to please your staff, customers, or congregation members by keeping things the way they’ve always been. The reality is that a lot of leaders allow part-time people to make permanent decisions for them. I am meticulous and methodical in creating buy-in through a rebrand; it’s vital. But I’m not a believer in compromise and putting the fate of my organization in the hands of someone who won’t be going home and losing sleep over how to grow this thing.
People are going to move on regardless of your name and your logo, so you might as well make the change you need to make now — not wait until they leave. But this isn’t a post to convince you to make the change you need to make. This quick thought is for those who know they are going to be walking through a rebrand (name change, or visual identity).
Once you decide to make the change, it’s going to be exciting. Behind the scenes you’re going to finally start to see the new messaging brought to life, you’ll begin to live in that new name, and you’ll have the visuals that you are finally proud of. It’s like losing a lot of weight and getting a tailored suit that fits perfectly — it just feels right to finally have something that fits and makes you feel great.
But then you roll it out to your staff and your audience and guess who is the loudest? The haters. It never fails.
I found an anonymous quote that said, “You can never win an argument with a negative person. They only hear what suits them and listen only to respond.”
This quote is so accurate, and that’s why it can feel like a losing battle trying to convert a hater to a lover after your rebrand. You can spend time predicting what questions and negative feedback will arise (and you should), you can have the perfect answers ready to go, but for some reason, it seems like negative people don’t want to understand you — they only want you to understand them.
So the only way to win the war against negative feedback is to give negative people the power. How do you do that? It’s simple, and with one question you can turn negative feedback either into a meaningful conversation, or at least a shorter conversation. Either way, you win.
"The reality is that a lot of leaders allow part-time people to make permanent decisions for them."share
Here is the first question you should ask when you get negative feedback after any rebrand:
What made you decide to be a (customer/church member) in the first place?
That one question is almost always guaranteed to shift the conversation from the change you made, and what they don’t like about it, back to them telling you the reason they chose you in the first place. If the person is really meant to be part of your organization, then that question should help them (and you) see what matters more than a logo or a name. They’ll probably talk about the people they interacted with, how the experience with others made them feel, and how they’ve been made better being a part of your organization. Before you know it, the conversation has shifted, and that’s all that matters.
Your goal isn’t to change anyone’s opinion, your goal is to change the conversation.
Once you change the conversation, you now have the opportunity to let them know that even though a name or logo changed; it doesn’t change any of the things that they just described. Without changing the conversation, you’d be left combatting subjective opinions. Instead, you’ve just let them give you objective points to protect the relational equity that exists there with them and build your conversation around.
Let them know they don’t have to wear the new logo shirt, they don’t have to love the name, and they don’t have to even like the color. Just let them know that you’re grateful they are a part of your organization and you’d love for them to continue being a part. Let them know that the goal of this rebrand wasn’t to dismiss their preferences, or to rely on yours. The purpose of the rebrand was to position the brand to connect with more people like them and to be able to give more people the same experience you had.
I’d follow it up with one last question that will accelerate their decision-making process. Close the conversation with, “Can I count on you to be part of what we’re doing here regardless of logo, name, or colors that may change over time?”
You see if they were only there because of the logo, name, or colors before the change; then you know they would eventually leave for something else anyway. We might as well save everyone some time and emotional strain and find out now by asking them to remain a part of our organization regardless.
"Your goal isn’t to change anyone’s opinion, your goal is to change the conversation."share
So remember, you’re going to get negative feedback no matter how well you navigate the rebranding process. The only thing I’d challenge you with is don’t make your rebrand about the visuals and the name alone; it’s about your purpose, the reason you exist, and the opportunity to continue helping more people. If you make a rebrand about visual refreshes or name changes alone; you’ll miss a tremendous opportunity to create meaningful conversations around your brand and the people that are part of it.
How to get buy-in from leadership for a rebrandWatch Podcast