How to Rebrand your Website and Online Presence

Apr 23, 2024 | Website Design & Development

Introduction

Mature companies often face the challenge of rebranding their business, resulting from an acquisition, merger, joint venture or change in focus or direction.

In this article, we discuss what changes need to be made to the website and your online presence when implementing a rebranding program.

If the rebranding is just a new logo, then you can upload the new logo to the website, and you are done. But it is rarely that simple because your brand is not just about your logo, your tagline or what you sell. Your brand is about what you promise to deliver and how you choose to express that promise!

A Brand Promise, according to Adam P. Anderson, author of Brand Simple: “A brand is something that lives in your head.” Anderson expands on this by explaining how a brand must express what makes you unique and why it’s better. And, how the brand messaging must align with how you make money.

Once you have a solid foundation for your brand promise and can clearly articulate a unique selling proposition that resonates with your ideal customer, then you can move on to branding. Branding is the process of how you get people to think about your brand and relate to your brand as the obvious choice to purchase your product or service. Yes, branding is a mind game, because you are trying to control what people think about your brand so you can influence their buying behavior.

The effect of the brand promise can be felt or experienced in many ways depending on how many touch points you have and how you want the brand message and branding experience to be felt by the prospect.

Here is a list of common touch points where every business promotes or facilitates the brand promise through branding.

  • Business cards
  • Email signatures and addresses
  • Interior/exterior signs and posters
  • Letterhead, envelopes, labels, folders, cover sheets
  • Telephone greetings and messages
  • 30 Second elevator pitch
  • Printed Material (brochures, case studies, white papers, PowerPoint presentations, etc.)
  • Promotional items (pens, notepads, etc.)
  • Advertising (TV, radio, post cards, Banner Ads, Google Ads, etc.)
  • Branded Templates (PowerPoint, WORD, Newsletters, Emails, Patient Forms, Invoices, etc.)
  • Word templates for all print materials
  • Social media channels
  • And of course, the website

The website is most likely to be the first time a prospect will encounter your brand and therefore, becomes the focal point of any rebranding effort.

Besides the website, other online platforms like social media and the ecosystem of online directories need to be updated to reflect the new brand. The following highlights the process for rebranding a website and your online presence.

Website Rebranding

There are four phases to rebranding a website:

  1. Pre-launch
  2. Execute Changes
  3. Launch
  4. Post-launch

Website Pre-launch Rebranding

  • Clearly articulate the updated / new brand messaging and unique selling proposition to be incorporated into the website.
  • Update your logo, if applicable.
  • Decide on how you want the company name to be presented throughout the website to assure consistency with on-page website copy, used in directory citations and social media sites.

For example: The Footer copyright and Contact Us page naming convention will probably include the legal entity extension (LLC, Inc., etc), whereas the on-page copy will drop the extensions. Sometimes, rebranding does not involve a name change, but a repositioning of the strategy which simplifies the process. If your company is using a doing business as (dba), that may affect the naming strategy.

  • Purchase a new domain name to support the rebranding, if applicable.
    • If the rebranding incorporates elements of the old brand, then it may not be necessary to change the domain name.
    • If the new brand name is considerably longer than the old one (a common problem with a merger or joint venture), then it still may make sense to retain the old domain name.
    • If a merger, acquisition, or joint venture is the catalyst for the rebranding, there will probably be at least two domain names to consider:
      • Retain one of the domain names and retire one of them, or
      • Retire both domain names and replace with a new one
    • Whichever option is used, the domain name(s) that are retired must be kept and redirected to point to the new domain so as not to lose any equity the retired domain earned over the years with the search engines.
  • Incorporate the new brand messaging for the Homepage and Services pages.
  • Review Title Tags and Meta Description copy for each page to see if any edits are required. If yes, build a spreadsheet listing the current metadata in the left column and the updated metadata in an adjacent right column so you can easily copy and paste the edits.
  • Review Alt Tags associated with photos and images to see if any reference your brand and need updating.
  • If the new logo introduces a color pallet change, then evaluate the impact of the new color pallet on the website graphic design to determine if the website page graphics need updating.
  • Determine what pages and or products / service will be removed from the website because of the rebranding.
  • Determine what pages and or products / services will be added to the website to support the rebranding.
  • Rewrite or update the on-page copy of any pages to be kept to reflect the new company name and product / service descriptions affected by the rebranding.
  • If the website has Schema code, then evaluate if the rebranding effort will affect the structured data.
  • Determine if there are any links embedded in the on-page copy (anchor text) that are affected by the pages to be added or deleted.
  • If pages are added or deleted, then a new Sitemap is required.
  • Evaluate the photos on the site to determine if they are compatible with the new brand messaging.

Execute Website Rebranding on Staging Site

  • Make a backup of the live site.
  • Perform website maintenance to make sure the site is up to date before editing begins.
  • Perform a load-time test of the live site.
  • Create a staging environment for the website on the host server.
  • Purchase the new domain name, if applicable.
  • Edit permalinks of page URLs to reflect the new domain name (both pages and images).
  • Upload the new logo, if applicable.
  • Update brand messaging.
  • Edit any copy that references the company’s name.
  • Update Title Tags and Meta Description on each page, as needed.
  • Update color pallet (fonts, buttons, background, etc.), if applicable.
  • Update existing products / services copy, as needed.
  • Un-publish and delete any product / services pages, not needed.
  • Add products / services, as needed.
  • Update Schema code, as needed.
  • Update anchor text links, as needed.
  • Update Sitemap and XML Sitemap.
  • Run a site crawl prior to migration to make sure no file re-names were missed.
  • Present staging site to the client for review and Launch Approval.
  • Create a backup of the staging website.

Launch Rebranded Website

  • Migrate the staging site to the production server.

Post Launch

  • Execute 301 Redirect of the URL of:
    • Any pages removed and replaced with new pages.
    • Any pages permanently removed.
    • Any pages with a modified URL.
    • Test all redirects. Note and fix any errors.
  • Manually check all anchor text redirects.
  • Check robots.txt. If it references the old domain URL, fix the file.
  • Perform a site speed test to determine if the rebranding has introduced any issues.
  • Using Google Search Console (GSC) notify Google of domain name changes.
  • Verify Google has indexed any new pages added.
  • Submit a new Sitemap to Google.
  • Make sure that new pages added render properly in Mobile mode.
  • Monitor Google Analytics and Google Search Console for errors. Note crawl frequency. Make sure the number of files indexed eventually evens out and there are no 4xx or 5xx errors.
  • Perform mixed mode testing of URLs to make sure all variations (http, https, www, etc.) of the new URLs are redirecting to the primary domain.
  • Perform browser testing.
  • Perform Mobile Responsive testing.

Website Rebranding and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Considerations

A website rebranding effort may adversely affect a website domain authority (DA) and ranking with the search engine.

Website Visibility & Traffic

A domain name change may cause the loss of some visibility and website traffic during the migration for 2 to 4 months after the migration. It will take Google that long to re-index every page on the rebranded website and every page that currently links to or mentions your website.

Online Presence

Online presence relates to any social media platform or directory on the Internet where your brand is mentioned or listed.

Any rebranding effort needs to incorporate a plan to update the citations where your company is listed including:

  • Google Business Profile
  • Bing Business Profile
  • Social Media Channels
    • Facebook
    • YouTube
    • Instagram
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • Snapchat
    • etc.
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Business Associations
  • Professional Networking Organizations
  • Subscribed to Directories
  • Government Agencies

Conclusion

Any rebranding initiative can impact and compromise your company’s online persona.

A rebranding effort needs to incorporate updates to your website, your social media channels and the online ecosystem of directories and business profiles.

About the Author

Cary Baskin is the owner and Founder of The Marketing Department, a digital marketing agency, in Malvern, PA.

As managing director, he has led the design, development, branding and content strategy of hundreds of website.

Cary is a member of the SCORE Chapter’s Speakers Bureau in Chester & Delaware County. He has lectured many times over the years on website development, Internet marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and branding.

The Marketing Department helps clients build their brand, target their ideal customers, and generate leads through their website and internet marketing.

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