Written by Erin Kirchhoff

It’s an inevitability in the career of a brand manager: you’ll spend hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to develop, design and create materials for your event, only to rebrand the very next season. So what do you do when the event name, logo and/or tagline changes? Here’s a checklist to help you simplify the process.

Take inventory of what you have. It’s important to have a manifest of all the materials that currently exist with the now-outdated logo; be sure to include both digital and printed materials. This will give you an idea of what will need to be redone and help you create a rebrand budget.

Gauge your client/organization’s tolerance for mismatched logos. Once you know what exists with the old logo, talk with your client or key stakeholders. Share what it will cost to replace each group of items, so that they can see the big picture. Then, determine what percentage of old logos they’re willing to see next season (if any). Reusing existing materials is often tolerable when the brand change is minor. But if the change is major, anticipate the need to swap out everything.

Make a plan for everything that needs to be reprinted and redone. For digital materials (your website, branded emails, PDFs, etc.), make a transition plan that works for both your team and the organization. Sometimes it makes the most sense to update as you go. For example, you would only update materials when they require other design edits. But this means living with mismatched logos until everything has been touched. Other times, a massive overhaul is needed all at once.

For printed items, talk with your vendors far enough in advance of when you need the finished product. Often times, they are willing to extend price breaks if they know you need to reprint the whole kit and caboodle. It’s also especially important to know what the vendors’ production timelines look like, so that you can avoid rush fees. Nothing can drain a budget more quickly (or unnecessarily) than printing at the last minute!

Make raving fans out of your staff. Your team will be the ultimate ambassadors for the new brand, so make sure they know about the transition ahead of time. And get them excited about the changes! It will be important to provide them with clear talking points for how to discuss the new brand with participants and constituents. While a style guide is a comprehensive way to distribute rules about the new brand and logo, sometimes a simple Q&A is all that’s needed.

Give clear instructions to your on-event implementation team. It might be obvious to you what needs to be on the truck to your event and what can stay behind or be disposed of, but it might not be as clear to the rest of your team. So be very detailed about what items will be reused, what items are brand new and need to be on event, and what can be discarded or recycled. Also, make sure the implementation team knows exactly how to set up any big, new elements and allow for a couple days’ instruction and practice, if possible.

Roll it out. Once your internal team is prepped and ready, it’s time to unveil the new brand/logo to the public. Sometimes the rebrand will happen well in advance of your event, so the launch plans might involve an email announcement and website banners. Other times, the rebrand will be revealed on the event, in which case some carefully planned remarks from the client during an opening ceremony or at the finish line would be most appropriate.

Help your participants get excited! They are the ones who will help you carry forward the new brand. This step should be pretty easy, as long as you’ve already made raving fans out of your staff. And if you’ve budgeted for it, a freebie with your new logo can go a long way in building and maintaining your participants’ excitement. In fact, a small investment per participant ($2-$3) could be the best and most cost-effective advertising!

Just remember: a rebrand can be an exciting and fresh change for everyone involved, and can be an opportunity to build new interest in your event. Be sure to plan properly and allow enough time for the transition, so it’s as organized and easy as possible for the client, your staff, and your participants. And stay flexible; not everyone is as close to the process as you are and will need time to adjust – it is change, after all!

Erin Kirchhoff is a Senior Communications Manager at Event 360, focused on the brand management, event look & feel, and participant experience for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® project. She has extensive experience with brand management and communications, having worked in both marketing and corporate communications for a FORTUNE 500® company prior to joining the Event 360 team 11 years ago. You can also view her LinkedIn profile.

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