Best practices for rebranding using social media: Changing a company image

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By Alexandra Reid

This is part two of my three-part series on tactical methods companies can use to carry out rebranding across multiple social media accounts. Last week, I discussed common pitfalls companies face during the process of changing their names on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and how to overcome them. Today, I’ll focus on the steps required to change your company’s image across these social media channels, as well as YouTube and blogs.

It should be noted that rebranding is far more than just a change in visual identity and must be regarded as part of an overall strategy. If a brand has lost its relevance, changing its image will not fix its problems. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it won’t hide the fact that it’s still a pig. If this is the case, the company must reevaluate its answers to those core marketing questions about relevance, uniqueness, value, positioning and why people should care.

However, a branding reevaluation can provide a company with the opportunity to reassess its old, perhaps exhausted, image and move forward by reworking the existing image or adopting an entirely new look to reflect its evolution. Even the biggest companies in the world know that an image must change over time and as their brands grow to maintain relevancy in the eyes of their markets.

Just take Pepsi, for example. Since it trademarked as Pepsi-Cola in 1903, the conglomerate has changed its logo 10 times. Though each change wasn’t individually drastic, the final logo doesn’t bear resemblance to the original. Yet people know what Pepsi looks like at first glance thanks to the tremendous efforts of its marketing team, which goes to extensive lengths to ensure its image is updated across all its channels. Check out Pepsi’s homepage and you’ll see a consistent theme faultlessly carried across all of its social accounts and website pages.

Changing a company’s image on social media is more complex than simply uploading a new avatar or profile picture. Your old image can linger on in other forgotten places, such as your YouTube videos linked to through other social media channels, logos that still lurk on old blog posts and news articles that you may have linked to in the past. While you can’t control all of the content floating around on the web, you must take great care to ensure you update your social media sites where a great portion of your audience likely resides. You must also prepare your audience for the change well in advance, especially if your new company image doesn’t resemble the one with which your audience has become familiar.

It ain’t rocket science

Updating images on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube is quite obvious. On each channel, you can simply upload a new profile image through “Settings” (for Twitter), “Edit” (on LinkedIn company profiles), “Account” (on YouTube) or by clicking on the image (on Facebook company pages). Your blog, depending on if you have a custom design, may present you with some challenges. You may have to contact the business or individual that does your blog design to have it updated. If you have a general WordPress account, you can update your image by following the steps here. Updating account images ain’t rocket science, but you do need a keen eye to spot all of those not-so-obvious places where old content can hide.

A simple checklist

Facebook

  • Profile picture
  • Photo and video tabs that may include old content
  • Wall links to old articles (blog post, press releases or news coverage)
  • Discussions that may involve links to old content
  • Links tab that may include old content

Twitter

  • Profile picture
  • Retweets and other shares of old content that may still be viewable from your stream
  • Profile page backgrounds that may include old images
  • Other accounts affiliated with the main page, such as help, support, reseller or various language accounts
  • Other accounts that are indirectly affiliated with the company’s accounts, such as advocates, employees and other supporters. While you cannot change these accounts personally, you can encourage their owners.

LinkedIn

  • Company profile picture
  • Careers and products and services tabs, which could include old images, videos and content
  • Twitter link, which may display old content. This generally only displays five tweets at a time. Depending on your thoroughness, you may wish to simply push these out of view by sending out new tweets, or delete tweets that refer to your old image entirely from your Twitter account.
  • Recent blog posts link, which may display old content. Like Twitter link, whether you push these out of view by publishing new content or delete them entirely is up to you.
  • Your LinkedIn Group’s image must be updated. This is also a good place to explain the new image to your audience.
  • LinkedIn Today is another area where old content may surface. These articles link directly to the sites that published them and so their owners can be contacted if necessary.
  • The profile pictures of your employees may contain parts of your old company image and may therefore need to be updated.
  • The company profiles of your affiliated companies, such as resellers, may also need to be updated.

YouTube

  • Profile picture
  • Videos that include old images
  • Shares of old content (you don’t have control over this, but depending on your thoroughness, you could contact the sharers and ask them to remove the videos)

Blog

  • All old images on the blog, including those that could be hiding within various tabs and posts
  • Blog content that could link to content on other channels that includes old images
  • Images associated with authors. Sometimes bloggers create an “admin” account that represents the company and assign the company image to the account.

As with company name changes, your audience must be informed of your new company image well in advance. This can be done by sending out multiple status updates and tweets on each of your accounts that tell your audience when they can expect the change. If your company image change coincides with a name change and involves you switching over to new accounts, you must also inform your audience. I suggest you read my previous post that discusses company name changes on social media for more information.

With all of the suggestions above, your level of commitment to your company rebranding will decide how thoroughly you purge each account for old content. I’ve listed all areas I can think of where old images could reside, but the difficulty in retrieving and eliminating all of this content depends on how long and active your company has been on these accounts.

Did you find this post helpful? Did I miss any key places where old content could hide?

Image: LogoDesignLove

/// COMMENTS

4 Comments »
  • Cory Carlick

    August 10, 2011 10:28 am

    You couldn’t be more right about this one. As a print design/broadcast design agency, we’re often called upon for extensive rebranding. Most clients know what they would like to do to a degree, but oftentimes the extent of the planning is something we tend to assist them with.

    It also depends on the market as well. We’re based in Ottawa and Montreal. I find in Ottawa we generally tend to have to spend a little bit more time working with the client. I also find that in Ottawa there aren’t quite as many companies that really put a major emphasis on the importance of visual branding, although I’m noticing this is changing and I’m seeing more companies here put more into it than, say, seven years ago.

    It’s interesting that after 6 or 7 years of having Skycron’s office in Toronto/Montreal, on returning to Ottawa again to open up here it’s great to see the changes, but there’s still a ways to go. But articles like this are definitely a great step in all of us being able to help our clients go further. After all, at the end of the day, we’re all in this together — client and agency as a team to serve their bottom line.

    Cory Carlick
    Les Productions SKYCRON

  • Alexandra Reid

    August 10, 2011 3:53 pm

    Hi Cory.

    Thank you for weighing in. As a branding specialist, I wonder if you could provide your perspective as to why Ottawa companies require more assistance, and why fewer companies here put an emphasis on visual branding?

  • Cory Carlick

    August 11, 2011 8:39 am

    Hi Alexandra,

    Well, to be sure, I’m definitely seeing a swing around for the better, comparing, for example, 2003 vs 2001, which I definitely wanted to emphasize. I think there are a few reasons for that. But we do have a long way to go.

    The simple answer is that until more recently, visual branding hasn’t been as important to the bottom line in Ottawa as it has in most other major cities. Statistics show us that the public sector has been the #1 consumer of business in Ottawa, which relies on tenders for the majority of its products. Branding has never been a major component of that. Because of this, a lot of companies think this is just the normal way of doing business. Because the Government doesn’t factor branding from its vendors in its transaction decisions the perception is that it is not important. Trouble is that’s not the way the private sector does business and people think that it is. It’s changing now, but that’s a big part of it.

    Now that it is, Ottawa’s having to catch up a bit.

    I think historically speaking, in Ottawa at least, it is quite possible to run a private company largely dependant (or entirely dependant on) on contracts that come from the Federal Government. Many of the largest firms are on standing order lists. I know of a number of companies that over 70% of their business (more in some cases) comes from standing orders. It takes years to get on a standing order list, but once a company gets on a standing order list and becomes the “go to” supplier, it is easy to become dependant on those contracts. After fighting for 5 years or so to get a good placement on a standing order list, I think in some cases companies fight for private contracts a little less aggressively. There’s nothing wrong with this — I mean, I can completely understand it. We’ve done tenders with the Government too, so I can absolutely attest to the financial security factor of it. You know, the “I’ve been busting my keister for my company to do well, and now I’m getting 70% of my revenue from one source, I’m going to relax a little bit.”

    A lot of the firms I speak of won their standing orders before the days when visual branding was more relevent in a major way to the majority of businesses, so you get a little bit of the “We’ve been around for 20 years and we’ve been doing fine. Why should we spend any money on branding?”

    These days, though, the market is more global, and international opportunities are making larger inroads into Ottawa. Many companies know this, and want to tap into it, but aren’t getting in the mindset of how to present their product and company mandate to outside investors, customers and stakeholders. The penny hasn’t dropped yet as far as the importance of a strong visual identity.

    I can think of one newer radio station in Ottawa which has a great product and a great format. However, the visual branding is extremely weak to the point where it stands in stark contrast to other Ottawa radio stations (most of which having very strong visual branding, stronger than Toronto/Montreal branding in most cases! CHEZ 106 is a great example of killer branding).

    We did end up working with this station for a little bit to propose some stronger branding for their target, but although they liked what we did, their position was that they’d already purchased the ad time and graphics anyway and it “seemed to be working OK”.

    I think where we are seeing some major inroads are the Ottawa tech sector, which I’m starting to see some very nice branding. That’s one of the reasons we recently decided to open back up in Ottawa alongside our Montreal office, because there’s an interesting opening now by virtue of a new appreciation and understanding for proper visual identity. Which as a born and bred Gatineau-er myself, I think is just great.

    Put simply, it’s because for so long companies have figured they haven’t needed it (because the #1 customer in the region, the Government, didn’t really care about it when selecting suppliers.) Now that other big revenue sources are coming in worth a sniff, companies are having to play catchup.

    Actually your article has inspired us to start a 3 part series on our own blog about the importance of branding. Kind of an analog to your post about the importance of brand consistency across social networking. Since brand consistency across social networking requires a strong visual identity in the first place to work properly, we figured as a design and branding/broadcast firm ourselves, an article discussing it would be helpful. Not to plug, but here’s the link for anyone interested:

    http://skycron.libsyn.com/why-a-strong-visual-identity-means-a-strong-company-even-if-it-doesn-t

    We’ve posted the article on our Twitter feed as well.

  • Alexandra Reid

    August 16, 2011 1:49 pm

    Cory, I have learned so much from you in our conversations. Thank you.

    I also appreciate your kind words leading into your post on the importance of visual branding. I’m thrilled that I (somehow) inspired your three part series. As you are a visual branding specialist, I’m sure yours will provide much deeper insight, and I look forward to reading them.

    Kind regards,
    Alex.

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