One of the most effective ways to roll out a rebrand of your financial institution is to introduce it along with the launch of a website redesign. Serving as the virtual branch for your end-users and the online hub for your institution’s marketing efforts, your website represents the “always-on” face of your bank or credit union.
While your new brand will eventually roll out to all your institution’s traditional and digital marketing channels, the website gives financial marketers an opportunity to unveil a rebrand to a widespread audience. The digital nature of a website also provides a forgiving format for moving from brand standards in theory to an actual practical application.
It makes a lot of sense to debut a new brand on your institution’s website to preserve marketing continuity. Because both offline and online marketing tactics drive traffic to your financial site, you want to provide a seamless brand experience. Imagine how jarring it would be for your end users if your institution were to launch a rebrand via an email or direct mail campaign, yet not have that same experience carry over to the website. Just as the logo at the branch should match the logo on a statement stuffer, most certainly it should be the brand mark found on the website.
Creating Efficiencies During a Rebrand
In addition to providing a cohesive sales funnel, there are efficiencies to be gained from launching a rebrand at the same time as a website launch. The website offers a flexible proving ground for the new brand, where you can get buy-in from internal stakeholders, as well as garner feedback from consumers during usability testing. The iterative process of a website redesign allows the institution to consider how the new brand will translate in a real sense with the comfort of knowing you don’t have to go live until everyone is completely satisfied with the execution.
Further, upon activating the new brand online, you can revise the web content relatively easily without spending a fortune. Conversely, making changes to new signage at your offices or tweaking hundreds of print pieces can prove to be costlier and more time consuming than making rather routine website enhancements.
Very few financial institutions venture on a rebrand initiative or site redesign completely on their own. These can be massive undertakings and most institutions look outside for assistance. Ideally an institution would engage two types of specialists.
One is a branding agency experienced with financial institutions. This brings marketing experts, graphic designers and brand strategists to your rebranding effort. They apply an equal balance of art and science to capture your institution’s brand essence and translate that into the workable pieces of your new brand. Working with your internal team, a branding agency will perform the necessary research, apply a sound brand strategy, create distinct brand elements and establish instructional brand guidelines to successfully establish your new brand.
The second specialist to consider engaging is a digital agency with expertise in strategizing and designing sites for financial institutions. The right digital agency will have experience in activating brand standards prescribed by a branding agency. Digital designers and web content writers will interpret the new brand guidelines to activate your new brand on the site redesign.
Collaboration among branding and digital agencies works best when everyone is communicating together. The branding agency establishes the brand standards, while the digital agency will have questions and suggestions for its activation online.
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11 Detailed Steps For Introducing a Website Rebrand
The following points explore some key considerations to successfully activate an institution’s new brand with a site redesign. Banks and credit unions can use this information in working with outside brand and website design partners.
Broadly, the key “ingredients” for a launching a successful rebrand on your website include the following:
- Color palette
- Graphic elements
- Brand guidelines
- Brand examples
1. Consider how the new brand will translate to a digital space — from both a marketing perspective and a technical standpoint. Most brand guidelines are developed with an emphasis on traditional marketing, whereas the digital space requires its own set of rules for execution.
2. Determine what pieces of the rebrand are most important and non-negotiable, so proper decisions can be made in adapting these elements on the site. These rules of the brand can cover which version of the logo to use, where to place the tagline, brand elements that must be incorporated into the design, typestyles for headline, the tone for copy, how to construct a promotion, and more specific mandates.
3. Be sure all new brand elements have been approved prior to starting the design strategy, to minimize unnecessary rework. The elements should be finalized and final files for all of them readily available.
4. Obtain the necessary web fonts. You can purchase the web version of the brand font or use Google fonts or another free-font alternative. Google fonts offers a large catalog of distinctive open-source fonts that are free for all to use.
5. Be sure all your colors are ADA compliant. Before applying the new color palette for use on your redesigned website in keeping with the overall brand, analyze all colors in your primary and secondary palette to ensure each has the appropriate contrast ratio to conform to current ADA website standards.
6. Concept the website to align to the new brand, creatively leveraging the new logo, fonts, color palette, photo style, and graphic elements within an overall design strategy. This stage is when digital strategists and digital designers apply the new brand standards to an interactive medium, following best practices for web design, while adhering to the brand guidelines.
7. Apply a fresh content strategy to ensure that the website redesign successfully extends the brand essence. For example, if the new brand focuses on being a solutions provider, make sure the site includes ample financial literacy resources, helpful tools, customized offerings, etc. The website should be a manifestation of the new brand with each element delivering on the brand promise. This content strategy should extend beyond the website to include all content marketing tactics.
8. Ensure your brand personality is carried throughout the site, from the tagline featured on the homepage to the product detail page copy.
9. Incorporate organic-search-friendly keywords in your web copy. Write with clear and concise copy in a natural-sounding manner. Your copywriting team needs to stay within the brand’s tone of voice, while also describing the features and benefits of your financial institution that’s both engaging to your visitors and consistent with your search engine ranking goals.
10. Decide how much prominence the new brand should have on the homepage. For example, should you feature the new brand positioning or promote a product on the main homepage banner? Your homepage is the most viewed and clicked on page of financial institution sites, so determining how much emphasis there should be on the new brand is important.
11. Prepare a digital style guide. While the branding agency’s brand guidelines will generally provide an overview of the new brand and high-level usage, your digital agency can provide a digital style guide that will go into more detail about how to apply the brand on the website. The digital style guide offers additional information that the brand guideline does not, covering such things as: logo elements; color detail; web font alternatives; size, placement and sourcing of images; “buttons” and other elements that make up the “visual language” of the website. The style guide should also provide a breakdown of each design template (e.g. category, detail) with notations for the page objective of each web layout and the purpose of each area on the page.
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Rebrand Launch Choices You Need to Consider
Marketers at banks and credit unions have several additional issues to consider in a rebrand. One is to decide whether you will be communicating the rebrand to your customers or members prior to the brand or website launch. Do you want to make a big splash on the day of the website launch or ease your end users into the change by teasing the change? Either way, supporting marketing tactics, communication materials and service representatives must be prepared in advance.
A second consideration is planning how you will introduce the new brand as part of the website launch. Will you implement a site tour, or use a “splash page” (a that displays prior to displaying the home page), FAQs, homepage promo, or a landing page to explain the new brand and website features and benefits? A well-coordinated launch plan will ease consumer concerns and lessen call center volume by offering touchpoints to learn about all the benefits of the new brand and website.
The right preparation, partners and plan adds up to a recipe for success for introducing a rebrand combined with a site redesign.