Ben Leftwich | August 23, 2016

Brand Launch Checklist

Whether you’re launching a new brand, or rebranding an existing company, you want to make sure to have a comprehensive list of everything you need to do.

Let’s assume you’ve gone through a rigorous brand development process complete with a comprehensive set guidelines; you’re fully aware of the upcoming challenge of rolling out your new brand into the real world.

You’ve picked a go-live date when the new brand will roll out. If your enterprise is on the smaller side, it’s possible to do the whole switch in a day, assuming everyone is organised. If you’re managing a larger brand – say even for a multi-national – operational issues and sheer number of touchpoints mean that the roll-out will obviously take much more time.

What you need is a Brand Launch Checklist. We’ve broken the list down into two sections, offline and online, since they both require their own set of considerations. In the online section we’ve assumed you’re launching an entirely new website (migrating domains have their own considerations which deserve a dedicated post in the future).

We use this list for our own brand launches because no matter how many times you go through one it always helps make sure everything is complete.

Offline (aka the real world)

  • Conduct an audit of all your current brand touchpoints. Before you start producing any final artwork, be sure to have a complete understanding of everything you need to change.
  • Track down specs for all your required artwork. Sometimes running this information down will simply require contacting old suppliers who produced the items for the old brand, other times you will actually have to get out there with a measuring tape and get the specs yourself.
  • Figure out lead times to produce artwork. Talk to current or potential suppliers to determine how much lead time they need to physically produce and, if necessary, install the artwork. Some pieces can take months depending on their complexity.
  • Get a variety of quotes for production elements (optional). If you have time, getting multiple quotes might be helpful to ensure you get the best balance of price and quality, although this step isn’t necessary if you already have trusted suppliers.
  • Identify who will produce which piece of artwork. If you’re working with an external agency this step is especially important as they will only produce what you tell them to. Make sure to make it clear who within your team or outside of your company will be producing each piece.
  • Establish clear deadlines for each piece and prioritise. Make sure everyone producing artwork knows these deadlines and what’s expected by that date (e.g. first draft, second revision, final version). Items with longer production lead times obviously should be prioritised before other pieces.
  • Have a clear review, feedback, and approval process. With potentially hundreds or thousands of pieces of artwork flying around, you must have a consistent process to follow to make sure each piece is reviewed, constructive feedback is provided, and revisions are submitted for final approval.
  • Ask for print samples of key pieces. Each printer has their own quirks and what you think is the right brand colour may look different when they actually print the piece. Make sure to ask for samples before they do a full run and correct any issues that come up.
  • Send final artwork to producers. Make sure each supplier knows their deadlines for production and review each of the final pieces as they come back from them. Make sure your team is aware of the location of these new pieces of artwork and the date of the switch to the new brand pieces.
  • Organise switch day/week/month. Ensure each member of your team is aware of what needs to be switched out and when assigning them the responsibility of key areas. If they have any issues, have them take pictures as it’s easier to figure out what went wrong with photos as a record versus simply a report.
  • Clean up any stragglers from the launch. Despite all your best efforts, there will likely be a few pieces that slipped through the cracks and didn’t get updated. Take a week or two to figure these out and then get these updated as well.

Online (aka the world wide web)

  • Make sure you have Google Analytics installed. You don’t have to use GA, but we always recommend some kind of basic web analytics package to track visitors to your site.
  • Write relevant metadata for each page on the site. You can forget meta keywords, Google doesn’t care about those anymore, but page title and meta descriptions are essential to help tell searcher what your site is about.
  • Setup a Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools account. These are both essential after the site goes live to tell each search engine to index your new site and content.
  • Make sure you have a robots.txt and sitemap.xml files installed on your site. Again, these are for search engines, helping them to figure out what to crawl and what to ignore on your new site.
  • Create a favicon for the new site. A little cosmetic thing, but one that makes your new site look professional and feel together.
  • Launch the site. There are a number of items you’ll want to check immediately upon launch when the site is fully crawlable by search engines.
  • Make sure all site forms are working.If you have any forms on your website, now is the time to test them and make sure they are working as they should. Similarly, if you have an eCommerce site, make sure that orders can actually be placed and received.
  • Run Screaming Frog SEO to identify any issues. Screaming Frog can identify a number of issues with the site, from it not being accessible, to 404 errors, to missing metadata. Resolve any issues that the spider identifies on your site.
  • Claim and validate your site with Bing Webmaster Tools. There’re a few ways to validate that you own the site, but installing an XML file in the root directory of the site is quick and easy in our experience.
  • Submit the site to Google and Bing for indexing. Make sure you claim your site in both consoles, including all variations (e.g. www and non-www). Submit your sitemap.xml file for each of them to crawl.
  • Secure your social media accounts and link back to your site. Make sure to claim your social media account on at least Facebook and link it back to your main site. Include your brandmark and a cover photo at a minimum on Facebook for your company profile page.

Now it’s time to take a breath. You made it through the bare minimum needed to launch a new brand and a website.

Of course, the above assumes a fairly straightforward brand launch and new website. A larger launch and more complex website will involve considerably more prep, organisation, review, and testing before launching.

A brand launch is certainly involved, but it’s not rocket science. All it takes is a good team, a honed process, and commitment from all involved to make sure it comes off seamlessly.

Ben Leftwich

Account Director