How to rebrand your startup

Earlier this year, Honest Mobile launched its rebrand. That quarter, brand search volumes increased by 67% compared to the previous. And, as we know, brand is a long-term game: this is just the beginning.

Honest Mobile

Thinking of doing your own rebrand and want a peek behind the curtain? Read on.

Do your research

When it comes to rebranding, it’s easy to get over-excited and start talking about sailing a boat down the Thames or collaborating with the viral influencer of the moment. But as tempting as it might be to skip to the creative execution part, doing so is like attempting a marathon in fancy trainers before mastering a 5k. Painful, expensive and likely to end in failure.

Every good strategy starts with its research; a rebrand is no different. After all, your startup isn’t what you say it is. It’s what everyone else says it is when you’re not in the room.

Immerse yourself in everything related to your business – the market, your customers, your team, your competitors – to understand who you are, and who you want to be.

How is your brand currently seen? What are people saying about you? What are they not saying?

At Honest, we interviewed our team, spoke to hundreds of customers, and dug deep into market data. In doing so, we uncovered shiny gems of insight we would have never found on our own.

Three key themes emerged:

  • Honest is shaking up an outdated industry
  • We do the right thing, even when nobody's looking
  • We genuinely care about people and the planet

Armed with those insights, we were ready to craft our brand story.

Define your brand story

When I say brand story, I’m not talking War & Peace. Just like any good strategy, a brand story should be simple and straightforward. It shouldn’t be a 40-slide deck bursting with jargon that leaves employees vacantly nodding as their eyes glaze over.

The good news is, once you’ve done your research, you’ll have plenty of juicy insights to feed your brand story.

Why does your business exist? Who for? How will it make life better for customers? Why should they believe you? How are you better than the competition?

These might feel like simple questions, but your answers could be the difference between a successful brand that everyone loves – and one that doesn’t exist a year from now. Take your time getting them right.

Confined to a single page, Honest’s brand story features our purpose in the world, what we believe, why we’re different and how that manifests in our behaviour (including tone of voice). We’re not just building another mobile network; we’re setting a bold new standard. For us, settling for less isn't an option – it's about doing what's right.

Take time getting your brand story right and – crucially – get buy-in. Even the best rebrand is doomed to failure if your stakeholders aren’t bought into it.

Create your identity

Once your brand strategy is in place, then – and only then – you can get to work on your creative identity. At Honest, we did this in collaboration with design agency Otherway.

How you visually present yourself to the world tells your story just as much as your words and actions do. Whether we like it or not, people really do judge a book by its cover.

In an industry full of cheesy corporate photography, ancient technology, and complicated contracts, we knew Honest needed a look celebrating what makes it different.

We’re greener, cleaner and not afraid to call out the big networks for their nonsense. Our new tagline, ‘Mobile done right’, reflects that. Simple and to the point.

For our colour palette, we chose vibrant Honest Lime as our hero shade, supported by dark, earthy green Kelp. Taking inspiration from nature while helping us to stand out and feel fresh, both online and off.

Just like our commitment to always keep things straight forward, our typeface Brut Grotesk is quietly confident, easy to read, and down to earth. Our wordmark and icon compound this as a stamp of integrity.

Lastly, to add a dash of playfulness to our look, we worked with illustrator Glory Art to create a series of illustrations exemplifying our key benefits. We may be serious about building the best mobile network on the planet, but we know how to have fun, too.

Bring your brand to life – constantly

We launched our new brand identity – complete with a new website and app built from scratch – across channels. From print ads in Metro newspaper and fresh packaging, to social ads, emails and even our office walls, every touchpoint was a chance to showcase our new chapter.

And, as that brand search volume stat suggests, it worked. We caught the eye of more people who wanted to know what we were about.

But here’s the clincher: our rebrand isn’t ticked off the to-do list. It never will be.

Your startup’s brand is a living, breathing entity that evolves alongside your business.

Everything we do, from splashy marketing campaigns to app microcopy, customer support to hiring new talent, exemplifies our brand.

Rather than the end of Honest as our customers knew it, our rebrand marks the next evolution of who we are and what we stand for as we strive to constantly improve.

Honest started out as an inkling of an idea between two school friends fed up with the big mobile networks taking advantage. Today, it’s the challenger mobile network flipping the script on what mobile can should be. Our new brand reflects that. What will yours say?