The How & Why of A Blog Rebrand
Back in July of 2014, I was staring at a blog that had gone bland and was in desperate need of a rebrand. The thought of rebranding was very daunting and overwhelming, but I knew the outcome would be worth it, so I dove in. I made mistakes (as you'll read about below), but I figured it out through trial & error. And I'm here to save you from some headache when you go through your own rebrand.
The story goes a little something like this...
I think it's high time I discuss the monster that was the rebranding of my little piece of internet landscape, don't you? I will most likely get wordy, and kind of technical, so I apologize in advance.
First, let's start with the basics. What is a brand? Well, think of brands you recognize, like Target, Starbuck's, Chevron, and on and on. These companies have worked hard to have "brand recognition". You know them most likely by just their logos, and you have an opinion about them based on your experience - whether it's good or bad.
The same holds true for blogs. As a blogger, we work very hard to build a brand, and develop brand recognition from our readers. For nearly four years, I blogged as One Tough Mother, and became recognized by my name, my logo, and the style of my blog. My readers knew me, trusted me, and liked what they saw on One Tough Mother.
So why rebrand?
Well, I grew and changed, and after taking six months off from blogging, I realized that not only was I a different person, but my blog space was different, too. I'm in a different phase of my life, and One Tough Mother no longer reflected me. And really, that is what a blog should do, right - reflect it's author?
Rebranding from One Tough Mother to Sweet Tea & Saving Grace felt like coming home, back to my roots, back to my original starting point. It was a sense of completion, but also a new beginning. When I originally started blogging, I wrote about my family and the things we did together. I shared insights into my faith, my struggles, and my joys. I got away from that and became the blog that most of my readers recognized, the one that reflected my tagline - "Organize, Decorate and Craft a Good Life". There wasn't anything wrong with that, but it wasn't true to myself and my life.
To be perfectly honest, it was more stress than it was worth and that's why I stepped away for a time. I needed to regroup and reassess and figure out what it was I really wanted to write about and share.
When I got to a point in my life where I felt ready to begin again, initially I decided to start over completely - a new domain name, a different platform, a new logo and tagline, and all new content. After a couple of weeks, I decided I wanted to just rebrand One Tough Mother and combine my old content with my new content. After all, just six months ago I paid big bucks to buy the hosting and theme and transfer from Blogger to Wordpress, so why waste it, right?
How did I rebrand?
This wasn't as simple as I imagined, but through some trial and error, I figured it all out.
If you're considering a rebrand, this is what I recommend. First, go through every menu item on your Wordpress dashboard and make lengthy notes about what would need to change. Start with theme settings and work your way down to all the general settings. Here are some of the things that I had to change in my blog rebranding to make it work properly:
Genesis Theme Settings --> Header and Footer: change Google Analytics tracking code
I use Genesis, and under "theme settings", all the way down, there is a section for "Header and Footer scripts". Google Analytics codes go here, and with a new domain comes a new Google Analytics tracker code. See where those X's are? That's where the new code needs to go. (This is assuming you have already set up Google Analytics for your new URL. If not, you will need to do that first.)
Appearance --> Customize: Change site name & tagline
My site name and tagline used to read "One Tough Mother - Organize, Decorate & Craft A Good Life". I had to change it to "Sweet Tea & Saving Grace - A Refreshing Take on Real Life".
Appearance --> Widgets
Obviously, this will vary based on the widgets you have on your blog, but for me, I had to change a few things to rebrand.
--> Simple Social Icons: update links
I knew I would be changing at least my Facebook URL, so I noted that I would need to update the links in my simple social icons in order to maintain and generate new followers on each platform.
--> User Profile: update "About"
With a blog rebrand comes a new "about" section. Your brief intro goes in your user profile, so make note to update that information as part of your rebrand to introduce new readers to the site.
--> Other Widgets:
Newsletter signup: I have a link on my sidebar to allow readers to sign up for my MailChimp newsletter, which also got a makeover. I changed the information to coordinate with the rebrand.
Appearance --> Menus
My menu names were formatted to coordinate with my previous tagline. Since those categories of posts would remain, the menu items would remain as well. However, I wanted to add a few new categories to my menu to include new posts, and recategorize some of the old ones. I simply made note of the current menus and decided to tweak them later.
Settings --> General: Update URL, name and tagline
***IMPORTANT***Don't make the same mistake I did. DO NOT change the URL of your WP site until you have updated it on your hosting site, whether that's GoDaddy, HostGator or whomever. When all else fails, contact your hosting company and ask them to help you with domain forwarding. It's kind of confusing. I was locked out of my site for a couple hours until GoDaddy could get in and fix my mess.
Once you change the URL in General Settings, Wordpress makes that your blog's URL, which is good, but if you don't have your hosting set up to accomodate this change, you can't access your blog. You can't log in to the admin area to fix it either. It's a big ol' mess, so just be careful when you get to this part.
I had a custom URL for One Tough Mother, and I had another custom URL for Sweet Tea. To successfully redirect them, here's what you do. First log in to your host's site and navigate to your domain manager.
Start with your OLD URL, and click "Launch" to be taken to the domain details. This is the domain you are moving away from. Start there.
You will see a section that says "Forwarding" and a link to click to "Manage".
You will forward to your NEW URL. Be sure to do "Forward Only" - no masking. Then save.
Now, when you change the URL in the General Settings in your Wordpress site, it should update and you shouldn't have any issues accessing your site. (Sidenote: Your WP login will now be your NEW URL/wp-admin)
Settings --> Google Analytics: Change your tracking code
Remember when you changed the Google Analytics tracking code in your Header/Footer scripts? There's one other place to update that information. In the Google Analytics settings, click on "Re-authenticate with Google". This will refresh the options in the Profile drop-down menu, and from here you will select your new tracking code, then save. (As I mentioned before, this is assuming you have already set up Google Analytics for your new URL. If not, you will need to do that first.)
Outside of the Wordpress technical items, other things to consider when rebranding are:
--> New color scheme: One Tough Mother was primarily red and blue, and I envisioned Sweet Tea with more spunk, so I changed my color scheme to pink and blue, with a splash of yellow.
--> Watermark: All images going forward have the new URL watermarked on the bottom. No need to change the thousands of images uploaded to One Tough Mother. I still own that domain and it forwards to Sweet Tea & Saving Grace.
--> Social Media sites: I changed the URL on my Facebook page and sent an email to the "powers-that-be" requesting a name change. After a 14-day waiting period, the name change will be complete, which means I won't lose any followers! I then changed the name on my other accounts (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) and it was as simple as updating my account profile in each social media account. (Be sure to change the links in your social media buttons on your blog if you change the names of your accounts.)
--> Newsletter: If you have a newsletter, be sure all the links have been updated, images have been changed, and your sender's name has been changed to all reflect the new blog. Make your first newsletter all about your new look and get your readers excited!
I'm sure there are hundreds of other pieces of advice I could offer, but each rebrand will be different for each blogger, so you'll have to determine what works best for you. I hope this helps if you do decide to go through with a rebrand.
Any advice or feedback regarding a blog rebrand?
**This post was originally published on my blog, Sweet Tea & Saving Grace, on July 11, 2014.**