Shortlist

The 3-Week Launch: Website Rebranding With a Small Remote Team

The website is the window to a business’s soul.

Do you agree? 

Because if you do… and you’re looking for ideas on how to launch your own branded website, then you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’ll be sharing the steps for how to launch a rebranded website; and we’ll use our own website rebranding as a practical example.

Shortlist.io 1.0: A Quick History

It was on September 13, 2019, when our CEO, Dave Schneider, wrote his brand vision for Shortlist.io.

After successfully building and selling several SaaS and other businesses, Dave felt the practical marketing and business growth skills he’d learned from his successful ventures could be put to good use by helping other entrepreneurs.

And so, after successfully assembling the team of people that he’d developed good working relationships with through the years, Dave launched what is now Shortlist.io – his new digital marketing agency.

Project: Company Website Rebranding

The first launch was fast, and had all the essential parts needed for an agency:

  • A business website (with all the necessary CTAs)
  • A client onboarding process
  • An employee onboarding process
  • SOP for managing and completing client tasks

But after a year, the company evolved from selling purely link building services to extend to other services such as guest posting, SEO, and full-on marketing.

The old website and copy no longer reflected this broader service offering. 

So, it was time for a rebrand.

Operation Shortlist 2.0: Website Rebranding

With his new goal set, Dave gathered four people to complete his rebranding vision.

The Rebranding Team:

  • Emi Zdraveski, project manager
  • Hazel Pan, copywriter (me)
  • Monika Rastovac, designer
  • Marina Bubnic, web developer

With the team complete, it was time for us to come together to plot the rebranding journey. 

The whole process is divided into 5 total phases, with all steps arranged chronologically.

Phase I – Project management essentials

The goal of Phase I is to chart the whole rebranding journey.

Branding team members go on a meeting to review the CEO’s branding document, exchange ideas, website pegs, gain clarity on hooks and angles to use, and ultimately agree on branding direction.

Step 1. Exchange ideas and establish guidelines

Step 2. Competitor research

Step 3. Target audience research

Step 4. Ideal website research

Step 5. Plot to-dos and time frames

At the end of this phase, you should already have: 

  • Branding document
  • Branding meeting
  • Mood Board
  • Copywriting research
  • Web development research
  • Official design branding book 
  • To-dos
  • Deadlines

Turnaround time: 3 days

Phase II – Copywriting

The goal of Phase II is obvious. Research, write, and finalize the copywriting for the website pages that we need for the launch.

Step 6. Write copy

Step 7. Basic wireframing

Step 8. Submit draft

Step 9. Review and discuss

Step 10. Update copy based on comments until it’s finalized

At the end of this phase, you should already have:

  • First draft of landing page copy
  • Final version of approved copy

Turnaround time: 5 days

Phase III – Design

Just like Phase II, the purpose of Phase III is obvious. To combine the copy with the design guidelines that we agreed on in Phase I. This one falls in Monika’s capable hands.

Step 11. Restructure wireframe 

Step 12. Create illustrations

Step 13. Submit draft

Step 14. Review and discuss

Step 15. Update design based on comments until it’s finalized

At the end of this phase, you should already have:

  • First draft of landing page design
  • Final version of approved design

Turnaround time: 5 days

Phase IV – Development

This is when Marina works her magic. The goal of Phase IV is to build then ensure that the page drafts are all looking and working as they should. 

Step 16. Render design to live page

Step 17. Submit draft on staging for review

Step 18. Review and discuss

Step 19. Update page based on comments until it’s finalized

Step 20. QA site for publishing

At the end of this phase, you should already have:

  • First draft of landing page published on staging
  • Final version of QA approved page 

Turnaround time: 5 days

Phase V – Launch

The goal of Phase V is to finally unveil the new website and to market it to the target audience. 

Step 21. Launch finalized web pages live

Step 22. Create ads to market the website relaunch

At the end of this phase, you should already have:

  • Finalized QA for the website
  • Finalized website published to live
  • Ads for promoting the new website

Turnaround time: 1 day

Operation Shortlist.io – Website Rebranding Essentials

With the steps laid out, it’s time to reveal what we made!

1. Branding document

This is the document Dave wrote which contains his outline of the brand’s vision, mission, and overall feel. 

It answers important rebranding questions such as:

  1. What message do we aim to send? 
  2. What vibe do we want to radiate?
  3. Who are our target audience? 
  4. What services do we offer?
  5. What makes our service special?
  6. What assets do we need to redo?
  7. What new content and assets will we need to make?

2. Branding Meetings

Meetings usually have a bad rep, but when you’re working with a fully remote team (as we are), then holding regular, productive meetings are your company’s lifeblood.

So, our PM, Emi, set a calendar reminder for the branding team to get on a weekly call.

The goals of these calls were to:

  • Exchange ideas and make sure we’re all on the same page afterward
  • What tasks need to be done
  • Establish who is responsible for what
  • When a task needs to be done
  • Review where we’re at in the process
  • Set next steps after the meeting

3. Mood Board

After researching on our own, the team exchanged visual “pegs” for inspiration, and guided by Dave’s branding document.

This included screenshots of, or links to other websites that embodied the kind of style, visuals, structure, or copywriting approach that we wanted to go with.

Again, after establishing consensus on our branding meeting, we ended up with a mood board we were all satisfied with.

4. Official Branding Book

With the mood board finalized, it was now time to come up with original assets that will set the tone for the rest of the rebranding.

This includes:

  • Color palette
  • Typography
  • Structure
  • Illustrations

This is something that’s right up Monika’s alley, and what she came up with was welcomed unanimously.

5. Copywriting Research

This is a list of all the reviews, comments, complaints, and phrases that people all over the internet use in relation to digital marketing agency services.

To do this, I made a list of our competitors and created a sheet where I copy-pasted the lines they use in their copy, onboarding, as well as the reviews they receive from customers.

Using Quora, FB pages, forums, groups, and other review sites, I gathered reviews and complaints of business owners and added those to my sheet.

This would inform me of the kind of words they used, the problems they encountered, and their reasons for choosing to work with, or avoid, agencies.

This would inform the angle I’d choose for each page and how I would structure the order of the copy.

6. Website Development Research

A great design is useless if it can’t be executed properly to a live website.

We will be using WordPress for this project. And with our theme in place, our developer, Marina, prepared a website roadmap with estimated delivery times.

Next, Marina got to work exploring the best options for the important features that we needed, such as:

  • Stripe integration
  • Onboarding forms
  • Packages
  • Bundles
  • Sliders
  • Etc.

In the interest of efficiency, she also made templates that we could reuse throughout the website. 

Marina then wrote custom code for most of the functions we needed, while using a small number of lightweight plugins for complex integrations.

The end results needed to meet four important conditions:

  1. Maintain the closest possible similarity with Monika’s designs.
  2. Maximize the execution of our ideas with what’s possible using the WordPress platform.
  3. Achieve the most optimized website performance by balancing the use of custom code vs. plugins.
  4. Produce the best result given the amount of time had to execute.

7. Assets

Finally, all rebranding work on the website was finished in December, and this is how the brand assets look like now, after the rebranding.

Aside from design improvements, Marina was also able to add the following new features to our website:

  • Stripe integration for online purchase
  • An option to mix packages for our SEO and link building bundles
  • Integrated onboarding forms for SEO and link building packages
  • Interactive “create a team” form
  • Estimated cost calculation after choosing custom packages

Wrapping Up

Overall, this project took us roughly 3 weeks’ worth of labor hours in total. 

(Note that the actual start of the project was October and it was launched in December. But during this period, we were also working on other projects aside from rebranding.)

Given that there were only four of us, not all working full time, and that we’re a globally distributed team (none of us worked in the same office or time zones), we were able to pull it off pretty well!

So what do you think? Do you have any comments? Suggestions? 

Or would you like us to help you out with your own website?

Whatever comes to mind, let us know! We’re only a quick ping away.

Hazel Pan

Hazel is a copywriter who becomes unresponsive to the outside world when she is writing, and legend has it that the only thing that can move her is a food offering.

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