Making the decision to rebrand can be a difficult one, especially given the passion and personal investment that goes into the brand from the start. However, as with everything in life, evolution is necessary.

In making the decision to rebrand, it is critical to first consider why. Whether you feel as though your brand no longer connects with the consumer, it has fallen behind the curve or the brand message no longer represents the company’s direction, there are several ways your company can make the most of the rebranding process.

Before: Ask yourself, why rebrand?

In reflecting upon whether your brand should rebrand, consider its authenticity through the consumer’s eyes. If it no longer speaks to your target shoppers or aligns with their values, it won’t be long before it no longer has a place on the shelf.

More than 60 percent of Millennials expect GMO-free food options, compared to 46% of consumers over 50 who claim they do not put much emphasis on it. Millennials also prefer food labels that address allergen and dietary concerns, according to an article published by Food Industry Executive, Portland, Ore. This should demonstrate to category leaders that the way shoppers read and perceive nutrition labels is vastly different from what it once was and will be in the years to come.

With this knowledge, however, comes the wisdom to rebrand with the brand’s core integrity intact. Without keeping this front of mind during the rebrand process, a company can become prone to the current conventional wisdom as to what is trending as opposed to a sustainable long game. With transparency and authenticity at the center of the rebrand, you can more accurately determine which direction to move, ultimately serving consumers in a heartier and more wholehearted way.

For example, the Wholly Wholesome brand was once known as Wholly Healthy, and was sold predominantly in health and natural food stores. While Wholly Healthy connected and resonated with the core natural consumer’s beliefs that “healthy” foods were focused on clean, natural and simple ingredients, the traditional supermarket shoppers less passionate about the topic of health looked first to the nutritional panel to gauge the “healthiness” of a product.

It was during this time that we noticed a disconnect that spurred the evolution from Wholly Healthy to Wholly Wholesome. With products like organic pie shells and natural and organic pies and cookies, our line was presented as a wholesome indulgence. The core natural foods consumer understood Wholly Healthy’s intentions. Meanwhile, the supermarket consumer considered “health” a practice in counting calories and reading the nutrition label. It was a result of the discomfort we felt in the way our brand name was being received by the more casual natural foods consumer that motivated us to have a clearer and more broadly understood brand name. Today, Wholly Wholesome’s name still reflects the company’s mission to provide a “wholesome indulgence” while also speaking to a broader reach of consumers.

Preparation: Use your resources and leverage research

Diving deep into research is the first step in rebranding that allows you to gain an intellectual perspective. Use the resources at your disposal to help determine your new direction. With the ability to reach out to consumers directly and also in mass, those taking advantage of surveys can get to know their target audience on a deeper level.

Surveys that help to get to the core of your consumer’s desires will be most effective in helping you rebrand. Without research to help guide your strategic decisions, your refreshed product and packaging is at risk for being superficial in the way it addresses shoppers’ day-to-day – and long-term – needs.

Structure the conversation with consumers with an emphasis on what you would like to communicate about your brand. With a comprehensive image of who your ideal consumer is, how you reach out to them can also help open the channels of candid communication. Have an idea of what you think can be perfected in the brand, as well as how you would like to solve those challenges. Can a solution be found in updating the packaging? In cleaning up the ingredients list? In changing the brand name?

Research can help to identify the most pressing questions.

During: Consider the how

After considering your consumer’s affinity toward your brand, and whether now might be the right time to refresh or restructure, the visual representation of these changes is critical. With smart, strategic packaging and messaging, you can put yourself in the position to re-gain and continue to build the trust needed from consumers for lasting loyalty.

The care you have for your shoppers should be apparent. Today, third-party certifications help to affirm a company’s commitment to transparency and authenticity. For brands especially focused on the natural foods consumer, certifications help shape a brand image, convey the values a company stands for, and as a result, build brand loyalty.

This outward reflection of your company’s internally stated morals is one avenue by which you can show shoppers you are committed to their wellbeing, while flaunting your refreshed look from a rebrand.

After: Rely on an integrated marketing strategy

An integrated marketing strategy is the ideal way to roll out a rebranded product, ensuring retailers, distributors and consumers are well aware of what you have accomplished. Put targeted and well-timed messaging in front of the customers and consumers when it matters most.

Between B-to-B and B-to-C media, social and digital strategies and web marketing, today’s society is more connected than ever. Coordinating how, when and where the announcement of a rebrand lands on the ears of customers and consumers is an important part of your follow through. This is oftentimes an ever-evolving process, reflecting the need for many companies taking on a rebranding to be nimble and receptive to consumer response.

Your rebrand is an integral part of your brand story, and it should be told with finesse and gusto. Prompting important conversations around processes, decisions and outcomes are sharp ways to position yourself as a thought leader.

The food industry is a competitive one, with brands donning trendy personas and introducing new must-have products that entice consumers to buy as soon as they hit the shelves. For marketers, this means battling a crowded field where the average shopper no longer responds to overt messages to “buy now.” A strategic public relations and social advertising plan must be in place to cut through the clutter.