Get ready for your intranet redesign: Brand and marketing essentials

Kicking-off an intranet redesign is an exciting milestone. Your organization has secured the budget, established the team and the momentum is building. Your new intranet is poised to become the heart of your digital workplace strategy. How do you move from aspiration to a successful implementation?

Project teams often have to prepare for an intranet redesign on top of their regular job responsibilities. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible. Sometimes, just knowing what to expect – and how to get ready – can help turn a big project into a series of manageable tasks.

We've been helping organizations create and launch intranets for over two decades. In this series, we’ll share our advice on how to get ready for an intranet redesign from different perspectives.

First up: brand and marketing. Let’s explore how brand and marketing teams can ensure they’re set up for a smooth intranet implementation.

Involve the right stakeholders at the right time

It’s important to identify the key brand stakeholders for the project, so that they’re included in important meetings where decisions need to be made. When organizations put this off or try to do it after  a project is already in flight, we often see delays in the project or the classic game of telephone. Stakeholders who are brought in without notice will be missing important context around the vision, goals and objectives of the intranet project. This  can lead to inefficient meetings and the feeling that the team is spinning their wheels and going nowhere. When we have the right people in the room along the way, it helps the project move more smoothly.

We appreciate the demand this can put on stakeholders, so we use various strategies, such as finding the right rhythm for reviews and engaging people asynchronously. We’ve found success using collaboration platforms like Miro to share information and gather feedback. You can set up a board, which stakeholders can access at their convenience, with instructions, context, background materials and space for their thoughts and feedback.

With careful consideration for how we engage with stakeholders, we can bring people along on the journey so they have more context and feel informed throughout the project.

This approach mitigates some of the most impactful risks by making sure critical voices are heard during the process and aligning and onboarding stakeholders to how the intranet will bring your brand to life.

Sync up any planned branding work

You’d be surprised by how often a rebrand or brand refresh is announced shortly after an intranet project kicks off. It’s one of the first questions that we ask about when starting a new project. Branding work takes time and can often cause delays, especially when a rebrand or brand refresh catches the team by surprise. If key stakeholders haven’t wrapped their head around the implications, or if it’s not possible for us to align the two streams of work, it can delay the project and stall any momentum your project team has built up.

We try to identify any planned branding work as early as possible in the process. From there, we look for opportunities to sync up with the team working on the rebrand or refresh to see what we can share and discuss. Even if the rebranding work is still in progress, it’s essential to know the direction it’s taking. We can also reciprocate by sharing the planned direction for the intranet to make sure everyone’s aligned and that all teams can move forward confidently.

Define the relationship between the intranet and your other channels

Another question we ask at the beginning of every intranet project is: what’s the relationship between your intranet and your external website? The answer to this question influences how we convey your brand on the intranet.

Organizations often initially characterize their internal and external sites as identical twins. This implies that the intranet should duplicate the website experience. It often comes from a place of wanting to protect the brand by striving for complete consistency. But your intranet is for your employees, not an external audience. While we always want to stay true to an organization’s brand, knowing that the intranet is for an internal audience means that we have the opportunity to approach design differently.

A good example of this is our own intranet, H. From the quality of the photos to the design patterns that we use, there are things that we do on our intranet that differ from our website (and that’s okay!). We’ve still made sure that we’re consistent with our brand when it matters.

Side-by-side comparison of the top of Habanero's intranet, H and the Habanero external website.

Photography is one of the areas where we see differences between an external website and an intranet. On an intranet, we always recommend using photography that portrays your organization’s culture and people. Typically, this means opting for less refined (think more casual, authentic and in-the-moment) photos compared to artfully shot, high-res imagery you’d see on your external website. This might feel uncomfortable at first, but the tradeoff is worth it.

Harness and amplify your brand assets

In the early stages of an intranet redesign, we send a checklist to the brand team with all the types of assets we’ll need. This can include:

  • Company logo (preferably SVG)
  • Brand guide (print or digital)
  • Fonts
  • Photography library
  • Icons
  • Illustrations
  • Specific examples of your brand that would be helpful inspiration for us

Having these assets ready ahead of time means that we can hit the ground running.

If you’re considering a GO Intranet, you’ll also have the opportunity to use Brandmate to centralize all your brand guidelines, documentation and assets. This self-serve portal, which can be configured to manage assets for multiple brands, ensures employees use only approved assets.

An intranet redesign project can be a significant undertaking, but it can be a rewarding and enlightening experience for everyone involved with the right approach. While we’ve honed some best practices from decades of doing this work, every organization is unique. Collaboration can look different across companies, so don’t be afraid to try out different strategies to see what works best for people in your organization. The most important thing is to open up lines of communication to make sure everyone’s working in sync to achieve your broader organizational goals.

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