A rebranding campaign is never easy or convenient. There are dozens of horror stories and case studies that highlight the mistakes brands have made over the years. With so many elements that can influence or sink a rebranding strategy, how can a business — of any size — prepare for success?
The decision to rebrand is never taken lightly. Sometimes it's done because there's been a significant shift in the target audience or business strategy. Others have found it a necessary way to start anew following a strategic change in leadership. Whatever the reason, there are things every company should know before implementing a rebrand.
Involve the Right People
Once the decision to rebrand has been made, implementing it becomes a companywide initiative that touches every department. A rebrand includes more than just new colors or a new logo. It's a new vision that needs to be accurately represented across all channels and touch points. From sales and advertising to product and research to IT and tech support — knowing the values, mission and goals of an organization and its brands is not just nice to know. It's essential to ensuring that everything a company does is built upon these elements.
Ida Cheinman, creative director at Substance151, a strategic brand communications firm in Baltimore, Md., calls rebranding the moment of truth. In a recent blog post she noted:
Rebranding requires uncovering deep-seeded company values and collecting objective stakeholder feedback. It also requires analytic and creative thinking about what the brand needs to become in order for the new positioning and brand platform to meet all business objectives, help the brand [re]connect with audiences, and inspire action."
Getting the right people around the table can be tricky, if not political. Everyone has a role in ensuring that the new brand's goals uphold the integrity of its customers, stakeholders, partners and allies. Companies have a responsibility to listen to the concerns people may have to ensure that they can adequately address specific issues that could influence the outcomes — both short-term and long-term — of the campaign.
If the right people are invested in the decision to rebrand, implementing the necessary changes becomes more manageable since they can be delegated appropriately.
Communication is Key
Whether you're educating your employees or your customers about the decision to rebrand, communications should be ongoing and transparent throughout the campaign. Change is never easy, so winning the hearts and minds is crucial to the success of your rebranding campaign. But not just any communication will do: It must be strategic.
According to Harvard Business School professor Cynthia Montgomery, who speaks with Booz & Company partner Ken Favaro in the following video, a rebranding strategy should act as the "reanimating force of a company" of which communication is a part.
Yes, there will be probably be changes that all parties will have to accept and adapt. But why not first talk about the positive changes a rebrand will bring?
While you shouldn't ignore the realities associated with the initiative, it's essential that people understand why change is happening and the outcomes a company hopes to achieve by implementing changes. Much like anything a company does, transparency is key. The more customers, employees, partners and stakeholders feel as if they are properly informed and educated, the more likely they'll support the initiatives and become brand ambassadors.
Not Just a Marketing Issue
Efforts to rebrand don't reside exclusively within the marketing department, nor should they be solely owned by them. Every department director, as well as each C-suite executive, should own the rebrand. Just as the mission and values of a company need to be upheld across the organization, so should the principles guiding a rebrand.
ReBrand.com compiled the top 20 mistakes marketers make when rebranding. The top mistake: thinking the brand is the logo. The next: stationery and corporate colors. According to the report:
Brands encompass everything from customer perception and experience to quality, look and feel, customer care, retail and web environments, the tone and voice of conversations, and more.
If employees perceive that a rebrand is a marketing issue, it's less likely they will embrace the new brand campaign. Instead, they may decide that it doesn't concern them and ignore its implications.
The Way Ahead
No two brand strategies are alike, nor should they be. But you can learn from others mistakes and accomplishments. Think about a rebranding strategy from the perspective of a customer and map out the concerns and issues you're likely to have. How a brand strategy maps out the roadblocks likely to arise is just as important as milestones and goals it sets out for itself. Furthermore, companies should expect their efforts to rebrand to be a continuous evolution and change in their positions within the marketplace.
Image credit: Shutterstock / Igor Stevanovic