Once your company decides a rebrand is necessary, then it’s certain you’ll make some change to your brand strategy, company positioning, brand identity, or all of the above. Whatever your objective, the rebranding process courts change and change can cause discomfort to people in your business.
This article is Part Two of a series focused on decisions relating to a rebrand. The reasons in favour and against a rebrand were covered in Part One along with other considerations before starting the process.
Here I look at the rebrand from the implementation perspective so you can start the process with your eyes wide open and have the best chance of progressing in the right direction.
To get started ask and answer these questions:
· What’s the purpose of the rebrand? (the why)
· What are your objectives? (the what)
· What’s the expected outcome? (the result)
· Who needs to be involved? (identify them)
· Who will it impact? (name them)
· How will it impact them? (explain)
· What do they need to know? (the main message)
· How long will it take? (timeframe from execution to completion)
· What will it cost? (in money, time, and disruptions)
Without clear answers to these questions you’ll struggle to communicate the value of the rebrand within your business, to your customers and relevant stakeholders. Many of these questions you’ve likely covered now you have the CEO and/or your Board’s endorsement to proceed. Right?
Mistakes to avoid during the process of rebranding
Even if a rebrand makes perfect sense to your business and your team is on board, it still pays to be aware of the pitfalls ahead. Be wary of these and test that you don't commit them as you go:
a) Not making a change deep enough to make a difference
This can either mean you didn’t seize the opportunity to challenge the status quo or you failed to differentiate. In any case it’s important to improve your current practices during the rebrand. The process has to reveal a result that’s more than a surface effort, is better than maintaining a business as usual policy and one that makes the rebrand pain worthwhile. If there’s not enough substance to the changes, especially if they don’t flow through to the customer experience, is there any value in your effort? Making a change to your brand but not going far enough is a wasted opportunity. Don’t have any regrets.
b) CEO backing
I hesitated to add this here as I figure you know this already and you wouldn’t proceed with the rebrand without it. So this is just a reminder, in case you missed it in Part One, that you run the risk of your rebrand effort being on shaky ground without the CEO behind you. Support for the brand values, vision and mission must be demonstrated from the top before anyone else in your business can take them seriously. Seriously, don’t forget that.
c) Can’t deliver on the rebrand promise
Time for some real soul searching here. There’s no point in making brand changes that state a customer promise or require a commitment to values that no one is prepared to follow. If the promise the brand makes can’t be delivered by your business then it’s a pretty baseless rebrand. It’s easy to say you’re the greatest and you deliver first class service but if you aren’t and if you can’t, don’t go there. Remember the Avis example, ‘we try harder because we’re number two’? They captured their market through honesty rather than puffery. Customers respond to authenticity. Commit to and share only what you can deliver consistently and always aspire to improve on that delivery.
d) Use it to fix internal issues
If you see your rebrand as the solution to an internal problem but your business didn't ask the right question in the first place, you’ll find the rebrand won’t provide the solution. Don't make the rebrand the scapegoat for ill asked questions. For example, if you have HR issues you might think a rebrand will help you attract a different calibre of candidate. However, if you find you hired people based solely on their technical fit, without considering their cultural fit, then a brand adjustment won't fix the HR issue. To properly assess an internal problem, ask the right questions and if in doubt, ask your people what they think. They know.
e) Not involving your employees early enough
Yes the rebrand needs the commitment from the top. It also needs the commitment of everyone in the business to be successful. Even if the scope of the rebrand doesn’t appear to touch certain departments during the process, the eventual result will. An effective rebrand must impact everyone in some way. Involve your people early in the process to socialise the change internally and earn their trust. Trust them with the brand vision and you’ll have the best brand champions.
f) Not supporting the rebrand with a communications plan
The rebrand is a communications effort in disguise. A rebrand brings change and introducing change into a business requires a considered communications plan to support the process. It's a mistake to think you can get through the exercise without a solid communications effort in place. The organisational machinations are where most of your time will be spent. It’s best to understand that from the start to avoid disappointment if the process doesn't go as smoothly as anticipated. When you keep everyone informed, know what you need to say and have a way to share information regularly you'll have an appreciative, and hopefully supportive, audience.
g) Thinking it will be easy
There are always going to be internal challenges or external factors to keep the process interesting. Here are some of the challenges you want to be ready for: the need to shift existing beliefs and behaviours of people to match the new brand; the need to update your policies and procedures to reflect the new brand experience and have people follow through; and the need to work across your business to create new version of ‘how we do things around here’.
Structure of a rebrand team and their roles
CEO – leads the initiative, gives it the tick, provides the business with the confidence that it’s the right step.
Marketing – is the project sponsor and can be led by the head of marketing or brand in your business. They’re responsible for engaging external brand strategists or brand agencies to facilitate the strategy component or to develop and deliver the design component. Marketing reports back to the business on the process and milestones.
Brand Steering Committee – This is a cross company team established from individuals across the various departments to give each area a voice and help decide how the brand will operate ongoing. They work as a project team to have a say on decisions as they arise and take responsibility for the actions that concern their area.
Employee Advocates – It’s wise to nominate employees to act as advocates and spread the message at the grass roots. You can use your brand steering committee members and identify others in your business as ‘change champions’. They act as influencers inside your business and support your brand initiatives to give the initiatives a good chance of being accepted and lived.
Customer – at the right time you might want to reach out to a select group to invite them to test the rebrand aligns with their needs and wants. This can be done prior to launch as well as an ongoing customer listening exercise.
A clear team structure makes it clear that the effort of rebranding impacts everyone. It also signals an intention to understand the impact to all parts of the business and the ultimate benefit to the customer. Always keep the focus on the customer and you’ll be able to communicate the process and related changes much more easily.
And before you begin, don’t forget to agree what success looks like
Decide how you’ll measure that success via:
· Brand awareness surveys
· Internal engagement surveys
· Positioning graphs over time
· Chart your sales pre and post rebrand
· Customer feedback
The right measure is the one that’s important to your business.