Why Do Organizations Rebrand
Organizations rebrand because they need to retool their brand. They need to revisit their story, evolve the name of the organization and enhance all of the core strategic, design and internal cultural components that work together to build organization image, reputation and trust.
The Benefits of Rebranding (Client Perspective)
For clients, the benefits of rebranding (at least the initiatives done for the right business reasons) should be numerous. Starting with the fact that brand is arguably an organization’s most important asset. A rebrand realigns brand with business strategy. Helps to grow relevancy. Energizes and aligns internal teams and enhances culture. Modernizes your marketplace image. Distinguishes your organization. Creates a pathway to a stronger growth trajectory.
The Rewards of Rebranding (Agency Perspective)
For our agency, all rebranding programs are incredibly rewarding. The first benefit of rebranding includes being able to fundamentally play a part in altering the future of an organization (in our case, healthcare and wellness organizations). And these event-driven opportunities don’t often come along. Second, we take to heart the trust placed in our agency by the leadership team who engaged us, and we love the journey of working closely with them and the Board as we dive deep into the future landscape, the organization, its audiences and competitors. Third, we covet the times when we’re sharing discovery insights with leadership and Board, or presenting for the first time, new brand ideas, names, logos, taglines, etc. And then there’s the enormous sense of contribution when you see your new rebrand come to life.
Ultimately, our intended benefit of rebranding is to reveal and shape an organization brand identity that strategically, creatively and cohesively better equips an organization to deliver on its mission. And if we do our job well, this changes the emotional and mental associations audiences have with an organization brand across countless individual experiences – and allows both organization and audience to grow together.
Truth be told, some rebranding programs are more meaningful than others. Because when you’re fortunate enough to work with a vital, life-changing organization like Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey (CPNJ), your work is literally impacting the lives of the families and children who rely on their indispensable life-long services. This is also one of those favorable condition rebrands where nothing is really broken, but rather the rationale for “why rebrand” is a matter of evolving and adapting to changes, shifts and cultural leanings in order to reach an organization’s full potential.
The Legacy of CPNJ
CPNJ is a nonprofit agency founded in 1953 by the parents of children with cerebral palsy who wanted more services for their children. The agency has steadily grown to serve more than 1,500 infants, children and adults with a wide range of disabilities each year through a network of 21 sites located throughout northern New Jersey. CPNJ provides services across the life span, with consumers ranging from infants less than a year old to adults in their 80’s. The organization specializes in serving the most challenging populations, including those with multiple and severe disabilities and medical challenges.
To Rebrand Or Not Rebrand?
Over the years, the organization has served an increasingly larger population of people who don’t have cerebral palsy. As a result of this, there was a hypothesis that the agency’s name might no longer align with its business; and potentially hold it back from serving all of its prospective patient populations. In the case of CPNJ, the importance of their brand name to their business was inextricably linked. Eventually, it was determined that rebranding – starting with the descriptive and single-minded nature of its brand name – was the right thing to do for the organization’s community.
How To Approach The Rebrand
The Importance of Empathy
Typical of this process, and particularly in this market space, it’s an anxious time for those who have long histories with a brand. There are Board members who have been actively rallying support for the CPNJ brand (raising money for the brand) for 30+ years. Other Board members whose family members rely on the lifelong services provided by the organization. Teachers and staff who’ve devoted much of their lives to the organization and to those it serves. For these individuals, the brand they’ve supported and nurtured for so many years might be going away. Along with the familiarity of logo, tagline, related visual identity system and messaging.
Laying A Solid Foundation
For a rebranding effort to be successful and to realize all the benefits of branding, you need to lay a solid foundation from the outset. Getting people across different key stakeholder groups to believe and buy-into what’s possible is critical. On the one hand, key stakeholders really only want what’s best for the organization. But cutting the cord is emotionally quite difficult. A consultant needs to be able to respectfully, empathetically and objectively build the case for change. In the majority of cases, key stakeholders will understand that (in the words of Richard Branson) – every success story is a tale of constant adaption, revision and change. But this takes time, patience, many conversations and a tremendous amount of consensus building.
Inside. Typical of any rebranding assignment, we dig in and gauge the organization’s current brand equity in light of its future desired picture. In the case of CPNJ, armed with knowing its future desired direction, we conducted interviews with Leadership and Board, and conducted surveys among internal staff and external stakeholders.
Outside. In order to compare and contrast with the above, we conducted competitor and role model reviews — looking at overarching ideas, personality, voice, branding and marketing practices; along with considering the cultural context in which the organization operates.
Asking The Right Questions
Foundational “Why Rebrand” Questions. As part of our upfront Discovery, there are foundational questions to ask when rebranding that transcend specific client or industry. Some of these questions include:
- What problem are we trying to solve?
- What symptoms of the problem are we experiencing?
- Are we telling the right story?
- What do we want to convey that we’re not today?
- Has our customer profile changed?
- Is there a change in the competitive landscape?
- What should be the ultimate benefits of rebranding?
Naming Strategy Questions. There are also questions related to changing your name and brand naming process, including among others…
- What story should our name begin to tell?
- What is the ideal naming strategy for our organization?
- Are there specific attributes or benefits important to suggest?
- What kind of name will stand apart from the crowd?
- How do we align the personality of a name with the personality of the organization
Shortlist Naming Questions. And questions that need to be answered as you narrow to choose a final brand name, including among others…
- Is the first impression strong? Does it sound/look good?
- Are associations positive? Does it feel right?
- Does it sound credible? Within your space, for the audiences you serve today and those you can serve in the future?
- Will it hold up into the foreseeable future?
- Is it easy to spell and pronounce
- Is it memorable
Of course, there are many more questions to be asked and answered that pertain to the entirety of the brand experience. But that’s for another post.
Realizing The Benefits of Rebranding
Ultimately, if you’re objective, can build bridges, show empathy, continually go back to the evidence, you’re likely to come away with a result that all are proud of.
By the way, in the case of Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey, that new result is PILLAR Care Continuum. And here are the two most foundational brand identity elements of logo and tagline:
To learn more about rebranding, you can download here our Navigating The Road To Rebrand e-book. If you’re a marketing executive leading or participating in a healthcare rebranding program, this e-book will help you navigate all of its complexity and components. And there are a lot of them. Big and small, across your entire organization. You can also reach out for a conversation.