Checklist For Rebranding Success
For 20+ years, Trajectory has worked side-by-side with our healthcare and wellness clients’ leadership teams and Boards on their organization rebranding initiatives. From health systems and specialty providers to clinical trials and skincare and beauty – our experience continues to teach us valuable tips about how to navigate, steer and help our clients thrive through these major brand building initiatives.
Rebranding Amidst Covid-19 Backdrop
The challenges brought about due to Covid-19 might give you pause when contemplating a rebranding. On the other hand, the coronavirus pandemic – and its downstream impacts – can also underscore the urgency to reposition and rebrand. Consider…
- the mass migration to digital channels for customer purchases and participation, and the need to “pandemic proof” offerings
- the surging mergers and acquisitions market given the global economic recovery
- the ongoing wave of new companies who continue to transform the health and wellness space
- the growing importance to customers of demonstrating brand purpose, which is massively on the rise and more highly valued by younger generations
- health and wellness itself (driven by the desire for resiliency and immunity) taking on new relevancy and further influencing consumer behavior and impacting purchasing decisions
Given the above, there’s a strong case to be made for prioritizing brand building initiatives, as the landscape becomes more complicated and cluttered, and brand is the key business asset that helps organizations lead the way in navigating these developments.
The tips and advice contained below will help you assess, plan and execute a successful strategic rebranding on time and on budget. Our action plan (referred to as the acronym DELIVER) is broken out into the following seven steps.
1. Determine Goals (But First Align Around Brand)
Now is the time to align everyone around the power and potential of your brand, and to reach consensus with key influencers and decision makers about the long-term goals and impact of the rebranding – both brand and business, external and Internal. These serve as the foundation of your effort and will help you to maintain focus during the process.
Align Around Brand Meaning & Purpose
At a macro level, brand is the narrative that you have around your company and the singular idea of why your company exists. Functioning like an operating system, your organization brand should serve as the platform to orchestrate the intangible relationship between your company and its ecosystem, across stakeholder groups, based on a connected set of ideas and actions.
With everyone aligned around brand meaning and purpose, now is the time to agree to the specific goals to be achieved as a result of the rebranding. There are a number of questions that should be answered and agreed upon at the outset by leadership, Board and other key stakeholders, as you’ll continue to reference them throughout your rebranding journey.
Some of these questions include:
- What is the intended business impact of this brand building change? Note: if there’s no business impact, and this is being considered for some surface level creative reasons, a rebrand is not the correct path forward.
- What has changed inside the organization and/or in the marketplace that warrants the rebranding?
- Are there factors that are limiting the performance or growth of your brand?
- What are the short and long-term benefits of this brand building initiative (operational and marketplace)?
- How much is it likely to cost the organization (in terms of resources, time and budget)?
- Conversely, how much is the rebranding likely to save the organization down the road (operationally and marketing-wise)?
We know from experience that a successful rebrand starts at the top. Rebranding projects that fail often do so because they don’t receive the support of people who sit at the helm of the organization, or because important stakeholders, such as the CEO and other Board members, do not fully embrace the brand change.
Case in point – many years ago for a Southwest Florida health system client, our initial engagement was focused solely on working with members of the leadership team to build a business case for a potential rebranding. Following a compelling presentation to the Board, we were given the green light.
2. Early Planning
As every facet of the organization is impacted by a rebranding initiative, an overarching timing, events and budget playbook should be developed early on. This will help keep everyone in the organization on the same page and assist you later when you roll out the brand. Word of advice – document everything!
To make accurate estimations, you’ll need people with a macro and micro view on the scope and size of your possible rebrand. You’ll also need a dedicated project team, consisting of people within and across your organization with support from external agencies.
This kind of cross-functional team will allow you to identify and assess all your brand touch points (both strategic and design) and determine the viability of all of your existing branded assets.
3. Learn From The Market
Everybody has “feelings” about the weight of your organization’s brand assets and how to manage the rebranding, not to mention the results. They’re also more than happy to share them.
So how can you make navigating strong opinions easier? How do you get everyone on the same page early on? And if you’re the marketing leader driving the initiative, how do you ensure landing a rebrand that customers love?
Evolving your brand’s story and perception means you need to investigate where you’ve been as a brand and where you’re trying to go, and that takes objective honesty. Specifically, you need to understand:
- Internal assumptions
- Existing customer perceptions
- Future market requirements
Goal is to learn, not confirm. Externally, it takes a close examination of your customer, positioning, market direction, traditional and upcoming competitor offerings and image. Internally, consider staff and executive perceptions of company and brand and existing brand assets. This is how you objectify the process.
4. Identity Strategy
Think of strategy as your playbook to guide company messaging and actions. Strategy elements include naming, brand story, brand architecture, elevator pitch, brand values, brand personality and positioning, tagline and brand messaging. Ensure all decision-makers and influencers ore on board to mitigate future bottlenecks.
Special Call Out To Brand Architecture
Calling this out as brand architecture often lags behind other strategic brand elements. But unification of the brand architecture can increase brand management efficiency and save marketing costs. Through a rebrand, an organization can concentrate on the true essence of the company and coordinate its extensive brand portfolio to a smaller, simpler one.
5. Visual Identity Design
A creative brief is the starting point to align around how your new brand strategy will ultimately look, feel and speak through its name, visual appearance and communications. Key to success is testing the work in different environments and sizes and including all key decision-makers and influencers at each agreed stage of the process.
Consider Your Brand In An Online World
Digitalization has become a main trigger for brand and logo change. Many brands were developed at the time when ‘digital’ played a limited role in brand application and a corporate identity mainly consisted of a logo, a primary color palette and typography created for offline expressions. Today, companies need to develop logos and visual identities that align with their mobility strategy and fit better into the digital age.
Many brands are also moving away from complex logos and opting for a flat design, resulting in a clear logo without any redundant elements distracting from the brand name. Although in many cases it is not the main reason, a more modern image is often one of the motivations behind a rebrand project.
Two examples include the logo updates from Burger King and Mastercard:
6. Effective Rollout
A rebranding is a major organization-wide event that deserves to be rolled out effectively. Starting inside the organization. Ensuring employees are excited and equipped to act as brand-building champions and able to first spread the word. The better you manage the brand launch, the clearer your message will be and the stronger your ultimate marketing and marketplace impact.
Important to consider is that some of your employees may have worked for your brand for decades, promote it in their daily lives and feel a special connection to it. A rebrand can cause that pride and connection to be lost, especially when a merger or acquisition is involved. It is essential to properly involve your employees in the rebrand process, as they largely determine whether your rebranding is successful or not.
Rebrand Launch Paths
Not all of these brand building initiatives need to be executed in the same manner. There are three different relaunch paths that clients can take – and we’ve executed all of them over the years:
- Operational-Driven: Decision-making led by efficient replacement of branded items, utilizing natural replacement cycles or when recreating/reordering assets.
- Strategic: Tackle the rebrand of branded assets in a market-driven fashion, looking for the right balance between desired visibility of your new brand and its cost to implement.
- All-In: The maximum number of branded elements rebranded in the shortest possible timeframe, enabling your new brand to be launched as quickly and impactful as possible.
Each scenario has its advantages and drawbacks. Which is best depends on the level of ambition and potential impact of your brand change, relative to your available budget.
7. Realize Results
Your rebrand program is now largely complete. However, your work doesn’t end here. The final and most critical component of the rebranding program is ongoing.
Once you’ve built and launched a new brand, you need to defend it at every turn. And measure its impact. Critical to remember is that changing the emotional connection consumers have with your organization occurs over thousands of individual experiences – which means patience and commitment.
Find a small number of measurable things that are natural for your company, your geography and your culture and make them corporate initiatives. Look for things that your services and teams can support – and that matter and inspire your employees and customers.
For a strong brand, both now and in the future, you need to pay even more attention to your internal brand organization and further development of your brand because well-organized brands (like operating systems) perform better.
Monitor and Share Progress With Stakeholders
Key stakeholders in the organization and on the Board need to be kept in the know about the impact of the rebrand. What is the status of the program? How has the new brand been received in the market? What is being done with these results?
A variety of brand evaluation methods are available; real-time monitoring of brand performance, reputation research, brand valuation research, internal brand audits etc. Often a mix of several types of research are required to measure rebrand KPIs.
Tips To Keep The Momentum Going
A rebrand is a marathon, not a sprint. Here are some tips for ongoing brand management, to keep the momentum going post a rebranding.
- Keep your brand steering committee intact. Meet regularly, at least on a quarterly basis, to further enhance your brand.
- Strive for brand coherence rather than brand consistency. Strict guidelines are outdated. Brands are adapting a more flexible approach, one which creates a clear and delighting brand experience between all online and offline brand touch points.
- Assign future brand stewardship responsibilities. Who is to be continually responsible for defined areas of the brand, internally and externally?
- Appoint brand ambassadors throughout the organization. Assigned designated brand ambassadors across the organization who are able to monitor and advise on the brand’s application (strategically and creatively) across various departments, will pay dividends.
- Perform annual brand audits. And we recommend starting six months following the implementation of the full rebrand. Collect all of the brand expressions that have been created through the organization and test whether the brand’s voice and visual identity has been applied correctly and promoted in the right way.
- Keep innovating to future-proof your brand. The world is changing fast: new technologies are introduced at lightning speeds, shifting the customer journey. Consumers are becoming more critical and expect speed, convenience and simplicity. To be ready for the future, your brand needs to keep evolving.
Many CEO’s and CMOs only go through a rebrand only once or twice during their careers and have little experience with this type of challenging brand building project. For this reason, it is wise to select the right partners with the relevant expertise to guide you through the process; from strategy and creation, through to the actual implementation of the new brand.
Trajectory can help you to successfully carry out a complex rebrand, on time and on budget. Contact us for a free no-obligation consultation.