A rebranding exercise is an exciting project for any company. But it will present challenges too, not least because the process, from concept to roll-out, can take months if not years to implement.
The value that your brand represents to your overall company value can be as much as 15%, and in the case of a business like Coca-Cola, that figure is 50%. Getting a rebrand implemented smoothly and accurately, therefore, can have a massive impact on your business.
In my experience, success is most accurately measured by the implementation phase of a rebrand. In my early career at various branding agencies, I frequently saw branding projects lose momentum, strength and vitality in the implementation stage – because the process was, to put it bluntly, chaotic.
Implementation can cost as much as 20 times the price of brand design. If you pay £100,000 for the design phase, you’ll pay £2m for the roll-out. And, if you don’t get it right, you are going to see a disappointing return on investment.
So I offer the following as the five strategic actions that, in my view, come together in assuring a successful rebrand.
1. You need management buy-in from the start
The decision to rebrand is normally initiated by senior management. They doubtless take an active interest in creating the business case and the early strategy and design phase of the process – but it may be more difficult to keep them excited and involved right up to completion.
Good management adds an element of motivation – invaluable when problems crop up. The C-Suite can also make extra resources available quickly if necessary. And buy-in by senior management will invigorate other stakeholders, adding validity to the rebrand process.
2. Plan the implementation early
Organise the resources you’ll need to see the job through and calculate what it’s going to cost before you start work. And ask the right questions:
- What is the business reason for the rebrand?
- Will the outcome be a complete rebranding, or a redefinition of what we already have? How much budget will we need?
- Will we need an implementation team, brand management software or digital asset management technology?
Review all the places your identity lives, audit your marketing activity and then list all the online and offline visual touch-points that will need updating.
Even a small brand will have internal departments, outside stakeholders and third party vendors or resellers who need to use the company name, logo and colours. Bear in mind that impractical designs which fail to address the touch-points will make implementation more difficult and expensive.
3. Appoint a dedicated project manager
Your brand audit and inventory of touch-points will provide an overview of the work, resources and budget required to complete a roll-out. However, the scale of the operation usually means that a dedicated project manager will be needed to oversee and drive the implementation plan.
In addition, appoint one main contact in each department who can communicate their own requirements – from the updating of sales materials to the wholesale repainting and sign writing of vehicles.
Better still, if you have a brand management system with project management functionality, your implementation manager can more efficiently plan and control what needs to be done, by when and by whom.
4. Enable others to help themselves
Key to implementation is the need to distribute new brand assets quickly, accurately and efficiently to many different users and to educate those users about how the new branding should be used.
An online brand management system, with password-controlled access to your digital assets, allows internal teams, third party resellers, franchisees or external agencies to access logos, images and marketing artworks direct without having to contact your brand or implementation team – a big saving on time and resources.
Most importantly, have your brand positioning and guidelines documents available as web pages in the system alongside your brand assets so that users understand why you’ve rebranded and how to use the materials.
Reporting within the system should allow you to monitor who has downloaded those assets, ensuring the roll-out remains on schedule. And the bonus will be significantly improved consistency, because people always get the appropriate assets, in the correct format every time, minimizing human error.
5. Enthuse your brand advocates
Include internal teams in the process as much as possible. Communicate efficiently, give information freely and solicit response. If you give everyone a sense of ownership of the change, they’ll be more keen to embrace it.
A rebrand also provides a great opportunity to tell the brand story and reinforce brand values. Communicating these messages to customers, clients, stakeholders, media and shareholders creates precisely the excitement and interest that will see success for your new brand.