Rebranding can help a business expand markets and profits. But without careful planning and stewardship, the rebrand implementation portion of the branding process could easily morph into one of those unfortunately notorious projects. You know, the kind that makes a marketer wince for years to come. Costs spiral over budget and the internal reputation of the marketing department drops a notch. 

Here are four proven ways to make sure your rebranding implementation stays on budget, achieves the expected ROI, and does not inspire rounds of internal finger-pointing.

1.  Use rigor as you define project scope

A complex rebranding has many organizational, financial, and operational ramifications. It’s far from a typical marketing department project. From the start, you need to establish the groundwork for comprehensive management and stewardship.

Start by gathering and analyzing all relevant data. You’ll need to identify the branded assets used in marketing, of course, but also those used or controlled by your administration, facilities, finance, human resources, corporate communications, IT, legal, regulatory and compliance, and fleet operations[RB1] , and security departments, across all divisions and geographic locations.

This initial audit which is not the kind of brand audit you might typically think of, but instead a deep look at the technical, functional, and financial aspects of branded assets. It’s the basis for an accurate budget developed by financial analysts. Keep in mind that every industry is different and knowing what to look for determines the accuracy of scope definition and the speed of the assessment[RB2] .  On top of that, if your project has global reach, scoping becomes even more complex. If you have access to specialized tools and templates, especially ones specific to your industry, take full advantage of them.

2.       Create several implementation strategies, then mix and match

Once you’ve done the initial scoping work, it’s time to get analytical  and strategic. This really pays off, especially when it comes to high-dollar branded assets, such as fleet, signage, and workwear. Develop and evaluate several cost scenarios that may vary by scope, quality, and/or timing, among many other factors.  Categorize each scenario based on their cost or impact, and then list the ramifications of each choice. Don’t limit yourself to a one-size fits all approach. It may make sense to vary levels by branded asset type or even within branded asset types. This process will help you achieve  the maximum brand impact while remaining fiscally prudent.

3.      Develop a smart branded asset replacement strategy

The primary goal of rebrand implementation is to bring the new brand to life consistently, cost effectively, and in the optimal time frame to maximize impact given your financial reality. Ultimately, of course, you’ll need to be sure that every digital and physical branded asset carrying a brand name or logo displays the new brand. But there are multiple strategies to choose from. You will likely choose one or more of the approaches based on the type of branded asset— signage, ID badges, business cards, products and packaging, merchandise, uniforms, etc.—and the specifics of your company’s situation:

  • Discard now:  Throw out the old and buy new branded items. This makes sense for low cost, high visibility items, such as promotional items used at trade shows or employee name badges.
  • Retrofit: Replace the old brand with the new brand on the existing physical asset. Depending on the design of the item and design of the new brand, this approach may be appropriate for facility signage and some fleet vehicles. 
  • Neutralize: Decide that an asset you’ve branded in the past no longer needs to sport the company logo. Think about the food carrying trays in your cafeteria for example. Or, you may decide to forgo putting a logo on internal product components.
  • Deplete and replace: For some assets—fleet vehicles coming off lease in 12 months or less, for example—it may be more cost effective to let those vehicles stay as is. Trying to retrofit them with the new logo, which may not be the same size and shape as the old logo, may not be the best course.

How much can you save by being strategic in your approach to branded asset replacement? It’s hard to say as every company is different – but it can easily amount to 10-35% or more of your implementation budget. That adds up to millions of dollars for most companies. We helped one of our healthcare clients, who issued tenure pins to reward long-standing service by employees, find a money-saving solution. Their tenure pin contained a gemstone. Replacing the existing inventory of tenure pins would have cost $250,000. Instead, the company choose to affix the core of the existing tenure pin—the part containing the gem—onto a new branded pin. Sounds simple, yet the opportunity to capitalize on situations like this one come up multiple times in every implementation we see.

4.      Centralize decision-making but decentralize execution

When a large company rebrands, they’ll often find that much of the rebranding implementation activity happens at the local or division level. The marketing department is unlikely to centrally lead the full implementation of all IT systems, signs, products and packaging, localized materials, and other assets.

However, it doesn’t make sense for each office and/or division to handle the rebranding implementation scoping and financial analysis process on their own. Nor should you expect each local entity to create branded asset specifications and RFPs. Applying this approach runs up costs by creating duplication of efforts on a grand scale and doesn’t give the organization the benefit of best practices.

To bring efficiency to the rebranding implementation process, empower a company marketing executive to centralize decision-making, support, and financial, timing, and quality control while directing decentralized execution of brand asset conversion. This will:

  • Reduce the stress on field organizations
  • Save time as far fewer decisions need to be made at decentralized levels
  • Significantly reduce costs
  • Improve quality
  • Bring greater transparency to the rebrand implementation process

If you are going to remember just two things after reading this article, first remember this: When you are faced with rebrand implementation, a comprehensive scoping process and financial analysis is always the place to start. Secondly, to take advantage of these rare opportunities requires time—so, start the analysis as early in the rebranding project as possible. A timely, comprehensive analysis enables you to develop a rebrand implementation strategy that maximizes brand impact, meets brand compliance goals, and saves you money.

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