Your transition team may be breathing a collective sigh of relief: With the brand strategy and new design approved and in hand, you’ve turned your attention to rebranding high-profile items such as signage and the website. Not that the project is close to complete, of course. Marketing still needs to rebrand digital collateral, but that shouldn’t be hard. Once a full inventory is in hand, it’s just a matter of swapping out logos, right? NewCo (the merged entity) is almost ready for business!
Well, don’t break out the champagne just yet; because sadly, it’s not that easy. Properly representing the new brand in digital collateral and avoiding legal snafus requires a holistic understanding of effective techniques and the ability to apply them at scale.
To start, marketers and their legal counsel need these five items on their rebranding implementation checklist:
Start with a complete inventory
Put together a checklist for each piece
Get the details right
Don’t forget about licensing of creative works
Use a central place to store digital collateral
1. Create a complete inventory list and use it to focus your efforts. You’ll need to know every type of collateral in use at both entities and which pieces NewCo will need. Prioritize them for what is required on Day One. Companies can have literally thousands of pieces of digital collateral; so don’t be surprised by the scale of this project or the many decisions your team will need to make before you can produce a final schedule for collateral transition. Once it’s (finally) done, your team will be ready to produce design templates for each collateral type in order of priority.
And here’s a tip: If you are using a good system that allows you to wade quickly through this inventory step, you may be able to seize this opportunity to downsize the number of pieces being used and gain scale and efficiency by reducing the number of vendors you use. Simplification now will pay dividends in the form of reduced costs and headaches well into the future.
2. Put together a checklist and use it to evaluate each piece. Examine each piece of collateral to see which branded elements are included. Are there logos, company information such as approved boilerplate, iconography, and graphics? What about hyperlinks? Properly rebranding each piece requires updating these elements (and more). Best to catch everything now to avoid having to do the rework later.
3. Get the details right on names, copyright, and trademarks. Once management approves NewCo’s name, you’ll need to change references to legacy company names wherever they appear in digital collateral. So, you’ll need to understand how the NewCo name will be applied to identify resources such as business units, facilities, and externally-facing services. Remember that capitalization, spacing, and punctuation, along with shortened forms of names, really matter whenever copyright and trademarks are involved. They always need to appear in their approved legal format. Communicate these parameters to your marketing communications team.
Take a rigorous approach to copyright—from representing how legal entities are registered in each country to how other copyright information, such as the year, should now appear.
4. Address the new use of previously licensed creative assets. We all know not to use a new photograph or font without obtaining a license. But how do licensing rules apply to existing assets slated for use in NewCo’s rebranded collateral? The devil is in the details here. Partner with your legal team to understand the parameters. You’ll need to find out if you may manipulate specific assets, including photographs, charts, and graphs, to conform to NewCo’s new brand guidelines without the approval of the licensor. Once it’s all settled, get ready to communicate the requirements to your implementation team.
5. Use a central place to store digital collateral. Once the team has finished this work, you’ll need to store the native files and PDFs for future use. (While it would be ideal to never have to touch these files again, chances are there will be adjustments and edits in the future and you’ll want to have it all well-organized.)
Many companies use rebranding as the catalyst to adopt technology that makes ongoing brand management easier and less expensive. Solutions such as BrandActive’s BrandHub include a searchable, centralized library of collateral, logos, videos and more; a knowledge center for brand guidelines; workflow management; interactive templates for rapid design of new materials; and even print fulfillment. BrandActive often uses BrandHub to organize and collaborate with clients during rebranding. These clients continue to use BrandHub after the rebranding project is complete to support best practice brand management into the future.
While I can’t convey every aspect in a blog post—numerous considerations apply to logo usage alone—I hope this advances your understanding of rebranding digital collateral. Start with a proven methodology to identify, assess, and approve the rebranding of each asset. Train team members to understand the rebrand implementation issues inside and out as well as the steps they need to follow. With the right approach, you’ll avoid legal issues, do-overs of collateral, and other costly missteps.