Look under the hood of any successful rebrand, and you’ll find that the engine is a well-oiled machine made up of detailed planning, strategic coordination, and carefully crafted communication. That engine doesn’t come standard with every rebrand. Rather, marketers and their teams work hard to build it. From rebrand strategy to budgeting, integrated planning, branded asset conversion strategies, processes, and careful management across marketing and all other operational areas of the company, and beyond, there’s a lot to consider. Successful B2B marketing executives find that what they do early in the process plays a heavy role in determining their ultimate performance.
So, before you present your rebrand plan to your leadership team, take a moment to learn about the four top challenges of rebranding a B2B company — and how to navigate them.
The top 4 challenges of rebranding a B2B company
1. Getting (re)brand buy-in
Does your B2B organization emphasize the value of brand? If not, that’s your first — and perhaps biggest — rebranding challenge. After all, if your brand isn’t seen as a key business-driving asset, your organization may not invest the time and resources necessary to properly rebrand.
In the world of B2B businesses, brand is often put on the back burner. In a way, it makes sense. B2C companies live and die by their brands. The success of the average B2B company, on the other hand, is often believed to lie more in quality of their products and services — and the relationships they build with a much smaller circle of customers. Sometimes the biggest B2B companies may even represent the only option on the market. For example, they may be the only maker of a particular chemical or material – or the only utility company a consumer can have in their area.
However, more forward-thinking B2B companies are now embracing the power of brand. But what if you need to convince certain members of your leadership team? To do that, you’ll need to create a value equation that shows exactly what brand can do for your organization. A clearly defined, consistently expressed brand can help your B2B company:
Reduce the costs of managing multiple brands
Drive operational efficiency across people, processes, branded assets, vendors, and agencies
Improve recruiting efforts and increase employee engagement.
More clearly and impactfully communicate your organization’s overall value proposition. This is especially useful if you have a diversified brand architecture or if you find that your customers are routinely unaware of your full suite of service and/or product offerings.
Improve your share of spend and perceived customer value by making it easier for people to understand, find, and buy all larger offering.
Spur centralized brand management (even with decentralized execution) which enables cost-saving operational efficiencies.
Improve overall enterprise value
2. Building a rebrand business case
Rebranding has a cost and pulling together an accurate, strategy-driven rebranding budget is no small feat. That’s especially true given that many B2B companies have a lot of physical branded assets. They may own large inventories of equipment, fleet, protective equipment, signage, uniforms, and so on. Replacing those assets is costly—but perhaps not as costly as your executive team might at first believe.
You see, many people assume that a rebranding budget is a fixed, finite number. It’s not. By playing with the following variables, your organization can identify a right-fit budget that gets you to your desired destination without going off the financial rails:
Asset strategies and segmentation
Existing or planned projects/initiatives
Take operational cycles, for example. By doing things like rebranding your fleet of vehicles in tandem with regularly scheduled maintenance intervals, you can leverage your existing operational cycles in a way that significantly reduces the cost (and business disruption) of a rebrand.
You can capture similar cost-savings by lengthening the duration of your rebrand rollout. Very few B2B companies go for a “big bang” rebrand launch. Strategically, that’s usually not necessary. As an added bonus, slowing your rollout also works to your advantage from a budgeting standpoint. For example, many of your branded assets are probably already on a normal replacement cycle. With proper prioritization, you can invest where you need to in order to make the right impact and transition all but the highest-priority branded assets as they are due to be replaced, thus minimizing costs.
As you can see, there are many ways to approach a rebrand — and many budgeting options to match. The key to identifying the right budget for your rebrand? Start with scenario planning.
That is the cost side. The benefit side is also exciting and has massive opportunities for improving ROI. Most marketers focus their benefit analysis on the market return side of things – premium pricing, increased revenue, brand equity/value, market share, etc. Of course, these things need to be true or you wouldn’t be rebranding. But the real power in building a business case that other executives within a B2B company can really understand and embrace exists by uncovering the cost saving opportunities that exist within the things that you do every day, how you do it, who you do it with, what you pay for it, opportunity costs, and more. Taking a deep and analytical look at these things inside and outside of the marketing department can create a real tangible pay-off model to fund the rebranding.
3. Managing the rebranding message
Any B2B organization planning a rebrand must consider messaging. How will you frame your brand change to your key audiences? B2C companies have a relatively simple mandate: get their customers and employees on board with the new brand. But the messaging requirements of a B2B rebrand are unique.
You’ll need to own the conversation not just with your customers and staff and key partners, but also with investors, market analysts, the media, and other constituents who will want to understand why you are rebranding and what this means for you strategically – lest they scrutinize you, your investment, and your positioning the moment you launch. Each of these stakeholder communities will require thoughtful engagement and communication before, during, and after your rebrand. Each constituency must have a clear understanding of why your brand is changing, what your new brand stands for, and how your brand change impacts your positioning (if at all). Building a cohesive pre-launch and post-launch education campaign is a large miss for many B2B rebrands.
4. Winning your team’s affection for the new brand
Speaking of internal messaging, getting employees to buy into your new brand may be a bit of a challenge. Why? B2B employees are known for being incredibly loyal to the entities for which they work. Staffers who have been at the same company for many years may feel discouraged or even threatened by a pending brand change. These long-term employees may wonder what other changes might take place — both in terms of operations and staffing. And they may simply be disappointed to say goodbye to a brand they know and love.
Don’t expect your team to fall in love with your new brand overnight. You’ll need to come up with a strategy to persuade them that the new brand represents a net positive in their lives. To that, you’ll need to address any fears they have head-on as well as communicate the benefits of the rebrand. First things first: assuming it’s true, reassure your team that their jobs aren’t going anywhere. Next, explain how the rebrand will make their jobs easier, the company stronger and their ability to serve their customers and the people they care about even better. For example, it may mean streamlined operations, clarified messaging to customers, and so on.
With time and ongoing brand education, your team will come to love your new brand even more than the one you leave behind.
By understanding the most common B2B rebranding obstacles, you can craft a plan to get your executive team on board, uncover the right budget, manage your rebranding messaging, win your internal team’s loyalty — and achieve the impact you desire, too.