How companies build and conserve brand value during a rebrand

How companies build and conserve brand value during a rebrand


Philip Guiliano

Ok, so depending on who you talk to, brand value can have a slew of different meanings.

A CMO or CFO might look at it as something to be measured and they calculate its contribution to the company’s balance sheet. Others believe brand value is measured using market share data. Or brand value may be seen to reflect how easy it is for a consumer to understand, find, and participate in the company’s offerings. Perhaps brand value is seen as delivering premium pricing. Others may view its value through the eyes of the customer – the sum of their thoughts about and interactions with the brand.

All of these market-facing evaluations have their place whether a company is rebranding or not. However, when we think about maximizing ROI in a merger, acquisition, rebrand, spin-off – or even simply getting the most out of the brand you already have – we think about it through the lens of this highly simplified equation.

Market Opportunity – Cost + Synergies = ROI

Market opportunity is what I was laying out above and there is much more that goes into this. Synergies are year over year operational cost savings that you can generate by doing things differently than you do them today. Then there is the cost to implement your strategy and particularly in a rebrand this is not limited to marketing cost. It is signage, IT, HR, legal and regulatory, uniforms, documents, products and packaging, and so on. Given that these multi-million-dollar rebranding projects are supposed to unlock growth, building brand value using the equation above is a primary concern.

Realize the full ROI of your new brand

Once a company makes up its mind that a brand change is in the best commercial interests of the company, the cost of rebranding and ability to generate ROI become of primary concern. The value you gain from rebranding is proportionate to the quality of the implementation and how well you leverage the opportunities it presents. If you don’t properly execute this process in a timely, efficient, intelligent, and otherwise optimal way, you won’t be able to achieve the true potential value of the rebrand.

Aligning all branded touchpoints can be a tremendous undertaking, requiring audits, analysis, new processes, systems, vendors, and coordinated efforts across multiple departments and regions. That’s why companies need to follow a comprehensive rebranding implementation plan—one that all major internal stakeholders agree on.

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The extent of the brand change carries different implications, which in turn affect budgets timelines, and quality level. The bigger the brand change, the more risks it comes with. For example, a new name, logo, and brand architecture uniting two or more merging companies is risker than a single company changing its logo alone. As the risk increases, so does the importance of getting the new brand to market quickly and efficiently.

But regardless of the extent of the brand change, it will impact all departments of an organization. Any area that uses branded assets or the brand name needs to be on board. Think Finance, HR, Operations, Legal, Facilities Import/Export departments, and more. If each of these departments are not involved in the process, employee and customer experience will suffer and thus trust, engagement, and buy-in will degrade. Products may get stuck in customs because of not addressing import/export filings properly, leading to loss of revenue or delayed cash flow at a minimum. Even worse, if legal departments are not involved early, assets can be rolled-out in countries like China prior to all entity filings being completed, resulting in significant asset rework and fines under the assumption that all would be satisfactory. Clearly, there’s a domino effect that can hurt your brand value equation. Understanding and planning for these issues in your strategy and scope of the project will help you preserve brand value.

Build brand value during the rebranding process

Rebranding has a silver lining. It’s the ideal time to touch every branded asset to improve impact, reduce costs, or both. When else would you have the manpower and organizational support to make all these changes?

Here are some tactics to consider:

  • Find synergies to help pay for the rebrand and reduce on-going operational spend related to managing the brand you have
  • Remember that this is not a business as usual project – so don’t let your operational leaders treat it as one or else the opportunities that arise only when they see that they are changing everything all at once (for maybe the first time in their career) will never appear to them
  • If your company hasn’t instituted optimal brand management processes, now is your chance. Investing in these processes can drive higher response and engagement rates. This can help in skyrocketing your ROI during this process
  • Remember to neutralize branded assets that don’t deliver value or have to be neutralized within the deal (e.g. divestitures) and remember to rationalize assets to reduce costs
  • Don’t forget to plan for your sales channels, dealer networks, brokers, etc. These are often the most complex transitions and they can also be great wins for ROI

Help executives understand what’s needed to make the scope of change required

Brand change projects often lack an integrated plan for how and when to transition every single asset to the new brand. Often, top executives want to control costs above all else in these deals. They may be putting together a merger deal, operating in secrecy and reluctant to bring Marketing to the table during deal planning – or – they think that “brand doesn’t need to be at the table because they aren’t part of the operational organizational planning and they aren’t going to find any synergies, so we will tell them what the strategy is once we have it sorted out and they will do their marketing thing with all of that.” Or something like that which none of us have ever experienced. It’s certainly valid to be concerned about the media or analysts finding out and leaking the news to the market too early. Yet, when executives are briefed on the value of an integrated rebranding plan, which gets ahead of these conversations, they may would understand why it is crucial to have a solid operational, analytical CMO at the table early.

This not only helps with deal accounting, cost savings, synergies, etc., it also helps with culture, employee engagement, and offers the chance to develop various communication and implementation scenarios that will help stakeholders—from investors to analysts to the media and employees—to temper their concerns over the brand change and know what is coming. You’ll be able to set expectations that you can meet and execute brand change in a way that will preserve brand value and reduce costs. (As a side benefit: you won’t be peppered with questions about when business cards or coffee mugs will be replaced with ones carrying the new brand.)

Final tip for preserving brand value

The single most important action you can take is making sure that key stakeholders understand the brand strategy, how it connects directly to business goals, and their role in bringing the new brand to market. Internal misalignment is an expensive mistake. It’s the single most common reason mergers fail to realize their potential if not fail completely, and it will undermine brand value.

Fail to deliver on the brand promise, and customers old and new may not engage. You have many agency partners you have worked with including Interbrand, Prophet, Siegel+Gale, Landor and many others that will tell you all of this and provide you with everything you need to know about the importance of getting this right. If the rebranding is simply a new logo, rolled out without a plan, a clear intention, proper funding to see it through to the end, and an eye toward efficiency, simplicity, and then you may want to reconsider why you would go forward with a rebranding at this time at all. Without a new meaningful brand experience that you can deliver upon, the odds for achieving growth and maximizing the ROI equation won’t be in your favor.