Following a large uptick in technology mergers, acquisitions, and rebrands over the past few years such as the split of HP, Dell/EMC, Western Digital/Hitachi and others, I found myself contemplating the complexities of these conversions. At first glance, rebranding implementation at tech companies might seem like a breeze as most assets seem to be digital. Marketers focus on rebranding websites, social media, sales, marketing materials and IT assets and systems to reflect the new brand. At first take, these kinds of tasks seem to lie squarely in the wheelhouse of many tech companies.
That said, not only are these areas often far more complex than a company considers before entering into rebranding, but many other branded asset areas end up draining time, money, and effort while presenting unique internal and external risks to the brand.
The unique problems a tech company needs to consider when implementing a rebrand
- To start, tech companies have complex ecosystems. The distribution model often requires working with hundreds or thousands of marketing, sales, and ecommerce partners, all of whom may use the tech company’s logo and messaging on their websites, marketing materials, and packaging. Partnership agreements often don’t address how to manage a corporate identity change nor define a clear path for applying the new identity to digital and physical branded assets and co-branded materials
- Product packaging may also need to be updated (many of BrandActive’s clients have hundreds of thousands of SKUs)
- Facility signage needs to be changed. (Even in tech companies, the brand lives in offline forms)
- And the list goes on… it includes legal agreements, HR, fleet, workwear, badges, documents and forms, HR and employee recruiting systems and material and all sales collateral, just to name a few
Clearly, rebranding implementation is not a breeze. It can’t be addressed solely through the website CMS. It’s the job of the rebranding implementation executive, who frequently hails from the marketing or corporate communications area and has a day job of their own, to figure out exactly how to scope, cost, plan, and manage which branded assets need to be changed, when they need to be changed, who is responsible for doing the work, and who will pay for it.
Yet, there is an upside. Approach rebranding implementation with a strategic mindset and it will yield operational advantages for years to come. Some tech marketing executives have boosted the ROI of rebranding implementation by finding opportunities to improve ongoing marketing operations and effectiveness. Here are some examples.
Rationalize marketing materials
Two companies were merging into one mega-tech company. During the inventory of branded assets, staff identified 4,500 pieces of digital collateral in use. All were slated for conversion to the new brand. Rather than spending time swapping out fonts, logos, and copyright notices on all these branded assets, they used the rebranding implementation as a catalyst to cut down on clutter. Over 4,500 pieces slimmed down to just 1,500 focused, high-quality communications. The new digital collateral system relies on just 20 design templates. Now it takes far less time and money to create new materials or update existing ones. (Not to mention the challenge of identifying all source files across multiple systems, segmenting materials, developing conversion workflows, and automating their conversion and approval—a process chock-full of opportunities for optimization.)
Protect brand integrity through technology
Rebranding is an ideal time to institute better control on channels of brand expression. And new technology is often the smart solution.
A tech firm acquiring a large competitor wanted to eliminate the use of off-brand, outdated materials once and for all. As part of the rebranding implementation plan, it installed a modern brand management portal. The marketing team made a tough but key decision: Everyone—all employees and all partners—who needed materials had to access them through this platform. The brand management portal also houses the new brand guidelines and provides streamlined workflow for collaboration, production and approval of materials. All marketing contributors and vendors were trained to use the platform. It’s still early days, but the CMO reports substantial improvements in brand compliance and improved efficiency. After all, it’s all about doing more with less.
Another tech company finally stamped out widespread use of off-brand email signatures. A plug-in to the new email system converted all email signatures to the brand standard version. Voilà! Problem solved. Their managers believe that employees accepted this rollout more easily during rebranding than they would have during a business-as-usual period.
Streamline product offerings
Brand strategy and design firms recommend brand architecture that makes it easier for customers to navigate the company’s offerings. One tech company that sells physical products took the process a step further. They decided to streamline product offerings during rebrand implementation. Maintaining thousands of SKUs and associated product branding, inserts, packaging, and sales material was an expensive proposition. The company is focusing on its most critical product lines first and plans to complete the process in 18 months. (There is much more to share here about how to actually plan and execute an efficient product and packaging conversion that spends the least amount while still making the most impact possible within this complex asset ecosystem – but that is a white paper of its own.)
Establish and maintain stronger relationships with field offices and partners
It’s a big job. That’s what marketing executives say about the process of identifying branded assets across the organization and preparing to convert them to the new brand. It requires connecting with regional marketing, facilities, legal and human resources departments around the world, and distribution partners. But this work can pay ongoing dividends if the marketing team continues to tap these relationships to improve design, production, and purchasing processes. The savings potential of gaining global efficiencies for most tech companies adds up to millions of dollars.
As these examples illustrate, rebranding implementation requires a tech marketer to touch virtually every branded asset and establish new internal and external relationships. Recognize this as an opportunity to not just get the current rebranding done but to improve marketing effectiveness. You’ll realize additional ROI during this project and into the future from investments made in rebranding implementation.