Rebranding on the world stage? 3 tips to manage the complexities of global implementation

Rebranding on the world stage? 3 tips to manage the complexities of global implementation


Eli Greenspan

Implementing a rebrand of any size and scope can seem like a Herculean task. But if you’re planning a rollout with global proportions? You may feel more like Atlas, carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Besides the sheer number of branded assets to convert and the challenge of uniting potentially decentralized marketing teams toward a common goal, there are numerous additional complexities to bear in mind. And if you don’t carefully factor in each one, they could wreak havoc on your implementation plan and timeline.

Still — despite the enormity of the endeavor ahead of you — you can overcome each challenge if you put together a thoughtful, informed plan of action. Here are three tips to help you achieve the global impact you’re looking for.

1. Understand the unique challenges that come with a global rebrand

As is the case when beginning any large undertaking, it’s crucial to start by taking stock of all the variables that will impact your ultimate success. In this case, that means getting your arms around several key considerations.

Converting your branded assets

Transitioning your branded assets in a consistent and cost-effective way is always a challenge. But it’s even more complex when you’re doing so across multiple countries and languages.

That’s why it’s so important to consider how you will:

  • Translate your brand into other languages. To ensure your brand speaks your audience’s language effectively, make it a priority to invest in local translators who understand the nuances and idiosyncrasies of each language and put in place a rigorous review process. Keep in mind as well that some languages naturally take up more space in print than others, even if the overall message is the same. Additionally, remember that some languages read right to left rather than left to right. Consider how these variations will impact the visual layout of all your branded assets.
  • Trademark your brand identity everywhere you do business. Just because your brand is trademarked in North America doesn’t mean it’s protected in Europe, Asia, or any other continent. Plan to apply for trademarks in each country you operate in. You may discover that in some countries, your logo or other elements of your visual identity are already trademarked by another entity. If so, you’ll need to conceive of alternative ways to update your assets and make the brand impact you desire in these locations.
  • Navigate the nuances of cultural differences. As you convert your branded assets in different parts of the world, consider the cultural implications of your new brand identity. Make sure the colors, shapes, and messages you choose will reach your global audience the way you intend.

Every change you make to your branded asset templates in response to these considerations may decrease your ability to take advantage of economies of scale. If they do, don’t forget to adjust your financial projections to reflect the added cost of these accommodations.

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Coordinating a global launch

Launching your rebrand on a global scale is more complicated than simply selecting a launch date. It can be tricky to achieve the “big bang” impact you desire when your audience lives in multiple time zones.

With some careful forethought, you may be able to select a date and time that enables you to reach all members of your audience simultaneously. But if not, you’ll need to prioritize which audiences hear the news of your rebrand first.

Additionally, be mindful to:

  • Avoid scheduling your launch date on your operating countries’ national or major religious holidays
  • Factor in the regulatory and legal requirements that could affect your launch plans, particularly if you’re changing your name, filing a d/b/a, or rebranding due to an M&A
  • Communicate the “why” and “how” of your launch plans so your internal audience can effectively carry out your vision

Above all, lean on team members in each region to help you consider every eventuality. From knowing which permits to file to navigating local supply chain issues, your regional workgroup leads are a crucial part of ensuring your launch plans — and your overall rebrand implementation — go off without a hitch.

2. Create flexible brand standards and guidelines

As a marketing leader, you know how important it is to roll out a consistent brand experience. Your signs, website, workwear, fleet vehicles, and marketing collateral all play a role in telling your organization’s story and communicating your brand promise to your audience.

But when there are so many people involved in implementing your rebrand across hundreds — or even thousands — of locations, how can you achieve the brand consistency you desire?

It all comes down to flexibility.

Yes, it is important to create specific, highly detailed standards and guidelines so your team knows exactly what it takes to achieve an on-brand result. It’s equally critical, however, to build in contingencies for alternative solutions if vendors around the world don’t have the equipment, production capability, or technical expertise to fulfill your exact specifications.

Getting your rebrand right is more important than doing it quickly, so allocate time for your teams to work through every challenge.

Furthermore, let team members know what steps to take if they need to request an exception or alternative to your brand guidelines. They need to know how to proceed when they run into implementation obstacles.

3. Build extra time into your rebrand implementation plan

One of the rules of rebranding is that the implementation process almost always takes twice as long as you initially expected it to. And given the numerous complexities inherent in a global rebrand, it’s even more important to create a realistic timeline for your teams to follow.

Unfortunately, there’s no rule of thumb for estimating exactly how much time it will take to carry out your implementation plan. Again, you’ll need to rely on your boots-on-the-ground team members in each region and country to provide insight into:

  • The average lead time for local regulatory bodies to process requests for permits, approvals, and trademarks
  • How long it will take to translate your branded assets into local languages and dialects
  • Any supply chain interruptions and/or staffing challenges that might affect vendors’ ability to produce your branded assets on your desired timeline

Remember: Getting your rebrand right is more important than doing it quickly. To that end, allocate plenty of time so your teams can effectively work through every challenge that comes their way.

Expect the unexpected to roll out a successful global rebrand

It’s not possible to foresee every wrinkle or obstacle that a global rebrand implementation will throw your way. And in all honesty, there are bound to be more than a few surprises that will require you to tap into your team’s problem-solving skills.

That’s why it’s so essential to explore all the known complexities a multi-national rebrand brings to the table. Then, create a flexible, realistic implementation plan to address those challenges. When you do that, you’ll be well on your way to achieving the global brand impact you envision.