It’s true in life, and it’s true when rebranding: you only get one chance to make a first impression. So, if you’re planning to introduce your new brand to the world, you’re probably feeling the pressure to make it count.
You know you need to capture the attention of your internal and external stakeholders by unveiling your new brand in a way that is memorable and meaningful. But with so many rebrands happening right now and the volume of business messages stakeholders see every day, how do you cut through the noise and make the impact that your rebrand deserves? What’s more, how do you do so in a way that maximizes your ROI?
As a marketing leader, you might only navigate one rebranding launch and implementation in the span of your career. To do it successfully, you’ll need a solid launch strategy that aligns with a seamless rebrand implementation plan.
However, not all launch strategies are created equally, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Your reasons for rebranding and the type of brand change you’re making will factor into your ultimate decision on how to proceed.
We’ll help you think through which type of launch is the best match for your company’s rebranding objectives while considering the dependencies that influence each approach. Then we’ll explore four elements of a successful launch plan to set your rebrand up for long-term success.
The big bang launch strategy when rebranding
As its name implies, the big bang launch is all about the wow factor and is designed to make a significant, immediate impression on anyone experiencing your brand. Although the pandemic has caused businesses to re-imagine the big bang launch in order to adhere to safety protocols, the focus continues to be on creating an impression to remember.
For external audiences, this might be achieved through an in-person or virtual signature event, a media or advertising blitz, an overnight unveiling of new signage, the transition of all branded assets in one fell swoop, or the debut of a brand-new website. For internal stakeholders, it might mean surprising employees with rebranded apparel or other swag, holding a festive kickoff celebration, redesigning key office spaces for teams working onsite, or launching an in-depth brand training program.
If you want to make a big bang, you’ll need to invest significant resources into the process and the lion’s share of the spend occurs over a short period of time. You’ll need to budget wisely. But beyond that, consider how you want your stakeholders to feel and what you want them to believe and say about your new brand. Be sure to create an experience that is aligned with your overarching goals and reasons for your rebrand. Otherwise, your big bang launch runs the risk of falling flat.
The communication-driven launch
There is a significant measure of risk in the big bang approach due to the major cost and the element of surprise involved. That’s why many companies have moved toward a communication-driven launch strategy in more recent years.
This approach introduces the new brand thoughtfully, methodically, and gradually. The what, why, when, and how of the rebrand are carefully communicated in order to gain buy-in early on. For external stakeholders, this strategy is particularly helpful when rebranding due to a reputational crisis or as a result of shifting consumer norms and expectations. Highlighting the rationale for your company’s evolution can garner increased trust and boost brand loyalty.
And while it’s crucial to communicate with employees no matter which launch strategy you use, the importance of your internal communication plan is elevated during a communication-driven launch. After all, your employees are the living, breathing representation of your brand in a multitude of ways. So, if you’re responding to variables in the market that are leading you to rebrand — or evolving your company in a new direction that changes how employees will think and feel about the brand —it stands to reason that extra attention should be given to helping them understand why this is the right strategic move.
A custom, hybrid launch
There might be elements of both primary launch strategies that you find attractive and appealing. In today’s world, everything is customizable — so why not combine elements of both strategies to create a best-in-class approach that truly sets your brand apart?
To achieve this, plan a big bang experience to powerfully solidify your new brand into the market. Meanwhile, ensure your employees and external stakeholders fully understand and buy in to the rationale for your rebrand by communicating the reasons in advance thoughtfully and comprehensively.
A hybrid launch strategy reduces the risk of a pure big bang approach and increases ROI by rallying internal and external stakeholders around the rationale for the new brand prior to the official launch. The kickoff, media blitz, or big-splash branded asset rollout then has the potential to achieve an even more meaningful impact as your stakeholders see your new brand in action.
Take CVS. They embarked on a wellness-related rebrand in order to reposition themselves as being authentically committed to health and wellbeing. First, they communicated with their stakeholders and employees regarding the values their new brand would reflect. Then, they made the big bang move of removing tobacco products from their shelves. The result? A rebrand experience that was bold and well-defined.
The 4 elements of a successful rebrand launch plan
No matter which launch strategy you employ, you will need a thoughtful and thorough implementation plan made up of four key elements: employee engagement, brand training, external communications, and branded asset conversion.
At their best, your employees can be ambassadors for your brand. But it takes a thorough understanding of the rebrand and a deep buy-in for employees to truly become brand champions.
What if your employees received more than a top-down message about your rebrand? What if, instead, they were involved in generating the ideas that would lead to concrete steps to bring your new brand to life? Wouldn’t having ownership in the process give your employees motivation to make the rebrand an unparalleled success?
Give your employees the opportunity to understand the vision for the rebrand and why it will set the company up for long-term success. Help them love it as much as you do by putting employee engagement at the top of your rebranding priority list. Their buy-in is critical to success.
Brand training takes the employee engagement step and makes it tactical. This is where you educate employees on how your new brand will be expressed and represented. This part of the plan involves training on everything from logos and color palettes to brand values and identity.
Good, thorough training will also dismantle the notion that the rebranding process lives only within the marketing department. Mobilize your brand across all departments and locations so that every single employee understands how it should function. Training is key to making this happen.
Why does your rebrand matter? When communicating with your external stakeholders (including consumers, investors, and market analysts), answer this question by emphasizing the relevance of your rebrand within the market.
Your launch communications should build on existing brand loyalty and foster pride in your company’s direction. Make it interesting, exciting, and substantive. Give your external stakeholders new and exciting reasons to love your evolved brand.
Branded asset conversion
This part of the plan can be the hardest to get right, especially if you are a large, complex organization with multiple locations, unique assets or a slew of product lines. Initially, you may decide to focus on the assets that absolutely must be converted by your launch date. This might mean you start by updating only the 20% of your branded assets that have the most market impact. However, everything that carries your logo will eventually need to be converted.
To accomplish this, take a comprehensive inventory to identify every touchpoint that carries your logo and develop a conversion timeline that makes sense for your budget and objectives.
Launch your rebrand into its bright future
This is your moment. The rebranding launch is your chance to get your stakeholders’ attention and cast the vision for what your rebrand will achieve for your organization. Now is the time to thoughtfully introduce your new brand to the market and inspire even stronger brand loyalty and pride.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the many brand implementation details to consider, remember: You don’t have to do this alone. You may find you need expert guidance and support to bring all the moving parts together into a cohesive rebranding implementation and launch plan.
Just reach out. We’d love to help.