For many companies, market capitalization and market value are at all-time highs. Therefore, it’s likely your brand value and equity have soared as well. Still, even if your brand has never been stronger, there may be strategic reasons to include a rebrand on your company’s roadmap. You may be repositioning due to an expanded value proposition, evolving your brand to match shifting cultural norms and expectations, or merging a house of brands into a master brand, or rebranding due to an M&A.
Whatever your reasons, rebranding from a position of strength means the stakes are high and the opportunity is even higher. Make a misstep and you risk confusing and even alienating your customers and stakeholders.
But if you get it right, you have the opportunity to catapult your company forward by significantly increasing your brand’s market value. So, it’s crucial to craft a solid plan to ensure that your rebrand hits the right mark and achieves the desired result.
This is usually not the time for a big bang rebranding approach. Rather, you’ll need to build a plan that incrementally introduces your brand transformation while capitalizing on affinity for and familiarization with your current brand.
We’ll walk you through how to achieve just that.
Build a rebranding implementation plan that prioritizes your current brand’s value
In order to preserve, protect, and increase your current brand value and equity, begin by crafting an implementation plan that prioritizes the value of your existing brand. To achieve this, several aspects of your implementation plan will be carried out differently than a traditional rebranding plan.
But first, be sure your comprehensive plan includes all the best practices related to rebranding implementation, such as:
- Developing a thorough branded asset conversion strategy
- Resourcing a comprehensive budget, possibly spanning multiple fiscal periods
- Determining your implementation timeline
- Appointing a focused implementation team to carry out all aspects of the plan
- Building solid brand architecture to ensure all brands and sub-brands are represented
- Refining existing brand and marketing processes and identifying where new processes are needed
- Ensuring brand consistency across locations and channels
- Crafting communication plans for internal and external stakeholders
That is a lot of work in and of itself. But in order to reap the full benefits of your current brand’s value, you will need to pay special attention to three elements in particular — your brand architecture, your rollout timeline, and your communication plan.
Analyze and refine your brand architecture
Especially when rebranding due to an M&A, delve into your brand architecture to ensure that it is structured to reflect your overarching strategy. For instance, will you be moving from a house of brands (think Proctor & Gamble) to a branded house model (think Google)? Or will you implement an endorsed brand approach? If so, all of your sub-brands and their associated assets will need to be accounted for and modified along the way.
Even without the component of an M&A to consider, a well-defined brand architecture is crucial when rebranding from a position of strength. And this is especially true if your brand is made up of a number of sub-brands. When brand change is on the horizon, you must think through how all of your sub-brands will function within the hierarchy of your overall architecture and create guidelines for consistent expressions of the brand — all while preserving existing brand equity.
Because remember: It’s likely that any sub-brands in your architecture have strong brand value and equity of their own. Therefore, be mindful of their unique positioning within their niche markets and think through how to introduce your new overarching brand in a way that expands on the brand equity of all the brands within your architecture.
Implement a longer, multi-step rebranding timeline
A smart way to take advantage of strong brand equity within your legacy brand is to implement a multi-step rollout. To do this, you will need to marry your new brand to your legacy brand in consumers’ minds over a period of time.
This phased strategy uses internal endorsements and affiliations to build trust in your new brand. Specifically, your strong legacy brand endorses your new brand as a way to reduce market confusion while increasing familiarity with your new identity.
For example, a national utility company might acquire a well-known product that has name recognition among customers in a regional market. To ensure a smooth transition, they should continue to use the legacy brand while adding the new brand name to it, as well. This gradually introduces the new brand to existing customers while capitalizing on consumer trust.
In essence, you are rebranding twice: First, with the endorsement of the widely known brand firmly in place. And then, after a period of time, you fully transition to using only your new brand. By then, consumers will be familiar with the new brand and welcome it as an extension of the original brand. And they will also be more receptive to any expanded services and products that your new brand offers.
Communicate the why and when of your rebrand
When rebranding, it’s crucial to communicate clearly and often to both internal and external stakeholders.
Start by asking your CEO and executive team to signal their buy-in. Have them lay out their vision for the rebrand. Your key stakeholders are invested in your brand as it exists right now. They may be concerned about the risk of rebranding when brand value is high. So be sure to give them the overarching rationale behind the rebrand.
Your communication plan should address the following:
- Why? Internally, when employees understand the reasons behind your rebranding strategy, they will get on board more quickly and be more willing to adapt to new norms. Additionally, you will prevent the negative spiral that can take place when lack of information causes employees to speculate amongst themselves. Externally, your communication plan should address consumers, of course, but also the analysts who shepherd your brand and corporate strategy to the media and to investor groups. Analysts in particular need to understand your why and believe in your vision in order to effectively promote you in their sphere of influence.
- When? Internally, take steps to actively manage your teams’ expectations regarding when changes to the existing brand will be made. It might make sense to make a swift change to branded assets internally, even while using a multi-step transition approach externally. If so, communicate that big changes will be coming quickly. But if the opposite is true and your team members won’t see any immediate changes to the brand, tell them to expect a longer timeline. Be sure to communicate your timeline to external stakeholders as well. Avoid surprises. By saying what you’ll do and doing what you say, you will set your new brand up for a seamless transition in the market when it’s time to sunset your legacy brand.
Slow and steady wins the race when rebranding a high-value brand
Rebranding is always a challenge. But when existing brand value and equity are high, there are special considerations to keep in mind. It can be tempting to think the pressure is off since you’re in such a strong position. The reality is, your implementation plan is even more critical to ensure you don’t risk losing hard-won brand value along the way.
By structuring your rebrand implementation thoughtfully and gradually — while communicating regularly and effectively throughout the process — you can build on your legacy brand’s momentum and see your new brand continue an upward trajectory for years to come.