For many organizations, maintaining brand consistency is a struggle under normal conditions. It’s never an easy task, but it inevitably grows much more challenging during a rebrand. Rebrands aren’t business as usual. Companies in the thick of a rebrand must adopt new brand guidelines as seamlessly as possible while just about everything related to it is in flux. In addition, many organizations preparing for a rebrand focus the majority of their energies on brand research and strategy. It’s the crucial first step in defining a new brand. But the success of a rebrand ultimately relies on the practical implementation of that strategy.
Unfortunately, especially when companies face a tight timeline for rebranding, it is precisely the implementation piece of the puzzle that tends to get the short end of the stick. Take the following advice to avoid making some of the most common rebranding mistakes that undermine brand consistency.
Start from within: internal buy-in for external brand consistency
In planning a rebrand, organizations often devote the majority of their energy thinking about how external markets or customers will react to the new brand. But many of these same companies forget that they must start by “selling” the new brand internally before they can ever hope to bring it to life externally. This task may be more or less challenging depending on your particular corporate culture and the specific reason for your rebrand.
Either way, your leadership team must find a way to clearly communicate the value of the new brand to the entire organization. Beyond that, you must equip your team — including each of your operational teams — with an understanding of exactly how they will be impacted, what’s required of them, and what constraints they will be working under in order to make the rebrand happen. Your goal is for each person on the team to be enthusiastic about the value and benefits of the rebrand and clear about their role in it so they are prepared to rise to the occasion and make it happen.
Finally, you must provide your staff with the proper support infrastructure to help them successfully execute the rebrand so it upholds the broader strategic vision. Practically speaking, this will include some combination of the following:
- Change Management. For the people in your organization, rebrands often signify big changes beyond the new brand identity. In some cases, a rebrand goes hand in hand with deeper transitions, such as a change in management, shifts in job descriptions, and/or a new organizational structure. In addition, executing a rebrand will most likely require some of your team to take on responsibilities outside of their usual day-to-day activities. In this context, some or all of your team may feel stretched. Success requires thoughtful and deliberate steps to help individuals successfully adopt change. In brief, change management requires leadership from the top, a deep understanding of the culture, and the ability to communicate effectively on an individual level, as well as ways to provide people with a sense of ownership. Revisit the principles of change management and craft a plan that helps your team deal with the transition as smoothly as possible.
- Training. Training is an essential component of change management as your entire team must be on the same page about your rebranding specifics. This typically means you must create a centralized rebrand plan with crystal-clear instructions regarding everything from timelines to acceptable vendors. Providing your staff with sufficient information and training will prepare them to successfully implement your rebrand according to a centralized vision. This is especially critical when it comes to decentralized, global organizations. Without proper training, you have a recipe for brand inconsistency as individual operational teams and global branches are left to work out the details of executing the rebrand on their own.
- Brand Champions. Identify and enlist internal brand champions to help lead the way in embracing the new brand — and the rebrand process that precedes it. Ideal brand champions have localized knowledge and can help set the example and empower employees as they move across the change.
- Help Desk. Make sure you set up a help desk to address people’s questions about rebranding specifics as they arise. An effective help desk centralizes and standardizes queries and responses. It provides the ability to measure resolutions and response time, report on trends, and issue continually updated FAQs and other resources.
- Budget. Make sure your team has ready access to the budget required to execute their portion of the rebrand. If any or all of the rebrand budget is set to come out of individual operational budgets, make sure to give those teams sufficient notice so they can plan their rebrand funding (and adjust their overall budgets) accordingly.
Finally, it’s important that you initiate efforts to gain internal buy-in as soon as possible once a plan for rebranding is underway. You need your team to be primed and ready to jump into action by the time you begin executing the rebrand. And that will only happen if your staff is on-board and eager to contribute to the rebranding effort.
For brand consistency, build out brand guidelines beyond marketing assets
In order to achieve brand consistency in a rebrand, you must build out brand guidelines for all branded assets, not just marketing materials.
The more you document your requirements, the better. For more technical assets, like signage and fleet, simple concepts aren’t enough. Your goal should be to leave as little room for creative interpretation as possible. After all, you want each of the operational teams and vendors who will be executing on your vision to arrive at the same end-products, possibly from across the globe. To make that happen you will need technical documentation and in-person inspections to make sure branded assets are implemented consistently and according to spec.
As much as possible, go beyond paper-bound descriptions and drawings. Centrally produced and approved prototypes of major assets go a long way in educating vendors in different locations about exactly what you expect.
The right rebrand tools and processes for maintaining brand consistency in a rebrand
Another way to ensure brand consistency in the midst of a rebrand is to make sure you have the right rebrand tools and processes in place.
Your team will no doubt spend a great deal of time and energy producing brand guidelines and templates in advance of your rebrand. But if your staff doesn’t know how to tell which templates are the most up to date or how to access them, you’ll almost certainly have problems with consistency.
Close the loop by clearly communicating to your team about where exactly they can find the latest versions of all branded materials (for example, in a digital asset management system, or DAM). Instruct your team that they should never work off of local copies to prevent them from accidentally using an outdated asset or template.
Finally, think about how you want to structure approvals related to digital marketing materials. If you use a digital asset management system, be sure to put appropriate workflows in place so your team can approve changes quickly and easily. Relying on email to handle these approvals is less than ideal. It can compromise version control and makes it harder for team members to get a real-time status update.
Rebranding is a particularly challenging time to think about maintaining brand consistency. After all, what’s consistent about transitioning from one brand to the next? But if you get internal buy-in for the rebrand, pay special attention to all of your branded assets, and put the right processes and tools in place, you can achieve the brand integrity that you are striving for.