An agile approach to rebranding in times of uncertainty

An agile approach to rebranding in times of uncertainty

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Friday, April 24, 2020 | BrandActive

If you’ve been through brand change, you know all too well once the strategy and creative have been approved, the real ground war begins—applying the new brand identity to every branded asset throughout the organization. But in these disrupted times, with some work locations shuttered, supply chains disrupted, many people working from home or remotely, and limited access to key locations, companies that are mid-rebrand need a new roadmap.

We talked to our senior consultants currently working on over 40 different rebrand implementations mostly for Fortune 1000 companies to find out how these projects are progressing. As it turns out, most are making remarkable strides.  The reason is simple and can be summed up in one word: agility. This word became part of the business lexicon some time ago, but it times like these, being agile is more critical than ever.

3 agile approaches to rebrand implementation

BrandActive is working together with clients and vendors to devise ways to thrive in the face of a situation that changes almost daily. To move projects forward, we’re developing flexible and innovative approaches across three key components: work teams, transition priorities, and work methods and processes.

So, direct from the trenches, we’ll share tangible examples of how agility is providing practical value to rebrand implementation during this time of disruption.

1. Reimagine the rebrand transition plan, including staffing

Here’s the truth: rebrand implementation is labor intensive. So right now, while some rebrand team members are busy, other marketers have a lighter-than-usual load as organizational priorities shift.  One large healthcare company that recently announced its brand change has shifted its focus to transitioning digital collateral because work on physical branded assets has slowed due to the pandemic. As a result, both the company and BrandActive have directed more staff resources to marketing production work and administrative duties—a relatively easy shift as this work can be managed and completed online. With that said, this is still a big job. It takes both smart planning and muscle to switch more than 1,000 pieces of collateral to the new brand. Work may include changing layout, logo, some messaging, photography, website addresses, contact information, and more.

This agile mindset extends to transitioning branded videos.  On-location shoots aren’t possible right now, but companies can accelerate the process of transitioning existing videos if they use stock footage temporarily and direct staff to work on creating bookends and re-editing.

Here’s another example of reallocating staff resources: A tech company in the initial stages of planning brand change is taking advantage of the slowdown in other marketing areas to beef up project management by reassigning project managers who have recently been relegated to the bench to branded asset transition. BrandActive is training these staffers to work on transformation of digital assets so initiatives are completed on or ahead of schedule.

This tech company also needs to transition a lot of signage. A new timetable accommodates supply shortages and the restrictions preventing teams from completing on-site surveys and installation. The revised plan calls for installing temporary signage at ten key locations on Day One launch. Being agile in this environment sometimes requires tolerance of a slower pace.

Even if the rebranding program is paused due to logistical considerations, there’s a lot you can do to improve brand operations so that when rebranding resumes, you can complete the work more quickly and cost effectively. Among the series of actions that can put you in good stead are process improvements around how branded assets are created and managed, vendor rationalization to reduce time to market and costs, and brand governance enhancements.

2. Use new methods and processes for rebrand implementation

Temporary signage is a technique that BrandActive and its clients have used before when schedules or budgets get squeezed, but the current situation has given birth to a brand-new technique: remote prototyping.

A company based on the West Coast wanted to continue with the planning and design work for exterior signage despite the lockdown. Under normal business conditions, that means conducting an in-person workshop to iterate on physical prototypes. It’s a tried-and-true way to produce signage that is legible, appealing, brand compliant, and works in all types of lighting. This arts-and-crafts-meets-ideation session produces bulletproof solutions. But in the current environment, in-person prototyping sessions aren’t an option.

Instead, we worked with the sign vendor to produce a virtual prototyping workshop using video conferencing. We presented five types of ground signs with multiple variations through carefully staged photos of prototypes taken at the vendor’s facility. We simulated day, night and the expected shadows for each major sign location and used site photos and videos taken previously to give context. This virtual one-hour prototyping session took almost a month of planning, which is similar timing to an in-person version. After this meeting, the company was able to make 90% of key decisions. The team then turned its attention to refinements and next steps.

3. Take full advantage of technology to work around travel restrictions

This remote prototyping is made possible by video conference technology, as is so much work in this environment. But rebrand technology has even more to offer during this time.  For example, field survey technology used by BrandActive, Survey Manager Express (SME), is enabling design and planning work to move forward for a large signage and fleet rebranding.  BrandActive staff or field surveyors customarily use the SME app while visiting site locations. They collect precise data on the size, location, and other specifications of signage and fleet assets using their smartphone or tablet.  With travel suspended for now, we have equipped and trained company personnel and a key local vendor— people who still have access to some sites—to use this tool.  SME assures efficiency and accuracy because it gathers information through forms and rich media, automatically geocodes the location of each branded asset, and fills in missing data for identical branded assets.

SME feeds this branded asset data into RAE (Rebrand Analytics Engine, BrandActive’s proprietary tool) which contains benchmarking data on branded asset specifications and the costs to transition them over scores of previous projects. BrandActive consultants access RAE for highly accurate specifications, cost data and vendor information. They then use this data to quickly generate multiple rebranding scenarios that vary in scope, quality, and timing.

It’s clear there’s more than one way to win at rebrand implementation. We’re seeing companies succeed when they apply a flexible approach to planning and staffing, focus on the work that can be done given today’s constraints, reimagine processes, and tap technology.

How is your company emphasizing an agile mindset during this great lockdown?  We would love to hear how you are navigating this landscape. Feel free to drop us a line or give us a shout out on Twitter.

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