Rebranding? Be prepared to pass the teamwork test

Rebranding? Be prepared to pass the teamwork test

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019 | Vladimir Kacar

If you’ve ever lived through a major rebrand, you know it has the potential to be a wild ride. Really, it’s never as easy as updating logos. When the name of the company changes, the level of complexity ratchets up. And if the name change is due to merger and acquisition (M&A), and the combined companies have a global footprint, the project grows even more complicated and a sophisticated solution is required.

Ultimately, the rebrand implementation affects every employee and department, whether they work in the back office or front office. Legal must change trademarks, of course, but they also need to understand if (and when) to dissolve current entities. Product Development may update product names. They also may need to obtain new regulatory approvals and licenses and deal with import issues.

Emotions can run high, especially if the rebrand is a result of M&A. Depending on the point of view of the employee, the brand change may inspire anxiety or excitement. It may send some employees into mourning while others swell with pride. At the same time, the rebrand adds to the workload of the many people responsible for making the change happen on schedule. That includes those in Marketing, Finance, and Operations, as well as Legal, HR, IT– the list goes on, depending on your industry and company.

Put all this together and you can see where the potential for a wild ride lies.

In this pressured environment, it’s crucial to bring key players involved in rebrand implementation to the table early on. You’ll need to help everyone understand what’s required from them. You’ll have to secure budgets, and then identify, link, and manage the many interdependencies of the rebrand implementation.

Here are four things we’ve learned that help each department and team member become effective contributors to rebrand implementation.

Establish the right level of centralized control

Want to know how to get your project off on the right foot? Start here: The most successful rebrand implementations are run by a rebrand team that has secured a centralized budget and a mandate from the executive team. Some rebrand projects are fully funded through annual Capex, Opex, and special project budgets. Others may need to tap additional incremental funds, and those should be centralized under your control. You’ll also have to produce accurate estimates, and fast. (This is a big topic! If you have a moment, learn a bit more about rebrand implementation budgets here and the benchmarks used to produce rebrand estimates here.)

Don’t tell people to work together – show them what that looks like

This isn’t a business-as-usual or “standard” change management project—far from it. Most companies don’t face a rebranding every three years or even every five years. Some companies may not rebrand for decades. So, there’s rarely internal subject matter expertise on how to organize and structure the implementation effort to make sure it stays on track.

Here’s a smart strategy to bring together people from the affected areas of your organization, help them gel as a team and become productive quickly: Run an interdependency workshop. When BrandActive does this for a client, we start by briefing the teams on the project, so they understand the mission, goals, and target timing. A month before the workshop, we ask team members to review the list of rebrand implementation activities we identified for their area. For example, the Facilities team will have to finalize the locations and types of signage that need to be changed. Security will pinpoint the changes it needs to make including new employee ID badges. And so on.

Then, we ask each group to present their findings. We usually ask Legal to go first. Legal does some heavy lifting– dissolves entities, creates DBAs and figures out which entity owns intellectual property. Other departments follow with their presentations. Sharing in this forum makes it easy for team members to see and truly understand how much their work impacts or is impacted by others. It also creates a real-time opportunity to identify anything that the individuals may have missed. For example, Facilities could become aware that Legal must file the legal entity/DBA paperwork before BrandActive can submit for signage permits. And Security will come to understand that HR must confirm all job titles and new positions before data can be pulled for ID badge production.

The workshop opens the door for more effective processes by sharing ideas and aligning on how everyone works together towards the common end goal. We use the findings from the session to produce a thorough and realistic project plan that accounts for all interdependencies across the organization.

Understand the role of your PMO(s)

Sometimes, it can seem like the right approach to a complex project is simply to assign it to an internal project management organization (PMO). After all, these staff members know how to organize and run meetings, create project plans, and hold team members to delivery dates. But a rebrand is a unique situation. BrandActive often works closely with internal PMOs to provide expertise on the unique intricacies involved in brand change. We add value by identifying opportunities to standardize branded assets, rationalize material purchases, and manage vendor selection.
For example, the rebrand of one tech giant required that over 70 different groups work together. There was a team for each type of product billed, for support hotlines, for the web, and so on. The company’s PMO brought these groups together and compiled status updates from each team. BrandActive was then brought in to support the PMO and develop a process and workflow that was suitable for a rebrand initiative of this complexity.

Be as transparent as possible

Keeping all team members on the same page—most of whom will be dedicating some of their time to the rebrand implementation—needs to be an efficient process. We believe in being as transparent as possible about the budget, the timing for converting branded assets to the new identity, and the processes that will be used to ensure brand consistency.

It builds a sense of teamwork, trust, and accountability when you keep all information in a centralized repository, such as SharePoint. Grant “read” permission to a wide group of members, and reserve “write” permission to the head of each sub-team.

This transparency isn’t simply good people management—it’s good business. It brings to the surface new levels of detail so issues can be flagged. In some industries – healthcare, for example – there are extremely specific rules. You need to update your registration with Medicare and Medicaid’s reimbursement departments in the proper time frame or you won’t receive reimbursement for services. If signage isn’t correct, you can be penalized as patients must know which entity is providing service.

To sum this up: In a rebranding project, teamwork across many departments is a pre-requisite for success. It’s best not to use a one-size-fits-all structure for project management. Consider applying the four best practices described above — establish centralized control; secure the assistance of subject matter experts; set processes that enable departments to collaborate effectively; and keep everyone connected to information and to each other over the course of the project. Use this approach, and you’ll be able to deliver the prize: an on-time, on-budget, consistent rebranding.

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