How to bullet-proof your rebranding plan so nothing falls through the cracks

How to bullet-proof your rebranding plan so nothing falls through the cracks

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019 | Marie Greatrix

The decision to rebrand is a big one. It triggers a cascade of activities that must be managed carefully to fully transition your organization from one branded identity to another. Marketing tends to be in the spotlight, but implementing your rebranding plan is actually a team effort requiring coordination from every area of your organization. The sheer volume of to-do items, not to mention the level of complexity, can be overwhelming.

Branded assets are a major consideration, but the reality is that they are just the tip of the iceberg. With so much to manage, it’s easy for less glaring details to fall through the cracks, putting your firm’s brand cohesion at risk. The solution is to create a comprehensive rebranding plan that leaves no stone unturned. You then must communicate your rebranding strategy so that your whole organization executes your plan in unison.

Lost in the shuffle: the details you might forget 

Some rebranding activities are more readily apparent than others. No one is likely to forget to transition a major branded asset group, such as signage, fleet vehicles, or employee ID badges, but some activities are less obvious. Keep the following considerations in mind, and you’ll keep your organization ahead of the curve.

  • Less common legal requirements. From trademarks to intellectual property, your company will need to iron out a number of rebrand legal considerations prior to launch day, but some legal requirements may surprise you. For example, global companies sometimes find that they can’t put up rebranded signs or distribute new business cards in certain countries before they have finalized changes to the legal entity. Other, less prominent legal considerations include whether the rights to use previously licensed photography are retained over the course of the transition (especially in the event of a split), customs issues, and (for healthcare companies) legalities surrounding Medicaid and Medicare. Regardless of your industry, your legal team needs to be keyed into your rebrand plan from the beginning. Only then can they advise you on which legal processes need to take place in order to avoid costly hold-ups further down the line.
  • Branded collateral on websites. Depending on your business, your website may include some branded collateral (such as downloadable charts, files, or forms in PDF format) that aren’t automatically addressed in the website redesign process. Oftentimes, these assets are uploaded into your website’s content management system in the form of attachments. This means that the source files themselves will need to be located within your organization, edited, and re-uploaded to the website.
  • Product collateral. You already know that your products need to be rebranded, but so does any collateral that goes along with them. This includes any inserts, instructions for use, marketing materials, and product packaging. Keep in mind that changing all of the elements associated with any single product will likely require coordination between multiple departments.
  • Bulk orders of branded materials held by vendors. It’s not uncommon for vendors to store a portion of bulk orders of forms, special stationery stock, supplies, signs, and products. For items like these, the existing stock in your storeroom or mailroom won’t tell the full story. You need a true accounting of these items to plan appropriately and avoid costly waste. Note that this category is more likely to be missed in the event of a confidential rebrand.

Bullet-proofing your rebranding plan

Having an awareness of the sort of details that tend to fall through the cracks is a good start. But here are some ways you can operationalize your rebrand so that the details are all accounted for.

1. Establish a rebrand leadership team. Rebrands touch on every department in your organization. One of the biggest reasons details get lost in the shuffle is simply a lack of internal coordination. One of your first rebranding tasks should be to establish a rebrand leadership team comprised of key decision-makers. This team should approve the rebranding plan, encourage employee cooperation across every area of your organization, and develop working groups for each of these areas. Doing it this way ensures effective cross-functional collaboration and a holistic approach to rebranding. Make sure your rebrand leadership team includes representatives from key departments, including marketing, finance, procurement or supply chain, legal, facilities, and HR. It’s then your job to monitor rebrand progress and report to the leadership team.

2. Effectively communicate your rebranding plan. Clearly communicate your rebranding plan across your organization so that no one is left guessing — and all the necessary details are accounted for. Your rebrand leadership team can work with your communications team to disseminate information as needed in a timely fashion. Your entire organization will then be prepared to communicate the plan to external stakeholders, such as vendors, agencies, PR firms, consumers, and (for healthcare companies) patients. Larger organizations often benefit from staffing an internal help desk and putting together a list of frequently asked questions.

3. Form rebrand work groups for each functional team. As mentioned, the brand leadership team should form rebrand work groups for each functional area of your organization. These work groups execute each of the rebranding activities assigned to their area of operation. Individual work groups should have a detailed understanding of their responsibilities and which tasks require cross-functional collaboration. For example, the HR work group might take ownership of transitioning business cards. To do so, they would need to consult with other work groups, such as legal, to get updated legal entity names.

4. Rationalize branded touchpoints. It almost never makes sense to rebrand every single asset or piece of collateral that exists within your organization. Rebranding is an opportunity to audit all your assets, prioritize for launch and determine which really need to be transitioned. Some, like products that will soon be taken out of production, or forms that no longer serve a purpose, don’t need to be rebranded. Other touchpoints that now carry your company’s branding may not need to be branded even though you’ll continue to use them. Rationalizing in this way saves money and reduces the complexity of your rebranding activities.

What we’ve learned over hundreds of projects is that while rebranding can feel like a steep uphill climb, it’s easier going when you dig into the details, secure leadership support across departments, communicate frequently, and prioritize and organize for an efficient transition.

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