Podcast: How to recalibrate your rebranding initiative during disruption

Podcast: How to recalibrate your rebranding initiative during disruption



The 10-Minute Roadmap is a new podcast series dedicated to providing insights from BrandActive and our work with Fortune 1000 Clients on how to best manage brand operations and rebrand projects during disruption.

In this episode, “How to recalibrate your rebranding initiative during disruption″, provides solutions for how to adjust your rebranding plans with particular attention to the challenges faced by companies going through an M+A or other strategic change during these unprecedented times.

Philip Guiliano, a Partner at BrandActive, will share:

  • The 3 most common recalibration strategies and how to figure out which is best for your situation
  • Options to consider that will save you money and allow you to stay the course despite having fewer human and financial resources
  • The most critical risks you need to prepare for and recommended mitigation responses

Listen to the talk below now.


Full transcript of the audio below:

Hi, this is Phillip Guiliano. I’m a partner at BrandActive and I want to thank you for taking the time to listen today. This is a time to share what we know, to come together as a community and to give all that we can to make sure that we all stay strong in what we are doing. I do hope that the valuable information that I provide in this series leaves you with even just a few nuggets that you can take back and use right now. In this 10 minute talk, we’re going to focus on how to recalibrate your rebranding initiative during COVID-19. Despite the challenges today, our clients find themselves needing to move forward with their key initiatives, whether that’s a planned rebrand, an acquisition, a split or another change initiative to strengthen their organization in the marketplace. The strategic intent of that initiative is still relevant, so they find themselves needing to press on.

And what I can tell you from what we’ve seen among our clients is that there are three key strategies emerging. The first are those companies that are deep in the midst of a rebrand. The encouraging news is that from what we see firsthand in our client base and from what we’ve heard from our agency partners, the majority of these companies are staying the course. There are of course obvious exceptions such as hospitality, energy and some but certainly not all healthcare providers.

Overall, most are leading the path forward with positivity. In fact, some see the current situation as only enhancing the strategic need of their initiatives. And some may need to refocus on the business case and drive savings and this is a really important topic that we’ll touch on shortly as well as in depth in another podcast in this series. One notable segment of organizations that is staying the course are companies that are going through a merger or acquisition. These companies simply have to move forward. Because of compliance issues, the synergies that they promise to the marketplace or other business factors. M&A is a unique situation that our clients deal with and there’s no getting around the fact that at least in most situations one brand is going away. Particularly now clients are trying to find the most efficient and cost effective way to avoid risks and achieve their necessary conversion outcomes.

The second group of organizations are those adjusting their plans in the face of COVID-19 and they want to be able to hit the ground running when we come out of this on the other side. Many want to continue to move their projects forward as much as possible. These companies are often taking the opportunity right now to turn their attention inward, to look internally and to get their own house in order, to simplify assets, to rationalize, to create efficiencies in process and really set themselves up for the future. They’re also finding alternative ways of even defining what the business case for the change is, and for gathering the information needed to inform that business case. And one of the biggest missed variables that we see here is how a rebrand leads to significant year over year operational savings when that aspect of things is looked at properly as opposed to just looking at the cost and market return components of that business case.

These companies are using simple technology and templates to gather data from people all around the organization. Others are using our analytics technology and benchmarks. They’re setting granular assumptions, building multiple scenarios for the conversion and building out cost timeline and opportunity models without a lot of disruption to the people across the organization. That way when business starts to return back to normal again, they’ll be able to pick up without really losing a lot of time and deliver an even smarter and better program. The last option for organizations in the midst of a rebrand is a hard temporary stop. And honestly, we’re not seeing a lot of this in our client base except again for energy and some healthcare systems that I mentioned due to low bandwidth from dealing with the COVID emergency and re-prioritizing their resources where they need to be.

This is not without risk, however, particularly in losing the relevance and momentum of their program. That said, it is absolutely a reality, and so what makes people successful during these times is ensuring that they have regular check-ins with executives and with their partners, that they listened to ideas from those people, that they keep the program top of mind with key stakeholders and that they continue to refine and assert the relevance of their program in really tangible business terms, which is important right now. The next thing that I wanted to touch on are opportunities for cost savings, and also how to utilize fewer resources. Just because companies are going ahead with every branding initiatives doesn’t mean that they are not feeling the pressure to do more with less. Let’s talk about the costs first. A big part of the work that we do with our clients is around alternative scenario planning. Having options opens up decision-making. It makes more options available.

One course of action that organizations who are rebranding can consider is creating or dusting off a less expensive implementation scenario related to different levels of quality, timing, phasing, the extent of change and other factors in order to reduce those costs. For some, the issue is more around human capital. And in those cases you can relook at the project organization and see if there’s an opportunity to centralize the project more or to merge work streams. And centralization doesn’t need to mean more resources centrally either. This is about simplifying things for everyone, and that may include removing work that needs to be done downstream by making more decisions centrally, by providing technology or a different support model, different and optimized vendor sets, and changing roles and responsibilities. There are lots of interesting options here. We can spend a lot of time talking on this and we will do just that in one of our future podcasts.

Now, let’s move on to risks. There are six common themes to the risks that we’re seeing. And in the interest of time, I’m just to run through that list and then elaborate on one of them to give you an example. What are they, one, getting team member and executive time and focus. Two, government restrictions which are particularly complex because they vary by geography. Three, lack of site or resource access right now. Four, vendor and supply chain disruptions. Five, budget and fiscal year impacts, and six, for those working towards a deal close, compliance issues which may be contractual or regulatory depending on the current situation. I’ll focus on those companies facing contractual compliance issues with a hard date when all branded assets need to change. One option is obviously to renegotiate the trademark or regulatory deadline.

And many clients are holding this in their back pocket, they aren’t going directly to this at this time. One thing that is available to everyone is to look carefully at all timelines and priorities, identify those that are at risk and then develop risk mitigation solutions for each one of them. I’ll get a bit more specific thinking about one client in particular here where we began by identifying the branded asset categories where an extension for rebranding might be possible, and then the ones that we knew would absolutely not be acceptable to extend.

There was one asset category in particular where the seller absolutely would not tolerate assets to exist with their brand on it past the deadline. What made sense here was to develop a neutralization approach, and this is not rocket science, but it is an often missed opportunity, and generally it just basically means not having any brand on that asset. Thereby meeting the compliance. As long as that strategy is also accompanied by a solid rebrand plan, then it can be a strong solution. It costs less and takes less time in the short term to neutralize and it does add future cost to the program overall is you then have to go back and touch that asset again, but it gets the job done. Another approach is to look at the visibility of the asset, addressing the externally facing assets first and then working on the internal or less high profile assets later on.

The last thing that I wanted to discuss today is vendor management. This can really mess up a rebrand program if it’s not addressed early and thoroughly, particularly right now due to the interdependencies that exist in supply chains. You can have the best plans on the planet and if there’s nobody to produce the items on time to plan, then it just doesn’t work. Strategically look at your vendor set. That might mean consolidating or expanding your vendor set, continuing to work with strong partners or shifting more work to stronger partners, and then yes, potentially renegotiating. This is a big topic and we’ll devote the next podcast in our series to that.

That’s all we have time for today. We chose to keep these short as we’re conscious of the fact that so many of you have so little time right now, and I do hope that I’ve given you some practical information to keep you moving down your path. If you have any questions at all about what I’ve covered today, don’t hesitate to click the blue button below or to ask questions or reach out directly to me to continue the conversation. Those of you that know me, know that that is not a commercial offer, this is about providing all that I can to help each of you be successful during this unique time that we are all in together. To hear additional talks in this series, including a deeper dive on vendor management and supply chain implications as well as our talk that’s focused on efficiencies that can be realized right now, whether you’re going through a rebrand or not, visit brand active.com/podcast. Thank you all very much.