Products & packaging evolution is inevitable — are you poised to rebrand and go to market quickly?

Products & packaging evolution is inevitable — are you poised to rebrand and go to market quickly?


Laura Hughes

Your organization’s products are the heart and soul of your business—so updating your products and packaging is a major undertaking. In a robust and growing organization, products and packaging changes are all but inevitable. That’s true whether you pursue an M&A-driven rebrand, adjust your brand strategy, or update your product lineup.

Successfully rebranding your products and packaging means navigating multiple moving parts, all of which will impact your budget and time to market. So ask yourself: Does your organization stand ready to nimbly tackle a significant products and packaging change? Or would you find yourself scrambling to put together an actionable plan?

The good news is you don’t have to take a “wait and see” approach. By becoming rebrand-ready, you can lay the groundwork today for a future products and packaging change. Here’s how.

The benefits of getting your products and packaging rebrand-ready

Why do the work of becoming rebrand-ready if you don’t actually have a rebrand or merger on the horizon? There are three reasons:

The first is that doing the work of understanding your organization’s products and packaging program (including operational cycles, supply chain, and regulatory documentation) makes you more agile. If your organization should need to change its products and packaging independent of a full rebrand, you’ll be better prepared to identify how those changes can be inserted into your existing brand operations.

Second, your efforts to make your products and packaging rebrand-ready will yield immediate benefits whether or not you pursue a rebrand. Familiarizing yourself with the processes underlying your products and packaging program is the first step in optimizing those processes — and capturing new cost-saving efficiencies. After doing this important legwork, you’ll be able to answer the following questions (and others like them):

  • Is your product inventory in sync with your manufacturing cycles, or can you reduce unnecessary storage fees with a little fine-tuning?
  • Do you see opportunities to rationalize your products and packaging vendors and capitalize on economies of scale in production?
  • Where are you consistently running into regulatory concerns, and what’s causing those issues (i.e. specific markets)? Can you adjust your operational cycle or supply chain to account for those regional differences?
  • Is your products and packaging program environmentally sustainable? If not, do you see opportunities to create a more sustainable system?

Finally, building an orderly products and packaging operating cycle will enable you to address products-and-packaging-related issues much more quickly as they arise. And in today’s market, that’s invaluable. As we’ve all seen, the COVID-19 pandemic hit a number of industries’ supply chains quite hard. Efficient supply chains generally run tight, so it doesn’t take very much to break them down. The more agile your organization is in this, the better prepared you’ll be for unforeseen events of all kinds.

How to ensure your products and packaging are rebrand-ready

Ready to get your products and packaging rebrand-ready? Start with the following key activities.

Familiarize yourself with your products’ operational cycles

Take a look at your product portfolio. Document all of the products you offer and make note of how frequently they are produced. Of course, your top sellers will most likely be in production more frequently. However, understanding the nuanced details of your day-to-day operational cycles will provide critical context for any rebrand that comes down the pike.

Disrupting your existing operational cycles in the name of a rebrand would be costly. With a solid grasp of your organization’s day-to-day operations, you can plan a more efficient rebrand that takes advantage of those ongoing activities.

Understand your supply chain and inventory

Your timeline for any products and packaging rebrand project will be inextricably tied to your organization’s supply chain and product inventory. For example, at any given moment, you might have products you manufactured six months ago sitting in a warehouse halfway around the world. As long as those items are still waiting to go to market, the rebrand for the affected products is effectively on hold.

By understanding the details of each product’s supply chain and inventory, you can prepare yourself for a future rebrand. In particular, get to know your supply chain’s tolerances for waste and time to market. Given those factors, calculate how long it would take for you to see rebranded products on the shelves if you were to start the rebranding process today. Knowing these timing constraints enables you to inform your C-suite about the logistics of a proposed rebrand — and set expectations appropriately.

Centralize and organize your regulatory documents

Many organizations lose significant time in their quest to rebrand products and packaging for the simple reason that they don’t know where to find all their regulatory certifications and files. The reason? In most organizations, legal and regulatory departments typically own and manage most regulatory documents. But it’s not uncommon for certain regulatory documents to live with other departments or individual experts within an organization, such as quality groups, internal regulatory teams, and packaging experts.

When it comes to regulatory documents, your first goal should be to centralize and organize all of your assets. In addition to creating a central repository for regulatory documentation, your organization should clearly document who owns what and how frequently each document needs to be updated. The more organized your regulatory documents are, the more smoothly you’ll be able to transition your assets in the event of a rebrand. Note that laying this groundwork is especially crucial in the event of a global products and packaging rebrand (because you would need to get re-certified in multiple countries).

Recognize the “whys” of product and packaging change

Unlike most other branded assets, product and packaging “rebrands” aren’t necessarily tied to a larger brand change. In fact, a product and packaging change may be triggered by any one of the following events:

  • A brand entity change resulting from an M&A or large rebrand
  • An updated brand design strategy that includes products and packaging
  • The introduction of a new hero product (or a redesign of an existing one) that necessitates changes to product packaging across your portfolio
  • Repositioning of selected existing products in the market
  • Brand architecture changes

Of course, a full-on rebrand will automatically require coordination across every department in your organization. But a visual-only change — or a change that is more limited to products and packaging — will impact your organization in other ways. It’s up to you to recognize the downstream effects of your particular initiative and plan appropriately. For example, in some scenarios your brand guidelines might remain largely untouched even as you visually transform your products and packaging. However, even in a more “isolated” products and packaging rebrand, you will need to coordinate multiple areas of your business, from legal and regulatory to manufacturing and supply chain (and beyond).

By committing to becoming rebrand-ready, you can optimize your products and packaging program while at the same time preparing for the “known unknowns” that are sure to come.

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