Reduce confusion during your rebrand with these 3 change management principles

Reduce confusion during your rebrand with these 3 change management principles


Heather Jones

If a rebrand is on the horizon for your organization, you may already be thinking about the tactical details involved in rolling it out. While those details are critical, it’s just as important to consider the impact the process of implementation will have on your internal and external audiences. More specifically, how can you reduce brand confusion during the time between launching your brand and getting to the finish line?

Rebrand roadmap - from development to implementation

This high-level infographic provides a look at the steps involved in your brand conversion from a brand implementation and development perspective. Learn what happens in what order during a typical rebrand so you can build your rebrand roadmap for success.

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Dialing into the principles of change management can help you anticipate and mitigate confusion during a rebrand. How? Change management is all about marrying the science of change (the how, what, and when) to the art of it (the why and who). Thinking about who your rebrand will affect and what they need from you will ensure you build an implementation plan that truly works as you intend.

Get the right internal stakeholders on board with your rebrand

Without buy-in from your internal team, your rebrand implementation will only result in marketplace confusion. After all, your employees are the ones who deliver your brand promise to your audience, whether they’re creating branded assets or interacting directly with your consumers. If they don’t understand the ins and outs of your rebrand, they may represent it inaccurately or, worse, dismiss it as unimportant and undermine its success.

You can mitigate these risks by being intentional about how you introduce change — and by getting the right people on your side from the outset.

The unsung heroes you need on your side

You may think that the most influential champions of your rebrand sit at the top of your organization. Your CEO and executive leaders hold tremendous sway in the boardroom and in the marketplace. And these leaders should absolutely signal their support of your brand change and champion the strategic reasons for the rebrand to all your stakeholders.

But you may be surprised to discover that executive leaders are not the only people your other employees will look to when forming their own opinions on the rebrand. Employees often have critical mass and can influence each other in how a brand is perceived and received. If you translate that into the power and influence of a social media post, one person’s view can quickly go viral. To that end, don’t underestimate the influence and impact that the following groups can have on bringing your entire organization on board with your brand change:

  • Divisional managers and group leads who maintain the closest relationships with your people
  • Frontline team members who interact directly with consumers and respond to their questions
  • Employees who manage the vendors and partners who apply your brand in a variety of settings
  • Executive and administrative assistants who communicate with leaders and employees across your organization

Sometimes, marketing leaders are too close to the situation to objectively identify how employees are impacted by a brand change, and which employees are influential in championing the new brand. An external partner like BrandActive can help you identify and engage the employees and departments who are vital to your ultimate success.

Be clear about what your brand change entails (and the timeline for implementation)

The influencers you identify need as much information about your rebrand as you can give them. When they understand the rationale behind the rebrand and what to expect in terms of logistics (e.g., timeline, roles and responsibilities, etc.) they’re more likely to become allies who will work with you to ensure a positive outcome.

These rebrand ambassadors can also help cascade your message and socialize it to employees at every level of the organization, decreasing the risk of confusion within your company. Those employees in turn can help create a clear and seamless experience for your external audience.

The longer your implementation takes, the greater the chance of audience confusion; it’s crucial to ramp up communication efforts.

So before you publicly launch your brand and/or start converting branded assets, communicate:

  • Why the brand is changing
  • What the brand change entails
  • Who is impacted by the rebrand, specifically in terms of rolling it out
  • What’s changing in terms of how employees do their jobs
  • How long you expect the rebrand to take from launch to completion

Helping employees know what to expect, including when and how the change will affect them, can be an integral part of how they talk about and adopt the elements of your new brand internally and externally.

Maintain your rebrand’s forward momentum post-launch

Most rebrands take several years to roll out — and there are good reasons for that. You may need to spread out the cost of implementation over multiple fiscal years or reduce the burden on your internal team by giving them plenty of time to carry it out.

However, the longer the implementation takes, the greater the chance you’ll confuse your audience with mixed branding messages. And if you make a big splash at launch only to then appear to be dormant for an extended period of time, you risk losing your audience’s interest and engagement altogether.

That’s why it’s crucial to ramp up your communication efforts and establish a cadence of perpetual progress. To this end, BrandActive applies project management techniques proven to keep momentum going by leveraging the power of short-term wins.

We recommend:

  • Taking a complete inventory of your branded assets and focusing on updating high-profile, audience-facing assets quickly
  • Creating a deadline-oriented timeline that spells out specific implementation milestones and when you plan to hit them (e.g. updating all external signage, giving employees new ID badges and workwear, rebranding fleet vehicles, etc.)
  • Planning a series of activities (aka change interventions) for employees to keep them invested and engaged as the implementation unfolds

And of course, it’s also wise to work with your branding agency on specific strategies to reach and engage your external audience. For example, they might advise you to establish a co-branding strategy that taps into your legacy brand’s equity and helps your audience acclimate to the new brand identity over time.

It’s never too late to incorporate change management principles into your rebrand implementation plan

Rebranding is exciting and momentous. But at its heart, it’s also a huge, transformational change. And there’s no way around it: Change is hard.

That’s why it’s so important to build your implementation plan with the human aspect of brand change in mind, ideally from day one.

If you’ve already jumped right into the tactics of rolling out your rebrand, like many marketing leaders, and are wondering if it’s too late to do more around buy-in, don’t worry. It’s never too late to pause and start incorporating change management principles that will reduce audience confusion and gain internal and external buy-in.

The good news is you don’t have to figure it out alone. BrandActive can help you make the market impact you desire, whether you’re at the outset of your rebranding journey or halfway down the road. So let’s talk.