Raising the curtain on your rebrand? Weigh the pros and cons of a “big bang” brand launch

Raising the curtain on your rebrand? Weigh the pros and cons of a “big bang” brand launch

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Patrick Heath, Jo Clarke, Eli Greenspan

Rebranding is a milestone event that has the potential to radically transform how your employees and stakeholders perceive your organization. And whether you’re simply refreshing your visual identity or fundamentally altering your brand’s DNA, you only have one opportunity to make a good first impression.

That’s why it’s so important to execute a seamless brand launch.

Many marketing leaders assume it’s best to keep the news of a rebrand a secret so they can unveil it in a splashy, attention-grabbing way. And there may be business or legal reasons for doing so, especially if you’re rebranding as part of an M&A or in response to an IPO.

But the truth is, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to successfully launch your rebrand. And in the absence of a strategic imperative, you may actually find it’s more beneficial to communicate the details for your rebrand prior to launch.

Here’s what you need to know about the risks and rewards of planning a “big bang” launch — and a look at an alternative launch strategy you’d be wise to consider.

Benefits of launching your rebrand with a splash

As a marketing leader, you know how difficult it is to captivate your audience and create excitement about your brand. That’s why the big bang launch is so attractive. It’s a rare buzzworthy opportunity to get people talking about your organization.

If your rebrand represents a major business transformation, it makes sense to consider creating a memorable “ta-da!” moment that celebrates your organization’s revolution. This approach can help you:

  • Generate high levels of interest in and awareness of your brand
  • Control the narrative around the reasons for your brand change, especially with the analysts and stakeholders who track and influence your brand’s value in the market
  • Achieve brand consistency quickly since you’ll convert all or most of your branded assets in a short period of time
  • Prevent employees and stakeholders from using your new logo or visual identity before it’s finalized (which can happen when new brand concepts or logos are announced prior to launch)

Launching your new brand in a singular, memorable moment certainly has its benefits. But to pull it off without a hitch, you’ll need to plan for a number of variables.

Challenges of implementing a big bang launch

Human beings are notoriously bad at keeping secrets. Because of that, the biggest risk in planning a grand reveal is that the news about your rebrand could get out before you want it to.

The bigger the splash you want to make, the more people you’ll need to bring into the fold along the way to help execute your plan. And the more employees, vendors, and partners you include, the higher the chance that someone will leak information prematurely.

You can mitigate this risk by requiring everyone to sign NDAs, but this tends to become a frustrating and time-consuming process of its own, particularly in larger organizations.

Likewise, you can strictly limit the number of people involved in planning the launch. But taking this route may result in not having the right functional areas represented when making decisions. It can also lead to a situation where there aren’t enough in-the-know employees to carry out the work.

Additional factors to consider

It’s also important to understand that:

  • A big bang launch can be more expensive than a more gradual rollout. This is especially true if you’re coordinating a massive launch on a global scale.
  • Converting all or most of your branded assets prior to launch eliminates your ability to take advantage of operational replacement cycles and reduce the impact of your rebrand on the bottom line.
  • Launching a rebrand all at once puts intense pressure on your marketing team to get every detail right in a short amount of time.
  • A sudden change can come as a shock, especially if your brand is beloved. To that end, a surprise announcement could potentially alienate your most loyal employees and stakeholders.

Do the strategic advantages of a big bang launch outweigh these potential risks? Only you can decide. Just be sure to account for every challenge when putting your plans in place.

A communication-driven alternative to launching your rebrand

A big bang, top-secret launch is not the only way to earn your audience’s attention and make the impact you desire. In fact, it may not even be the best way. Many organizations have seen tremendous ROI by employing a more gradual, communication-oriented approach.

There are several benefits to communicating openly about your rebrand prior to launch. Perhaps the most significant advantage is that it enables you to gain buy-in and support from your most important internal audience — your employees. Additionally, there are significant cost savings to be had by choosing this strategy.

Boost employee engagement

Your team members are responsible for living out your brand’s promise and values every day. If you want them to function as ambassadors of your rebrand in front of clients, stakeholders, and other members of your audience without missing a beat, it’s essential that they understand the rationale behind your rebrand.

When employees are able to ask questions, provide feedback, and take an active role in implementation, they are far more likely to embrace — rather than reject — your new brand identity. Furthermore, when they receive robust, thorough brand training prior to launch, they’re better equipped to deliver a seamless brand experience throughout the implementation process.

Of course, there can be a downside in sharing too much information about your rebrand too early. In a collaborative culture where employees are accustomed to having a voice, you may receive so much feedback (or pushback) that it slows your launch plans down. Another possibility is that employees become so excited about the brand change that they create their own branded assets before your new visual identity is officially approved.

As is the case with any strategy you pursue, it’s essential to lay out clear guidelines and timelines so your employees know what to expect from your rebrand and when to expect the brand change to happen.

A rock-solid implementation plan with clear milestones and timelines is key to successfully launching your rebrand.

Reduce resource strain

Rebrands require tremendous amounts of time, energy, and financial resources. But rolling out your rebrand gradually can reduce the burden on your team and organization by:

  • Inviting more employees (e.g. cross functional workgroup leads) into the process. This significantly increases the team’s bandwidth and makes it more manageable for them to handle the additional work a rebrand requires.
  • Spreading out the cost of converting branded assets over multiple fiscal years.
  • Allowing you to tap into your capital and operational budget cycles to further reduce the financial impact.

Of course, lengthening your rebrand’s launch timeline may have drawbacks, too. Rebrands can run out of steam and fail altogether if there’s no sense of urgency driving the team forward. And waiting too long to convert high-impact branded assets can cause brand confusion and dilute your brand’s ultimate value.

A rock-solid implementation plan with clear milestones and timelines is key to successfully launching your rebrand with a softer, communication-led approach.

Launch your rebrand in a way that reflects your strategic priorities

The way you launch your rebrand sets the stage for its ultimate success or failure. And at the end of the day, determining the best way to proceed should be an organizational decision that aligns with and supports your overall business objectives.

The good news is there’s no right or wrong way to introduce your new brand to the world. Whether you invest in a big bang launch, adopt a more gradual communication-oriented approach, or combine your favorite elements to create a fully customized hybrid approach, you can achieve the impact you’re after as long as you plan accordingly.

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