How to achieve a pitch-perfect rebrand in the digital media sector

How to achieve a pitch-perfect rebrand in the digital media sector


Kavya Paul, Ade Ajibola

Rebranding a digital media company is like running a relay race; it’s all about speed to market. In this fast-paced industry, decisions are made in rapid-fire succession. Executives meet frequently to stay on top of every detail. And they provide their teams with specific guidance so everyone understands the part they play in executing the plan.

That’s good news for executive marketing leaders rolling out a rebrand in this unique space. It means you have a high-functioning team of movers and shakers who know how to make things happen. But it also accentuates the pressure to develop a rock-solid implementation plan that factors in every single detail from day one. Because when you need to move so quickly, there’s no time to backtrack — it’s full steam ahead.

In 2021, BrandActive worked with Audacy — a multi-platform audio, content, and entertainment company — to launch and implement their new brand. Audacy introduced their new name across the majority of B2C and B2B channels in a matter of months. What’s more, they did it all just as COVID-19 entered our collective consciousness.

There are several specific considerations to keep in mind when implementing a digital media rebrand, and our work with Audacy highlights many of our key recommendations for a rebrand in this sector. Here’s how to achieve a successful result of your own.

Synchronize your rebrand’s timing down to the last second (while maintaining confidentiality)

The trickiest part of launching a rebrand in digital media — especially in highly programmed channels like radio — is coordinating the timing of the launch. And to make the situation even more complicated, confidentiality is often a must. High-profile organizations don’t want news of their M&A deal or name change to leak prior to the official announcement. That means many key players might not be brought into the fold until a week or so before launch.

In circumstances like this, it’s imperative to develop a thorough and well-thought-out communication plan. To that end, be sure to chart out when and how you’ll inform front-line talent and third-party partners about your brand change.

Providing a centralized project management tool for everyone to access will be essential to keeping the entire plan on track.

Prepare front-line talent to deliver consistent brand messaging

To ensure consistent messaging across hundreds of partner stations, Audacy gathered a comprehensive list of the front-line communicators who would be responsible for introducing their new name. This included radio hosts, voice talent, producers, and celebrity endorsers. They provided scripts and approved talking points so all their listeners heard the same message. And they synchronized an introductory announcement using both the new name and the legacy name at the top of the hour and other prime times.

This required precise attention to detail and perfect timing. Providing a centralized project management tool for everyone to access was essential to keeping the entire plan on track.

Your primary delivery channels might be different than Audacy’s, but you’ll need to employ similar tactics to achieve a successful result. Outline exactly what your front-line communicators should say and when they should say it. Think through every place your message will need to be updated in order to reach your consumer audience. And provide a mechanism for everyone on your team to access real-time updates on where things stand.

Follow third-party guidelines to update your brand on outside channels

Even if you’d rather keep the details of your rebrand confidential, some of your third-party partners might need advanced notice in order to update your brand’s details by the date you request. Apple and Spotify in particular require a longer lead time. So, in order to secure the cooperation of all your partners, be sure to make note of and adhere to their deadlines.

Furthermore, provide clear documentation regarding your expectations for how your partners should communicate your rebrand. Include specific guidelines about how your new name, logo, and other elements should appear to ensure a consistent brand experience on these third-party channels.

Prioritize converting high-profile branded assets first

Determining how and when to convert branded assets is a critical component of any organization’s rebrand implementation plan. It’s important to create a thoughtful transition strategy for your signs, branded apparel, promotional giveaways, and other touchpoints.

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But for companies like yours, the most valuable branded assets might not be tangible at all. In your world, digital assets and touchpoints matter most. We recommend creating a short list of high-impact, revenue-producing assets that you’ll convert as part of your big-bang launch strategy. Then plan to update the remaining touchpoints over time.

For example, Audacy owns a vast library of podcasts. It wouldn’t have been a wise use of time or financial resources to go back and update their name in every existing episode of every podcast they produce. However, their launch date coincided with the release of several new high-profile, celebrity-endorsed podcasts. This offered a perfect opportunity for Audacy to take advantage of existing media coverage and introduce their new name to a large audience.

Contextualize your new brand for your audience

The digital media world changes fast, but it’s your job to help your audience keep up with the pace. The last thing you want to do is confuse or alienate your faithful fans and followers.

To that end, while you’re synchronizing all the details for launch, be sure to contextualize the change for your audience. Use interim language like “Brought to you by Audacy, formerly Entercom” at launch and for a period time after launch. This is a great way to bridge your brand equity and help foster trust for your new brand.

Use consistent interim messaging on high-priority assets, apps, your website, social media channels, and other avenues where you promote your content. And if you’re an audio-based company like Audacy, don’t forget to update the display message that appears on vehicle dashboards.

Keep in mind: by using interim language, you’ll need to update many of your digital assets twice. Maintain a detailed record of which touchpoints feature interim messaging to streamline the process the second time around.

Your digital media rebrand hinges on the strength of your implementation plan

There are many intricacies to keep in mind when rolling out a rebrand in digital media. Thankfully, your partners across a variety of channels are accustomed to updating content quickly and efficiently. They know how to execute a plan. You’ll need to give them a detailed roadmap and access to a centralized project management tool to keep the project on track.

Of course, creating a rebrand implementation plan is easier said than done. There are many considerations to keep in mind, and rebranding is always a significant organizational endeavor.

So if you need some help thinking through every detail, remember that you don’t have to do this alone. We’d love to lend you the benefit of our experience and expertise. Just reach out.