Keeping your rebranding budget on target — from planning to execution

Keeping your rebranding budget on target — from planning to execution

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Friday, August 2, 2019 | Poria Kanozi

Even if you’ve been through it before, rebranding a large corporation or global entity is an enormous undertaking, one that involves orchestrating a multitude of moving parts. Initially budgeting for such a large project is challenging enough. But staying on budget over the course of a rebrand may be even harder. While the rebranding budget is typically top of mind in the early stages of the planning process, it can be easy for even the best-laid plans to get lost in the fray once a rebrand is in motion.

Even so, the success of your rebrand will be measured, at least in part, by how much it costs to implement. Your organization’s board and executives likely care a great deal whether the cost of the rebrand ends up being more than advertised.

Staying on budget while executing a rebrand requires vigilance throughout the entire process. The good news is that with proper planning before the roll-out begins, you can lay the foundation for success. This pre-work, coupled with careful oversight during execution will ensure the fiscal goals for the project are achieved.

Setting up your rebranding budget for success

Executing a rebrand on budget begins at the very beginning – with proper planning. Here’s what you should focus on as you get started planning your organization’s rebranding budget.

  • Define the scope of your rebrand before you begin. As with any project, the funds your organization is willing to devote to the rebrand will impact the project’s scope (and vice-versa). Which of your organization’s many assets will be rebranded, and to what extent? Only by clearly defining the scope of your rebrand at the outset of the project can you ensure that everyone in your organization is on the same page.  For example, let’s say your organization has branded furniture and architectural details throughout its corporate offices. From a budgeting perspective, it may make sense to delay rebranding these internal elements until after the initial launch phase. Instead, you may decide to focus early rebranding efforts on high-profile, external brand touchpoints, such as signage, fleet, digital marketing materials, and product packaging. This, and every other decision about scope, should be clearly outlined in a project charter prior to beginning any rebranding activities. Your project charter should bring everyone in your organization into alignment about the scope of your rebrand. And, moving forward, it should serve as a “source of truth” to keep your rebrand ambitions (and budget) in check.
  • Identify funding sources and understand the financial impact of your decisions. Rebranding is a significant expense. The number of places that company’s name, logo, color palette, and messaging appear—and the cost to change them—often surprise even seasoned marketers. When setting up your budget, it is important to think about which assets fall into which category. Capital expenses (CapEx), impact the balance sheet with only the amortized/depreciated portions of the expenditures hitting the profit and loss in any fiscal year. Operating expenses can often be funded from OpEx budgets. These funds can be accessed to pay for rebranding without incurring any incremental cost. As such, the decisions made by you, your CFO, and other executive managers who control branded assets such as fleet, signage, and marketing materials, will affect your company’s financial results. When creating your budget, is important to be clear how much of it is truly incremental spending attributable to the rebrand, and how much can be funded by either existing CapEx or OpEx budgets. Without this information, it is easy to misstate or misrepresent budget numbers. You’ll find more information about the ramifications of CapEx and OpEx in rebranding implementation budgets here.
  • Budget as accurately as possible  but build in room for unknowns. The more accurately you budget for your rebrand in the first place, the easier it will be to stay on budget. If, on the other hand, your budget fails to include key line items, you’re sure to go over budget when you actually start doing the work of rebranding. Dig deep to be sure you’ve identified every branded asset, from legal agreements to employee name badges. It’s vital that you take the time necessary to carefully and thoroughly plan your rebranding budget. And while you should strive for accuracy, it’s always smart to build an appropriate contingency into your budget for unknowns and overages. A rough rule of thumb is 10%, but the contingency varies based on the industry and type of branded assets you need to transition.
  • Identify the sequencing and timing of rebranding activities. During the early planning phases, you need to identify and document the ideal sequencing and timing of your firm’s rebranding activities. With a detailed timeline in hand, your team can plan proactively. Getting early bids from vendors and scheduling the production of branded assets well in advance of deadlines means you won’t pay extra just to get things done on time. Remember, the more you rush, the more money you’re likely to spend. Falling behind on your planned rebranding schedule probably means going over budget, too.
  • Take into account the timing of spending. Brand change activities almost always span several quarters and frequently more than one fiscal year. So, considering corporate, relevant, financial parameters is an essential part of rebrand budget planning. Exactly when will each source of funds be available? How is each funding source structured? Are there any requirements that dictate availability of funding? (A rebrand due to repositioning is likely to have a very different financial structure than a rebrand that stems from M&A activity.) Read this article to understand the finer points of timing a rebrand budget to meet your organization’s financial needs.
  • Continue to refine budgets as more information becomes available. Rebranding budgets often start off as order of magnitude estimates—the total amount of money allotted to the project. An OOM estimate is a guardrail—the total amount you can spend without securing senior management approval for additional spending. As further details become available, including more accurate lists of branded assets slated for conversion and firm quotes from vendors, you can progress to a full-fledged, detailed budget by asset category/region, etc. You’ll continue to refine the budget over the life of the project as better data continues to develop.

Oversight is key: staying on budget once the rebrand is in motion

Regardless of how well you plan for your organization’s rebrand, it’s imperative that you remain focused on your budget throughout the implementation process. Here are some key tips to help you stay on budget once the rebrand is in motion.

  • Track your budget in real-time. It’s crucial that you track and report spending on an ongoing basis to stay within budget on any project. A rebrand is no different. Your team needs to check in with the budget regularly throughout the rebranding process to make sure you’re not headed in the wrong direction. The earlier you catch over-spending in any given category, the faster you can identify the problem and nip it in the bud. Earlier intervention also gives you a better shot at course-correcting and keeping the overall project from exceeding budget.
  • Maintain careful oversight of vendors. Proactive vendor management is a huge part of effectively managing the success of your rebrand – and the budget. In addition to getting bids early on in the process, you will need to review and approve every invoice that comes in and hold vendors accountable to reasonable prices.
  • Stay on top of scope creep. Large-scale rebrands are ripe for scope creep. With so many different people involved, there’s bound to be some confusion (and perhaps even differing opinions) about how to handle individual elements of the rebrand as it is happening. Your project charter – and a healthy dose of project management – are required to maintain the boundaries of your rebrand’s scope. Patrol those borders carefully, and your budget will thank you.

In the end, rebrand budget success stems from following three key principles: develop a realistic and detailed plan; make sure everyone who needs to be on board understands the scope; and carefully track spending.

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