All rebrands are complicated. But let’s face it: When it comes to implementing rebranding at manufacturing companies, the level of complexity skyrockets. And while the usual rebranding tips apply, they aren’t enough.
Manufacturing itself is a complex, often decentralized business, including long lead times for product development and launch, large inventories to manage, and detailed distribution agreements. When they implement a rebrand, manufacturing companies must navigate a host of intricacies. These include:
- Converting products and packaging, including labels, stamps on products, and in compliance with related import and export requirements
- The timing of transitioning inventory given existing stock, product release schedules, and operational cycles
- Regulatory issues, including local codes, environmental laws, and international trade considerations
With all these details to consider, as well as ongoing operational cycles to run, some needs and priorities may fall through the cracks. And if a roster of one or two dozen B2B customers accounts for 90% of your business, it can be harder to rally the organization around the finer details of a rebrand initiative.
To ensure a manufacturing rebrand has maximum impact while remaining cost effective, executives must make a strong business case for marketing’s role in the rebrand from the outset. (Sometimes, if the rebrand is the result of a merger or acquisition, management doesn’t focus on the requirements for effective brand change until late in the process.) And it can take a bit of time for Marketing to create an integrated plan that brings the benefits of centralized control of a rebrand to an often-decentralized organization.
Planning for success: rebranding tips for manufacturing companies
Whether your rebranding stems from a business transaction such as a merger or spin-off, or a decision to reposition the company, there are proven rebranding tips you can follow to ensure you can deliver on your manufacturing company’s rebrand goals.
1. Present to management a well-thought out approach to brand change. You should be prepared to speak to the following points:
- The importance of creating a strong, centralized, marketing-driven plan for the rebrand that the entire organization can execute against;
- The value that the rebrand will create in the market;
- How much the rebrand will cost;
- What your team will do to reduce that cost by planning appropriately, including proper prioritization, rationalization, and sequencing of branded assets; and
- How smart rebranding can reduce operational costs, freeing up budget to pay for the re-brand over the next several years.
2. Advocate for the budget needed to properly execute the rebrand. If the money for rebranding your manufacturing company is set to come out of individual operational budgets, it can be difficult to plan for reliable and timely funding of the brand change. It’s best to advocate for a single, dedicated source of funding to properly execute on your rebrand. Keep in mind that having a centralized rebrand budget should afford efficiencies that will result in less overall spend.
3. Build a bridge from marketing into operations. In order to successfully plan and execute a manufacturing company rebrand, marketing needs to understand the realities of operations. What are your company’s operational cycles? What pressures and challenges do product teams face? How is inventory managed? What about products and packaging? With a firm understanding of the challenges, marketers can offer smart solutions about how the rebrand should be structured to respect operational realities and gain efficiencies. Do this, and you’ll earn the buy-in and alignment from operational teams needed to implement your rebrand on time and on budget.
4. Prioritize and rationalize the conversion of touchpoints to the new brand to reduce total expenditures. As with any rebrand, you’ll need to prioritize and rationalize your firm’s initial rebrand investment to meet your firm’s budgetary needs. The full rebrand should be a multi-year, phased roll-out that spreads the cost out over a number of fiscal years. For example, it may make the most sense to start by rebranding the 20% of products that account for 80% of your firm’s business. (Remember, even consumer-facing companies don’t rebrand 100% of their product line right away). Likewise, you don’t need to rebrand all your manufacturing facilities or signage by the time your rebrand launches. Start by determining where to invest your rebrand dollars for the greatest initial impact and then leverage existing operational cycles to slowly implement the rest.And don’t overlook the cost efficiencies you can achieve through rationalization. You may be able to retire some branded assets (for example, marketing collateral that Sales rarely uses). And you may decide some touchpoints don’t need to carry the company logo. Rationalization measures like these reduce both the initial cost of rebranding and ongoing operational expenses.
5. Create a comprehensive rebrand plan with centralized control for decentralized execution. For decentralized organizations, especially, it’s imperative that you create an all-inclusive rebrand plan and consistently implement it across decentralized channels. Remember, the rebrand will include thousands of touchpoints across multiple products, facilities, distributors, and (potentially) global partners. If you don’t take the lead in detailing exactly how the rebrand should be handled, the timing and quality of your rebrand will suffer. Brand leadership should decide what is going to happen and when, how rebranding activities will be prioritized, how much they should cost, and what vendors should be used. By the time you give marching orders, no more big decisions will need to be made. Your organization will simply need to execute against your comprehensive plan.
6. Effectively communicate the rebrand plan to the entire organization. It’s not enough to create an all-encompassing rebrand plan. You need to effectively communicate it to your entire organization. Each member of your staff should have an understanding of what is required of them and when relative to the rebrand rollout. They should also come away with an understanding of how the rebrand will be sequenced and, in the event of M&A, how the two companies will come together. Properly communicating the rebranding strategy is crucial to successfully executing the plan. But doing so also reduces internal confusion, fosters company-wide buy-in — and reduces the likelihood of brand confusion in the marketplace.
Follow these rebranding tips, and you’ll position your manufacturing company to meet and exceed your rebrand expectations.