When given responsibility for large-scale rebranding, a challenge you may not have faced before, where do you begin?
Perhaps you’ll schedule coffee or lunch with a few trusted members of your network—fellow CMOs and senior marketing executives. If you’re fortunate, an old college roommate who is now a CMO at a large corporation will share how they implemented brand change at their firm after a merger. Maybe you’ll learn about brand agency selection or rebrand launch strategy from another senior marketing executive you know. They may mention that planning and converting branded assets takes a lot of time and money. And they may share how hard it was to achieve ROI in three years.
Still, you probably won’t come away with a blueprint for how to implement a successful rebranding project. But you’re in luck—given our experience with rebrand implementation over the past two decades, we can help point you toward a successful rebrand implementation. And we’ll be as frank as your old college roommate would be if they had as much expertise on this topic as we do.
Where brand change fits into the picture
M&A activity or potential new market opportunities may drive the decision to change the brand. In either case, the goal is to unlock business growth. Regardless of the impetus, when brand change is on the table, you as a senior marketer need to establish control of the brand conversation with executive leadership as quickly as possible. That means going beyond brand strategy and design to define the benefits, project the costs, and get all stakeholders on the same page.
Frequently, executives don’t think about rebrand implementation until after the brand strategy and design are set. So, they overlook or underestimate its cost and effort. Effective rebranding implementation includes financial analysis, implementation strategy, and logistics and project planning. It requires marketers to understand the interdependencies among the seemingly endless number of individual tasks that must be completed to bring the new brand to life across all touchpoints.
Prepare to take the lead by setting expectations up front using fact-based cost estimates along with options for rebrand implementation. Not achieving this alignment can result in a gap between what’s actually required to implement brand change and what senior leadership may assume on their own.
A word of caution: Sometimes rebrand implementation is not seen by management (or even by the senior marketer) as a strategic endeavor. But it’s where most of the rebranding budget will be spent and how your new brand will be seen and experienced in the marketplace. Converting branded assets is where people across the organization will spend their time. And it’s where both employees and external audiences will look to judge ultimate success. Give rebrand implementation short shrift, and it can come back to bite you. To succeed, you need to engage early with all stakeholders, both internal and external, and be equipped with a thoughtful go-forward plan.
Consider what resources you will require early in the process. You’ll need people with rebrand experience on your team who have the expertise to develop possible implementation approaches and create thorough and accurate cost projections. Your team has to be able to understand the scale and key project drivers. And they must possess the ability to bring order to potentially thousands of branded assets that will be impacted by the branded asset conversion.
When you get all the deliverables from the brand design agency, you’re just at the starting line
Once the brand strategy and design are complete and signed off on, some marketing executives believe that it’s smooth sailing from there. But as it turns out, the process is far from simple because of the scale of depth of the change. Many marketing executives do not realize how heavy of a burden rebrand implementation can put on a marketing department until they are mired in producing accurate branded asset inventories and mobilizing multiple internal departments—all while keeping up with their day jobs. It requires a streamlined process to activate workstreams for resource identification, budgets and launch timetables. This gargantuan project has the potential to absorb the lion’s share of internal manpower which in turn can derail the ability of the marketing department to undertake strategic initiatives.
The take-away is this: The right time to think through rebranding implementation is before or as you hire the brand agency to create your dynamic new brand. This will ensure that you have the time to do the necessary planning required to enable you new brand to roll out on time and on budget, and allow you to achieve the desired impact in the market. If rebrand implementation isn’t considered until the budget is almost diminished, resources are unavailable, and you are crunched for time, you may have to delay the launch and change the expectations of your executive team.
Understanding all possible sources of funding can result in a more cost-effective asset conversion
Rebranding budgets are not the only source of available funds when converting assets. In a merger situation, it may be possible to roll rebrand expenses into the deal cost. In all circumstances, OPEX and CAPEX budgets can provide funds to change branded assets. Identifying all sources of funds provides the opportunity to consider a broader range of rebranding approaches. Some approaches may offer the potential to realize economies of scale in purchasing and huge savings. Securing funding up front also saves you the trouble of arm-wrestling for rebranding budget allocations from reluctant department heads for months or years to come.
Make friends at work to ensure rebranding follow-through
Brand change impacts branded assets used across the company. It is important to identify and connect with these key internal stakeholders early in the process, as finance, HR, IT, operations, fleet, facilities and others will be responsible for executing on brand change. And as mentioned, they may need to allocate budget to this effort. You’ll want to include their input and streamline implementation demands.
In the end, being able to move the conversation to rebrand implementation starts with securing accurate data. Then educate key stakeholders early on. Help them fully understand their role in the rebrand implementation, the resources that are required, and the value of applying best practices to financial analysis and logistics. Approaching your rebrand implementation in this manner will go a long way in putting you on the road to success.