Founder of Dixon|James Communications and Rebranding Experts, the only firm purposely designed to rebrand organizations successfully.
Rebranding, if done correctly, can hurt your competition, which will be side-struck with your refreshed brand positioning and relevance to your shared customer base. Knocked off their feet by your preemptive move, the competition should be struggling to keep up in your customers’ minds. However, if done incorrectly, without thoughtful planning that properly engages all internal partners in success, rebranding can result in self-inflicted pain that can be avoided.
Rebranding is a heavy lift for any organization. It’s an exhaustive exercise rooted in refining a new business strategy, purpose and vision for the future that will serve as a strategic growth accelerator. It requires resources and commitment. It requires the involvement of the entire organization — leadership down to all employees — for successful execution. And it requires stamina to keep the excitement and focus up for what’s often an 18-month initiative.
We work with a diverse group of clients each year to execute successful rebrandings. While most are worried about the challenge customers will have to accept their new brand, we share that the most painful part of the rebranding process is gaining internal buy-in behind the new promise and delivering a new customer experience.
Based on a research study my firm conducted with recently rebranded organizations, of the top four obstacles brands faced when rebranding, three of them were related to lack of internal engagement. People have their day jobs to do and a rebranding initiative often requires extra effort and energy across the organization. If not orchestrated intentionally, this can cause long-term wounds and scars from your rebranding.
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Our experience shows that proper planning, proper leadership engagement, fine-tuned project management and change management support help eliminate the pain many organizations experience when rebranding. Your goal should be to execute a cross-functional effort on a reasonable timeframe that reduces as much burden on associates as possible.
Too often companies bend to internal pressures or even egos to not effectively engage all needed departments in success.
• If employees are to understand and support the rebranding effort, human resources must be engaged and training should be produced if needed.
• If customers are to encounter a new brand experience, then the sales team needs to be adequately engaged to define that new customer journey and make adjustments to deliver it.
• If you want B2B customers to receive correctly branded contractual and financial documentation, then finance and the IT system needs must be in line.
• If customers need to update their systems to be able to accept your invoices, let alone pay them, then the legal and finance team better be involved to ensure the right communications happen.
• If part of that experience requires your vendors to deliver differently than before, then supply chain management must be at the planning table.
• If employees need to send emails from a new domain address on launch day, then IT must have adequate time to secure domains, make system changes and troubleshoot before launch.
It’s the responsibility of the leadership sponsor and rebranding lead to provide specific directions to all areas of the organizations on their role in achieving success. There are certain non-negotiables that must be followed or the final outcome will be a patchwork initiative without presenting a common and aligned brand effort to customers and external audiences. And while you can anticipate every little detail of impact, there will always be surprises. Individual department leadership needs to keep their antenna up for unintended impacts that will need to be addressed immediately.
Proper planning that manages responsibility and commitment from different departments can reduce the pain — and allow you to focus on beating the competition!
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Author: Jim Heininger, Forbes Councils Member