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Raman Sehgal is the founder of ramarketing, an international agency helping firms raise profile & generate leads in the life science sector.
Rebranding a business should be a joy, not a misery. After 12 years, we recently rebranded our company and, unfortunately, it felt like torture.
As happy as I am with how the end product looks, sounds and feels, it was one of the most painful projects I’ve ever been involved in. Disorganized. Massively delayed. Intense. Hugely stressful.
And this, coming from a man who runs a global marketing agency helping businesses get noticed in the life science sector. This is how I make my living. I’ve personally been involved in rebrand projects for international brands for 20 years. This was not my first rodeo. Yet the crazy thing is, we didn’t follow any of the steps that we would have had it been a client project. Or if we did, we did them in the wrong order. It’s like we got brand development amnesia.
Before you think I’m about to throw my team under the bus, let me emphasize that the main issue with such projects is leadership. And as the leader of my business, the buck stops with me. So, if we did have a blame culture, then I’d have no issue with the fingers being pointed at me. Silly Raman.
Marketing agencies with terrible marketing materials are like hairstylists with damaged hair or an out-of-shape personal trainer with high blood pressure. Not practicing what they preach.
Part of the purpose of our rebrand project was to demonstrate that we do as we say. To show we care and invest in our brand in the same way we advise our clients. But a big part of the challenge from day one was that we were the client. And we don’t normally play that role. So, we didn’t do a very good job.
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Reflecting on the project, I want to share my key learnings. If you’re planning a refresh of your brand or a full-blown overhaul, then I urge you not to make my errors and consider these three points.
1. Why? Why? Why?
Ask yourself why you are rebranding. Because you have the budget? You fancy a change? You’ve seen your competitors do it? These are all terrible reasons to initiate a rebrand or repositioning project. There has to be a strategic reason to give your brand any kind of makeover. Do not do it for the sake of it. This is the only thing that we got right during this exercise. Our old brand wasn’t fit for purpose. It didn’t reflect the business we are today, so it needed to be refreshed to attract the right type of clients and employees. So before embarking on the brand bandwagon, you need to have a clearly articulated rationale that your senior team is on board with.
2. Make someone accountable.
It seems so obvious, but this is where our project fell down. No one person was truly accountable for making it happen within a stipulated timeframe. As such, there were lots of people who were responsible for different aspects but not one person that the leadership team could point to and say “this is your baby.” We passed the baton to different people as the project painfully progressed, which again didn’t help. To make matters worse, there were far too many chefs and opinions. So, if you’re going to do this and the “why” is clear, then make it someone’s job to make it happen and build the time into their schedule to allow them to deliver it. Drive everything, keep everyone on track and report back. Do not give it to a committee of people.
3. Build in leadership touchpoints.
Everyone has an opinion on branding projects. And whether we like it or not, some people’s opinions matter more. I’ve seen brand and web projects go on for six months and then halt when the CEO voiced that they didn’t like the color blue. So, make sure there are milestone meetings locked in the calendar for the senior stakeholder to review and give the green light.
As the founder of my business, I was the key decision-maker about what we were doing. Unsurprisingly, because the brand is so precious to me, I was like a petulant child when we had seemingly missed steps or had gone too far: “Why the heck are we thinking about changing our name?” “Why are we using words we would never say?” This must have been infuriating and, at times, demoralizing for my team. So, more check-ins, less drama.
Don’t underestimate the time, energy, drive and planning needed from your whole team. Lead from the top to make a successful — and pain-free — rebrand happen. I am delighted with the result of our rebrand. It encapsulates the business, speaks to the right audiences and fills me with joy, but it’s taught me many lessons, some of which I’d rather not repeat.
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
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Author: Raman Sehgal, Forbes Councils Member
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