Rebranding is an investment in growth, and an important component of an effective growth strategy. But when executed badly, it is a missed opportunity at best - and a huge liability at worst.
What does a bad brand relaunch look like?
A bad brand relaunch happens in a vacuum. Oftentimes, companies will simply distribute the new logo files via email and then start enforcing the new brand guidelines. When a rebrand is launched this way, there is little to no buy-in from your biggest brand ambassadors, including your employees, partners, contractors, executive team and board members. Change is never easy, and inflicting a major change on something as fundamental as a brand can spark a visceral negative reaction from these important audiences - even if the new brand itself is good.
Instead of embracing the great new brand, the unanticipated change raises questions about why it is necessary, speculation about other major changes that may be afoot behind closed doors and mistrust of leadership. These emotions can manifest in lower employee engagement and higher employee turnover. In short, the exact opposite of what a great brand relaunch should be.
How to plan a great brand relaunch
The first critical step toward success is a thoughtful launch plan. Prior to even starting the rebranding process, ensure you are maximizing involvement from different functional areas of the organization. As part of an inclusive company culture, leadership should desire and encourage participation in the process from a cross-functional team. They represent valuable, real-world input on the value proposition your organization offers its customers and the day-to-day reality of your employees. A rebranding effort undertaken without this input is as effective as renovating a house blindfolded.
Rebranding isn’t just taking the old logo away and replacing it with a shiny new logo, fonts and colors. From the outset, set expectations that this is a deliberate, thorough process that will yield valuable results. Enlist the help of an expert who can lead your cross-functional team through a research-driven process that includes input from all of your stakeholders. This may include a series of interviews, surveys, workshops, collaboration and iteration. The result is a brand the reflects the truth of what makes your organization distinct.
5 steps to successfully relaunch a brand
Feeling overwhelmed about the magnitude of a successful rebrand effort? Don’t be. The entire process can be boiled down into five steps:
1. Create an internal cross-functional steering committee to make decisions, and enlist the help of brand experts to lead the team through the process.
2. The brand relaunch should happen internally first, with your biggest brand ambassadors as your primary target audience.
3. The relaunch should be a big celebration –tell the story, describe the benefits, bring in your agency, have lots of food and promotional items for people to wear. They will love it!
4. With your brand ambassadors already “in the know,” release a teaser publicly about something big happening within your organization.
5. External relaunch happens last! Mail out to your customers and clients, big press-release, invite the media (if they don’t already know) big email blast, use social to celebrate the change and why it benefits them.
Like most things worth doing, rebranding is not simple or easy. In fact, in some ways, overhauling an existing brand is more challenging than the initial creation of a new brand identity. Not only do you need to successfully introduce something new, you need to champion change management and persuade your stakeholders that it is better than the brand they are currently invested in. But it’s worth the effort. A great rebrand offers a high return on investment. The results should include a renewed enthusiasm about your organization’s future, higher employee engagement and reduced turnover.