3 critical lessons from the BoM rebrand

May 24, 2023
Government Brand positioning Rebranding

With the country in the midst of another major flooding event, the unfortunate timing of the BoM’s rebrand announcement highlights the criticality of reading your audience, amongst other things.

Admittedly, there has already been a lot written in the media about this, but given a huge proportion of our day-to-day work revolves around rebranding, Paul Nelson, MD at BrandMatters has provided a brief list of three key ‘real world’ learnings that should have been applied here.

1. Timing really is everything

With the risks to life and property uppermost in the minds of people in so many flood-affected parts of Australia, the last thing Australians wanted to hear was the BoM being distracted by such (I hate to say, trivial) matters. Given their consultants have been engaged since September 2021, it would have made sense to prioritise the messaging of the greatest importance to the brand’s stakeholders and push this rebrand well back to when the brand and messaging could get some much cleaner and clearer air..

2. Alignment and communications are critical

There has been significant media criticism around communications, culture and the appointment of a spokesperson at the time of this announcement here. Any rebrand needs to be built from a clear, concise and compelling positioning. Part of this also includes not using a rebrand or a refresh to wallpaper over deeper issues or challenges that may be occurring inside the organisation.

This is also related to the question of timing. It’s clearly very important that your senior leadership are across the activity and ready to support your messaging and your motivations. In this case, given the profile of the brand and the media attention that picked up on many of the errors and omissions, this ultimately rose all the way to the Federal Minister responsible.

So, aligning your team, your stakeholders, all your messaging, all your press releases, all your printed and social media assets and all your FAQs, is obviously critical. A fundamental question here (at least to me) was whether this was it a rebrand or a refresh? See page 7 of our attached eBook to learn more about the differences.

3. Understand your audience and connect with them in a way that reflects your knowledge of how the brand plays out in their lives.

This is to my mind the most critical learning.

People have individualised relationships with brands. The weather has different influences on people and so do brands. It’s critical you understand the role the brand plays in people’s lives. It really is “their BoM” and no amount of branding key messaging was ever going to change that.

As a senior marketer at McDonald’s for 6 years, I remember the purists demanding the full company name McDonald’s always be used in all branded communications and never the Aussie vernacular of Macca’s. But like the US (who had Mickey Dee’s) we understood this was the language of our customers and so we embraced it. Even the purists who took a little longer were convinced in the long run.

You don’t own your brand, your customers do, so you can never demand they or the media align to your demands. Sadly, as we all know, this realisation landed with the BoM team some days later.

If you’d like to learn more about how to avoid these sorts of pitfalls around rebrands we’d encourage you to have a look at our Refreshing guide to rebranding ebook here.

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