When undertaking a rebrand, a critical part of the process is communicating what has changed. It is vital that the strategic intent of the rebrand is clear, both externally, to your customers and internally, to your employees.

Change can be daunting, especially for long serving employees and loyal customers who have developed an emotional connection with the existing brand and may be reluctant to embrace the change. A rebrand can only be successful if each and every member of the organisation is on board and stands behind the rebrand. This includes the C-Suite right through to the front-line staff dealing directly with customers. A team that is part of the process and fully understands the journey of the rebrand will be more likely to embrace it and advocate it to customers.

A rebrand announcement needs to create excitement, but it also needs to be clear and consistent.

If a rebrand is well planned and executed, then the communication part should be a lot easier. Ensuring that all of the assets are up to date and internal stakeholders are fully briefed, with a clear understanding of the new brand and expectations, will smooth the roll out of the new brand externally to your customers.

There are 7 crucial steps in the communication process that your organisation should consider when explaining a rebrand.

1. Communicate the strategic intent behind the rebrand

It is important to explain the strategy behind the rebrand decision. For example, this might be through M&A activity, a consolidation within your brand portfolio, a new strategic direction, a new product/service offering or in response to a changing business environment. Ultimately, explaining why a change has occurred is as important as explaining what is changing.

2. Communicate what is changing as part of the rebrand

Brand changes can be confronting for both internal and external audiences, especially if there isn’t clarity around what is changing. Whether it is a proactive or reactive brand change, setting clear expectations about the role of brand in your organisation going forward and then providing reassurance throughout the change process is critical. Some organisations like to showcase a before and after approach, so that consumers and the internal team can associate the old with the new and get an understanding of the strategy behind the rebrand.

3. Explain the critical elements of your business and brand that won’t change

There are certain fundamentals of your business and brand that should very rarely change, such as your purpose and the reason why you exist for your employees and your customers. A rebrand signifies a significant change in your market positioning, but it shouldn’t change the intrinsic and enduring aspects of your organisation.

4. Acknowledge the relationship to date and thank them for their ongoing support

A brand change is a unique opportunity to thank your internal and external audiences for their ongoing commitment to your business. Brand changes represent a different direction for your business and their ongoing, enduring support through the process will be critical in the success of the launch.

5. Build the excitement and make a splash

A rebrand gives you a positive reason to communicate and they are often used to build renewed interest in your brand and to remind your customers of your offering and the benefit you bring. Why should your audiences be interested in this change? What is the underlying benefit that they receive from this change? Often, this benefit is as simple as a renewed energy from employees, and for customers the sense of engagement with the brand they are choosing to align themselves with, which will positively influence their service experience.

As part of your rebranding launch communication, there may be opportunities for increased exposure for the brand via PR and media exposure. Key messages should be clearly communicated to media via a press release. It may also be useful to put together a brand kit for media and partners to access the assets they need to keep the communication consistent.

Your budget will drive how quickly the message will resonate to the market; however, some organisations may not want to make too much of a splash at this early stage.

6. Bring people on the journey

A rebrand is often one of the first elements in a changing strategic direction for your organisation. There are many more exciting things to follow on from the initial change, and this is an opportunity to keep them engaged by teasing for further exciting initiatives within your organisation down the track.

7. Monitor the response to the rebrand and track your brand health

Finally, your internal and external audiences will have questions (and potentially concerns) that still remain unanswered. Demonstrating accessibility at this point is important and transparency from your business leaders in this period of change is essential. Once the rebrand is launched it is important to monitor the responses, not just immediately, but over time. Some brand measurement may also be required to determine how the rebrand has been received or whether you need to further tweak the messaging or ramp up the communication to have it embraced further.

When you are sick of saying it, your audiences are only just hearing it.

A rebrand is a significant process and should not be taken lightly. It is critical to get the communication and messaging right in order to assure your customers that the pain of change will be minimal, that the best characteristics of your organisation will stay, and that the attributes they value most will continue on.

It is also important to engage your employees in this process and ensure they are taken on the journey. They will act as advocates for the new brand if they understand and believe in the process and have been communicated throughout.

At BrandMatters, we specialise in strategic rebranding, which includes planning how to best communicate your rebrand to all of your key stakeholders - shareholders, customers and your employees.

Rebranding is one of the many approaches B2B businesses can utilise to tell their existing and potential audiences about a change in intent and direction. A rebrand reflects a significant strategic adjustment and is a longer-term project. But it is more than just changing a logo or adding a new design device to existing marketing collateral and the website.

It involves identifying what has changed within your organisation; capturing that change and translating it into a new brand positioning and brand strategy for your organisation; and representing that change to both your internal and external audiences.

When you rebrand, it is a signal to your audiences that they need to reassess their preconceived notions of your brand, and this is not a decision that should be made lightly.

There are various reasons why a B2B organisation may consider a rebrand. If you are considering rebranding your organisation, start with an understanding of the business need behind the rebrand. Do you need to accelerate growth? Have you been the subject of a merger, or made a significant acquisition? Are you hovering between being a mid-sized and large sized organisation and do you need to reposition yourself to compete more effectively in your competitive set? Or do you simply need to grow your market awareness or meet your sales budgets?

Put simply, before you launch a comprehensive rebrand, you need to understand the business problem you are trying to resolve and assess if a rebrand can help address these challenges. There are two main catalysts of rebranding rationale: proactive opportunities and reactive triggers.

Proactive opportunities

Proactive rebranding opportunities typically arise to spur on business growth, to communicate change, or to manage newly introduced elements in your business.

  • Preparing for growth: If you are a business teetering on the edge of rapid expansion, a rebrand can help reposition your organisation for growth. It can act as a signal to your customers, competitors and stakeholders that you are here, you are ready, and that you have the momentum to drive your organisation forward.
  • New strategic directions: If your organisation is preparing a strategic plan that will change the future direction of your organisation, a rebrand can help communicate this new intent to your market.
  • New product of service offering: If you have added a significant new product or service to your business offer that has changed the focus of your organisation, a rebrand may act as a circuit breaker to signal to your audiences that your offering has changed.
  • New audiences: You may find yourself in a situation where you are marketing your products and services to audiences that were not previously relevant to your organisation. You may find that over time, your sales are declining, your current brand is looking dated, your brand and messaging is lacking relevance to your target audience. A rebrand can revitalise or modernise your positioning and visual identity in line with the expectations of the rapidly evolving market.
  • Finding talent: Australia continues to enjoy low unemployment and companies continue to struggle to attract and retain the top talent. Proactively building your brand and your Employer Value Proposition (EVP) makes it more attractive to the brightest and the best who in the past may not have considered your organisation as a prospective employer.

Reactive triggers

Conversely, there are a number of reactive catalysts that may prompt your organisation into a rebrand. These are typically in response to rapidly evolving business conditions or to manage negative issues.

  • Merger or acquisition: If you have recently made a significant acquisition or have been part of a merger, the strategic intent of your business has changed (as has potentially the name), and you may be required to reflect this new intent with a rebrand. In this situation, the newly rebranded business can act as a unifier across the organisation.
  • Reaction to recent growth: In response to a period of significant growth, you may find that your business and brand strategy are no longer aligned, and more often than not, your brand strategy is what is left in the rear-view mirror. In this situation, brands start to collide and cannibalise themselves as they operate in different channels against different audiences, and the existing segmentation can become unclear. The internal culture may have drifted away from the organisation's aspiration and a rebrand can correct this slide.
  • A changing business environment: The introduction of new industry pressures or regulations, or a new entrant into the market, can also rapidly alter the composition of your market and your ability to compete effectively. This very quickly influences your current brand's presentation in the market, making it appear dated and irrelevant. In situations such as this, a review of your positioning can reinvigorate your organisation internally and inject some motivation and energy in your team, which is then shared with customers.
  • Trademarking or legal issues: From time to time, trademarking or other legal issues may arise and necessitate a rebrand. This situation is more typical when businesses that are based in Australia may be seeking to expand internationally with a brand that already exists in the market they are expanding into.
  • Negative publicity: As a worst-case scenario, a rebrand may be required to navigate your organisation through a period of controversy. It can help demonstrate to the market that you have moved on from the contentious situation and that you are ready to begin rebuilding trust from your stakeholders and customers.
  • Does your organisation need to rebrand?

If your organisation does not genuinely meet at least some of these criteria, you might want to consider whether a rebrand is appropriate at the current stage of your business. Minor tweaks to your positioning and then your logo, say through a brand refresh project, could achieve the revitalised communications and look and feel you are seeking. Alternatively, maybe an innovative new marketing strategy or brand communication campaign might help you stand out from your competitors without requiring the complexity and costs of a true rebrand.

Not sure if you should rebrand? BrandMatters are experts in rebranding and repositioning organisations to better prepare them for business growth. If you would like to read more about rebranding your organisation, we suggest you read one of our recent eBooks, The Refreshing Guide to Rebranding, or if you would like an assessment of your current situation, feel free to Contact Us.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020 17:33

Rebranding an organisation can be a minefield of potential pitfalls if not undertaken with expertise.

For many successful organisations, brand is one of their most important and valuable assets. The decision to rebrand should not be taken lightly. Here are some of the more common mistakes to avoid when undergoing a rebranding project:

1. Not engaging in brand research

Brand research is a key component in uncovering the attitudes, perceptions, gaps and opportunities for your brand prior to rebranding. A rebrand will only resonate with its key target audience if the brand has invested in getting to know their customers’ needs and pain points.

There are many benefits and risks to undertaking a rebrand. Insights from brand research can help organisations mitigate risk and inform decision making. A rebrand represents considerable investment from a financial and time perspective, not to mention the risk of losing customers who were loyal to your existing brand. This factor is particularly pertinent when transitioning from a well-known established brand to an unknown new brand.

As a research-led brand agency, we may appear biased on this point, however, without the insights that come from researching your customers, competitors and the market, a rebrand will simply be a wardrobe change.

2. Not having a solid strategy behind your new brand

Don’t undervalue your current brand equity; ignoring what you have already built and the trust you have earned with customers can have a negative impact.

“Stay true to your values. That’s why you were a success in the first place, and that’s how you make incredible things happen.”

Rafe Offer

After conducting research, mapping out a brand strategy to clearly define and articulate your brand values, brand positioning and key points of difference is the next step. The insights uncovered in your brand research will assist in defining your brand positioning which can then inform the development of your new brand identity.

3. Copying a competitor

As tempting as this may be, replicating the activities of a competitor can be one of the worst mistakes you can make, essentially creating less differentiation, less recognition and may result in some legal hot water.

In today’s commoditised market, brand is often the only thing that differentiates you from your competitors. If your competitors have done a good job with their branding and it resonates with your target market, then your rebrand needs to resonate even more.

Remember, a brand is more than a logo; you can showcase your brand by delivering on your values and positioning and then demonstrating these through your brand visual identity and throughout all of your customer interactions. 

4. Following a design trend that doesn’t relate to your offering

Trends come and go. Take a short look back to the ’80s and ’90s to realise that if you follow trends too closely you will soon be outdated.

In the world of branding, there has more recently been a trend of minimalising design, and unfortunately, this can result in brands becoming devoid of personality and can risk losing their identity. If your brand positioning is strong, it can hold its own with a minimalist design. A good example of where minimalist brand design has been successfully deployed is Apple; the brand appears to have stayed consistently simple since inception, however, if you review it more closely it has been refreshed and reinvigorated several times.

The minimalist branding has been effective, in that it allows the non-design elements of the brand to shine through, such as brand positioning.

Brands that dare to be different have the opportunity to create their own visual language.

5. Not being bold enough

Swimming in a sea of sameness will not allow your brand to showcase its distinctiveness. While being bold can sometimes be seen as a risk, daring to differentiate has definitely worked for many brands who have opted for an impactful approach to branding.

There have been some really great examples in recent times. Who Gives a Crap, a brand that disrupted the ‘undisruptable’ - toilet paper. The use of fun branding, the convenience of home delivery and the drawcards of not-for-profit plus environmentally friendly packaging, made this toilet paper brand extremely attractive. Another example is The Boring Company, founded by Elon Musk, after getting annoyed by traffic in Los Angeles. The Boring Company, a fun play on words does exactly what it says - boring as in tunnel boring.

6. Not rolling out the rebrand comprehensively

“Having a vision for what you want is not enough. Vision without execution is hallucination.”

Thomas A. Edison

An effective roll-out plan is paramount to the success of a rebrand. If a rebrand is well planned and executed, then the communications phase should be a lot easier. Ensuring that all brand assets are refreshed and internal stakeholders are fully briefed, will create a clear understanding of the new brand and a smooth rollout to your customers.

Conducting a full audit of all your assets, assigning a project manager and working group to the task, is a great approach to ensuring consistency and accountability.

7. Not communicating a rebrand effectively

A saying we often repeat in marketing is that ‘when you are sick of saying something, your customers are only just hearing it’. This is particularly important in the case of a rebrand. The rebrand must be clearly and consistently communicated both internally and externally.

A rebrand announcement can easily be missed. It is vitally important that this message is heard and

understood so that it does not result in a loss of effectiveness when you launch into general brand awareness marketing. Launch loud and proud and get 100% behind your new brand.

To rebrand or refresh? That is the question.

A true rebrand is a journey that involves comprehensively analysing what has changed within your

business and strategy, bringing that change to life through a defined brand positioning and visual identity that signals the change to the market.

Our latest e-book, The Refreshing Guide to Rebranding explores the catalysts, benefits and risks of rebranding. Feel free to download it or call us to discuss your unique situation.

In the past few years, the financial services industry has faced some extensive challenges. Since the Australian Banking Royal Commission’s recommendations were handed down, there have not been many brands within the sector that have escaped completely unscathed, even if by the simple association of being within the financial services sector. Consumer confidence and trust in financial services brands have been greatly affected. New entrants including neobanks such as Volt, 86400 and Xinja, digital fintech brands such as PayPal and Tyro, subsidiary brands of the major banks such as Ubank and BankWest have all emerged to take advantage of these gaps in consumer trust with the traditional players.

For financial services brands, it is time to listen, learn and act. There has already been a major shift from a sole focus on profits and share prices to a focus instead on customer needs and breeding a positive culture and community.

With significant rewards for customers, brands and shareholders, it feels like this is the moment to take positive action.

In a brand sense, this could result in a rebrand or a refresh with a new positioning, values and brand story. It will take some time to rebuild the trust lost, however, looking at the examples of some financial services brands such as ING, Bank Australia and Future Super, being values-driven is definitely resonating with consumers.

When reviewing the business case for rebranding, financial service brands need to start from the inside by understanding the state of play within their organisation:

  1. What are the internal perceptions of the brand?
  2. Is the vision, values and positioning of the brand clear to the team?
  3. Does the culture accurately reflect the brand’s positioning?
  4. Is the business willing and able to invest appropriately into rebranding if required?

The opportunity to rebrand presents a number of benefits for an organisation and it’s critical to weigh the benefits against the risks. Undertaking brand research can provide the answers in understanding both the positive and negative perceptions towards a brand which informs both strategic and tactical brand decision making. 

The importance of brand research in the rebranding process.

In the world of marketing and branding, everyone (absolutely everyone) has an opinion or personal preference. With an objective, external evaluation of a brand to inform decision making, brand strategies and tactics can turn into a nightmare of the loudest voice or strongest opinion. Employing the objective outputs of brand research ensures a brand can position itself appropriately within its competitive context and take advantage of any identified areas of positive differentiation.

Conducting brand research can help mitigate the risks associated with a rebrand. It starts with gaining a deep understanding of the market, customers (both current and potential) and competitors (existing and new entrants). For organisations with long-standing, loyal customers, research can evaluate how these customers will react to a new brand. Understanding the response of current advocates can be the difference between success and failure of a rebrand.

The general sense in the financial services market is that consumers are hungry for positive change. One year on from the recommendations of the royal commission, forward-thinking financial services organisations have the opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competition by considering an investment in a rebrand.

Rebranding presents an opportunity for an organisation to align and clarify its brand message, create or redevelop a new positioning and values. It also presents an opportunity for organisations to realign internal culture and create a magnet to attract new talent.

Once a rebrand has commenced, it is vital to ensure it is executed efficiently and communicated effectively. A smooth roll-out of a rebrand with minimum overlap between the two brands will avoid confusion both internally and externally. Central to this is always referring to the outputs of external, objective brand research, the critical analysis that will keep a rebrand on track and on message.

If your organisation is considering a rebrand, we have recently released an updated Guide to Rebranding, feel free to download it as a good starting point in the consideration process.