Enhancing the strength of your team, instilling why it is your customers want to work with you and giving impact to your presence in the market are all great reasons for re-branding your organisation.
Developing a new brand takes time, investment and some deep thinking, but in general most of the people in your organisation won’t have been brought into the entirety of the process, so unless you make a brand live and breathe, the wealth of opportunities could make the whole exercise a complete waste of time.
Here’s a simple 10-point plan to keep you on track.
1. Make a plan
So you’re clear that your new brand absolutely nails your company’s personality, you’ve got the right words that express your vision, mission and values; and there’s a brand pyramid or wheel that makes sense of how it all fits together and tallies fantastically with the chosen colour palette, fonts and use of graphics.
That’s all very well, but a roll-out of a brand without a plan is simply relying on telepathy to get all the hard work into the heads of your colleagues, customers and stakeholders.
Plan who you need to tell about your new brand, in what order and how you will communicate – and ensure your top team is fully on-board before you launch.
Don’t underestimate the time this will take. Any new collateral, new furnishings, branded clothing, web content, presentations and artwork all have to be ready in time, and keeping a factor of surprise will add to the excitement, so consider the limitations that may present.
Ensure the outlook for your plan goes beyond the launch date and that there’s buy in from those you need to support the plan and a commitment to delivery. Utilise all the marketing resources available.
2. Launch the new brand
It’s crucial that you get buy-in from your organisation before reaching out externally. Sending an email round the team really won’t cut the mustard. Your team are the voice and representation of the company so if you can get them truly engaged, excited and equipped to communicate, the power of your outreach is infinitely stronger. And that means the whole team – not just those who are customer facing.
We’ve not got a big team ourselves, but when Pinstone re-branded 12 months ago, we still opted for an off-site launch event, selecting a local hotel with a spacious meeting environment. This gave us the time to instil the new brand ethos in the minds of our people and the occasion emphasised our investment in our team. It also ensured everyone was clear that they play a part in representing that brand – whether that’s with our customers, or merely with their family and friends who they go home and extol the excitement around what they’ve seen and heard that day.
3. Take the team on the brand journey
A new brand and the related brand facets can, on the face of it, feel quite foreign or abstract and therefore lack meaning, particularly for those outside of marketing related roles.
For us, unveiling some of the team responses to a poll we sent around in the early stages of brand development to get a sense of how they perceive the company was a great way of showcasing that we listened to their feedback. Simply talking through the thinking behind how the brand was developed, what it conveys and why particular terminology or concepts were selected helps understand the backdrop to the final brand execution.
Make it bitesize and answer questions and if possible, avoid ‘death by powerpoint’. What you choose to do will be dictated by the demographics of your team, but we decided to have a bit of fun by introducing some interactive brand related brain teasers and icebreaker type activities that gets the team on their feet, working together and having a laugh.
4. Use your top team to sell the brand
If you’ve got a launch event of some kind, it’s important to mix it up with some different voices, so get the top team involved. If you have numerous divisions, home workers or multiple office bases, nominating brand ambassadors – who may or may not present at the launch event – is a good idea.
For everyone else, it’s more compelling to involve different members of the team to showcase the brand’s development as a collaborative exercise. It also makes it clear who the team can go to if they have subsequent questions.
5. Tell a story
Most companies have a history and in general they are more interesting than you might think. Plotting the timeline, the milestones and featuring some of the stories of the highs and lows, featuring people and the successes you’ve celebrated, adds to a sense of unity.
To add another dimension to our launch activities and presentations, we went old school, getting the pens, pritstick and sticky notes out, using a roll of wallpaper to plot the timeline. I was filmed presenting the timeline to camera and including some out-takes of footage from some significant places that were part of our company – and brand – story.
6. Be open and answer questions
Providing an open and honest environment where the team can ask questions or even challenge the thinking is a good thing. You may come against some resistance, but by explaining the process of reaching the end point of the brand development and listening to feedback will engender respect and keep the team engaged.
7. Communicate to your customers, stakeholders and the market
My advice is not to try and launch internally and externally on the same day. We set our two launch dates a month apart. This allowed us to focus on our team first, get their buy in and allow people time to consider the changes.
A staggered launch also has the benefit of offering a bit more time, once ‘the news is out internally’ to finalise the new website, email signatures, business cards, electronic templates, social media profiles and other externally facing content.
Whether you choose another event, or a softer launch, using an eshot, or delivering the changes when you meet in person, will depend on your organisation and the size of the customer base. And for us, geography was also a factor given that our clients are scattered nationwide.
Regardless, consider what’s important for customers, the market, or the press in communicating the news of a rebrand. They’ll be more interested in how it will impact them (or their readers) and the relevance to their organisation, than the benefits to your own.
Be clear on what’s new and what will stay the same and choose an appropriate tone, time to deliver the news and ideally some creative ways to get your brand instilled with stakeholders over a period of time, rather than in a one-off presentation. A creatively put together gift to key people with some enticing – but brand linked – contents is a sure way to get attention. We’ve used some very simple branded wrapping and stickers to encase a gift to subtly support the new brand message.
8. Ditch the old brand
The strength and heritage of the former brand will dictate how much work you need to do to avoid slipping backwards. We kept our company name the same which is a huge advantage and because it was more a case of cementing and better articulating our brand than a complete transition, we didn’t need to work as hard. But for others, there may be a period of transition where you continue to refer back to the old brand name – but set a date when this will come to an end.
Undertaking a search exercise to identify where the old brand persists in the outside world and ensuring it is replaced by the new brand on external websites and the like is also worth doing. It’s also important to work on your SEO to ensure the gains made with the old brand are built upon by adding keywords to older content for example and also that the new brand can be found when online searching for the old brand.
9. Make the brand part of everyday language
Ensuring a brand continues to live – and not just as a logo – is only achieved by consistent communication. Find opportunities to instil the brand elements with your team – whether that’s in regular internal meetings, via an intranet, within company collateral or as part of induction and training exercises. It should also be a key part of all of your content.
Use the brand form of words externally and challenge your top team to ensure brand values are made mention of and that it becomes a natural part of your ‘elevator pitch’ when describing the company to those new to your organisation and within your presentations.
10. Get help if you need it
Delivering really effective rebrand outreach requires a dedicated focus and attention to detail, achieving full team and stakeholder buy-in that can be sustained over time. It takes strategy, messaging and the planning required can be extensive. For many companies it’s an impossible additional task and they choose to out-source their communications. Get in touch with Pinstone if you’re looking for support.