Six best practices in rebranding

There are many reasons you might be considering a strategic rebrand. It could be due to a change in your competitive landscape that’s impacting your growth. Or a corporate restructuring. Or maybe you have an evolving customer demographic. Whatever the reason, our three decades of branding experience have shown us there are six best practices for rebranding success.

1. Tie your brand strategy to your business strategy

A new brand strategy or a rebrand should always consider the business as a whole. Brand strategy and business strategy should always be linked because together, they’re a growth driver. Truly focused brands make the intertwining of brand and business strategy a top priority because they know it will deliver bottom line results.

2. Align internal disciplines

Related to our first point: Branding and rebranding don’t happen in a vacuum. Branding is more than marketing—it is a key lever you can use to move the company forward. Done right, it is the foundation for everything you say and everything you do across all disciplines, from marketing and sales to R&D. Therefore, to ensure success, all parts of the business have to be aligned. The experience, the people, the products, and the systems—the brand represents all of those. So line them up and sign them up. They are all an important part of your rebranding.

3. Involve senior decision makers

Speaking of signing up, if your rebrand is going to be a success, all senior executives need to buy into it and be invested in its outcome from the beginning. A clear process with clearly defined deliverables will help. Ensure a cross-discipline senior leadership group is at the table and use their valuable time judiciously. They should hear the insights captured in research and be able to put their hypotheticals on the table. This allows them to make smart decisions and be vested in the outcomes. To guide key decision makers through the rebranding journey, it’s important to discuss customer insights, business realities, trends, and the competitive landscape upfront, so together, you can agree on a direction and be prepared to re-align along the way.

4. Conduct deep research

We’re the first to admit that deep research can have varying definitions of deep depending on the company or person that’s using the word. So let’s be clear: To us, deep research will discover who your brand is and what it should focus on for greatest impact. Deep research means a carefully considered process that is designed to answer critical questions that will drive your brand forward. Questions like:

What’s our brand reputation today?

What do we want it to be tomorrow?

How do our customers make buying decisions?

How should we position ourselves to drive competitive advantage?

Where do we perform well today?

In other words, our version of deep research is research that will lead to actionable insights specific to the brand-building process.

5. Consider art & science

Research is both an art and a science. Yes, there may be a lot of statistics involved, but there should also be magic. The secret to creating this magic is to dare data to delight your customers. You can do this by looking at your quantitative and qualitative research from many different angles. In doing so, you’ll find unique insights that challenge the status quo. This will take your brand on a path from data to prose to poetry that will connect with customers in meaningful ways and also drive actionable change.

6. Execute for success

A brand promise, once determined, is not just words on a page. It’s not just an excuse for a quick party where you say, “Let’s take the brand live, rah rah!” A brand promise is just what it sounds like—a promise. It’s a promise you’re making to the outside world and everyone in the company must be inspired and motivated to keep it. In order to do so, they must understand how to deliver it no matter their responsibilities.

That’s why every team member must understand the value a brand promise brings to both them and to the organization as a whole. They must believe in the brand before they can live the brand. That’s why they must be given not just a pep talk or a party, but the practical tools that will allow them to internalize the rebrand. While this educational process can be fun and exciting, it must also be well planned and driven by smart communications. In other words, it must be operationalized. Employees must be not just inspired, but trained.

When you bring a brand to life in the right way, your team members will make focused, on-brand decisions in their day-to-day responsibilities. And when that happens, your brand will achieve its strategic, financial, and growth goals, and truly be ready to make a difference in the world.

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