Top 5 Marketing Regrets After Rebranding09.18.18 / David Lemley
In the hands of the right CEO, CMO, and marketing team a rebrand becomes a powerful tool. But rebrands are tough. Rebrands frequently fail to generate results. Rebranding sucks. So why do it? Well, fortune, fame, and glory all lie in the balance, right?
Rebranding has produced persistent frustrations … This white paper answers your most pressing question: “How do I make my efforts at rebranding not suck?” So if you’re sure you want to go through with it, we have the answers you’re looking for.
Learn not only when and why to rebrand (and when not to rebrand) but discover the common regrets marketers have after spending an entire year rebranding their whole company and not getting the results they need.
Rebranding is a powerful but tricky landscape to navigate. The goals of a rebrand should be organizational clarity, deeper audience engagement, upgraded channel strategy, employee engagement and retention, and, of course, sales.
Many of our clients come to us as a newer employee at an inspiring brand who has been tasked with “fixing” the brand — frequently on the coattails of a rebrand with their previous employer. (It’s partly why they got the job, right?) They have had various levels of success with that rebrand, but are generally frustrated and dissatisfied with the overall process and its outcomes. There is a shared set of common, post-rebrand regrets.
Top Marketing Regrets After Rebranding
1. Changing for the wrong reasons
Given the time and cost associated with the rebranding, you would think that most people would only undertake it when their brand is outdated, broken or has been disrupted. However, difficult as it may be to believe, boredom with the brand is an all too common reason many companies decide to make changes.
Common symptoms: A serial C-suite guru recently moved into the corner office and wants a rebrand on their resume. Not everyone across the business is aware that change is imminent because the case for change was not used to bring people along before implementing the rebrand. When the new brand appears, people are scratching their heads, thinking its just another new logo and the only impact it has for them is that they will likely get a new tee shirt.
How to avoid rebranding for the wrong reasons: Find out what the business problems are before you decide a brand change is the answer. If the brand isn’t broken and there appears to be no real opportunity to disrupt and therefore take the lead in the category, do something to affect the business besides rebranding.
2. Lack of team alignment
Alignment requires ecosystems thinking. When you don‘t get enough of the right people in the room at the same time, buy-in may not be possible. It cannot be done if you opt to stay safe and snuggly inside the silo of marketing. Don’t get me wrong, working within the discipline of marketing is key, in fact, the marketing department should drive the project. But if you only involve the marketing team in the rebrand, you are setting yourself up for internal conflict. No matter how good you are, after the grand unveiling of all the hard work, your management and sales teams will come to you with details you did not consider — things that may not have crossed your mind to consider.
Common symptoms: It’s a new day, but you struggle with the same marketing problems. Sales team (and other internal teams) are not buying into the new brand because they either don’t understand it, don’t agree with it or the process of rebranding has alienated them along the way. As a result, your company’s executives are not only not promoting the rebrand but distancing themselves from it.
How to avoid lack of alignment: Rebranding requires that your company’s leadership participate both psychologically and strategically. Without their direct involvement, you cannot get deep enough into the realities facing the business to affect change. And you need their hammer. You need someone to bang the gavel and declare it so. Bring in key stakeholders from cross-functional disciplines within your organization and ask them to commit to taking the journey together.
3. Unactionable insights and strategies
Most marketers assume that creative implementation will be the biggest hurdle of a rebrand. They fail to identify and properly prepare for other hurdles along the way. A rebrand goes way beyond the marketing budget and an OOH (Out-of-home) campaign. When done well, a rebrand should provide actionable changes throughout the entire business that will improve your company’s ability to clearly make promises and then provide simple, actionable insight into how your brand should go about keeping them.
Common Symptoms: The rebrand requires a media spend and takeovers that your board will never approve, which makes the rebrand feel like just another advertising campaign to grab short-term attention for your brand. So that 500-page PDF which highlights the rebrand never gets opened by anyone but you and your agency. Other department heads and people within the organization who are familiar with the perils of rebranding don’t want to discuss your project because they working hard not to say, “I told you so”.
How to avoid unactionable insights and strategies: At the outset, establish a two-year timetable and budget for your rebrand to make sure you don’t get stuck with pie-in-the-sky thinking and no time or funds to implement it. No matter how savvy the team, there will always be that anniversary package that nobody is even thinking about yet, and updating all of your brand’s digital properties requires a matrix the size of Canada. Before you embark, manage everyone’s expectations by letting them know that it’s a long process.
4. Underestimating the pace of competition
Your rebrand is all about connecting with new audiences and finding sustainable growth opportunities. It sounds simple, but many feel the pressure to move quickly because the pace of change is exponential. It’s too easy to forget that while your team is mid-stream on a big rebranding project, your competitors are likely in the process of optimizing, refining or reinventing their brand. So you go black-ops and focus on the category leaders without considering challenger’s brands and product offerings in adjacent categories.
Common symptoms: Your brand sounds just like your competition. When you go shopping, you see 12 brands doing what your team thought would be unique. You begin to see that your brand‘s innovation pipeline is driven by feature and benefits and mostly knockoffs of other brands
How to avoid underestimating the pace of competition: You need to know the value proposition of your competitors and assess whether they successfully represent their company’s values and offerings. In order to compare your brand to competitors, you will need to conduct a comprehensive brand audit. Armed with the insights you gather here and a values-based approach, you will be far more attuned to what everyone is doing and therefore more likely to make your brand different.
5. Focusing only on visual change
Some people believe that rebranding is really just choosing a new name, new logo, or a new corporate identity. The problem with staying skin deep during a rebrand is that it’s just too easy to ignore changing consumer preferences, new competitors, and new human truths. These three drivers should be the impetus behind your decision to undergo a rebrand.
When a rebrand focuses purely on visual change it creates a risk that is often unintended. You may lose people who love your current brand because a visual approach is a beauty contest. And beauty, for all its juiciness, cannot fathom the depths of emotional attachment nor see the variety of ways that emotion, loyalty, and belonging play out in brand narratives and throughout your entire marketing ecosystem.
Common Symptoms: The new look tested really well but failed to create velocity. And your brand’s social media channels are filled with consumer backlash — people rant about the change. In the face of pushback, the rationale for the creative is no longer meaningful.
How to avoid focusing only on visual change: Take the time to understand the ways in which consumer preferences have shifted and what, if any, implications those shifts have on your brand's positioning in consumers' minds. Failure to dig deep enough into the human truths driving the change will increase the likelihood of failure.
Rebranding is a business focused, marketing-led response to external forces — not a re-decorating project
Rebranding is about changing the trajectory of your business. The life and death of your brand may hang in the balance. So don’t do it unless the industry, your company’s reputation, changing consumer preferences, or competition has caused the ground underfoot to shift.
Once you determine a rebrand is in order to stay viable, grow, and lead, approach it like you would having brain surgery. Go to someone you know is committed to not only keeping you alive but also to make sure that you are a badass when you wake up.