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How Rebranding Can Be a Challenge

Any organization that embarks on the rebranding path expects results that will propel its brand forward. Otherwise, why go through the time and expense to rebrand? But understanding the challenges is equally important as understanding the opportunities.

1. It’s Not Easy

I recently asked a former client whether they would be willing to be a reference. They declined. The reason? “The end result was good but getting there was not easy.” Perhaps we missed something. But I don’t think we ever said that the rebranding process was going to be easy. It’s hard work. Rebranding is a long-term proposition. Every decision requires an appreciation of the long-term consequences. The investment made today has a far-reaching effect on the brand’s future. It’s value, equity, and sustainable competitive advantage are at stake.

Good decisions are the result of healthy debate internally within the organization and externally with your brand partner. Disagreement along the way is not necessarily a bad thing. It comes with the territory. And debate and dialogue will ensure that all sides of an important issue are considered. So, yes the rebranding process is not easy. But on the other hand, its rewarding to see the end result after all the hard work has been done.

2. Wrong Objective

If the primary objective of the rebrand is to instantly generate more revenue and profit then you are in for a disappointment. Whether it is a new brand or a rebrand the goal is the same. It is to increase brand value and equity. It’s important to understand where the brand fits within the context of business and marketing plans. An investment in a brand won’t necessarily generate instantaneous results. Shaping customer perceptions takes time and patience.

That’s not to say, however, that there are shorter-term benefits. Business and marketing decisions will be that much better informed to reinforce and lead to longer-term brand benefits. In fact, the impact on the internal culture may have a more immediate effect. All those responsible for building lasting customer relationships and loyalty will be recharged with a reinvigorated rebrand. The bottom line — understand the purpose of the rebrand, and its realities, and define your objectives accordingly.

3. Where’s the Will, There’s a Way

At the end of a rebranding project, the client will receive a set of guidelines or standards. The assumption is that, with some oversight and the brand standards in hand, the brand will be kept on track through implementation and beyond. Unfortunately, that is a wrong assumption. Standards and intent will not keep the brand on track. What’s more important is the commitment, dedication, and will to manage the brand just like every other essential asset of the organization.

“A successful brand does not represent empty dreams, but rather, what the organization actually has the will and resources to deliver.”

—David Aaker

It takes discipline to effectively manage a brand. The forces of change, internal agendas, resistance to rules, and numerous other excuses will find ways to justify “workarounds.” It will take unrelenting willpower to keep the brand in line with what it is intended to do. Consistency is not the enemy of creativity. It is the way great brands build sustainable and distinctive brand recognition.

4. Don’t Let the Experts Do All the Work

It is true that if you have hired a branding expert you will naturally lean on their expertise to guide you through the process. The operative word here is “guide.” It’s not a hand-off. It’s your brand. You need to dedicate serious time to become intimately involved in the process. You have to allocate time and resources to ensure there is active participation among all stakeholders in the process. Rebranding is not like buying a car. It’s not a package deal. There are no different models to choose from. The brand is built specifically to your company’s vision. You need to own it.

5. What Will You Do Differently?

One of the questions we often pose at the end of a rebranding project is to ask a fundamental question. “What will you do differently tomorrow than what you did today?” And the answer is not that the logo will change or a new website will be launched. The right answer is around behavior.

Branding is as much about behavior as it is about what the brand looks like. It’s behavior that will have a greater effect on customer relationships than how satisfied they are with products or services. But it starts with understanding what constitutes brand reinforcing behavior. That should be defined by an essential brand character attribute — the brand experience. Understanding what that is will help answer the question of what you will do differently tomorrow. How will you answer the phone?

Rebranding is an Opportunity

It is impossible to guarantee that some mistakes won’t be made along the way in the rebranding process. You should expect that there will be some. But going into the process with open eyes will help avoid the most likely mistakes. At the very least, they’re something to learn from. The rebranding process is fraught with twists and turns but that’s what makes for a better end result. Don’t let something wrong get in the way of everything that is right.

The goal of How Brand Works is to share our experience, perspectives and philosophy on the different facets of branding intended to enable an effective brand management strategy.

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