Marketers know a rebrand is more than a shiny new logo or ad campaign. It requires a compelling vision (including your positioning) that can be understood and articulated by all—starting with your company's leadership and employees.
Whatever the reason for the rebrand—entering a new market, targeting a new audience—your agency should help you sell the rebrand inside your company's walls. Your most potent brand advocates are your colleagues. After all, if they haven't bought into the rebrand and the philosophy behind it, why in the world would anyone else?
Having helped hundreds of companies go through the branding and rebranding processes, I have identified six steps to making sure your company is ready from the inside out.
1. Start at the top
Your agency should help you get your leadership on board from the get-go—from making an impression on the board to simulating for management the kind of positive experience that customers should be experiencing. If your agency isn't driving the plan for acquiring management's full support of a revised brand promise, you probably need a new agency.
When we developed a new brand positioning for one of our bank clients around superior customer service, we branded it internally (in the bank) as "Sterling Service" and then brought in white-gloved waiters serving lunch on sterling platters to emphasize our point and help get funding from the board. Sure, we had all the other ducks in a row for the program to be successful, but bringing the vision to life in a memorable way made a great impression.
The point is, all levels of leadership need to understand what the new vision is, what the new experience feels like, and why it matters.
2. Enlist HR
Depending on the size of your company, you may have in-house pros in Human Resources who know how best to communicate with employees. Use their expertise. Make them an important part of the rebrand launch, the communications plan, and the subsequent follow-through engagement tactics that your agency has recommended.
HR teams have the muscle to come up with the main content of the communications plan, and the agency can polish it and make it interesting, approachable, and even fun! So let your HR folks work with your agency and get the benefit of both teams' combined expertise.
3. Keep the momentum going
Too often I see CEOs or companies hold the obligatory "rebrand launch" meeting, where someone talks through a few slides, shows off a new logo, and expects everyone to walk away and immediately "get it, love it, and live it." It's not gonna happen.
A rebrand takes time. Your agency can help you put an engaging, 18-month communications plan together that not only launches the new brand and key messages in a fun way to your colleagues but also seeks to keep them freshly engaged by the rebrand over the next 18 months. Visual cues like desk-toppers, short videos, team lunches, competitions—which are all pretty basic—can go a long way to align and engage your team over a period of time.
Remember that getting employees' buy-in essentially comes down to how well you answer two questions: "What's in it for me?" and "What's in it for the customer?"
So have a plan to reach every employee in a way that encourages them to be brand evangelists. Show them why the rebrand is great for them and good for the company. Train them to deliver on the new promise to customers using crisp, clear language that conveys the energy and enthusiasm necessary to make your rebrand vision believable.
4. Keep your CEO in the spotlight
Whoever strategically owns the new brand vision—usually the CEO but it may be someone else—has to remain the loudest cheerleader in the room. Being a brand champion can't be delegated.
Your agency can help craft the three or four main messages for the brand champion to communicate. They should come across in catchy and easy-to-remember sound bites and with some visual interest. Think about themed posters around the office, weekly email messages, or even a wallet-sized "cheat sheet."
We helped a major insurance client with its rebrand based on a new "service promise," and the entire internal campaign complemented the external rebrand with a "We Are the Go-To Team" campaign that really got everyone on board.
A good rallying cry encourages your people to live up to what they probably knew they were already doing—but with the right creative it takes on a whole new meaning and feels more rewarding.
5. Collaborate with your sales team
Getting your sales team on board with any rebrand is critically important. Engage the salespeople early and get their input before you determine a new positioning and brand message. They often can identify customer hot buttons and industry trends that can shape the brand repositioning. More often than not, we interview the sales team first so we can always consider how sales tools fit into the rebrand story.
Marrying the message to the tactic is what good agencies do best. So let your sales team know that its input is important and use that input to create the most compelling story possible for customers and prospects.
6. Measure, monitor, and track
Only by measuring and tracking employees' engagement in the rebrand can you determine whether what you are doing is working, and then make any needed adjustments.
If your agency has any basic research expertise, ask it to help with gathering meaningful employee feedback, and then respond effectively to it. Do employees believe in the new brand? Do they understand why it makes good business sense? Can they articulate the "why" behind the rebranding to anyone outside of the company? Do they understand how they personally contribute to the success of the company?
Ask. Respond. Repeat.
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Whether a rebrand is for a service or a product business, its success will depend in great part on how well the company's employees understand what the new look and feel represents, what the vision is, and why it matters.
All employees, not just management, need to be crystal-clear about their role in the rebranding. Your marketing agency should be helping with this every step of the way.