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Corporate rebranding is intricate and time-consuming; but with the mergers, acquisitions, and ownership changes of the current dynamic business environment, it's a necessary endeavor.

The corporate visual identity becomes especially important in instances of organizational change, because that identity symbolizes the new entity, provides visibility and recognizability, and communicates the new corporate structure.

Many studies and guides cover the benefits and management of corporate identity, the principles and process of rebranding, and the essentials and mistakes of strategic implementation, but there are far fewer that deal with tactical execution and follow-through.

Similarly, many organizations typically allocate more resources to the development and management of a new corporate visual identity than to its distribution. However, consistent and integrated distribution is as critical to a successful launch as the visual identity itself.

After a new brand/name is launched internally (after organizational processes, changes in corporate culture, etc.), it is launched externally via print and online media, as well as routine employee communications. External implementation is guided by the branding policy and style guide, with close attention paid to media distribution and the execution of such visual components as business cards, letterhead, envelopes, brochures, sales and proposal material, tradeshow materials, corporate clothing, and premiums.

Visual components not always thought of initially include invoices, vehicles, signage, and interiors.

Operational Implementation

Distribution of the new corporate identity goes much deeper than those visual components, however; yet, the vital operational aspects of communications frequently fall through the cracks.

The most commonly missed operational logistics entail the back-end of online implementation and the one-to-one experience of routine correspondence (i.e., via Web, email, mail, and phone).

Such minutiae are not trivial—they are critical follow-through that present (or prevent) a consistent and complete image to all stakeholders: customers, prospects, employees, suppliers, and shareholders.

The following examples of operational implementation can serve as a checklist to ensure uniform, integrated distribution of the new brand/name.

(For the purposes of this article, operational implementation relates only to distribution of the new visual identity and does not cover the more complex and long-term aspects of internal implementation or non-visuals, such as messaging, value proposition, positioning, and so on. Note that some items may be relevant for an interim or transitional period only.)

Operational-Implementation Checklist

1. Online

Web:

  • Redirect old website URL to the new site's
  • Redirect pages, links, and online directories from the old website
  • Create a meta tag "trail" from the old name
  • Provide notification/explanation of the change via pop-up window, ticker tape, or similar approach (as well as more detailed content elsewhere, as appropriate)
  • Consistently monitor and revise SEO/SEM for the new site (at first reviewed/updated monthly)
  • Update corporate profiles on social media
  • Request and remind staff to update any "work" social media profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
  • Update intranet visuals and content, including a detailed FAQ section for employees about the new brand/name

Email:

  • Reroute email or establish an email alias (@newname.com vs. @oldname.com) if server migration will not be completed prior to launch
  • Update and test email links on Web, forms, marcom collateral, etc.
  • Ensure there are no glitches with the new brand/name with regard to email deliverability, recognition by spam filters, etc.
  • Create and distribute an email signature template (style guide for contact info, links, graphics, etc.) for staff, and monitor and ensure full compliance 

2. Mail

  • Update return address information and request any transitions from the United States Postal Service (USPS) to ensure there are no interruptions in service (this step is especially important for accounts receivable)
  • Transfer all postal permits and accounts to the new brand/name, such as for Post Office Box, Business Reply Mail, bulk accounts, etc. (USPS paperwork can be completed immediately, but permits usually take several months to be processed and finalized)
  • Notify vendors that provide services for direct mail, printing, fulfillment, etc.
  • Revise permit/account information on bulk and periodical collateral


3. Phone

  • Develop and distribute an official phone greeting for all staff (e.g., "Thank you for calling new name, formerly old name...")
  • Develop and distribute a brief explanatory script to all staff (i.e., one sentence on why and how the change affects stakeholders)
  • Update toll-free and corporate numbers to reflect the new brand/name (e.g., phone greeting, menu tree, after-hours message)
  • Request that staff members reflect the change in their phone greetings and update their voicemail messages on their office and mobile phones
  • Update internal and external phone directories/resources, print and online, including pre-merger (old company) sources, if applicable

Seamless One-to-One Experience

Rebranding is a highly integrated process involving executive management, Marketing, Sales, Human Resources, Information Technology (IT), and other organizational areas—not to mention the buy-in and collaboration of employees.

To be successful and build brand equity, any rebranding effort requires enterprisewide support and holistic implementation. Indeed, research suggests that external factors such as a new corporate visual identity affect brand equity less than internal factors (such as employee behavior).

Since rebranding is a holistic process, effective execution of operational logistics depends on the collaboration and resources throughout the organization. With the full support of all involved (especially IT) and careful attention to operational implementation, distribution of the new visual identity can be smooth and seamless—enabling the organization to present the desired image consistently and effectively to all stakeholders.

Continue reading "Pitfalls of Corporate-Rebranding Implementation (and a Helpful Checklist)" ... Read the full article

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christine R. Valeriann has achieved marketing results and business growth for such organizations as Boyden, Johns Hopkins University, and Marriott International. Reach her at crvaleriann@gmail.com.