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Rebranding has become an increasingly popular strategy to put a jetpack on a business or an organization to revive its growth trajectory.

On a daily basis now, businesses, charities, college and professional sports teams, and even communities, announce that they are changing their names or at least their visual identities in an attempt to be more relevant to stakeholders.

But rebranding can be a time- and resource-intensive effort.

Gaining leadership support and financial investment for a rebrand requires careful preparation of a rebranding business case that clearly outlines the need, the opportunity, the risks, and the cost of not rebranding.

Rebranding must be viewed as a strategic growth accelerator. It is an investment in your future, much like the commitment to building new facilities or branching into a new business line. It should result in enterprise-wide benefits from a clear understanding of your business proposition, support for growth into new business categories, and employee alignment behind a common service promise.

Big changes should deliver big outcomes, and it's important to present the investment within the potential ROI.

Rebranding Should Open New Doors

We recently rebranded a senior healthcare organization. Its 90-year-old brand made it challenging to grow revenue in an increasingly regulated and margin-strained industry.

The group's strategic plan wisely called for expansion of service lines to younger people, beginning at age 55, that would support their aging process and develop relationships for a broader range of services.

Rebranding the organization with an aspirational name allowed it to tell a contemporary and differentiating client-service story. We also coined a new business category of "adult life services" that created context for more lifestyle (education, fitness, and wellness) and in-home care services to be marketed over time.

The business transformation's success even surprised the client's leadership as fellow industry players came calling asking for advice on how they had reinvented themselves in what seemed like an industry stuck in old models. The client has since established a business-consulting capability that helps similar industry players transform to better meet the needs of aging Americans.

This case stands as a good example of how rebranding can open new doors and accelerate growth.

Nine Essential Elements of a Slam-Dunk Rebranding Business Case

Our experience working to rebrand organizations suggests that to gain leadership buy-in and support for the effort and investment, you need to outline a solid business case that pre-emptively answers the nine critical questions outlined below.

Compile the necessary quantitative and financial data, brought to life with anecdotes from qualitative research, to illustrate the advantages of rebranding along with the cost of not doing so.

1. What problem are you trying to solve?

A clearly stated objective is necessary to start the dialogue and gain consensus that rebranding is the answer.

2. What has changed that requires you to rebrand?

  • Within the market
  • With the new "speed of business"
  • Among our competitors
  • In the way our customers purchase, the way our products and services will be delivered in the future
  • Within our organization

Consider SWOT analysis for each segment.

3. What goals does your strategic growth plan identify that your current brand will not support in your customers' minds?

4. How does your current brand limit business growth?

A. How successfully do we deliver our current brand?

  • Review the promise and evaluate on a scale of 1-10 how aligned the company, its communications, and its actions are behind the proposition.
  • Evaluate customer brand awareness and loyalty levels.
  • Talk to current customers about whether your current positioning matches your current service delivery and aligns with their growth needs.
  • Figure out how adequately your is brand grounded in your corporate values, HR policies, and customer service differentiation.
  • Assess which business segments have reached their capacity or cannot adequately compete with their current positioning. (Pull three years of financial performance numbers and two years of projections.)

B. What growth is at risk without untethering from your current brand?

  • Conduct qualitative and quantitative research among employees, especially your sales force and customer-service team, to identify what disconnects exist with your current brand.
  • Compile quantitative analysis and pepper it with anecdotal comments from customers, industry leaders, and employees.

5. What do you expect from the rebranding?

Describe the future state. Project new revenue growth opportunities that can result from more competitive positioning, higher visibility, and a rallied employee base.

6. What resources, both talent and financial, are required for rebranding?

7. What timeline should the rebranding follow?

Well-orchestrated campaigns can take 12-18 months from initial discussion to launch. Rebranding is not a short-term solution; it is a long-term game-changer.

8. Are you "ready" for this resource- and time-heavy commitment?

Gain the perspective of your Organizational Development or HR teams on the "readiness" of the organization and employees to support the business transformation. Look at employee engagement survey results over a couple of years to determine how a rebranding could provide better linkage to their roles and the overall business success.

9. What will happen if we don't rebrand?

Outline a risk assessment and the anticipated impact of retaining the status quo.

* *

Answer those questions with a high level of rigor, and you'll have increased your probability of winning committed management support. You'll soon be on your way to creating a forward-facing organization ready for growth and expansion.

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image of Jim Heininger

Jim Heininger is founder of Chicago-based Dixon|James Communications. Its Rebranding Xperts team specializes in comprehensive rebranding initiatives across multiple industries and nonprofit organizations.

LinkedIn: Jim Heininger

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