In the first article of this series, we talked about how to determine whether a rebranding initiative is in your company's best interests. In the second article, we covered the basics of building your new brand identity.
Now it's time to discuss best-practices as you launch and promote your exciting new brand, both internally and externally.
As a backdrop, consider that when we rebranded our enterprise work management company AtTask to its new Workfront identity, it was no small undertaking. Our project plan comprised 412 individual tasks and took 4½ months of intense effort. No one wants to go through that level of work and then botch the unveiling.
With that in mind, here are six essential tips to help you achieve a successful launch, starting with some of your most important stakeholders: the people in your company.
Three Tips for the Internal Launch
1. Give employees a heads-up
Many companies fail to realize that getting their employees behind the brand is the first and most important step in a successful launch. You want as many cheerleaders and advocates as possible. If you can't convince the people on your payroll that this is a good move, your chances with your broader audience diminish significantly.
We gave AtTask employees a 10-week heads-up that the name was going to change, and we explained why (our product had expanded to encompass the complete lifecycle of enterprise work—far more than tasks alone). We told them change was coming before we had even decided on a new name, giving them time to process the idea, to get their questions answered, and to buy into the reasoning.
2. Get employees involved
There are two big reasons for getting your entire company involved in the rebranding process: it's their company, too, and you'll build feelings of loyalty and belonging by acknowledging that fact; and 400+ tasks can't be accomplished by one person alone.
One month before our external launch, we unveiled our new brand internally to our then 500+ employees. It may sound risky to expect hundreds of people to all keep their mouth shut for four straight weeks, but our decision to put faith in our employees paid off. All we had to say to them was, "We're trusting you to keep this confidential," with instructions not to tell friends or neighbors, online or in the real world.
I received several emails asking, "I love this new Workfront-branded backpack I got, but do I need to leave it at work until January? What if my wife or my sister-in-law sees it?" There are definitely still some letter-of-the-law, trustworthy people in this world.
3. Make it a big deal
If we had announced our new name and logo via email, we would have gotten hundreds of different reactions—most of them depending on the mood of the viewer in that moment. It would have fallen flat. So we decided to orchestrate the mood—and to do it in a big way.
We brought everyone together into one large conference hall, with 2,000 balloons hidden in the ceiling. We had lights and a stage and a 30-minute buildup, with lots of branded collateral to throw out into the crowd. We built anticipation. We pretended we were about to reveal the name, then backtracked, "Wait, wait... maybe first we should tell them the names we didn't pick." And we trotted out a list of hilarious, fake runners-up.
Then, the reveal. We produced an action-packed video complete with stunt men, drone cameras, and special effects; we played it on a pair of giant movie screens. At the climax of the video, the branded balloons poured from the ceiling and Workfront's new lion logo was spotlighted on the wall, larger than life.
You couldn't not be excited in that moment, even if you might have been initially lukewarm about the name itself.
With our internal team amped up and ready to stand behind the new brand, we had the momentum we needed to propel it successfully into the marketplace.
Three Tips for the External Launch
1. Make it a big deal
This tip may sound somewhat familiar (since you read it, oh, five paragraphs ago), but it's important for your external audience too. Even if you've done everything else perfectly up until the public reveal, you will fail if you don't spend enough money to spread the word about your name change.
With the Workfront transition, we launched extensive print and digital campaigns, using the same creative agency that built our new look and feel to plan media buys and evaluate where to advertise.
Sound expensive? It was. But it makes sense when you keep a rocket ship analogy in mind...
2. Front-load your budget
A rocket ship uses the majority of its fuel and energy just to get off the launch pad and break through the earth's gravity. With that in mind, we deliberately allocated two-thirds of our annual branding budget to the first quarter of the name change.
We knew that the day after announcing our name change, our brand recognition was officially zero. We needed to get off the ground and we needed the market to take notice.
We focused all of this advertising on one key point: There's an enterprise work management solution called Workfront. In short, it was about awareness.
Focusing on the transition from AtTask would have meant nothing to those unfamiliar with our old brand. We did, however, attach a "formerly AtTask" label to the new logo initially, to help bridge the gap.
3. Tell key customers early
Prep stakeholders for your release. Make a list of important customers and partners who need to be informed a few days in advance of your public launch.
We announced our new brand in a very personal way to key customers a day or two before the public reveal. Then, several other steps happened almost simultaneously: The press release went out; the website switched over; and emails went out to the broader customer base, partners, investors, and other associates. We also provided an email for each of our executives to send out to their own personal networks.
Success Is Within Reach
You debated the benefits of rebranding and decided to go for it. You painstakingly built the perfect new look and feel. You launched your brand to wide public acclaim. Now you can sit back and relax, right?
Wrong. Now you've got brand equity to build. And, more than likely, you've still got an extensive list of "post-launch" tasks to wrap up.
In many ways, you've started back at square one. But if you followed all 21 tips from all three articles in this series, you may find it's an incredibly exciting place to be.
At the time we changed our name from AtTask to Workfront, we were a 13-year-old company. As prescribed in an earlier article in this series, we did a brand audit prior to the name change to determine the level of brand recognition we had. We found that there was 22% recognition by our target market for the AtTask name. We knew it would take work to get back to that level and beyond. Heck, it had taken 13 years to get to that point initially. The results of our brand audit 11 months after the name change to Workfront showed that we had done this right: brand recognition of 23% in North America and 45% in our primary international market.
It is doable.
Part 1 of this series: "Should You Dump Your Brand Equity?"
Part 2 of this series: "So You Need a New Identity... Now What?"
Part 3 of this series: "Six Tips for Successfully Launching Your New Brand"
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