by Brian Elkins
Senior Brand Strategy Consultant
When is the right time to rebrand? In many marketing strategy
engagements, this question invariably arises as research
implications underpin shifting market dynamics and evolving
consumption models for our clients.
Critical to answering this question is understanding that
rebranding or refreshing a heritage brand, intended or not,
signals to the market place that something of significance about
the business is changing. Too often rebranding is undertaken as
simply a reactive means to garner attention or supercharge a
campaign launch that will drive engagement in the near term, but
lacks sustainability and risks leaving internal and external
audiences underwhelmed and disappointed.
A successful rebrand requires a coordinated effort across the
organization so that the brand evolution is delivered at every
touch point from senior management to frontline employees and
product/service experience. It requires discipline and rigor, but
also the energy and excitement to tell the organization’s new,
compelling story. Getting this right is as much art as it is science
and the brands that get it right put their customers and
authenticity at the center of every aspect of their approach.
First and foremost, identify and clearly define the catalyst for rebranding. There are many
reasons an organization may seek to rebrand. Some, but not all catalysts may include:
new leadership or ownership structure, a new or evolved value proposition or positioning,
new or enhanced products, experiences, channels or ways for audiences and customers
to engage with the brand. Building a strong business case for rebranding pays dividends
for successful go-to-market strategies and clear ROI measurement.
Once this case has been made, it is crucial that senior leaders within the organization are
not only champions of the process, but play an active role throughout the process building
buy-in at every level of the organization. It is also important for an organization and its
brand partners to go wide and bring representatives from across the organization into the
process. They will all have something at stake with a successful (re)brand implementation
and bringing them into the process early will often illuminate insights that are important to
the brand’s makeup. We find that in addition to strong governance, leveraging engaging
tools like Illumination LabTM go far to bring disparate parties and interests to the table.
MEASURE AND MEASURE AGAIN
Establishing benchmark metrics through research and tracking (quarterly or bi-
annually) against those metrics post-launch will be paramount to sustaining a
successful rebrand and to providing further rationale for investment in the brand. While
quantitative tracking is both necessary and useful, never lose sight of the power of
qualitative tools like online communities, ethnography, our digital BrightBoardsTM and in
person methods to provide the “why” beyond the numbers through context, texture and
The excitement of a rebrand endangers the positive brand equity an organization has
built over time. One of the most important activities, once measured, is to recognize
existing equities to be brought forward and improved while also identifying baggage or
disequities the organization aims to diminish or leave behind. Group strategy labs and
workshops often uncover latent equities not readily apparent in the data.
OWNERSHIP AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Establish a brand governance system from the outset. Too often, rebrands lose steam
without people and processes to act as stewards for the brand long after the new brand
is rolled out and the confetti is put away. Building a cross-functional team not only
reinforces engagement, but helps ensure consistent implementation, compliance, and
sustained success. This group should ultimately be responsible for developing an
implementation process that identifies costs, resource needs, communications and
advertising and brand experience mechanisms, ensuring there are no gaps when an
organization is ready to go to market under a new brand.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BRIAN ELKINS
Brian is a Senior Brand Strategy Consultant specializing
in brand strategy (positioning, naming, portfolio
architecture), advertising strategy, employee brand
engagement and consumer insights and planning.
He has served as lead consultant and strategist launching
a number of brands including: CenturyLink, Western
Union, WTOP, Paychex, First American Financial and
serves as a brand strategy consultant to current clients
including Wynn Resorts, Constellation Brands, Royal Cup
Coffee and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
What they feel.
We see things others miss