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Rebranding: A 4 Step Plan for B2B Marketers

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Your brand has huge strategic importance for improving your competitive position, engaging more prospects and ultimately winning more customers. So that’s why I wrote this ebook, “Rebranding: A 4-Step Plan for B2B Marketers”. In the book, I lay out detailed how-to’s for pulling off every part of a rebranding from aligning your leadership around the brand to launching it internally and externally. You’ll discover examples of what my team and I did to make MultiView’s rebranding successful at every stage. I’ve also included a scorecard for selecting your digital agency and a checklist for making sure you have all your bases covered. I hope you find the content helpful and if you have any questions, please DM me on Twitter @ToddEbert. I’d be happy to share my experience having done this several times.

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Rebranding: A 4 Step Plan for B2B Marketers

  1. 1. When you’re trying to pull off changes to something so strategic and foundational to the growth of the company, you can’t afford to get it wrong. Many people mistakenly think that rebranding is just about the logo design or the latest advertising. But if you planned on opening a restaurant, you wouldn’t choose the decorations before pouring the foundation and constructing the building; those items come much later. And it's the same with rebranding: you wouldn't rush into creating things that make up your brand essence – like identity/logo and design/style before you've put down the building blocks of your brand foundation – like positioning/value props and messaging/differentiation. With that, let’s walk through the steps for carrying out any rebranding so you can keep your company up-to-date and competitive within your industry. B2B Connected. The 4-Step Plan for B2B MarketersB2B Connected. The 4-Step Plan for B2B MarketersB2B Connected. The 4-Step Plan for B2B MarketersB2B Connected. The 4-Step Plan for B2B Marketers I’ve spent my entire 25-year career in technology companies that serve the B2B market, and one common theme has been constant change. Those changes have been driven by a new corporate strategy, new acquisition, new product launch, new technology development, and new competitors entering the market. So I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to refresh corporate brands to ensure they stay relevant to employees, partners and, most importantly, customers. While consumer product brands tend to change at a glacial pace, it’s been my experience that technology company brands, especially in highly dynamic markets like online marketing, need to be updated every 2 to 3 years. Some- times this means a quick refresh of the company messaging and other times it means a total overhaul of everything. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 2 Todd Ebert Chief Marketing Officer
  2. 2. STEP 1: LAY THE FOUNDATION When I say that we're laying the foundation, let me be more specific - you start the rebranding process with the corporate strategy and foundational elements of your brand [mission, target markets/customers you serve, value props, key messages, etc.]. You’ve got to get these pillars set before you dive into developing your brand essence [identity, personality, etc.] and execution [websites, campaigns, etc.]. To help guide this process I’ve developed a simple framework that shows the critical steps for a successful rebranding. In my experience the whole process takes a minimum of 6 months for a corporate rebrand, though product rebranding can be done more quickly. It may sound simplistic but I always start by making sure that the executive team is 100% aligned on the corporate strategy. Interview your CEO, COO, CFO, CPO and other senior leadership to get each person’s definition of the company’s market opportunity, target customers, product roadmap, and SWOT as well as their take on the company mission statement. Yes, this means you’ll have to schedule many one-on-one meetings, but this step is critical to getting your brand right before going into execution mode. Overlooking this step means you could wind up building your brand on an old, shaky foundation. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 3 B2B Connected. RebrandingB2B Connected.
  3. 3. Pay close attention to what you’re hearing in all of these interviews and meetings. It’s crucial that you listen for common answers on the strategy, messages, and overall value proposition for customers – and more importantly, that you identify any major disagreement on those items. If these key leaders disagree on any element you’re going to have a hard time building the right brand foundation. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 4© 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. For example, in my prior life I interviewed three C-Level executives about our strategy, and they were not at all aligned. One thought we should aim to be the technology leader, another thought we should be the customer experience leader and the third thought we should enter a whole different line of business. Now how was I supposed to build the right brand for our strategy when these three couldn’t agree on what we wanted to be when we grew up? A word of warning: Don’t get so stuck on internal stakeholders that you forget about the opinions of the people you really need to serve – customers. Do primary market research with your customers to find out what they think about your company. And if your budget allows, interview key market analysts and influencers to get their perspective on where the company stands in the market. This will give you an “outside in” viewpoint to balance out the input from key executives and sales leaders. Doing all this prep work will ensure that you have the right information from the very beginning and that you and your senior leadership are all on the same page about the direction of the rebranding. After doing all this work you’ll hopefully be in tune with the corporate strategy, but then what? This leads us to our next step, where I’ll go in depth about how to use what you’ve learned to develop the key elements of your brand foundation [mission, values, positioning, differentiation, etc.]. B2B Connected. RebrandingB2B Connected. Here’s a list of questions I use when doing the interviews.
  4. 4. As an old boss used to say, “It’s simple, it’s just not easy.” You need to take all the notes from your interviews and sit down and write a detailed positioning and messaging document (PMD) for your company. Maybe I’m old school, but what ever happened to writing things down? A couple bullets on a slide are not sufficient for defining your company brand and value proposition. It’s not quick, and it’s not easy, but it’s imperative that you create a long-form document that is the ultimate authority on who your company is, why it exists, what value it provides to customers, where it’s going. Our PMD here at MultiView ended up being around 12 pages (single space) and took many hours, days and weeks of thinking and iteration to get right. Remember, this document will be used to develop your brand and communications across stakeholders including customers, partners, agencies, analysts and employees. PMD: Building Blocks Basic facts and stats. To create baseline content, agencies and others need to know the basics, such as when the company was founded, size (employees, revenue), executive leaders, industries you serve, locations, key technologies and product lines, numbers of customers, key publicly available financial data, etc. While there are many variations of how to format a PMD, I typically divide mine into two sections. STEP 2: DEVELOP YOUR POSITIONING AND MESSAGING DOCUMENT Earlier in this ebook, I drew an analogy between rebranding your company and building a restaurant. The point being that you need to build a strong foundation before worrying about the design elements. In the first section, we poured the brand foundation by interviewing senior leadership about key elements of the corporate strategy, like company mission, target customers, product roadmap and more. For this step, we’ll use all the insights we gleaned to start framing out the building i.e. developing the positioning and messaging that are the key elements of our new brand. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 5 B2B Connected. Rebranding
  5. 5. Differentiating facts and stats. These are the things that set you apart in your market like technologies, distribution, expertise, etc. In our case: being the technology pioneer and leader of our market with over 15 years of experience in B2B publishing, having run over 1 million campaigns, collecting data on millions of B2B buyers over a decade, and designing over 400,000 display ads for B2B campaigns. Target markets, customers, decision-makers. This involves describing all the markets you serve and the types of customers you would ideally want to win in each market (e.g. SMBs in healthcare or large enterprises in manufacturing). For each of your major markets and lines of business you should create a detailed customer profile (also called a persona) including their role, title, demographics, firmographics, challenges, related services they use, places they go for information, and lots more. You should also write a detailed description of the decision-makers for your types of products and the process by which they research and select new vendors. Customer pain points. For each customer persona, you need to detail their specific pain points, problems and challenges that are relevant to the solutions you provide. This is essential in order to complete the next step where you’ll explain your company’s value proposition in terms of how you solve customers’ problems. Remember, no bullets – write these out in detail. Hopefully you can leverage direct research with your customers and not just go by gut feel. Company/industry classification. This is how industry analysts or financial analysts would classify your company using standard industry terminology. To make it even more clear, you should also define what type of company you are not. For example, MultiView is a digital marketing solutions provider for B2B companies. MultiView is not an ad agency and is not an ad network. Vision/mission. Clearly state the purpose of your company, which doesn’t mean what it does but why you do what you do. For example, Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” not to enable people to search or send email. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 6 PMD: Value & Differentiation Messages B2B Connected. Rebranding Now that you’ve covered the basics, you need to write formal messaging that answers the questions you asked all the stakeholders during your interviews. You’ll recall from the first step that these include:
  6. 6. Company description. This is the long-form version of your “About Us” copy on your website or press release. It should provide the overall story of the company and highlight how long you’ve been in business, what markets you serve with which products, where you operate, and your value proposition and differentiation at a high level. (See next two bullets) Value proposition. Write the detailed explanation of how your products and services help solve the customers’ problems. This should be described in terms of the true value you deliver not just product features and benefits. Competitive difference. This is one of the most important parts of the whole process so you’ll want to spend a lot of time clearly articulating why your company is better than all the other choices the customer has to solve their problem. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 7 B2B Connected. Rebranding After you’ve developed all your core messages, you’ll need to distill them down into the key pillars of your brand. These are the actual words (and accompanying descriptions) that define what makes your company truly great and how you want people to perceive your brand. By way of example, we put our three brand pillars right on our homepage to showcase what makes us unique.
  7. 7. STEP 3: CONDUCT THE AGENCY SEARCH In step two we discussed the need to write a detailed positioning and messaging document that serves as the definitive reference for building your new brand, and the campaigns and communications that follow. As you’re going through that process you also need to begin another critical process: searching for an agency to design your new brand identity and develop your website. Unless you’re lucky enough to have your own in-house digital agency, you’ll go through a real-life buying journey like we’re always talking about on our blog. Speaking of websites, that is the primary place where people will interact with your brand so a good test of your messaging is to formally copy write your “About Us” page that tells your story exactly as you want customers, press, and analysts to see it. Then take that draft document and get feedback from internal stakeholders and customers. Here’s an example of what we did on our “About” page and our “B2B Connected” story page. The next step is to begin defining your brand essence, which includes your personality, identity /logo, design/style and voice/tone. And it starts by conducting an agency search – assuming you don’t have an in-house creative agency or you want to get a fresh, external perspective. Our journey took roughly two months. It began with online research, googling terms like “B2B agency” and “B2B web design” and reviewing the websites of dozens and dozens of agencies. From there, we narrowed it down to seven agencies that seemed to have the capabilities and experience to do what we needed. We did a series of initial calls with each of them to explain our objectives, and then visited their shop to get their pitch and meet their team. After that, we chose Imaginuity, a longstanding digital agency in Dallas. Throughout the whole process, we wanted to make sure that we were evaluating the agencies objectively on the criteria that mattered most for our rebranding. So we developed a scorecard to do just that. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 8 B2B Connected. Rebranding
  8. 8. Once you have your agency in-hand (and have followed all the other steps in the rebranding process leading up to this point), you have everything you need to make your new brand come to life. In the B2B world, building your brand should start with your website. That’s because your product isn’t sold in supermarkets and you’re not running Super Bowl ads. Potential customers, partners and employees all go to your website as the primary way to learn about your company and your products. Permit me a quick tangent. When I started out in marketing there was no internet, nothing was digital and websites didn’t exist. Everything was analog. Developing a new brand started with the agency creating several foam core “mood boards,” with logos, colors, fonts, pictures and other elements arranged on them that communicated your brand essence. Sometimes they would even create comps of your print ad or corporate brochure. Then, you would choose the best concept and move ahead with producing various ads, trade show materials and collateral. Did we feel comfortable with their level of experience in the B2B space? Did their brand strategy have depth and purpose? Were their creative, development and copywriting skills truly up to snuff? And finally, how did we feel about working with the team itself? Rating each vendor on these criteria helped ensure we weren’t just going with our gut, and they can help you do the same. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 9 B2B Connected. Rebranding Brand/Digital Agency Selection Scorecard DOWNLOAD SCORECARD
  9. 9. Folks my age will remember those old trade journal ads with pictures of servers and paragraphs of technical specs in size 8 Times New Roman <heavy sigh>. I mention this to show the stark contrast to present day where everything is digital and people search, surf and socialize online – both for their consumer purchases AND their commercial purchases. Today, the center point of your B2B brand is your website because the other elements that make up your digital brand presence – like your PR, social media, email marketing and content marketing – all point back to it. So as you’re working through your rebranding, you’ll want your agency to develop the modern version of the mood board: mockups of your home page with headlines, messaging, color palettes, iconography, and graphics that show you the possibilities of how your brand could be expressed. But getting to that point takes some prep work. Before our agency worked on any website concepts, the account team came to our offices for a full day of immersion into our company, including a deep dive into our corporate strategy, product suite, road map, marketing plan and certainly our PMD. The agency team also did their own fact-finding by interviewing key stakeholders in the company, all so they could recommend a brand archetype to guide the design of the website concepts. The graphic below from Imaginuity shows the many alternatives, and after much discussion and debate we decided the Hero archetype best expressed our brand essence. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 10 B2B Connected. Rebranding Brand Archetype Brand Archetype
  10. 10. This was a key step that enabled the agency to develop three different website concepts that brought our brand strengths to life. We reviewed the concepts as an executive team, picked the best one and worked with Imaginuity over the next few months to actually bring the website – and the brand – to life. But finishing the site was just the beginning of our entire rebranding. In the last part of this ebook I’ll go over how we announced our brand both internally and externally and then activated it through campaigns. STEP 4: LAUNCH YOUR BRAND Now that we’ve covered the process of finding the right digital agency as well as the process of developing brand concepts and building the website, you should have a solid understanding of how a brand is updated. But your work isn’t over yet. In this final step, I’ll talk about how to activate your brand once you’ve done all the heavy lifting of building it. Speaking of heavy lifting, I’ve seen far too many marketers who finish their brand or site project, breathe a sigh of relief, and then move on to other projects. As tempting as that might be after months of hard work, you need to face the fact that you have to spend as much time (or more) launching the brand or site as you did creating it. Brands are very complex things so you’ve got to make sure all your stakeholders – customers, partners, agencies, analysts and employees — understand what changed and why. How can you expect them to get excited about it if you’re not? I take the approach of treating the brand/site launch the same as a major new product development program. From the onset, I share the full development roadmap [note the choice of the words development and roadmap] in terms of all the many stages including: strategic plan and business case, positioning and messaging, initial design concepts and prototypes, coding, testing and bug fixing, user acceptance, exec review, and last but not least full launch with training and marcomm. That way everyone understands that the brand/site is a major strategic investment and sees how it will help them and the company meet business objectives. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 11 B2B Connected. Rebranding
  11. 11. In the interest of brevity I won’t cover the entire project again, but let’s take a look at how we planned the last part – the launch, training and communications for our new brand here at MultiView. Many weeks prior to the go-live date, we formed a launch team and came up with a detailed plan. I know it’s an old fashioned saying but “plan the work and work the plan” really works. It all started 10 days before the launch with a kickoff breakfast for all of our company leaders where our CEO and I covered the new brand strategy in depth and how it would help us reach, engage and win more customers. We shared our internal communication timeline and enlisted their help in reinforcing the messages to their teams during and after the launch (again like a new product launch). Sending a bunch of emails to employees is fine, but you need to have leaders drive the points home or they’ll get missed or misunderstood. In short, we wanted to get our managers fired up so that they could get the troops fired up. We made this a big deal so they would understand it was a big deal. Make no mistake: It is a big deal. Two Weeks Before Go-Live We held a kickoff breakfast with company leaders to educate them on the brand and enlist their help in driving the message throughout their orgs. One Week Before Go-Live We sent an email every morning for five days with a teaser about the new website and a tip of the day about how to use it to win more customers. The one to the right explains how our new Resources section of the website helps build our credibility with prospects as experts in our field. We put up nicely designed “coming soon” posters in the hallways, elevators and bathrooms using key elements of the new brand. Here’s the summary list of the tactics we carried out © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 12 B2B Connected. Rebranding
  12. 12. In addition to all of that, I personally sent an email to all employees with a detailed explanation of the new brand and website, emphasizing the significance to the company. Afternoon of Go-Live We used a time-tested tactic of throwing a party with food and prizes to drive attendance. We centered the whole thing around our new brand theme “B2B Connected.” Our “Connect Four” tournament and bingo game encouraged people to connect with the new brand and with each other. As you can see in the pictures above we had a pretty good time. Morning of Go-Live We put a large printed infographic on everyone’s desk so they got it when they arrived in the morning. The graphic (shown to the right) was a fun way to convey the benefits of the site features along the same lines as the one you may have seen that says “should I eat bacon” where every path ends with the answer “yes.” We also put a miniature version of the “Connect Four” game on everyone’s desk with an invitation to our launch party in the afternoon. The game fit with our brand theme – “B2B Connected” and foreshadowed several “connect” games and contests. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 13 B2B Connected. Rebranding
  13. 13. The Week After Go-Live I sent a company-wide email the week after the launch showing off some additional content and the initial results of our campaigns. We continued the bingo game with prize drawings every day for a week as people turned in their completed cards that required them to answer detailed questions about content on the new website. We announced winners in additional emails nightly. Like any marketing campaign, the key is reach and frequency. We used a variety of marcomm tactics before, during and after the launch to drive awareness and engagement with the new brand. I often call myself the redundant man of redundancy since I know that you have to hit the same messages over and over in order for them to be absorbed. Oh, and one last minor detail. When you launch your new brand and website you’ve got to update a million other materials. Ok, it’s not a million but it can feel like it. To the left is our laundry list of items that we built or updated in tandem with the launch. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 14 B2B Connected. Rebranding DOWNLOAD CHECKLIST
  14. 14. People think of rebranding as just a creative exercise, but it’s so much more than that because it’s deeply strategic and rooted in the core brand values of your company. Even after you’ve established what those brand values are and you’ve built a website that embodies them, it takes tremendous attention to detail to bring them to life in the hundreds of places people engage with your brand. It’s a tough process to be sure – but one that comes with payoffs like improving your competitive position, engaging more prospects and winning more customers. Well, this has turned into a much longer chapter than I had intended and I haven’t even covered external communications yet. So I’ll just quickly become obvious man and state that you need to do the same type of rigorous planning for your customer-facing communications and campaigns. In our case, we developed several display ad campaigns about our new brand across our entire customer buying journey – persona targeting, behavioral targeting, intent targeting and site retargeting. Here are a couple examples of each concept. © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 15 B2B Connected. Rebranding
  15. 15. From Fortune 100 enterprises to technology startups, I’ve spent twenty-five years with my sleeves rolled up leading B2B marketing teams that drive growth. As CMO of MultiView, I’m marketing products that help other B2B marketers connect with more customers. I believe that marketing is the biggest key to success in today’s hyper-competitive market, and companies who don’t understand that fact will ultimately fail. When I’m not working, I’m a Snapple drinking, chili pepper growing, craft beer loving, volleyball coaching, bad golfing, Longhorn cheering husband and father. Visit us at multiview.com Learn more about rebranding today 972.402.7070 solutions@multiview.com © 2016 MultiView. All Rights Reserved. 16 B2B Connected. Rebranding I’d love to connect with you on Twitter – @ToddEbert Good luck on your own rebranding journey and feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to chat in more depth about any of the subjects I’ve covered in this ebook.

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