These five steps are absolutely vital for the successful rebrand of a company or organization. If you aren’t willing to do these five steps, then save your money…because the rebrand will most likely fail!
A winning brand strategy is one that is integrated into a company’s overall business strategy. There are a lot of reasons why, as I explained in my first blog, “Top Five Reasons For Growing Brand Value.” But brand strategy won’t work unless its approach and methodology is correct, and that includes starting from the CEO on down and with clearly defined objectives. It’s very common to see companies make grand mistakes that render a brand literally ineffective, accomplishing few, if any, of the original business objectives for the rebrand. Here are a few tips before engaging on your company’s rebrand.
It starts with the CEO –
Brand development is a strategic initiative – and therefore has to be driven by the CEO. The CEO is the only executive in a leadership position who can truly set the vision for both the company and the brand. The CEO has to live and breathe the brand passionately or the employees won’t adopt the brand. Employees crave authenticity. Your people have to feel the CEO deems the brand a vital component of why the organization is here. Otherwise, the employees will simply relegate the activity to just another marketing tactic. Of course, an effective brand development process includes input from the management team and a cross-section of employees. But, at the end of the day, the CEO makes the final strategic decisions and has to be the No. 1 champion of the brand.
Manage your assets –
Folks often think once they go through a rebrand, their work is done. Beware! This will create the need for another rebrand in time — and all those dollars, resources and time will have to be replicated again! Brand value is an asset to be managed, and therefore is an investment that should be amortized over time. If done correctly, the value of your brand will grow steadily over time, making it your greatest investment without ever needing to replicate the process to remain relevant. Create concrete brand metrics, review them regularly, and actively make adjustments to ensure a clear, consistent and ever-relevant company brand. Engage in annual brand planning to determine where the brand needs are. Make decisions through your brand lens, then continue to invest in your brand. It is a most important asset and will pay big dividends over time.
Do your homework –
Research and validation must be done to ensure the brand can indeed be adopted. Start with a gap analysis internally within the organization to determine the brand pulse of the company. Get a baseline of external perceptions of your brand in the marketplace. Do a competitive landscape and know the opportunities available within your playing field. Know your audience. Then, after you have delved into the brand process, validate it with your audience and make adjustments as necessary. Skipping your homework can be very costly in the long run.
Take your time –
Leadership gets excited when brand work starts coming together. They want to get out there and show their new identity, often burrowing deep into the tactics to communicate the new positioning. However, this is a danger zone. If you get out there in the marketplace before your own people have totally bought into the new brand positioning, the target audience will most likely experience brand failure at the point of purchase, vowing never to return. Your audience no longer believes what you are saying when you communicate through marketing tactics. And you never get another chance to make a first impression. Take the time to get your people engaged and excited about the brand and the vision of where the company is headed. Don’t just have one launch event. Create adoption workshops to help them understand how they can deliver on the brand promise —no matter what their role is within the organization. When the internal work is done, only then do you launch your new brand externally.
Allocate your dollars wisely –
You cannot skimp on the allocation of dollars for the employees’ internal adoption of your brand. Nor can you shortchange the annual brand planning efforts to ensure your brand is still on course. And, for heaven’s sakes, don’t take it out of the existing marketing budget! Marketing budgets should be in line with your annual operating budget. Brand development and brand building activities should have their own budget, and that budget includes some essential HR activities. The bottom line—you need both. Marketing is immediate. It brings customers to your door. However, it may not get them to buy. If you shortchange your marketing budget, no one will know about your business…few, if any, will come to your door. Brand building is more long term, but it communicates the value proposition of your offering. If you shortchange your brand budget, you may find your brand relatively worthless in a valuation. And, if you are a good steward of your brand, you may find your marketing expenditures drop because of the strength of the brand. How much money do you have to spend? Southwest Airlines has been known to allocate as much as 50 percent of its marketing budget on its people strategy. More often, budgets for brand development and brand building range from 6-20 percent of company revenues. Whatever budget you determine fits your needs, make sure it is an amount capable of growing your brand over time.
With communications and consulting expertise spanning two decades, Jennifer Holland builds a client’s brand into an innovative, unique signature for its products and services. As part of The Brand Establishment, Jennifer has deep roots in award-winning design and interactive marketing. She is one of only 32 Certified Brand Strategists in the U.S. and is the only marketing consultant in Northeast Florida with this elite status.
Jennifer and partner Jackie Weathers developed a proven methodology that grows business—the Holland Helix®. This model integrates a business+brand+people strategy, enhancing a company’s brand persona and engaging employees to live the brand. These efforts were published internationally in the Journal of Brand Strategy in 2013. Their Build Your Brand DIY Workshop® curriculum teaches the model to growth-oriented entrepreneurs. Licensed in 2014, these workshops now appear in six U.S. and Canadian markets and were selected for the SBDC Scale Up America grant in Jacksonville, Florida.
Jennifer is a top-rated presenter and national speaker on branding. She is an Expert Resource Speaker for Vistage International and consistently secures speaking engagements for national conferences and private corporations. Additionally, she was named as the 2015 Women in Business Established Entrepreneur of the Year and as one of the 2015 Women of Influence by the Jacksonville Business Journal.
If you’ve ever broken an object and relied on glue to combine the broken pieces, you’re familiar with the power of cohesion. Once united, the object is whole again.
Similarly, brand strength relies on cohesion, or maintaining a positive image that “sticks” with customers. To strengthen your brand, you must remain consistent. And to do that, you should focus on these six things.
Your voice is the language and tone you use when describing your brand. When you talk about your brand—whether on social media accounts, in person, or on your website—you should always use the same tone.
This is your mission statement. Keep this as simple, concise, and clear as possible. The more clear and consistent your message—i.e. the more cohesive—the stronger your brand.
Your brand identity is who you say you are, who you actually are, and who your customers say you are. Good reputations depend on the unity of these three. In other words, what you say about your brand should match what your customers say.
COLORS AND FONTS:
You want your colors to match, no matter what you are designing. Keep everything consistent – your website, your ads, your business cards and your shoes – maybe not your shoes, but that’s strong commitment to your brand, and that’s what we like to see.
All the images, buttons, forms and content on your website should match your colors, font and tone. Have these carefully selected and custom designed to remain consistent.
Last but definitely not least, you’ll want a professional logo. This is the face of your brand. Have an original logo created that best expresses your brand identity, a logo that people will remember.
If all this information overwhelms you, no sweat. We excel in Brand Development. With the help of our brand development team, you’ll achieve a cohesive brand that “glues” your identity and image together. Check Kelsey Advertising‘s website for additional information and more offers.
Brant Kelsey is principal and founder of Kelsey Advertising & Design, a brand marketing and strategy firm in LaGrange, Georgia. He is a Certified Brand Strategist through the Brand Establishment. You can find Brant on Google+ and Twitter.
People are a business’ most valuable asset, and according to a study by Dale Carnegie, organizations with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%. Successful companies know that investing in their people is good for their brand and good for their business. But while 90% of leaders think an employee engagement strategy will have an impact on their business success, less than 25% actually have one.
Employee engagement creates the emotional and functional commitment an employee has with an organization and its brand. Here are some examples of brands doing it right.
A brand favorite of Tag’s, Southwest recognizes that employees who understand the brand are more satisfied and productive employees. With 46,000 employees, Southwest has had 43 years of consecutive profit! CEO Gary Kelly certainly credits and rewards them. “I am very thankful to our great Southwest People, and I commend them on these exceptional results, which earned them a record $620 million in profit sharing.”
Often cited for their incredible culture, Zappos’ investment into engaging its employees is clear. It starts with how it onboards new hires. “The Zappos Family New Hire program is four weeks of training designed to grow our culture, build a stronger team, and create lasting relationships throughout the entire company.” Its commitment to its employees continues as it develops classes to enhance employee skill sets.
The classes have fun names such as “Pimp my Powerpoint” (for anyone who wants to improve Powerpoint skills), “Tighten your Team” (for managers to gather team building ideas), and “How to Write More Better” (for employees to improve their grammar). Zappos strong employee engagement stems for its deliberate desire to do so and having core values to support it, including “Create Fun and A Little Weirdness.”
Our own brand guru, Michelle Taglialatela, wrote about how Aetna CEO, Mark Bertolini, recognized the importance of employee satisfaction. His focus to offer work-life balance, onsite doctors, exam rooms, massage therapists, healthy food options, nutritious Meals To Go, and a fitness center where employees have permission to exercise any time of the day, Aetna employees reported a 28% decrease in stress levels and 20% improvement in sleep quality. It also had a great impact on Aetna’s bottom line, whose share price more than tripled over the last 5 years.
Michelle Taglialatela is Tag’s brand strategist, one of 35 nationally who is certified by The Brand Establishment.
Michelle applies Tag’s proprietary process to create one-of-a-kind brand strategies that transform cultures and improve the bottom line. Tag has brand depth rivaled by few; and has been working with clients for more than a decade helping them exceed their objectives and stand out!
You have a brand and a business, and you have a product or service to sell. That’s good news. But I’ve got bad news for you, too: The marketplace doesn’t care.
Yes, your product or service is very important to you. You believe every man, woman and child on the planet should have your “thing.” In fact, your research proves it. The person who actually needs your “thing,” however, has a thousand other things on his or her mind, and you are not even on their radar.
Here’s what the people in your marketplace are subconsciously thinking about you, whether they realize it or not:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Why does it matter?
Too many business owners are unable to give clear answers to these questions because they are unwilling to give up so many things. To find this clarity, you must be willing to quit.
Focus Means Sacrifice
This is counterintuitive to most Type-A business personalities. I hear it all the time in strategy meetings. The well-meaning owner says, “If we give up this, that and the other thing, we limit our opportunities for profit.” As a result, they refuse to quit.
Actually, the opposite is true. Eliminating things and narrowing your focus increases your opportunities. It makes you a market of ONE — without competition — because you either create your own category or rise to the top of a narrowly defined category.
It makes you KING of that category. The Number One in a category is more in demand, can charge a premium, has higher profit margins and is resistant to becoming a commodity. That’s why Starbucks isn’t just coffee…the iPhone isn’t just a cell phone…and the Ritz-Carlton isn’t just a hotel.
Branding is not about stamping your logo on everything you produce. It’s about developing a relationship with the unique members of the marketplace and giving them the power to own your brand in their minds. That’s how you ultimately end up with a brand personality distinct from your competition.
When you clearly communicate your brand to a prospect, it becomes a dialogue. They receive your message, think about it, and say something back to you (whether that is buying your product or service or not.) If you think it’s a one-way street, you’ve been hoodwinked.
If you were standing in front of a prospect, nose-to-nose, toe-to-toe, they could ask you those all-important questions: “Who are you?,” “What do you do?,” and “Why does it matter?” And they’d expect a response to be your specific answers.
That means YOU have to quit trying to be someone else (namely, your competition)…quit trying to appeal to everyone…quit trying to solve every problem…and quit pretending that everyone should care. That’s how you win in business. Therefore, go forth…and build your brand!
About the Author:
Jennifer is a dynamic brand, marketing and communications expert with a career in successful brand-building spanning two decades. As part of The Brand Establishment, she is one of only 37 Certified Brand Strategists in the United States and the only marketing executive in Northeast Florida to achieve this elite distinction. Jennifer and partner Jackie Weathers developed a proven methodology that grows business—the Holland Helix®. This model integrates a business+brand+people strategy, enhancing a company’s brand persona and engaging employees to live the brand.
Jennifer is a published author and top-rated presenter on branding. She is an Expert Resource Speaker for Vistage International and consistently secures speaking engagements for national conferences and private corporations. Additionally, she was named as the 2015 Women in Business Established Entrepreneur of the Year and as one of the 2015 Women of Influence by the Jacksonville Business Journal.
All of us who assume an ownership or top leadership role in our businesses and organizations know this to be true: nobody dreams more about our business then we do. Turn the coin over and we can also confidently say that nobody stresses out more about our businesses. All of us want to grow the value of our businesses and for many, want to do so in a dramatic, accelerated way. We invest a lot to time and energy to try and make this happen.
The passion and drive to make things happen is a trait consistent among top leadership. Through my advisory practice working with company owners and CEOs, the goal that I hear the most is “We want to double the size of the business within the next 5 – 10 years”. Most often this objective comes from leaders of established organizations that have been in business for some time. The majority have weathered the ups and downs over the years and have enjoyed steady but modest growth. They are saying that they want to crank things up and fly higher.
Einstein famously said that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different (or even dramatic) results is the definition of… well, we all know how Einstein labeled it. If we want to propel and advance our businesses upward and forward, charging to the head of the competitive pack; and if we want to make our competition irrelevant and be the company that is making the dust versus eating it; then it is reasonable that a robust change in how our business looks at and does things will be required if we hope to achieve the game changing results we are seeking.
Analogically, if you have a railroad track that runs from Chicago to New Orleans, it makes no difference whether you’re running the oldest steam driven locomotive or the newest high speed one – if you pulling one car or many – if you are pulling your train with 1 engine or 4. One thing for sure, you are always going to arrive at the same destination… New Orleans. So, if you’re working hard to make things happen with your organization and wanting to take your business to a new and better destination, you going to have to change paradigms. You’re going to have to change tracks!
Becoming a brand driven business is the empowering paradigm – that new track – that can lead your business to category ownership and even dominance. Unearthing your brand distinction will set your company’s goals and strategies. Hardwiring the brand distinction and promise throughout your organization – its people, systems and practices – is how are you will deliver to your brand and provide evidence to its promise.
Brand driven organizations are the ones that:
- Increase profitability & company value.
- Increase customer loyalty.
- Attract and retain the best employees.
- Raise their employees to becoming the brand.
- Best weather the storms that surely come.
- Make their competition irrelevant.
They are the ones that rise to the top, attract, grow and sustain.
Certified Brand Strategist