Guest Blog – Greg Daake, Principal & Creative Director at Daake and Member of the AMA Omaha Executive Advisory Council

The 10 Most Important Moments in a Rebrand

 The rebranding process has many decisive moments, each with its own relevance and weight.

Sedan or SUV, there are essentials that make whatever you drive a working automobile. It has to have an engine. A fuel source. Wheels. Seats. A protective shell. A system for steering. A system for braking. Lights. While your car/truck/SUV may still run without one or another of these elements, it isn’t a complete automobile until each part is present and working properly.

The same is true with a rebrand. You might think there is one most important moment in a rebranding – the unveiling. It’s the moment when you put the key in the ignition and see if it runs. But it isn’t the only important moment. There are others, each with its own relevance. They are spread throughout the rebranding process, from the very first meeting to the weeks following the grand unveiling.

Here are 10 we’ve identified as the most important:

ONE – The moment you gain a deep understanding of where you are today.

Sometimes we have to look in the rearview mirror to see just how far we’ve come. How has your organization grown? Where did you come from and how have you changed? What is your market today and how does it differ from five years ago? How will it change five years from now? You need to determine the perception of your own brand – and not just among your public audience. What do the people within your organization think? Do you agree, or is there some disconnect?

You can’t start out for Point B if you don’t have a Point A. Establishing your organization’s Point A is your first important moment.

TWO – The moment you articulate where you want to go.

This is when Point B needs to be identified. What is your destination? Larger market share? Increased name recognition? Expansion beyond your region? A new product or service? A particular specialization? Rebranding requires a reason. It is both a risk and an investment. Neither one should be taken lightly. It can be one goal or a combination. But it has to be clear. Something you can articulate internally and externally. Tangible. Substantive.

When asked where they were going, the best explorers didn’t respond by pointing “over there.” They had a destination. They may have adjusted their route along the way, but they had a Point B. And knowing it is the best chance of reaching it.

THREE – The moment you establish what you are trying to change.

A problem needs to be determined in order to create a solution. Specific, real-world problems merit specific solutions. A rebrand is no time to generalize. For example, you have a new competitor moving into your customer base. What makes you better? Be precise. Is it reliability? Provide the data. Is it experience? Then give it perspective. Is it a personal connection with your customers? Then show them how you know them. Has your message become muddled? When people don’t see you clearly, give them binoculars.

Pinpointing your problem allows you to aim a solution. “X” marks the spot. Hit it.

FOUR – The moment you define “success.”

Happiness is a relative term. It is different for different people. In many ways, so is success. Success to one golfer might be consistently making par, while to another it may be achieving the lifelong dream of a hole-in-one. Knowing what success looks like at the start of a rebrand allows you to recognize it when it is reached. Fill in the blanks: Because we did this, ______ happened. We will know the rebrand is a home run if ______ happens.

As with our previous important moments, establishing your definition of success requires you to be specific. It has to be quantifiable. Measureable. And above all, it has to be attainable.

FIVE – The moment you move beyond the “messy middle.”

As a rebrand progresses, for every dozen people who sing your praises there will be one person who hits sour notes. They’re skeptical. Doubtful. And the longer the rebranding process takes, the more they’ll say, “See? I told you this was a mistake.” They are the bog in bogged-down. After a while, if they say the same thing often enough, they might even seem to make sense. This is the phenomenon known as the “messy middle.” Uncertainty is natural – and it can be overcome by logical, objective demonstrations of progress. “See? We are moving forward. We said it would take time.”

The messy middle is an opportunity for an experienced branding consultant to roll up his or her sleeves and say, “We’ve been through this before; we will get through this together,” and use this important moment to build confidence.

SIX – The moment support takes hold. 

Because so much of your brand flows from within, that’s also your greatest source of strength in a rebrand. To succeed, a rebrand must involve your leaders and employees – a broad cross section that slices through every layer, from the longest-serving to the newest hires. The moment you start listening to people throughout the organization – not just those closest to you – is the moment you begin to create valuable buy-in for the rebrand.

A rebrand needs buy-in for optimum effectiveness. Show everyone “what’s in it for me.” Host a series of co-creation workshops. Bring together people who represent various areas or divisions of your organization alongside the internal and external marketing teams. Create a dialogue and collaboration. Talk and listen. Then talk and listen some more. It will create a groundswell of support – something a mandate from above will rarely do.

SEVEN – The moment noise is eliminated.

Over time, all brands accumulate noise. They spin off their axis a bit and develop all kinds of creaks and rattles. Enter the rebrand. A rebrand helps replace the noise with clarity. It allows you to purge your brand’s system of all the outdated updates and quick-fix patches that have been applied since conception. It’s a reset button for your brand.

By determining and then synthesizing the signals that best support your leadership’s intentions, you will refine the overall message. The moment you eliminate unnecessary noise, you give your brand the best chance of being heard – and realized.

EIGHT – The moment you raise the curtain.

A bold rebrand merits a bold unveiling. Whether it’s a gathering of all employees in one place, or a Web event uniting offices around the world, treat it like the surprise party that it is. Unwrap the package. Celebrate the new identity and let your people be the first to tell their friends. Have a plan ready to share the news with the media and corporate peers. The better you manage the grand launch, the clearer your message will be.

This moment is a one-time, powerful opportunity whose window closes very quickly. It is a breathtaking revelation. Capture it!

NINE – The moment you prove your point.          

After people say, “Wow,” some will ask, “But, why?” This is the opportunity to erase any lingering doubt by answering the common questions. It can be accomplished during the unveiling through a presentation that anticipates questions and immediately answers them. These answers can be reinforced by a takeaway document (and an online version for reference once the printed version is filed away) that explains the brand in every detail. The color, the tagline, the history, the images – all can be clarified and justified in a comprehensive explanation.

This is the moment you take people from uncertainty to advocacy.

TEN – The moment everyone sees the value.

The first few weeks and months are your rebrand’s infancy, and like a child, it can’t be left alone. It has to be watched and encouraged. Brand guidelines, which should be available the day of the unveiling, must be disseminated and followed. Your brand’s use internally and externally has to be consistent or the message will become clouded and confused. Teach people that your brand is an asset. Then they will see its value.

As your rebrand grows stronger, it will gain recognition. People will realize what you put into this process and why it was so crucial not to simply step forward but to leap. Continue to deepen pride and enthusiasm by measuring results and sharing the successes. Tell everyone in the organization that, “We did it!” and remind them you did it “together.”

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A moment is short-lived. But string enough important moments together and they become momentum, a force that will move your brand forward for years to come.