6 Steps to Keep Customers During a Rebrand
This story originally eppeared in Forbes, read it here.
It’s one of the major hesitations of business leaders when it comes to rebranding: “Might a rebrand possibly confuse customers, disregard them or even cause us to lose them?” It’s a legitimate concern after you’ve spent years nurturing and serving valuable customers who are critical to your future business success.
What’s A Rebrand?
Rebranding is the wholesale building of a new brand for your B2B business, one that pulls forward the best equities of your current brand and wraps them in new relevance and promise that will propel your business growth for years to come. A full rebranding includes a new customer promise, client and employee experience, go-to-market strategy and visual identity centered around a new name that illustrates that promise.
Much like swinging on a trapeze, letting go of one bar as you fly through the air to catch the next bar, rebranding requires letting go to take a leap to the future. That can be unsettling for some business leaders, as they have invested heavily in building their current brand and want to reduce as much risk as possible. But in most cases, their current brand is outdated and undifferentiated or limits their future potential and the cost of not rebranding is now too high to ignore.
As we advise our clients, with foresight and thoughtful planning, you can keep your customers during a rebrand, with the opportunity to strengthen your loyalty and capture the new customers your business needs for growth.
Follow these six steps:
1. Design Your New Brand With Customers In Mind
First, a rebranding provides you the opportunity to stand up an entirely new brand, one that better addresses your customers’ needs and aspirations. Don’t miss the opportunity to design a new brand that is customer-centric and addresses the outcome of working with your product or service, not just the services you sell. Gain customer input into its design so that when you communicate the new brand back to them, it strikes the right chord on what’s in it for them. Your rebrand should set up a dramatically different experience for customers that delivers greater value, new services or advantages. Why wouldn’t they eagerly embrace it?
2. Set The Context
Shortly before the rebrand announcement, initiate a series of prelaunch communications informing customers of your coming rebrand and why. Proactive communications will prepare them for the fact that things will be changing and help them anticipate it. Then, focus on why you are rebranding to demonstrate the business decision behind the move. This basic education upfront will help you gain supporters who can then focus on the excitement behind your new name and market presentation and their meaning.
3. Address Their Needs
Provide customers with specifics on what they need to do to adjust to your decision to rebrand to avoid business interruptions. Oftentimes these changes are programming updates in their vendor systems, new accounting profiles so that their payment checks can be addressed to the new company, and contracts and insurance agreements that reflect your new name. Don’t forget that your vendors will need to make many of these same updates to avoid business interruptions.
Don’t hold back in sharing the excitement with customers, again and again. Remember, it usually takes five to seven communications for the meaning of your message to sink in. If it is appropriate, hold an in-person or virtual event to announce the rebranding and answer questions. Or communicate in a series of emails and printed pieces what your new brand stands for, the new brand story, how it enables you to collaboratively improve your work together and how the changes you have made will benefit them (remember, it’s not about you). And don’t forget to send them a gift—a newly branded memento of value (no cheap stuff, please) that will serve as a constant reminder of your new story.
5. Share Their Love
Remerchandise your customers’ excitement in social media posts, newsletters and on your website. Capture their supportive comments and testimonials and repurpose them for your broader industry community. Written quotes are great, but video messages carry significantly more weight. There’s nothing like a pat on the back from a respected ally when you’ve gone through a major rebranding.
6. Prepare For The Holdouts
Remember that not everyone will fall in love with your new brand, at least not right away. The world is increasingly filled with “haters” who use social media to express their personal frustrations. Identify in advance those customers who might express hesitation about your rebranding or prefer to make it an issue. Plan a schedule of purposeful outreach and attention, letting them know how important their support is in your success. Then, focus on holding a steady course, show positive intent and cause as little disruption to their business as possible. As they see the advantages of the new you, they’ll come around.
Rebranding doesn’t have to result in lost customers. At the end of rebranding, you should be able to measure the increased positive sentiment your customers share for your brand and the reinvigorated relationship.