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Branding, Rebranding and Refreshing Your Brand

Highlights from Jon Tromans’ Not Another Marketing Podcast featuring Jim Heininger, the Founder of the Rebranding Experts, to talk rebranding and when you need to do it. Here's the initial part of the discussion, listen to the entire podcast here.

Define what a branding actually means.

So we like to simply define a brand as a promise to delivered, believed and acted upon. The longer definition would be a brand is that set of expectations, experiences, promise, relationship and the stories and the memories and everything that all taken together in a customer's mind account for how they make a decision on what product they're going to purchase. So a good brand should be a shortcut for people to make the decision to buy your product.

Would I be right in saying this? There's kind of like a bit of emotion involved in this.

There needs to be a meaning to it. Something that is relevant to that customer. And that really moves you to the top of the list of considerations when they're going to purchase a product in your particular category.

Do you think when folks struggle a lot with branding, in the sense it's because they look at a business as an entity, maybe like a spreadsheet, it's a building thing, it's a company, you know, it's a legal thing. And they take all of the emotion out of it?

Yes, that's a lot of what we do when we're working with an organization on building new brands for them is diving into that emotional part of it. What is the reason for being? What are their aspirations are for the future? Because we want to create a brand which is very forward facing,

Do you find a lot of companies have already got that worked out in their head when you actually go to them if they're creating a brand-new brand?

You know, in most cases, if you're a large organization with a huge marketing staff that is constantly thinking about the branding, and how it's touching customers, and how to improve upon it. They've got it taken care of, but for the majority of companies that are a little bit smaller size, they don't have that resource internally. They don't have that kind of knowledge center or experience and so they may think that their brand is just their logo or their name or just what their website looks like. They don't realize that it needs the emotional piece to really drive action out of their customer.

Why should a company rebrand what are the main reasons?

We put the reasons in a couple of different buckets. The first is that something has happened, and they need to rebrand, and then the second one is opportunity, that they are wanting to do something differently so that they can create an updated forward-facing brand and take advantage of that.

Under the “need” bucket, the biggest driver of rebranding is mergers and acquisitions.

There's a decision that has to be made about what the brand is going to be for this new organization. It could be a leadership change or the fact that the brand just is no longer relevant. It's past its maturity. It's run out of steam, and then it just no longer reflects the work that you were doing today or the products or services that you're offering your customers. So those are kind of a “need” side of things. And then it could be that there are changes in the marketplace and you are needing to proactively respond to how you're putting yourself out there so that you can keep up with those changes. Perhaps you have a meaningful corporate change that you're going to be instituting, you’re introducing a new product or service line. You realize that original brand doesn't cover what you're wanting to present. And so you have an “opportunity” to rebrand and be able to go out with a new face to the to the public.

Do you find like with mergers and things like that, you tend to kind of like bring the little bits of both companies together in the rebounding or the or just one tend to kind of take over the other one.

Great question, and that is one of the areas where there is a little bit more research that has been conducted. both academic and some other research organizations on what works best in mergers and acquisitions. It tends to follow that if it is a very large player gobbling up a smaller player then you remain the primary brand.

If they're fairly equal in terms of their name awareness, recognition and understanding out in the marketplace, you're seeing those kinds of mergers or acquisitions, blending the two names are fusing them together. So you've got Exxon Mobil, for example, which was two petroleum companies emerged and kept both the names. We've seen this increasingly in the entertainment industry, where you've got like Pixar gobbled up by Disney. Pixar was such a valuable name and brand out there that they merged them together. So now they show Disney-Pixar brand whenever they're out promoting a company.

Do you find much conflict that because I would imagine within the marketing teams particularly there's been an awful lot of effort and an awful lot of time spent on developing these brands. And somebody comes in and says, you know, you're going to lose that, you know, and that plays a lot to the emotional side of rebranding.

Yes, people have spent their careers building and reinforcing a brand of the company that they're working for and then all of a sudden it is disappearing because of an acquisition. You don't want those people to be discouraged or feel a sense of loss. So bring them in early and really go through a lot of change management kind of techniques. Making sure that they are engaged in the future is really, really important, because otherwise you're going to find them not having that sense of loyalty or having that sense of commitment to making that new brand work as hard as they did with the old one.

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