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Rebranding is The Ultimate Brand-Led Business Transformation

rebranding a business

Jim Heininger's story originally appeared in Forbes.

Nearly every business has conducted some form of business transformation, mostly driven by technology-related enhancements that improve the customer experience or operations that will drive growth. But many businesses are also pursuing brand-led business transformation, which is the strategic use of their brand’s evolution as the catalyst behind that change.

Your brand—that reflection of the heart and soul of the organization—helps differentiate your business in the marketplace, giving customers the trust mark to choose your products over a competitor’s. Properly nurtured, your brand is one of your company’s most powerful assets.

Evolving or completely overhauling your brand is on the rise. A recent UpCity survey found that 51% of businesses changed their branding since Covid-19, in line with a Hanover Research study that found 75% of business executives have done work on brands since 2020. We see announcements in the news every day, such as the spinoff of Johnson & Johnson’s consumer health products under the new brand Kenvue, HBO Max shedding HBO to go it alone as Max, and now the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile rebranding as the Frankmobile to better promote its all-beef frankfurters.

Completely changing the brand to advance the business is the ultimate in brand-led transformation.

When it comes to business transformation, what is more inclusive than creating an entirely new brand to replace the one you have built over the years to now serve as the fuel behind a needed transformation? That is where rebranding comes in. There is a difference between leveraging the strength of one’s brand to ignite growth and literally changing the brand while in flight as the strategy behind growing the business. It requires shifting the mindset of the entire company and its customers to accept and support a new positioning in the marketplace. It requires reimaging the company behind a new purpose and promise, a new portrayal of the company into the future. For brand-driven companies, whose internal operations and employee focus is centered on delivering a differentiated brand experience, standing up an entirely new brand requires unprecedented strategy, creative, planning and execution. It requires one of the most comprehensive and complicated initiatives a business can ever pursue.

True rebranding is not a simple visual makeover but a signal of substantive change within an organization.

The new brand should serve as the updated, more relevant packaging of all advancements within the company. Rebranding strives to create a competitive advantage. According to a Hanover study, among the top reasons executives rebrand is to:

• Increase customer satisfaction.

• Optimize brand messaging.

• Improve market share.

• Improve competitive or market position.

And it delivers on its intended result. In fact, another study found that as many as 78% of executives polled say rebranding has had a positive impact on their company. And 81% of executives have seen a positive return on investment from rebranding efforts. Our own research of rebranded companies found that “creating opportunity for growth” was the leading reason to rebrand.

Seasoned brand marketing and communications professionals can predict the amount of work and changes necessary to introduce and transition the company to a new brand and the cross-functional collaboration required. Once the decision to rebrand has been made and the new brand name, promise and visual identity are determined, the rebranding initiative needs to include:

  • Prepping and engaging leadership to embody and live the new brand in actions and communications.

  • Educating and engaging employees across the organization to understand the brand, tell the new story and live out a newly branded customer experience.

  • Guiding HR’s creation of an updated employer brand and changes to recruiting, onboarding, performance management, training and rewards/recognitions.

  • Change management and communications to help employees through the change journey.

  • Standing up a new brand ambassador network of influential employees to build the momentum of employee engagement.

  • Building a new culture that enables the success of the new brand and creates advocates.

  • Supporting operational upgrades aligned with the new brand.

  • Comprehensive changes to all branded materials.

  • Launch activities and communications, engagement and marketing to industry and customer stakeholders.

  • If you are publicly traded, introducing investor relations to a new stock symbol and educating and managing investor expectations.

  • Realigning ongoing stakeholder communications, content marketing and social strategy to bring the new brand to life.

  • Building a new brand customer community that markets for you.

Leveraging your most valuable corporate asset to drive needed business transformation requires unprecedented change and can deliver unparalleled results.

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