The Essential Ingredients of a Transformative Brand Change
This story by Jim Heininger originally appeared in Forbes.
It was in 1984 when Clara Peller introduced “Where’s the beef?” into our popular lexicon in a Wendy’s hamburger TV commercial. The ad campaign strategy was to question competitors’ hamburgers by focusing on the larger beef patty of Wendy’s burgers that spilled visibly over the edge of the bun. The actress comments on a burger lost in an oversized bun at a fictional competitor, prompting her to angrily exclaim, “Where’s the beef?” Soon, the phrase worked its way throughout popular culture—on bumper stickers, board games and even political campaign speeches—to challenge where the substance is. “Where’s the beef?” is a call to action that deserves a place in the rebranding discussion today.
Rebranding is the reengineering of a brand, bringing it up to date and forward-facing. Your brand experience should not be the same when it emerges from the rebranding process. But too often, companies think that simply changing their name and utilizing a new logo is the end game. Or perhaps it’s the brand identity firms that are leaving “too much space between the buns” and don’t dive deep enough into what constitutes the brand.
Rebranding is about fueling growth. And if it is expected to deliver, it requires deeper, meaningful change. There must be a demonstrable difference in the customer interaction or the product you sell—more than a new email address and website—or the opportunity of rebranding is lost.
Baked into your rebranding needs to be a substantial change to the way you do business. You need to look different, behave differently, tell a new story, rewrite the experience, show a new personality and stand for something that your competitors don’t convey. Rebranding might be motivated by a new service model, a new product line, a new targeted customer focus or a geographic expansion. Rebranding is the secret sauce that brings these changes together into a dynamic new brand and introduces itself to customers and your industry. It opens doors you need to be prepared to enter. No one wants to invest the time and resources to complete a rebranding to only find it unfulfilling. Otherwise, it’s just a name change.
Your rebrand is a gift, and you must give customers something new to unwrap. A rebranded organization often draws more attention, conveys a higher status and allows you to price your product or service with pride.
Whether you like the Facebook to Meta rebranding or not, the company leveraged its new corporate name to establish a new industry, more assertively leading into the metaverse. New products and companies are being created by Meta opening that door.
A Recipe For Success
As you put together the essential ingredients for your rebranding, make sure the following are on your list:
Create a signature experience that, when delivered by your sales and operations team, serves as a constant reminder of how you are different than before. It should be an experience that illustrates your key differentiators over competitors.
For example, one of our clients, a senior care provider, rebranded on the platform of helping customers to “live their best life.” They added a simple question to their patient service protocol—“Is there anything more I can do for you today?”—to illustrate that promise and improve care.
Culture change needs to be disciplined in your brand change to deliver a new employee and customer experience. Establishing a cultural ritual is required to serve as a similar reminder to all employees. When changing your cultural rituals, it’s important to play a part in making the change stick. For example, as they leave the locker room for the field before each home game, Notre Dame football players are reminded of the program’s championship history with the message “Play Like a Champion Today.” They slap the sign in approval and in commitment. For a client in the electronics repair industry, which was expanding from a B2B-only model to include direct-to-consumer, utilized this approach. When entering the workplace each day, they reminded all employees that there is a person eagerly awaiting their repaired device returned as fast as possible.
Rebranding won’t work without employee engagement that aligns with the new positioning and business purpose. You can take a page out of Gallup’s book and measure this dynamic by asking your workforce: “What does the organization stand for? And what makes our brand different from our competitors?”
Brand Story Across Each Touchpoint
Assess the delivery of the brand story across each touchpoint within the customer experience. Confirm reinforcement is in place for employees to stay on-story and respond quickly if you hear that the story delivery is straying. We often find it productive to revisit training on the brand story delivery about three to six months after the rebranding announcement.
Your marketing and communications must portray the newly defined brand personality in words and actions. While rebranding a recent B2B construction industry client, we identified their underlying “rebel” personality and dissatisfaction with the status quo in the industry. That characteristic now flavors their thought leadership as they work to demonstrate to customers the value of a new value-added consulting capability (breaking away from just being a service provider) that is reframing the industry. That’s the seasoning on a great dish that differentiates you.
Approach your rebranding with this recipe for success and you won’t leave important stakeholders hungry for more.