A thorough step-by-step guide on why brands are important and how you can perform your next re-branding activity.
Being in the marketing and branding space for over a decade now has given me a lot of perspective on how close a consumer is to their favorite brands. As per Martin Lindstrom writer, public speaker and Time’s influential 100 honorees "Strong brands are like religion."
He based this claim on a $7 million neuroscience research where through MRI tests he tried to see which parts of the brand were activated when we were exposed to our favorite brands. The results through controversial are intriguing because they seek to explain how some of us develop such an emotional connection with certain brands around us.
This got me to thinking and it helped me develop my own branding mantra, something I stick by, which helps me humanize any branding activity I am looking to do or have been performing. “A brand is a promise, it is a promise to deliver or go beyond a customer’s expectation(s)”.
So, while we are on the subject of humanization of brands, like any individual a brand also needs to reinvent and resubmit itself to society in a bid to stay relevant and up to date.
That is why I thought it prudent to write this article and discuss certain key factors that help you architect a good re-branding exercise.
1. Building brands are driven by purpose
A brand purpose is a pretty powerful statement, it sets you apart from others and showcases what you want to do for the world. It is also a vision you and your stakeholders (both internal and external) can rally around.
When you are in the process of redefining your branding, this might be a good opportunity to reexamine your brand purpose as well and see if it requires an overhaul. The first thing to understand is that a good brand purpose can help you cascade all your assets towards it and build a very uniform brand structure.
Though there are conflicts in how a well-defined brand purpose can help your company become successful, as a marketer you have to be an advocate of how a good and uniform brand narrative can help build a consistent user experience.
So the question is how do you define your brand purpose? Well, like any good research project you have to define a problem statement and how your brand is going to help solve that problem statement – an example of this is Unilever's purpose which is to make sustainable living commonplace around the world. This message will help its employees understand that they need to build sustainable products that have a positive impact on the environment, and it will also help consumers understand what the product stands for – which will guide their purchase decision.
2. Plan your assets
This is a critical part of your re-branding activity. Now that you have defined your purpose, you have to plan out the assets that will be reflective of said purpose. The entire process of redefining your brand is something where old school no longer works! Imagine filling up excel sheets and project files and Google Docs to understand what needs to be changed and where.
Just to give you an understanding, there are multiple assets that would be impacted due to your re-branding exercise, namely: Logos (Fonts, Colors, etc.) Brand Imagery/artworks, Documents (including but not limited to: presentation decks, templates and emails, Physical items, such as stationery and business cards, etc.) virtual assets like social media pages, artworks/banners, ads, SEO, websites, etc. While this list ‘is’ exhaustive – there are multiple moving parts under each one of these principle assets as well, so you can imagine the confusion that can take place if there are multiple stakeholders involved (with respect to ideation, creation and implementation).
This where technology comes in, I have led the branding/re-branding efforts across over a dozen brands/companies by now and I can tell you it doesn’t get easier at any point in time (if it's being done conventionally) I was fortunate enough to discover a tool recently that help organize and evolve the way I handled my corporate re-branding drives. Through preset work templates and an easy to understand asset distribution process, I was able to conveniently manage and monitor my workload and the workload of other stakeholders involved.
Again, the objective here is to build a 360 Degree re-branding activity that carries all your stakeholders well, technology is now very assistive with respect to operational tasks and this will become a norm in the years to come, so early adoption is key to your future success.
3. The education in execution
Whenever someone asks me what’s the best part of a re-branding process for you – I always point towards execution. A lot of people might be shocked by this revelation but for me it’s simple, I enjoy learning spaces, and execution is a prime opportunity to learn and discover something new. While other points before this are also educational in nature, the most exchange of ideas and insights may happen when you’re in the thick of things.
An example of this is a re-branding activity I was doing for an Internet Service Provider (ISP), we planned our deliverables in advance and we literally ran each item through a project management charter but when it came down to execution, the management let us know that we were missing some key assets. Now the education here was around three things:
- Your plans need to be simple in nature, complexity builds confusion, running it like a project was good but a simpler communication structure leaves a lot of room for improvement. Elaborating further, sometimes people (especially senior management /business owners) need simplified points fed to them (I usually use WhatsApp to keep my leadership informed of day to day activities I am carrying out – with reference to which asset it is tied to e.g.: With respect to the new brand purpose – here are my thoughts etc.)
- You need to leave room for disruption (or gear-shifting as one of my bosses used to say). While this is recipe for disaster if done wrong (becoming a floor mat for the demands of others) a good approach is to let people know in advance that certain buffers have been built into this re-branding activity to account for any minor changes/additions/late ideas – but make sure to let people know that crashing timelines sometimes leads to poor execution.
- Aim for perfection, settle for less. This is the crown jewel of any good re-branding activity, as we speak I sat down with my team, while we were building our white Friday deals, they went through the same cycle, they were giving it they are all trying to land deals which kept leading them into a labyrinth of sorts. To cut the story short I told them a simple thing, our deadline to end this part of our execution plan expired last night. Like an exam room, know when the bell rings you need to put your pens down.
4. Tell the world
There are some people who disagree with me on this, but my logic is simple if you do something good tell others - so they can do it better. A good re-branding activity needs a strong marketing plan to help build the narrative. What good will a re-branding do if you don’t showcase it well? I have dealt with clients who have done amazing stuff but never showcased them, out of fear of ideas being stolen, etc. (that’s where good PR or Digital Marketing agencies can help). One of my mentors spoke to me on this and his words have stuck with me, you need to celebrate your wins, they help build a narrative that might be relevant for others as well.
Here is a look a good re-branding activity from Asana – not only is its assets on-point but the way they’ve led people through their process is brilliant. It’s the whole we’ve done this you can do it better message – which I really appreciate.
Honestly, there is a lot of learning in this world, but very few teachers. Most of us have great stories to tell, especially brands, who are constantly trying to adapt, improve and humanize their narrative.
Building a good marketing plan doesn’t mean massive spend, in the age of digital marketing and disruptive marketing practices (influencer marketing, affiliate marketing, SEO, etc.) you can now build cost-effective campaigns through platforms like Fiverr and Upwork.
The journey laid out above is a best-case assessment of a re-branding drive done through my own personal experience and exposure. Although the steps may vary, but the intention is very clear, to deliver a well-structured and well-orchestrated plan that takes into account multiple moving parts and organizes and showcases them in such a fashion that efforts are rewarded.
A lot of organizations spend millions of dollars without concentrating on these critical areas and they lose out to better efforts by their competition.
In the game of business, you have to keep your head above the water, otherwise face drowning in the sea.