During the 15+ years that we have been implementing brands we have learnt that, whether you are a Nokia or simply implementing a brand refresh in a single market, the same rules apply.
This article summarises our white paper on Brand Implementation and sets out how to lay the groundwork for successful brand implementation, covering five steps in the implementation process.
“Brand Implementation starts with brand strategy – once the brand strategy, hierarchy and identity are agreed, the detailed planning can begin. But first you have to start with detailed knowledge of where you are now and create a roadmap for where you want to be.”
Start by setting your goals. In the context of brand implementation, start with your brand strategy. Beyond the clear need to remain competitive or increase market share, a new branding program is often used to reposition or introduce new products.
Is your objective to get your brand out in the market as quickly as possible? Are you prioritising specific sites or geographic markets? Is the branding being used to leverage PR and create a big splash?
The answers to these questions will shape your strategy and allow you to set the right KPIs – be it brand awareness, speed to market, market share or any other measure.
An honest assessment of your business is needed to decide if you have the expertise and resources within your organisation to manage the program yourself or if you should bring in an external specialist.
An inventory of all your branded assets will enable you to assess the scope of the task ahead. Through brand audits, you will gain insights into the exact nature, location and condition of each branded item – physical and digital, “bricks and clicks”.
Set up a multi-disciplinary team from different functions to help with this. The data from these company-wide audits will inform your brand implementation strategy, helping you to decide on budgets, timescales and tactics.
Start with People. There are three layers of leadership and support. Firstly, the most successful brand programs are sponsored by senior management – ideally C-suite. Secondly, in terms of day to day management, the program is generally led by either Marketing, Brand or Corporate Communications (depending on the size of the company).
Thirdly, at an operational level, you need to set up a steering committee of Functional leaders from across the business: HR, IT, Marketing, Legal, Finance, Ops etc.
Beyond this team, think about all employees and other stakeholders and create an active engagement plan so that everyone relates to and will buy into the new branding. These days the brand does not ‘belong’ to the Marketing team, it belongs to everyone – make yours a brand-first workplace where the ‘Employer Brand’ is nurtured.
Think about how your brand will be managed, once it has been launched. Empower local markets by creating Brand Ambassadors and use specialist Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems to empower them to manage the brand locally, but within the right brand design framework.
Central control is vital to ensure that the implementation remains on track. A central Project Management Office (PMO) will co-ordinate audit reports, design specifications, materials, procurement, manufacture and installation.
Even if you choose to purchase, manufacture and install locally, a single point of contact for reporting will ensure that you have a firm grasp on progress and quality control.
The environment is a big consideration and a branding program can potentially lead to a lot of waste – there are three easy ways to minimize impact:
The on-the-ground reality of applying a brand can be very different to the design scenarios set out in brand guidelines. Be prepared to think creatively.
A rebrand or brand refresh often signals a fresh start so don’t be afraid to use the opportunity, with both employees and customers, to firmly put your brand on the map and in their hearts.
No brand implementation is without its challenges, but you can consider it a success if..
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to brand implementation but if you are facing a rebrand or brand refresh program, I hope this proves to be a good start.