How to implement your brand quickly and cost-effectively

Ross Haxton

By Ross Haxton, Creative & Brand Services Director

Posted on

Part four in our series on the Successful Management of your Brand during the M&A Process

In part one we looked at Five Rebrand Strategies. In part two we dived into the Creative Process of developing a new brand.

Part three covered Brand Engineering – a detailed look at the four key steps in preparing for your brand rollout.

Now we’re ready to jump into the brand implementation programme itself.

The real-world work starts here – it’s time to roll up your sleeves and plan, manufacture and deliver your branding.

The preparation is complete and you are now equipped with:

  • Detailed brand and touchpoint guidelines
  • Product and materials specifications
  • The results of any prototype work
  • A list of nominated suppliers

Ready? Let’s look at the four key steps:

  • Brand audit
  • Implementation strategy
  • Programme delivery
  • Monitoring & tracking

Step 1 - Brand Audit

Ideally you will have already scoped the extent and nature of your brand touchpoints in the Brand Engineering phase, by identifying your main sites and key brand touchpoints. Extrapolating this early indicative data can give you a reasonable handle on what to expect but the implementation phase does not lend itself to assumptions or vagaries.

Your brand implementation plan must be data driven and based on FACT.  Be absolutely precise and pinpoint each item as part of your Brand Audit.

Six questions to ask during a brand audit

  • What items need to be rebranded?
  • Where are they located?
  • Are there any access issues or legal requirements?
  • How many items are there?
  • Who is the supplier?
  • What condition are they in? (this could be the ideal opportunity to replace older items)

Who should be involved?

For larger organisations or global companies, the extent of the rebrand can be overwhelming.

Break the task down and share ownership by setting up your Rebrand team early – nominated representatives from each workstream – IT, HR, Legal, Marketing etc. – will help to ensure that you have every aspect of your business covered. I’ll talk more about engagement later but if you are dealing with a merger or acquisition, this exercise can provide the opportunity for team bonding and the cross-fertilisation of ideas.

A rebrand specialist company can assist with templates to help get your team up and running as quickly as possible and to ensure that the data is captured efficiently.

Your approach to data gathering will depend on the nature of your assets and budget available. Remember that technology can be a huge enabler and can automate the process to an extent, using self-survey tools and AI to capture, scan and interpret data.

Desktop Audits

Your workstream experts can identify and capture a lot of data remotely, by tapping into the knowledge of their on-the-ground teams.

Armed with the right questionnaires and templates, they can feedback all the information cost-effectively and with minimum disruption to daily operations.

Photographing assets has never been so easy – every employee with a smart phone can take snapshots of your branded items and upload them quickly and easily to your server.

Site Audits

An on-site survey will return the best results in terms of the level of detail and accuracy.

The downside is cost as it is clearly more expensive to physically send a person out – from the point of view of time, travel and accommodation costs.

However, this more intensive approach is recommended for flagship sites or where there is no team available on the ground.

Think ahead – can you also conduct a detailed site survey at the same time, to avoid the need for a repeat visit?

Rebrand checklist

  • Stationery – business cards, letterhead, envelopes, mailing labels, packaging
  • HR/ Legal – contracts
  • Signage – interior and exterior wayfinding and branding
  • Fleet
  • Wearables/uniforms
  • Office –  memos, order forms, invoices, company checks, internal process documents, employee onboarding
  • Marketing – print, trade booths, merchandise, newsletters
  • Digital – website, domaine names, social media, intranet, email signatures
  • Product packaging
  • PowerPoint and other templates
  • IT systems

Brand Asset Database

For many, the brand audit is the first time that all this information has been funnelled into a single location.

This visual and detailed snapshot of all your branded touchpoints represents the entirety of your brand landscape and its value should not be underestimated:

  1. It allows you to accurately plan and cost your brand implementation
  2. It provides a base for ongoing brand management

 

Budget and cost management

The findings of the brand audit will allow you to accurately set your budgets and also help you to decide if you are to replace, revitalise or even divest certain items.

A central budget will be required for the programme management and you will need to take into account regional cost variations.

Budget management for a global rebrand can be handled in many ways but it pays to be clear from the outset about who is paying for what.

There are three main approaches:

  • A single global budget that is managed centrally
  • A central budget for programme management with local budgets for local items
  • A central budget for programme management with different workstreams responsible for their own items across all markets

Generally we find that the second model works best.

In addition to the objective of minimising implementation costs, you must also remember (and remind stakeholders) that your rebrand investment is also helping to add value to your brand. Organisations such as Brand Finance can help to measure the positive impact of a rebrand and in this article, our then Brand Implementation Director answers the question, “How does brand implementation impact on the bottom line?”

Step 2 - Brand Implementation Strategy

Now that you know WHAT needs to be rebranded, it’s time to consider the sequence of your rebrand activity.

Detailed analysis of your brand landscape will provide a clear indication which brand implementation strategy is best for you. Armed with these insights, you can decide:

  • Are you looking for a PR splash with a single launch date for all sites?
  • Are you rolling out your branding market by market, for example, starting in Europe and moving to Asia?
  • Do you wish to prioritise specific sites in each market – rebrand your flagship sites in various countries before moving to lower priority sites?
  • Is your rebrand phased over several months or years, dependant on operational or legal requirements?
  • Consider your stakeholders – do you need to inform a regulator first?

Often it is helpful to introduce your new brand internally before you launch it to customers. This improves engagement and allows employees to become familiar with your new brand.

Communication plan for a rebrand

A carefully considered communications plan must be created for both internal and external stakeholders. The order of play is important.

Beyond the operational team who are working on the rebrand, internal engagement can make or break your rebrand. For rebrand success, it’s vital to get all your employees onboard, understanding why you are rebranding, what your new brand purpose is and exactly what the benefits are to them, to the wider company and to your customers.

Top down

Winning hearts and minds at every level is key. This is best achieved when it’s both bottom-up and top-down.

A rebrand is a strategic initiative – usually taken at Board level. Appointing high-level Brand Ambassadors who take responsiblity for their area of the business will have a hugely positive impact on your rollout.

A rebrand is not an everyday kind of activity. For this reason, your leadership team should be encouraged to make the most of the opportunity to create excitement and vision for the future.

  • Consider launching the rebrand internally first – that way employees will feel more engaged and comfortable with the change
  • Celebrate success. This is not business as usual and it gives you the perfect opportunity to create a feel-good factor, particularly if you are merging two different organisations. There’s nothing like branded merchandise to make it feel real and generate excitement
  • Work with HR on a mirroring scheme to help break down barriers – Legal works with Legal, Marketing works with Marketing etc. to identify best practices
  • Provide practical training – FAQs on how to answer the phone, how to update email signatures, how to deal with customer queries
  • Brand the workspace – it’s the perfect opportunity to develop your Employer Brand and embed your brand purpose and values

Creating a sense of unity

We’ve already established that it’s vital to draw upon the network of your on-the-ground teams from an operational point of view.

They possess the specific knowledge of their area of the business to help you to both identify and then deliver your branding across your entire organisation.

Cross-functional and cross-border communication will help to smooth the rollout and promote a sense of unity.

External launch plan

A detailed communications plan for all external stakeholders is also vital – regulatory bodies, customers, suppliers, membership organisations. Consider:

  • Targeted direct mail
  • A big PR launch
  • Face to face meetings with key customers

Step 3 - Programme Delivery

The data gained from brand audit is fed into a central database or Asset Management system – this is the powerhouse for your rebrand activity.

Tight central co-ordination across all workstreams and markets is key to creating and delivering a robust branding programme.

Project Plan

Once priorities have been agreed, a fully detailed project plan can be created – this will scope who does what, when and how:

  • Timelines and deadlines
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Suppliers
  • Costs
  • Permits required
  • Regulatory or legal requirements

If your Brand Guidelines are your key visual driver, the central project plan is the key driver for everything else!

This will ensure that the right materials are in the right place and with the right team at the right time.

Central Control

To ensure consistency of your brand and quality control over your suppliers, you must have a single pivot point.

Programme management is a science- there’s good reason for there being so many tried and tested project management methodologies – from Waterfall to Agile to Critical Path.

The complexity of managing a global branding programme – suppliers, permits, materials, installers – is not to be underestimated.

A professional Project Management team will be the driving force for your rebrand and external resource can be a useful boost here.

Local implementation

Globalisation has made the world smaller and we all inhabit a much more international community.

Occasionally it’s possible to use a single supplier who ships items across the world and dispatches a team of installers to different locations.

Aside from the obvious cost, we find that local works best and we generally call upon the members of our international network to fulfill regional requirements

 

The advantages of a local on-the-ground team:

  • Shared culture and language
  • Well-connected and more resourceful in finding solutions
  • Working within the same time zone
  • Local knowledge – this is particularly important where permits are required
  • Speed of response – local teams can be on the scene quickly
  • No shipping cost
  • Reduced environmental impact

Stage 4 - Monitoring and Tracking

One of the key roles of your Project Management team will be tracking progress and reporting back.

There are many off-the-shelf software options for this, such as Workfront, Asana or monday.com, and these can usually be customised to suit your exact needs. For larger programmes, you may want to consider a bespoke system. Keep the long-term in mind – you are building up a powerful picture of your business that will set you in good stead for future developments.

How to measure the success of your rebrand implementation?

It’s important to monitor your metrics so that you can recognise success:

  • Number of sites rebranded
  • Snag free installations
  • Total number of employees or customer reached

When it comes to measuring the wider success of your rebrand programme, think about:

  • Brand recognition and awareness
  • Market share
  • Premium pricing

Tell your rebrand story

If you are dealing with a global rebrand that is not confidential, the reporting can easily be used as part of your marketing efforts. A powerful social media campaign could be a demonstration of the Mexican wave that your rebrand has created across the globe.

Be sure to capture photos and video and so that you can successfully tell your brand story.

Statistics are also useful in marketing terms. Track key metrics such as:

  • The number of touchpoints rebranded
  • The quantity of vinyl or paint used
  • The average time to rebrand a site

Asset Management system

One of the greatest legacies of a rebrand is often a Digital Asset Management (DAM). This is the perfect opportunity to bring all your branded items into a single system where they can be managed.

If you already have a DAM, then it’s a great opportunity to do some housekeeping and tidying.

Any data should be carefully stored and can be used for future planning or brand updates.

Top five tips for successful brand implementation

  1. Know your approach and create an implementation plan that fits with your company’s strategic aims
  2. Work with local teams and ‘subject matter’ experts to identify all your brand  touchpoints
  3. Plan your communication – both internally and externally
  4. Centrally co-ordinate your rebrand efforts to ensure quality control and brand consistency. Deploy local teams to deliver your branded assets in each market
  5. Celebrate your success and don’t lose all your good work – maintain the reporting from your Audits and Surveys into a central database. Ready for the next rebrand?