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5 Ways to Rethink the Way You Rebrand

Posted on 8.23.2014

By Chris Tomeo, K2

It’s no small feat, but a truly successful rebrand must be bold, flexible and radiate the soul of the company — the essence and resolve that drives everything from the way a product is developed to the way a customer service call is answered. Nail this and you have a chance at making real connections with your audience.

So, here are five rebranding nuggets to keep in mind:

1. WHY is the most important question.

Discovery phase introspection usually goes something like this: What do we provide for our customers? What are our competitors up to? Where have they been successful, and where have they failed? If we were an animal/superhero/historical figure … and so on. But those questions never cut to the root of WHY you, as a company, exist. They don’t define your spirit.

If you nail the WHY, you have a reason to come into work every day. You have a rallying cry for the company, principles that drive innovation and set you up to be a trailblazer. This whole concept is distilled and presented beautifully by Stephen Sinek in his 2013 TED Talk: "People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Go watch it.

2. If you have data, use it. If you don’t have data, get it.

It’s easy for any of us, especially creative types, to get caught up in a belief — to throw all of our sweat and passion and tears into an idea, and doubly so if it was one we pitched or conceived. And it’s easy for a regional manager to walk into a quarterly sales kick-off and say, “All of our customers need this one thing.”

But is it true? Is it worth diverting all your resources in pursuit, or are you simply chasing a theory, a reaction or self-fulfilling realization based on anecdotal evidence? Jumping to conclusions is dangerous. Gut is important, but avoiding misdirection and distractions can lead to brilliance. Make meticulous decisions based on available evidence and smart analysis. You won’t regret it.

3. Pitch work you know will be rejected.

If work isn’t surprising in one way or another, it won’t get noticed. So although, it can be scary to pitch risky ideas to your CEO or board of directors, do it anyway.

Stretch their minds, get them to see what’s possible, and even if your work is vetoed at first (note: always have a Plan B), this approach could set you up to make waves later.

Make sure the work you are presenting is a collective effort of your creative team and that they’ve all pushed each other positively to create the final product.

4. Prepare to tweak, then tweak again.

Making adjustments is just part of the game, so be cautious before you call something final and untouchable. Don’t be afraid to massage, bump and prod your brand. Even if your launch was met with resounding internal approval, media accolades and a noticeable uptick in sales, you can certainly make a toast, but don’t rest on your laurels. Check your egos, and make course corrections as opportunities arise.

5. Sell it internally, over and over again.

Your work is inspiring and your brand is indelible, no doubt. But, believe it or not, it’s not always easy for your colleagues to keep the brand top of mind. They have sales quotas to hit and products to concept, after all. Show them why brand is important (it’s EVERYTHING), and then continually remind them of WHY your company exists and what it stands for. Make it impossible to forget and let it drive every action.

Rebranding is hard. Some of your work will be rejected, some will be belittled. Your efforts will be underestimated. You will not sleep well for a period of time.

But, a rebrand is a huge opportunity to show what is possible. It can energize your employees, demand attention from prospective clients, and instill pride in the customers you already have. Be brave, and be sensible. And always remember to ask yourself why.

Chris Tomeo is creative director at K2, a business apps software company headquartered in Seattle. Chris cut his teeth in the world of newspapers and, weirdly, university publications. His wife and three daughters think he likes bicycles too much.

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