Marketing Hack: How to Ace a Rebrand (Part 3)

In the first post of this series, we addressed the perception problem that plagues every marketer. The second post discussed ways marketers can navigate common dilemmas that arise during the initial phases of a rebranding process.

This final post will discuss the marketer’s role in meetings, receiving and giving feedback and common questions marketers have about the rebranding process.

 


 

Instructions for rebrands are sparse.

This post will help you, the marketer, maneuver the typical obstacles in a rebrand. We’ll discuss guidelines around lines of communication, which team members should be brought in and what point. And perhaps most important, when you should play your political cards.

A rebrand is like a building a house. Are we remodeling or is this a new build? If a new build, will there be two floors? How many bedrooms? Those who build their own homes know that the construction process can turn into a highly custom endeavor.

Because of this, homeowners wonder how involved they should be in the process. They don’t want to meddle, but they know they’ll be stuck living in the house long after the contractor leaves.

How involved are marketers in a typical rebrand?

Similarly, how involved would you like to be in the rebranding process? Are you a hands-off person, or do you prefer to swing the hammer?

Because every rebrand is different, there is no right or wrong answer. However, there are guidelines to help you stay efficient. You probably don’t need to be the one cutting tile and painting walls. But it helps to show up and confirm that it is indeed the paint color you ordered.

Like contractors, we plan out the steps and line up specialists on our team to complete the process. But sometimes we start work, and a marketer will go silent. We’ve kicked off the engagement, agreed on a timeline, price, and plan, then…

Silence.

In order to keep everything on track, general contractors need continued confirmation on certain topics. They can’t finish plumbing until you decide where you wanted that shower. Because didn’t you say you wanted to move the shower in a different spot?

What really matters is that there is a healthy level of communication between agency and marketer.

How long should a typical rebrand last?

Marketers often want to know how long a rebrand should last. If you work at a sizeable company, we suggest 4-8 months.

Why that timeframe?

For a rebrand to be meaningful, there needs to be a period of discovery. We try to meet with leadership to gather insight and consensus. But go longer than 8 months, and you’ll find the organization around you losing steam.

What if a marketer hates what an agency presents?

In a rebrand, you will need to navigate the delicate conversations when you receive creative work from an agency. And the shock of getting something unexpected can elicit a flood of emotions. In those moments you’ll be best served by moving past “like” or “dislike” to critique the work. Instead, evaluate the creative based on the objectives from the creative brief.

Discerning clients know that the emotional dust will settle in a few days. Given that, seek to learn about the thought process behind the work.

A word of caution: Avoid asking outside sources for their opinion. The temptation is to run the work by a spouse or relative who sees the work with “fresh eyes.” Unfortunately, these confidants are not privy to the creative brief and will likely provide an assessment ignorant of context.

If a few days have passed and you still think the work misses the target, explain your thinking and reasoning in-person or over the phone to the agency. Communicating your reservations in detail will inform the agency’s team for a course correction.    

How much should marketing leaders speak up in meetings?

Imagine you are the Senior Vice President of marketing. You report directly to the CEO, and you have a marketing manager serving as your direct report. All three of you are about to meet with your agency partner.

Try to understand the hidden agendas your team brings to this time. Marketing managers focus primarily on tactical concerns and how the agency’s work will impact their day-to-day. Encourage them to look beyond the next few quarters to see the strategic future.

Conversely, your CEO likely rushes from meeting to meeting (which are sometimes double-booked) to hammer out problems and keep teams on track. Are they going to come into the meeting fully engaged? Will they start checking emails halfway through the time? Be prepared to recap the conversation and decisions in case details are missed.

Feel free to help set the pace and encourage your team to both dream and be decisive. Prime the meeting by reorienting your team to the task at hand. Remind the group why you are there, the importance of the work, and how these decisions will impact the company’s future. As questions or objections arise, you serve as an advocate for the agency and your team.

What are the major pain points a marketer will face in rebranding?

Like home builders, every marketer wants three things: quality craftsmanship, the project completed way ahead of schedule and done surprisingly under budget.

Good. Fast. Cheap.

But you cannot have all three. You and your team must choose two.

The work can be good and fast, but rushed projects come at a cost. Other projects need to be rescheduled, and an agency might need to bring in outside help.

It can be fast and cheap, but after looking closely at the results, you’ll see the work won’t have the depth or sophistication it should.

Finally, creative work can be cheap and good, but you’ll have to be patient. Healthy agencies have internal deadlines and commitments to other clients they need to honor.  

The tragedy is that some marketers get stuck in a cycle, comfortable with cheap work done fast.

Keeping correct channels of communication open

Marketers have a way of hoarding power. Have you noticed this?

Sometimes parts of a rebrand will be delegated downward in an organization. Perhaps the marketing manager is tasked with hammering out the details of a project with the agency. Naturally, the manager makes a series of decisions to move the project forward.

This becomes an issue when the time comes to share results with the SVP or CEO. The work has progressed, but now it doesn’t quite resemble the project from before.

You can ensure this doesn’t happen by keeping the necessary communication channels open. Delegating work is unavoidable, but for a project to meet all the objectives agency leaders need to be in direct conversation with the decision-maker on a consistent basis.

If you won’t be making the final decision, manage up and facilitate these conversations with those above you. If you do have the power of approval, establish a clear expectation that your directs should schedule regular meetings between you and the agency.

When should a marketer stand up for a project? When is it the right time to play their political cards?

In almost every rebrand there comes a moment when the project crosses a threshold and takes a turn for the better. On the agency side we sense more trust from the client.

However, these moments do not automatically occur. For that trust to be established, an agency should present you with quality work in a timely manner and communicate clearly. Yet, this still may not be enough.

You as the marketer will have to side with the rebrand.

Meaning, if you truly want the rebrand to succeed you should play your political cards. Perhaps your boss gets distracted by a competitor, briefly panics and suggests an alternate route. Or, maybe a board member expresses concern.

This hesitation is normal.

Guiding an organization into the next phase is difficult because each rebrand travels through a phase called the “messy middle.” And in that phase, you will discover unexpected ideas, which can make your team members uncomfortable. Rest assured, meaningful change only happens through that messy middle.  

To move forward, fully acknowledge your team’s doubts, then cast a vision for the next chapter and express your personal excitement.

What kind of results can marketers present to the CEO or board?

Organizations rebrand for many reasons. Typically, leaders see change as necessary because the visual elements of the brand like the logo and color palette look outdated.

But often brand leaders will come to realize they need to signal a deeper change. Their name is associated with their current market and they need a way to break into a new market. That is an example of a strategic communication goal.

Each communication goal comes with corresponding results to present a CEO or board.

Together with your agency partner, clearly identify your main communication goal and decide with the CEO how to measure success.  

Rebranding is all about clearly defining communication goals, then intensely collaborating to see those goals realized.

 


 

For further information on the benefits of rebranding and how the process can transform your organization as a whole, see this curated list of short posts.

About Daake

We are brand design experts who deliver transformative ideas to the nation’s marketing professionals and CEOs as they seek guidance, clarity and excitement for their brand.

We would love to hear more about what you have in mind for your next project. Call Greg Daake at 402.933.1094.

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