Every organization at some point will face a strategic challenge–whether they’re grappling with external forces totally out of their control or working to manage changes within the organization. Either way, we believe that if such challenges can be identified and solved quickly and effectively, organizations can reduce the negative impact on people and their work.
That’s where an effective change management strategy comes in. At The Clearing, we help our clients “lead through change” by assessing the organization’s current environment and diagnosing underlying issues that are keeping it from realizing its vision. The result is a strategy that creates a shared perspective and intent among critical stakeholders, mitigates risks, engages stakeholders, and determines behaviors necessary to implement and sustain the change.
And while we help organizations through a variety of challenging situations, one that often flies under the radar are organizational rebrands. While a rebrand may sound simple on the surface (updating logos, colors, and other brand elements), they are actually a logistical challenge. From reaching a consensus on the need for a rebrand and driving agreement on the new brand identity to rolling it out and ensuring consistent usage, it’s a change that impacts the entire organization. Today, we’ll take a look at how strategic change management can make the rebrand process better for all.
Rebranding 101: Start with Staff
Let’s look at an organization planning to rebrand as a common platform for which effective change management is necessary. A well-executed rebrand can set up a corporation or organization for success, but without a change management plan, there’s a risk of neglecting to provide guidance to staff on how to effectively adapt to, manage, and promote the rebrand. Making them part of the rebranding effort at the outset will nurture buy-in and ownership, as well as help eliminate the shock value when a new brand is released.
By giving staff the time and space to familiarize themselves with a new brand, you’ll open the door for them to start thinking about ways they can use it in their own work. And, in doing that, you’ll more successfully ensure they’ll have internalized it and feel excited about it before it’s even released. A new brand isn’t just a new viewpoint for clients; it’s for internal stakeholders, too.
I can’t overstate the importance of internal impact enough. Say, for example, someone on staff used an old slide deck that hadn’t been updated with new brand images because they hadn’t been fully versed on the rebrand. It would be embarrassing, it would dilute the new brand, and it would create brand inconsistencies and confusion for internal staff and for the external client. A client might question an organization’s professionalism, too – after all, if the organization can’t stay on top of its materials, can it be trusted to manage the clients? Once a new brand is unveiled, it’s imperative that it’s consistently reflected everywhere, and a very clear change management plan – in place before the rebrand launch – can help ensure a smooth transition internally and externally.
Visual Consultants and Change Management
Okay, so you’re on board with having staff involved from the get-go. What do rebranding planning and change management sessions look like?
Our first step is almost always an introductory meeting to talk about the “why” of the change and define key stakeholders and decision-makers. After all, they’re the ones who will be most instrumental in shaping and selecting a new brand. Who that group includes will depend on the organization, but it’s important to really think about everyone who needs to be engaged in the process as it rolls out. We believe anyone who will have a hand in the process should be part of the rebranding exercise from day one. Following this introductory meeting, we establish the scope, build a project timeline, and map out a communication plan.
A logo redesign is often the next major step, and once that’s in place and approved, we’ll develop a style guide and templates that will serve both the brand and logo. We’ll define everything from fonts to color palettes, and we’ll make templates easily accessible to all staff so that there’s never any confusion over which file to use.
Tips for a Seamless Transition
There are a lot of important elements in effectively managing the rebranding of an organization, but some key strategies include:
- Build Awareness by Communicating Early and Often. Getting your staff excited about a new brand will make it easier to build out the brand and grow awareness. Make sure everyone on staff knows the timeline, as well as the expectations for when new materials will be released and old ones archived. There may be some reluctance or resistance, but keeping people involved builds buy-in, and making it clear that that “we’re all in it together” will help alleviate concerns that the work of the rebrand won’t all fall to one person or department.
- Empower Employees to Serve as Brand Ambassadors. Empowering employees and providing them with the tools they need to promote and use the brand will only help support your efforts. An employee who is excited about a brand is an employee who will be loyal to a brand. Make the new materials easy to access and find. Engage employees in the process of archiving old materials and helping train new employees on how to use the new materials. Keep the momentum going through frequent interactions with the new brand materials.
- Reinforce the Rebrand Long After the Launch. A rebrand doesn’t end when a new logo is rolled out … organizations need to continue to reinforce the rebrand, watch for misuse of old branding materials, and encourage staff to be consistent with the new templates, colors, and messaging. It’s not a quick process.
Every organization and rebrand is unique, but the success of a rebrand starts at the top. Without leadership and staff buy-in, the rebranding process will be incredibly difficult … because while you might end up with a top-notch logo and beautiful templates, it’ll all be for nothing if people don’t know what to do with them or how to use them.
If you feel your brand could use a refresh or a whole new identity, start with your staff, earn their buy-in, and remember that you’re in it for the long haul. A new brand can’t do its job with your target audiences if it’s not regularly fed and supported by your own organization. If you’d like to find out how we can help, I’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.