When a global organization realizes the need to rebrand, success or failure hinges on a few factors, such as key stakeholders’ ability to work together, take necessary risks and view the brand for what it is: an enterprise-level entity, not a siloed asset.
Brands operate at an enterprise level, so efforts to rebrand require an integrated approach, grounded in research and executed across the entire organization.
Successful businesses know leadership, IT, HR and marketing and so many others must work together to grow a strong brand. While the CEO is the ultimate decision-maker, healthy brands are embodied by everyone in the organization — a feat not achieved without one clear brand director guiding everyone to work together.
What Makes A Brand Strong?
In two words: research and alignment. If a brand is to thrive, it must be grounded in research and aligned with business strategy. The best way to build (and keep) a strong brand is from the inside out, and that starts with enterprise-level marketing research. When executed adeptly, research uncovers insights about customers and employees that businesses can leverage to form meaningful connections with consumers.
There comes a point in the life cycle of nearly every business where leadership realizes a need to rebrand. It could be lagging sales or declining market share. At times, new competitors enter the market, providing an opportunity for legacy brands to reexamine what makes them distinct. At still other times, a period of expansion by mergers and acquisitions creates the need to redefine the brand.
Such was the case with a global travel management company we took on as a client for an extensive market research and rebrand effort.
The Connection Between Research And Rebranding: A Case Study
The client, which has weathered change in the travel industry for 73 years, has adapted and evolved to stay relevant and successful. A leader in modern-day travel, the company is making strategic investments in talent, technology and companies that position it to gain market share and expand its capabilities without degrading its commitment to delivering exemplary customer service.
Yet, capabilities gained through 10 years of acquisitions came at a cost. While the investments strengthened the company’s position in the market, the decision to allow acquired companies to maintain their brands led to a fragmented identity and brand confusion.
Extensive brand research revealed a need to consolidate acquired brands under one refreshed identity that strongly conveyed the company’s point of differentiation: its people-first culture. Because a brand is only valuable if it is true, our client needed to fully merge all acquired companies into one operational, technological, sales and brand position. While it excelled on the first three matters, it struggled, initially, to integrate the brand across acquired companies.
The tried-and-true culture and approach to business that had made the company so successful needed to be integrated and ingrained into all locations and employees if the company was going to realize its full potential.
One of the critical ways that this client, as well as other companies going through a rebrand effort, can ensure success is by making a conscientious choice to act upon the insights gained through brand research exercises.
While obvious, many companies overlook the need to turn research into strategy. Gaining knowledge is useful, but the real value of research comes in applying insights to marketing strategy.
Turning Rebrand Research Into Brand Strategy
It is not enough to do brand research. If the insights gained during the research phase aren’t applied to brand strategy, the investment into the rebrand effort will fall short.
After rebrand research data is analyzed, it is essential to craft marketing and communication strategies from the data. Develop brand architecture and messaging that reflects who you are and not just what you do. All of the following familiar elements should express your unique identity:
• Brand story.
• Brand promise.
• Brand architecture.
• Brand messaging.
• Color palette.
• Typography and iconography.
Even elements that are primarily visual in nature (as opposed to verbal) can and should tell your ideal audiences who you are and what you value. Messaging focused on that truth will connect your brand with prospects and customers in meaningful ways.
Finally, with refreshed brand guidelines firmly in place, move strategy into action with campaigns and go-to-market plans that transform your new brand messaging into stories that capture the attention of your ideal audiences.
Extending One Brand’s Story To Any Brand
The challenges and solutions are not unique to the company mentioned. Our client’s story could be any brand’s story.
Although the attributes that matter most about a brand have changed, brands matter more today than ever before. Thirty years ago, a brand symbolized a sense of quality and consistency. Today, a brand must do that and also provide a link to something more.
Brands must represent quality and consistency while offering a connection to attract others to it. Characteristics that have meaning are critical.
In today’s fragmented digital universe, successful brands highlight the attributes that speak to their customers in a unique way. Those attributes can include:
• How a brand treats its people/culture.
• How a brand treats the world.
• How a brand helps its clients and reassures them in their decisions.
• The motivations/purpose behind the brand and what it believes.
Brands are now synonymous with their overall experience. Strong brands understand their identity is less about products and services and more about the experience the brand provides around the product. Knowing what you stand for is essential if you want your brand to break through.
Don’t let your rebrand efforts languish. Put research into action with marketing campaigns that express that identity to your ideal audiences in an authentic and meaningful way.