Wouldn’t it be great to know some little-known ways to successfully rebrand? The exact strategies that make the difference between sounding trite and shallow versus sounding relevant and compelling?
“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we shall become a company of giants.”
“You Ruined My Weekend” (I’ll Explain)
It’s not what it sounds like. Let’s start at the beginning.
Following a keynote I’d just delivered on Innovation in Milwaukee, a bubbly woman whom I’d never met came up to me and asked me what I thought of her marketing material (after I’d spent the last couple of hours talking about branding and cliches).
I looked over the materials she shared, gave her my feedback with what I thought she could be doing.
She laughingly said, “You just ruined my weekend!” (explaining she had her weekend scheduled with her husband enjoying wine and catching certain sports events, and now, because of what I’d said and what she learned, she had to spend the weekend reworking everything).
Her name: Tina Schuelke.
Months later, Tina called wondering what it would take for us to work together.
We worked out the details and I started working on the rebrand for Tina’s brilliant young company that provides “change management” to numerous global companies.
While working on their rebrand (since they’d outgrown their then-current brand), I used 3 vital laws that would ensure this was a successful rebranding evolution:
- Law #1: Rebranding starts at the core: The core of your customer.
- Law #2: Rebranding that ignores the soul of the brand will fail.
- Law #3: Rebranding isn’t lipstick. Rebranding addresses the macrocosm of external roles, external values and external perception in the world, not a shallow approach of, “Does this make me look pretty?”
Fear Change? Do This
“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” General Eric Shinseki
To have context, this company is in the “change management” space.
Their problem? The term “change management” (like so many tools and trends that become popular in business) had become an overused term where it lost any relevant meaning.
And the bigger consultancies offering “change management” all sounded like law firms, trite wannabes or yesterday’s news.
Ways to Successfully Rebrand: Broken Down
The challenge? How could I restore relevance to a company in an industry where the categories become filled with industry jargon and convoluted messages?
By using the 3 laws listed above:
In keeping with Law #1: Rebranding starts at the core, we looked at the customers and how they spoke about change and change management. Everyone in the industry was speaking like a “change management expert” using terms like “transforming the organization” and “the results you want, the change you need” and other consultancy-speak that no self-respecting company would ever utter.
Respecting Law #2: Rebranding that ignores the soul of the brand will fail, we found that most of the competitors were big, corporate entities using humanity only as a punchline “to appear authentic” and not as a legitimate, integral part of their brand. Big misstep.
Law #3: Rebranding isn’t lipstick means design must be an amplifier of a brand, not an afterthought. It must be a differentiator in a category. When you look like “your industry,” you’ve likely failed because you’re blending in rather than standing out.
The good news: their name perfectly identified the industry they were in, excellent for companies looking for experts in change management. Yet, we vitally needed to work on how to differentiate their brand of change management from other firms in the same category using story, design, color, and attitude.
It started with a powerful brand story that drew a defining line between other companies and theirs using this language:
We’re here to challenge the way companies manage change, and to dramatically impact the way companies evolve, adapt and expand. Fast.
It’s no longer a matter of “managing change.”
Instead, it’s about resolving redundancies, strengthening assets, and elevating an organization moving companies from “us and them” to “we and how.”
This was dramatically highlighted with their new slogan: Never stop conquering. (Slogans can be amazing. How amazing?)
How did it all roll out?
The Invitation to The Big Event
The size of the 2-sided invite fits into a 12 x 18-inch white envelope, enormous by any standard. The response was overwhelming.
The Pre-Launch Event
Prior to the rollout, we provided a community event for entrepreneurs and businesses in the region along with hardcover copies of Brand Intervention.
Here are the before-and-afters of the brand, the animated sequence, and rendering the brand.
Components of the New Brand
Below is the business card plus a couple of the brand “lockups” that show set variations depending on usage and available space. (The definition of a lockup is the final form of a logo with all its elements. For example, one lockup version of the Nike brand is the swoosh and the “Nike” text next to it in a set-distance and size without variation. Sometimes, we see the swoosh on its own without the text, approved for specific usage.)
The New Brand Story Video
Video is a powerful way to rapidly convey a brand’s distinction. Here’s how we did it for the new brand.
The One Minute Wednesday Highlight
In celebration of this launch, it was the perfect place to showcase the transformation in about a minute:
The Launch Event Itself
Here I am with CEO Tina Schuelke, each of us holding one of the cookies (I grabbed the oversized one, so no, you’re not drunk) with the cookie glaze showcasing the new brand identity. The idea of having the new brand and the colors become part of the “edibles” in the party made the rollout deliciously unforgettable.
The Website Goes Live
The brand was deployed onto the new website keeping the feel and identity unmistakable and the powerful new message of “never stop conquering” front and center.
The Morning After (Event Goodies Gone Wild… on eBay)
The morning after, some took it upon themselves to raise funds for charities online using some of the Launch Party’s “edible souvenirs.”
This is how you structure a launch using the many ways to rebrand successfully.
In one broad stroke, we reinvented this company, enabling it to truly rediscover itself and make all other companies in this space look like yesterday’s news using tired cliches and “industry-speak” that’s as shallow as an invitation to lunch in Hollywood.
Say goodbye to shallow. Say hello to going deep.