Rebranding Challenge: Increase Your Influence and Impact as a Marketing Leader

This article was first published in the Marketer – Journal of the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS).

Rebranding project is the Everest of marketing endeavors, says Kathy Nanowski, CPSM, Vice President, Director of Marketing & BD, Fuss & O’Neill

See how Substance151 helped Fuss & O’Neill shape its brand perception and refresh its 100-year-old brand.

For marketing leaders, a rebrand is a unique opportunity to build their careers, increase their influence and impact, and demonstrate the value of marketing as a strategic business function.

However, these rewards come with a caveat – you must approach every aspect of the effort with a strategic mindset and focus on the big picture.

Leading Due Diligence

Rebrands are lengthy, complex and expensive, and with all eyes on the marketing department, you need this to go smoothly. Following a strategic and disciplined process will reduce headaches and optimize your firm’s investment.


Your Brand Toolbox

Building a strong brand is anything but easy. To assist you with the entire process – from conducting a brand audit through rebranding and brand rollout, we’ve developed this Brand Toolbox.

Top Strategic Questions to Guide Rebrand Planning

What Are Our Reasons for Rebranding? To answer this question, you must understand your firm’s business objectives, current versus desired brand position, competitive landscape, industry trends, market opportunities and other factors. The type and extent of the rebrand should be based on a keen assessment of the strategic big picture.

What Are Our Objectives? Knowing what needs to be achieved will enable you to determine what to include in the scope, what expertise and skillsets you need and how much time, money and human resources it will take. As a leader, you must understand the interdependencies and trade-offs between goals, scope, timeline and budget.

What Are the Must-Haves and Non-Negotiables? Separating “must haves” from “nice to haves” will not only help you allocate time and resources but also determine who should be on your internal project team and what type of agency is the best fit for your firm.

How Will I Show Impact? Setting clear objectives based on business goals upfront establishes benchmarks and allows marketing to demonstrate tangible outcomes from the effort. Make sure your firm understands the critical role of marketing (and your role) in this monumental undertaking. It’s your responsibility as a leader to communicate the importance of this accomplishment in a way that resonates with firm leadership.

Also read: Calculating the ROI of Branding

Leading Strategic Brand Development

A/E/C firms often see the role of in-house marketing as tactical. Although getting things done is critical, view this part of the rebranding process as an opportunity to demonstrate your strategic thinking and big-picture perspective. Be proactive, build bridges across departments and become the catalyst for change.

Top Strategic Considerations for Navigating Brand Development

Don’t Build Your Brand Based on Assumptions. Champion the importance of brand research for uncovering critical market, competitor and customer insights to shape the new brand. Because brand research expands scope, timeline and budget, you’ll need to educate your internal stakeholders on why research-based brands are more successful. Show how the data will result in an effective brand strategy, guide creative execution and extend beyond the rebrand – informing business development and account management decisions and improving customer and employee experience, just to name a few.

Manage Mindsets. During the brand strategy phase and later throughout execution, use the research-based insights to continually remind your internal team “how we got here,” hold them accountable to already-made decisions, and most importantly, help them separate subjective opinions from strategy-based facts to keep the process moving forward. Make sure internal decision-makers prioritize what’s most important by tying recommendations and deliverables to established business objectives.

Secure Internal Buy-in. Internal buy-in is critical, but you need a strategy for making internal stakeholders’ involvement productive. Determine who needs to participate day to day and who should be brought in only at key project milestones.

Also, determine how each stakeholder group should be involved. For example, asking employees to “vote” on logo designs absent strategic considerations will only undermine your value as a leader. On the other hand, presenting research findings and the new brand strategy in an all-hands meeting will not only position you as a strategic thinker but also ensure everyone understands the rationale behind brand expressions, ultimately leading to increased brand alignment and advocacy.

Lean on Your Agency Partner. If you choose the right agency, they will be instrumental in helping you lead the process, select the right approaches and avoid common pitfalls. Be transparent about internal dynamics and the challenges you’re facing so they can be the partner you need – providing support and underscoring your role as the project leader.

Leading the Brand Launch

How you roll out a rebrand determines its immediate and long-term impact. However, with countless components and activities to orchestrate and the volume and complexity of decisions, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.

Continue applying your strategic lens, prioritizing actions and projects aligned with your rebranding goals. Consider all strategic opportunities that a rebrand presents – from re-engaging your top audiences to securing high-visibility PR to reminding the marketplace what your firm stands for.

Also read: Brand Launch! How to Execute a Breakthrough Brand Rollout

Top Strategic Mistakes to Avoid for Brand Launch

Starting Planning Too Late. Rollout planning should begin at the very early stages of the rebranding process, so you have enough time to both strategize and execute. Brand rollout campaigns have lots of moving pieces, many requiring significant lead time.

Making It All About the Tangibles. Although the new logo and swag are exciting, the overall success of a rebrand greatly depends on how well employees understand the reason behind the firm’s new visual identity, how specific messages were chosen, what the vision is and why it matters. Focus on strategies that increase engagement and brand ambassadorship and build excitement.

Approaching the Brand Launch as the End. The first 12 to 18 months after the rollout are key for keeping momentum going. Implement internal brand education programs and monitor how well the employees understand, embrace and live the new brand.

As a brand leader for your firm, it’s your responsibility to ensure the new brand is fully integrated into its operations – informing all decisions, actions, communications and experiences internally and externally.

Also read: Leading Your Next Rebrand: A Strategic Marketer’s Roadmap

Leading the Brand Forward

The rebrand is an opportunity to establish systems and processes for ongoing brand management. Taking the time to establish a brand governance framework increases the efficiency and effectiveness of your firm’s daily marketing operations.

You will stop spending countless hours debating proposal covers and presentation boards and be able to focus on bigger, better, more strategic marketing initiatives that have a far greater impact on your firm’s bottom line.

“As marketers, we understand the weight of this responsibility – it’s not just about refreshing a logo or a tagline; it’s about reshaping the very essence of a brand.” – Kathy Nanowski, MBA, CPSM, Vice President, Director of Marketing & BD, Fuss & O’Neill

Need help navigating a rebrand? Get in touch! Or visit our Rebranding Resources Center for Busy Marketers and Business Leaders for more information and resources.