6 Steps to a Successful Corporate Rebrand
A corporate rebrand can be one of the best strategic moves a company can make. A new name and launch, if executed with vigor, signals a company’s evolution, adds significant energy and attracts new talent and customers.
Lexicon has gained deep experience in the development of new corporate names for companies that evolved and needed to communicate that to the marketplace. This article shares a few key insights from our rebranding engagements.
When to Consider a Corporate Rebrand
Here are some of the factors that create the right condition for a rebrand.
- Mergers and Acquisitions. M&A is the most common reason for renaming a company. It is an opportunity to create a name that signals change, future innovations, customer benefits and unites the new organization’s employees.
- Relevance. As companies grow, adding geographies and products, the original name may not be as relevant any longer. In some cases, the existing name may actually be miscommunicating the company’s competitive offers. In other words, the original name is now creating a “drag” on growth.
- Changing Perceptions. Poor performance in products, stock price or negative press influence customer and investor perceptions. In some cases, assuming these issues have been resolved and the company is moving forward or even restructuring, a name change should be considered.
- Trademark Issues. While this is more common with startups and early-stage companies, trademark challenges can necessitate a name change.
Considering the above, the executive team must also look at the resources available, cost and implementation realities. A rebrand is a complex endeavor. It requires talent, internal and external resources, and time. In our experience, wishful thinking about limiting resources and budgets will marginalize success.
6 Steps to Rebranding Success
If your leadership team has considered the above factors and decided it’s time to move forward with a new name, here are 6 steps that will lead to success.
1. Tell the story first. The first step is to create the story of your new name. We have observed that many clients considering a name change start with a review of the company’s positioning, values, and mission. While this can be helpful, what the marketplace is really interested in is the story of the name change — why you’re changing it and what is in it for them. Too many clients make the mistake of spending far too much time on mission and vision and not enough time on telling the story of their company’s evolution.
2. Write the press release you want to appear in the WSJ or the NYT. This sounds like a simple exercise, but it is strategic in nature. If you do this right, your press release draft will serve as your compass for all other creative and launch activities.
When we helped Atieva, a Silicon Valley startup, create their new corporate name, Lucid, we wrote a simple story: Atieva is more than a car. It is an advanced technology platform. Thus, the new name can’t look or sound like just another car. A simple, honest story with a great result.
Likewise, when Lexicon created Sonnet for Economical Insurance Company’s new digital brand, the story for this new enterprise was all about creating a company that was human, approachable, easy and online. Trust is certainly a part of any insurance offer, so we recommended a classic solution, Sonnet. Very familiar, very friendly and fit nicely into the online world.
3. Organize a naming committee and keep it small. This committee should be composed of 5-7 conceptual executives from across the company. Because the name that will be created is a vessel to carry ideas into the market, we never recommend larger groups or extensive interviews. The new name will help to tell the story, but it is not the story. Always include sales, as they will carry the ball into the market.
4. Create specific messages for very specific audiences. Breaking down the various audiences for storytelling is critical. The first list of stakeholders — employees, customers, investors, analysts — is easy. But a truly successful name change and launch requires a deeper dive. We recommend, for example, developing a list of the 50 most influential employees in the company and a plan to approach them uniquely. Top investors should also be identified and approached with a message specific to their interests. Key reporters can be offered exclusives.
5. Plan events over a 9-12-month horizon. A successful launch is never a one-time event; it is a marketing and a relationship-building campaign. The most successful launches plan events over a 9-12-month period.
6. Host a planning work session. In this meeting, you’ll bring your naming committee together to align on the overall process and timing for selecting a new name. Lexicon offers work sessions with executives to begin the planning of a corporate rebrand program.
If you are interested in discussing the potential challenges and opportunities of a corporate rebrand, contact David Placek, Founder, directly for a confidential discussion at firstname.lastname@example.org.