3 risks of rebranding – and how to overcome them

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Rebranding should not be taken lightly. There is no shortage of brands that have received the wrong attention after changing their logo (remember Airbnb?) or name (hi, Meta).

And while a healthy dose of fear is a good thing about rebranding (to keep you from making that effort frivolously), it shouldn’t paralyze you from making much-needed decisions or taking certain actions either.

We recently rebranded with a new logo and a new name, trust me…I get it. Here are some of the biggest risks we encountered during this process, and how we ultimately circumvented them.

Related: Does your business need a rebrand? Here’s why, when and how you should do it.

Risk: Loss of brand value

This is common, even for companies that have been around for a short time. Losing that little recognition you’ve achieved is like a huge void. Clients need re-education. Employees need retraining. This is by far the biggest risk you will face.

In our situation, the risk was double. We’ve spent the last few years acquiring many other relationship marketing companies to build an integrated end-to-end solution. This meant that we not only changed the name of the umbrella company that acquired all of these brands, but had to reposition each one individually within the new, combined entity.

The first part wasn’t that hard because the umbrella company that was buying it wasn’t a strong brand from the start. It was just a placeholder because we were building our strategy through acquisitions. So switching from CM Group to Marigold was not a big risk.

It was much more challenging to move multiple companies under it, each with its own customers, employees, and existing marketing and messaging in the field. Specifically, employees at each company have been both professionally and emotionally attached to these brands, and getting upset comes with its own risks.

Our solution was to keep the names of these solutions, but reposition them to services offered by Marigold’s parent brand – for example “Cheetah Digital by Marigold” or “Sailthru by Marigold”.

This “recommendation strategy” has allowed us to preserve the familiarity and brand value that each service has gained over the years, but present them in a new light as part of a suite of services that are even more valuable when offered together – greater than the sum of their parts – and promote Marigold in the process.

Related: 4 Tips to Start a Successful Rebranding

Risk: violation of company culture

Let’s face it, rebranding is a disruption to the day-to-day running of a business. Those most affected are also often not involved in brand decisions. So employee confusion, resistance, and resentment are very real concerns.

We were very sensitive to this, taking into account the number of acquired companies. As part of this process, we have not only combined different technologies and services, but we have acquired different cultures, leadership teams and stories.

But part of bringing different companies together under one banner is the need to establish a new culture that everyone can share. Again, we had to create something that was more than the sum of its parts. He had to keep everything that existed before, and also add something new and useful for everyone.

In short, it should not feel like a change, but rather a natural evolution.

We did this by communicating the rebranding strategy to all parties before entering the external market. This was done in thoughtful stages to ensure that the right employees were informed and consulted at the correct phase of the process. While obviously the result probably did not reflect everyone’s views and expectations, we felt it was important that everyone was heard, appreciated and informed.

We then evangelized this throughout the company, using the process to bring these previously disparate teams together into a new common ground.

Related: Important lessons I’ve learned from rebranding

Risk: Customer alienation

Changing the name or functionality of a product or service that customers use is a bit like rearranging furniture in your home without asking. So, when you make a big reveal, you want a positive response. We decided to notify our customers about the changes in branding before the press release. That’s how they heard it from us, not a surprise in the press.

As part of this process, it is very important to highlight all the ways this new solution can help IM when presenting a new brand. Remember, rebranding isn’t about a fancy new logo or overblown marketing language. It’s about setting an idea and expectations with the people who will make or break your business. If you don’t rebrand with the client first, it’s a huge risk.

Our goal was to use the rebranding efforts not only to reintroduce our company and services, but to really use the rebranding as a way to reset the entire industry we serve. Why did we take over all these companies and integrate their functionality under one banner? Because the marketing business has fundamentally changed and a new type of relationship marketing solution is needed to support it adequately.

Make your rebranding less about you or what you want from the industry and instead focus on the unique value you bring to your customers by moving forward as if you were rebranding the entire industry. Set the tone. Change the narrative. Define the space you operate in and become the new leader by default.

So yes… rebranding is risky. But given the right mix of market forces and company evolution, rebranding can be even more ineffective. As long as you are honest with yourself about your intentions and use rebranding to solve problems shared by you and your customers, it will likely have a positive outcome for everyone.

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