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Rebranding: Bringing your stakeholders on the brand change journey

Winston Churchill said “To improve is to change” and when it comes to brands, change can reinvigorate your business and help you to reconnect with your customers and stakeholders.

Think of examples like Old Spice, who pivoted their brand towards a much younger customer base with an engaging ad campaign in 2010; or Apple, who came back from the brink of bankruptcy in the late 90s with a rebrand that saw them become one of the most successful businesses of the 21st century.

While these success stories are inspiring, rebranding can bring with it a whole range of challenges as you try to bring stakeholders, with their competing views and objectives, on the journey with you.

If your stakeholders – Board members, investors, employers, employees, clients and customers – do not feel equipped to come on the journey with you, they may slip away and become disengaged.

So, how can you make sure you keep stakeholders engaged and turn them into advocates for your new brand?

1.   Reasoning and result

Start with explaining your thinking – why is a rebrand necessary and what are the outcomes going to be?

Uncertainty breeds fear. Open up a robust line of dialogue and answer these questions for your stakeholders to remove any uncertainty. This honesty and openness will go a long way to preventing them from being offside from the outset.

Open communication is also a great way to energise your stakeholders for the rebranding journey. Talk about the new opportunities that your rebrand presents: new markets, new products, new services and a new approach. Drive excitement amongst your stakeholders by communicating the real life outcomes your rebrand is targeting.

2.   Ask

Once a decision has been made to start the rebrand process, it is important that stakeholders (especially those who are your brand face) feel like they have been included in the progression and decisions made.

Internal and external surveys, focus groups and identifying brand champions are a great way to show the business you genuinely want their input.

Compiling this information can sometimes challenge the direction of the rebrand, but this helps to gauge people’s concerns and forward think a continuity plan, catching any disruption before people become unreceptive to the end goal.

3.   Transparency and transformation

Now that you have communicated the why, and asked for your stakeholders’ input, the challenge is to deliver your rebrand with consistency and transparency. You will encounter challenges along the way, but by keeping an open line of communication between you and your stakeholders, you can navigate the obstacles and continue on your rebrand journey.

With your course set and your stakeholders on board, your brand is ready for transformation. There may be challenges, obstacles and resistance, but if you have genuinely engaged with your stakeholders throughout the change journey, they are more likely to transform with the new brand and take on your new message and image themselves.

Together, you’ll arrive at your new brand, ready to face challenges and chase opportunities.