Rebranding Revealed Part 4: Launching Your New Brand
In my previous post in this series, I covered the process of finding the right digital agency as well as the process of developing brand concepts and building the website. In this final post, I’ll talk about how to activate your brand once you’ve done all the heavy lifting of building it.
Speaking of heavy lifting, I’ve seen far too many marketers who finish their brand or site project, breathe a sigh of relief, and then move on to other projects. As tempting as that might be after months of hard work, you need to face the fact that you have to spend as much time (or more) launching the brand or site than you did creating it.
Brands are very complex things so you’ve got to make sure all your stakeholders – customers, partners, agencies, analysts and employees — understand what changed and why. How can you expect them to get excited about it if you’re not?
I take the approach of treating the brand/site launch the same as a major new product development program. From the onset, I share the full development roadmap [note the choice of the words development and roadmap] in terms of all the many stages including: strategic plan and business case, positioning and messaging, initial design concepts and prototypes, coding, testing and bug fixing, user acceptance, exec review, and last but not least full launch with training and marcomm. That way everyone understands that the brand/site is a major strategic investment and sees how it will help them and the company meet business objectives.
In the interest of brevity I won’t cover the entire project again, but let’s take a look at how we planned the last part – the launch, training and communications for our new brand here at MultiView.
Many weeks prior to the go-live date, we formed a launch team and came up with a detailed plan. I know it’s an old fashioned saying but “plan the work and work the plan” really works. It all started 10 days before the launch with a kickoff breakfast for all of our company leaders where our CEO and I covered the new brand strategy in depth and how it would help us reach, engage and win more customers. We shared our internal communication timeline and enlisted their help in reinforcing the messages to their teams during and after the launch (again like a new product launch).
Sending a bunch of emails to employees is fine, but you need to have leaders drive the points home or they’ll get missed or misunderstood. In short, we wanted to get our managers fired up so that they could get the troops fired up. We made this a big deal so they would understand it was a big deal. Make no mistake: It is a big deal.
Two Weeks Before Go-Live:
- We held a kickoff breakfast with company leaders to educate them on the brand and enlist their help in driving the message throughout their orgs.
One Week Before Go-Live:
- We sent an email every morning for five days with a teaser about the new website and a tip of the day about how to use it to win more customers. The one to the right explains how our new Resources section of the website helps build our credibility with prospects as experts in our field.
- We put up nicely designed “coming soon” posters in the hallways, elevators and bathrooms using key elements of the new brand.
Morning of Go-Live:
- We put a large printed infographic on everyone’s desk so they got it when they arrived in the morning. The graphic (shown below the email) was a fun way to convey the benefits of the site features along the same lines as the one you may have seen that says “should I eat bacon” where every path ends with the answer “yes.”
- We also put a miniature version of the “Connect Four” game on everyone’s desk with an invitation to our launch party in the afternoon. The game fit with our brand theme – “B2B Connected” and foreshadowed several “connect” games and contests.
- In addition to all of that, I personally sent an email to all employees with a detailed explanation of the new brand and website, emphasizing the significance to the company.
Afternoon of Go-Live:
- We used a time-tested tactic of throwing a party with food and prizes to drive attendance. We centered the whole thing around our new brand theme “B2B Connected.” Our “Connect Four” tournament and bingo game encouraged people to connect with the new brand and with each other. As you can see in the pictures at the bottom of the post we had a pretty good time.
The Week After Go-Live:
- I sent a company-wide email the week after the launch showing off some additional content and the initial results of our campaigns.
- We continued the bingo game with prize drawings every day for a week as people turned in their completed cards that required them to answer detailed questions about content on the new website. We announced winners in additional emails nightly.
Like any marketing campaign, the key is reach and frequency. We used a variety of marcomm tactics before, during and after the launch to drive awareness and engagement with the new brand. I often call myself the redundant man of redundancy since I know that you have to hit the same messages over and over in order for them to be absorbed.
Oh, and one last minor detail. When you launch your new brand and website you’ve got to update a million other materials. Ok, it’s not a million but it can feel like it. Here’s our laundry list of items that we built or updated in tandem with the launch.
Well, this has turned into a much longer post than I had intended and I haven’t even covered external communications yet. So I’ll just quickly become obvious man and state that you need to do the same type of rigorous planning for your customer-facing communications and campaigns.
In our case, we developed several display ad campaigns about our new brand across our entire customer buying journey – persona targeting, behavioral targeting, intent targeting and site retargeting. Here are a couple examples of each concept.
People think of rebranding as just a creative exercise, but it’s so much more than that because it’s deeply strategic and rooted in the core brand values of your company. Even after you’ve established what those brand values are and you’ve built a website that embodies them, it takes tremendous attention to detail to bring them to life in the hundreds of places people engage with your brand. It’s a tough process to be sure – but one that comes with payoffs like improving your competitive position, engaging more prospects and winning more customers.
Good luck on your own rebranding journey and feel free to reach out to me if you’d like to chat in more depth about any of the subjects I’ve covered in these posts. You can read them again starting with the first one about laying the foundation for your rebranding followed by the second one that covers positioning and messaging and then the third one about conducting an agency search.