This article originally appeared on Medium.
Whether your business model is shifting, you’re undergoing a merger or acquisition or you’re trying to reach a new audience, chances are your company will need to revisit its brand. When CEOs like yourself contemplate a considerable challenge such as a rebrand, they tend to focus on the exhilarating first half of the marathon — a new name to signal change or an impressive new visual identity. But it’s the second half of the race that is the most critical and requires as much — if not more — attention. Do not view the process as a short-term initiative. Leaders must think cross-functionally and consider a rebrand as a long-term strategy in support of the business.
Herein lies the chance to determine, as your company evolves, is refreshing the brand merely a change of sign, or is it a sign of change?
It starts at the top
If your rebrand is indeed a sign of change, then processes and experiences that many of your people are accustomed to will shift. One of the biggest internal roadblocks to building a new brand can be overcoming people’s innate fear of change and a lack of clarity. Executive support and demonstrating your commitment to the process is crucial — your vision is the antidote to the anxiety. It will help people at all levels of the organization understand and ultimately embrace the new brand.
CEOs set the tone for how the rest of the company will embrace the transformation. Our team was reminded of this working with Steve Demetriou, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Jacobs. We were engaged in helping build a brand that reflected the company’s strategic shift from an engineering firm to a global solutions provider. Demetriou was the key decision maker, and understood the need to help employees understand and embrace the journey. For Jacobs, that meant giving employees around the world the change to participate in the process. Ultimately, over 6,000 employees had an opportunity to provide input that influenced the new brand. When the brand launched internally via a microsite video, he was the one delivering the message.
More than marketing
To create a successful brand, one that is more than a logo or a campaign, you must harness the power of cross-functionality. While the marketing team may own the process, buy-in across your executives is critical. All of them — operations, customer experience, sales, product development, etc. — will need to consider how their teams contribute the new brand’s promise. Only when all of these teams contribute can brand fully become an asset in support of your business strategy.
Jacobs’ Demetriou understood the importance of a cross-functional team for long-term success. Though he was the decision-maker, his entire executive team — including finance, technology, operations, HR, legal and marketing — were engaged. Together, they invested in building the new brand, and even evolved Jacobs’ mission, vision and values to align with it. And when the brand launched internally, they began by bringing together senior leaders from across the global business for a preview event. Demetriou, accompanied by the Chief Financial Officer, revealed and introduced the new brand and reinforced the expectation that every leader would be responsible for upholding it and moving forward together.
Optimize your investment
We want you, your colleagues, and your employees to live and breathe your new brand. If you’re investing millions of dollars in creating and rolling it out, but fail to allocate budget and resources for training and education, your efforts will be in vain. Marketing and communications teams are making the promises, but your employees are the promise keepers. Do not assume that they understand what will be different or why.
Training and education are vital to long-term success; the right combination of education, inspiration and empowerment will engage your employees at the outset. And to ensure the effects are long-lasting, embed the brand principles into your processes, incentives and performance metrics.
The Jacobs brand was launched internally before it began rolling out externally. They created a significant brand education plan, and launched series of activities to engage and inspire employees, such as a case study submission opportunity, where employees submitted projects they were proud of. Over time, they continued to find ways to bring people back in, with gamified launch check-lists, and on-going brand training through their learning management system.
A rebrand is an opportunity to create a lasting impact on how customers, partners and employees engage with you. To be successful, it requires your leadership and commitment — to inspiring employees about what’s now possible, and ensuring that the organization as a whole is committed to delivering on its promise.
Lisa Kane is Group Director of Strategy on our Los Angeles team.