There are a number of reasons why you might want or need to rebrand an existing product or product range: think acquisition, dropping sales, rising competition or change in formulation or design. Whatever the motivation, there are some things worth considering before proceeding with a rebranding exercise, and worth doing during and after the rebrand if you do go ahead. This post focuses on the case of rebranding an acquired product or product line.
Rebranding requires considerable investment in both time and money so, in a business climate where purse strings are continually being tightened and every cent spent needs to be justified, you need to be sure it’s going to be worth the effort. Some actions you can take to determine whether to go for it or not include:
• Digital customer perception survey
Create a simple, user-friendly online survey to discover what both current and potential customers think of the ‘old’ brand name and the product itself, compared with your (team’s) view. The respondents should have to identify themselves as a current or potential customer at the start of the survey so that you can target certain questions to one or other respondent type. Include a mixture of multiple choice (e.g. According to your experience, check the words/phrases that apply to ‘old brand x’ – such words/phrases could include things like: good value, innovative, poor quality, unreliable), yes/no (e.g. Would you recommend ‘old brand x’ to others?) and free answer (e.g. What feelings does the brand name ‘old brand x’ evoke in you?). Different people like to express themselves in different ways. Think carefully about which questions should be mandatory and which not.
• Brand inventory
Some questions for you to ask yourself, info to gather and items to collate include:
• How old is the existing brand?
• Assess existing brand name strength. Will this brand be easy to promote in the new markets now open to the brand thanks to the acquisition?
• Does the brand have a solid messaging in place that our salespeople understand, believe in and can verbalize?
• Do we have a toolkit to promote the brand? This can include but is not limited to:
– brand elements and visual identity,
– elevator pitch
– Q&A/talking points
• If we have any or all of the above toolkit elements, are we satisfied with them?
So you decide to proceed with a rebranding and the initial motivation is that you want to promote an inherited brand in a specific market but that same product is also sold into an entirely different market under the same product name. This could easily occur in the chemical industry, for example, where one chemical can be applied in two industries as diverse as animal nutrition and oil and gas. The added motivation for rebranding the product for one of the two markets could be that you have a special offering to that particular market in addition to the product – for example, a services package that could include product analysis, onsite technical consultancy or other added benefit – which is not relevant to the other market arena.
The first thing you should do is to turn this into an official project and identify the relevant stakeholders. Make sure that there is a representative from all impacted departments. The main difference between launching a new product and rebranding an existing one is that you already have customers buying the product and they will need to be informed that at a certain point the product they are buying will be called something else. The project will also impact product registrations, technical data sheets, safety data sheets and labels etc., so regulatory, customer service, product management and labeling management team members need to be kept in the loop throughout in order for the roll-out to occur seamlessly. Do not underestimate the importance of internally communicating throughout the project.
Once the project has been created, a timeline sorted, and stakeholders identified and informed, the fun can begin. These steps are pretty much the same as if you were launching a new product, namely:
• Competitor analysis
If going to the trouble to rebrand you better know what the other players in your target market are doing and be sure you find your unique spot to capture the limelight.
• Brand identity development
With the knowledge gathered from the competitor analysis, you’ll need to establish a new brand name. Will you follow a company naming convention? Will the name reflect the USPs of your product? Will the name be completely out of the box or plain and simple? The success of your name will depend a lot on your audience and the market itself – is it a mature or young market?
Is it a sensitive market influenced by regulatory restrictions? Is it a world of direct sale or tenders? Is your audience on the conservative side or more forward thinking?
Once you’re sure your chosen brand name is available and can be registered in the desired classes and geographies, you’ll need to create a strategic messaging framework. This document will outline for you – at a glance – your key messages and positioning. Building your communication toolkit will follow.
• Communication roadmap development
A lot of thought needed here, again influenced by who you are trying to reach and what message you want to give. Will we do a soft launch or one with full bells and whistles? Will we do self-promotion via email campaigns and/or campaign websites or will we engage external media for advertorial and/or editorial exposure? How will we measure the success of the rebrand?
As you execute the communications and marketing roadmap, you’ll need to measure your success and then nurture your reborn brand as carefully as if it were a newborn one: continually monitoring and tweaking where necessary. Do it right and even you will forget that it was ever anything else than the brand that it is today.
Mach Media can help you through all or any of the steps needed to carry out a product rebranding. Contact us for info or advice.
By Sybylla Wales, Senior Consultant