Tips for Incorporating Change Management into Your Rebrand Strategy
By Amy L. Fahnestock, Partner
Last month, The Hatcher Group launched our new brand, including a refreshed logo, mission statement, and community guidelines. We are thrilled with the result and grateful for the positive reception it received – but developing and rolling out a new brand is not without its challenges. The quantity and complexity of decisions and actions required for a successful brand relaunch can be daunting, even for an experienced communications firm. Once we decided to rebrand, we quickly realized that a change management strategy was necessary to assess firm readiness and gain buy-in. The last thing we wanted was a chaotic implementation that left our clients and employees in a state of confusion. The good news is that developing a strategy that integrates change management best practices – for rebranding or any significant change to your organization – with your implementation efforts, can run smoother than you think.
Following several basic tenets of the Prosci ADKAR® Model – a goal-oriented change management model – we worked through the steps outlined below to guide our rebranding effort. We hope that by sharing our tips for successfully navigating the process, you can see the value and success for your organization.
- Build AWARENESS. Simply put, it’s important to communicate the ‘why’ early and often with your employees and key stakeholders when rebranding (think memos, brown bags, emails, conference calls, flyers, singing telegrams (kidding!), etc.) More than just being aware it’s happening, awareness is when each employee or stakeholder can explain in their own words why the rebrand is needed and what it will mean for them and the organization. At Hatcher, we educated and rallied our team behind our new brand promise and how clients will experience Hatcher in their customer journey moving forward.
- Spur involvement and DESIRE. During the rebranding process, we wanted our employees to be active participants in this change, not passive bystanders. To do this, we enlisted department heads to act as rebrand champions, supporting the endeavor and reinforcing its importance among their respective teams. We also conducted employee interviews and a firm-wide survey to get their early input into how to better align what we do for our clients with how we look and sound. When it was time to develop our new brand, all employees felt vested in the outcome and excited to see what would come next.
- Give employees and stakeholders the tools and KNOWLEDGE they need to be effective brand ambassadors. Knowledge and understanding are power, especially when it comes to successfully rebrand. Take time to educate internal and external audiences on why specific colors were chosen, what an image is meant to signify, and how your new look aligns with who you are as an organization. When you get pushback, don’t work around them; work with them. The better they understand the research and reasoning behind your decisions, the better they will be at sharing it with others. At Hatcher, we dedicated significant time to explain our design and language choices and provided ample time for employees to share their honest feedback.
- Foster ABILITY. Awareness, desire, and knowledge are essential building blocks to effective change management, but if ability is absent, the change is not likely to be successful. In other words, your team members need to be able to carry out the tasks and behaviors you are asking them to do. To build our skills to carry out our rebrand, Hatcher intentionally provided time, resources, and training for all employees, and in particular, our design, web, and digital teams, on the use of our new collateral and resources.
- Create opportunities to REINFORCE. Once you have rolled out your new brand, it’s easy to assume your work is done, but in many ways, it’s only just beginning. Using old letterhead, inconsistent language on your website, or outdated business cards can dilute the significance of what your new brand is, what it stands for, and how the public can identify it. Reinforcement sustains the change, builds momentum, and prevents your teammates from resuming old ways or behaviors. Create opportunities to reinforce and promote your brand, especially among internal stakeholders. Share weekly reminders and tips from your style guide, distribute company “swag” with the new logo, or even host a celebration commemorating the process. At Hatcher, we gave each employee a gift package featuring our new brand to thank them for their hard work and a picnic (socially distant) to celebrate the occasion.
A change-competent firm views change as part of business growth and operations: Change is not resisted or feared, but embraced, ultimately resulting in a firm’s evolution of culture, values, and performance. Team Hatcher’s contributions, commitment, and resilience throughout this process has been unwavering. We’re stronger and brighter because of it, and trust in our ability to help you experience the same during your rebranding process. Let’s start a conversation!