We all need to switch things up once in a while—whether it’s changing the paint color in our living room, trying a new kind of food or rearranging our office. It keeps things interesting. It helps us stay current with the times. It broadens our thinking and allows us to better define ourselves. The same goes for a brand. Even the most famous brands in the world periodically change things.
Look at the logos for Coca-Cola and Apple through the years and how they’ve changed. If you want to go a little deeper, read how they referred to themselves and represented their companies over the years. You’ll see a lot has changed. They’ve kept their brands fresh and relevant, and in the process maintained an ever-stronger connection with their customers. After all, a company’s brand is its most valuable asset. Without it, there would be no products to sell, no employees to sell them and no reason for the company to exist.
When it comes to brand revitalization, it’s not as easy as just updating a logo or changing the letterhead. We’ve helped many companies revitalize their brands. It’s a comprehensive process that requires the engagement of employees from every department throughout an organization to be truly successful. After all, if your employees don’t believe in your brand, how can customers be expected to do so?
It’s important to remember that you don’t create a brand. You discover it and then communicate it internally and externally. A good place to start is to look at a company’s greatest strengths, both from the employees’ and the customers’ viewpoint, because what your employees may see as strengths are not necessarily what your clients would see as strengths and vice versa. When you take into consideration all these strengths, there are sure to be some that overlap or are similar. What you’re left with is a list of what your employees and customers find most valuable in your company.
This is the kind of information that feeds a brand promise, which is really like a company mantra or philosophy. It’s what differentiates a company and is the essence of what it delivers to its customers. Some of the most successful brands in the world effectively live their brand promise every day. Whether it’s Starbucks (“We give you a moment in your day where you can just escape and spoil yourself”) or Apple (“We make it easier to love technology, so that you can experience the future”), extremely successful companies not only adhere to their brand promises in everything they do, but over-deliver on them, creating a remarkable customer experience.
Larry Light, former CMO of McDonald’s, said, “For a brand to be successfully revitalized, everyone needs to be on the same page.” That includes employees and customers. For employees, an internal brand launch is the best way to engage them with the new branding, get their buy-in and guide them on the best way to communicate it to customers. This is an important time in a company’s history, so celebrate it, make it special for employees, get them excited and on board with the new branding. They are your greatest brand advocates, so clearly communicating the new branding and getting employees fully engaged is time well spent.
We’ve produced many internal brand launches for automotive manufacturers. When they introduce a new car or update an existing car, it’s important to get everyone on board and give them what they need to become brand ambassadors. Often, that includes spending some time in the car itself, taking hot laps on a closed track or participating in a ride-and-drive. Some of the biggest smiles I’ve seen from clients have come after they’ve taken a few laps around a track in a new vehicle. Establishing a connection between employees and a brand is an essential step in securing the success and strength of that brand.
Something else that helps employees connect with and understand a brand is a brand book. Many brands, from Nike to Sony to Skittles, use brand books as a kind of litmus test to ensure they’re living up to their brand promise. It’s a company’s playbook that helps them get everyone on the same page and consistently representing the brand. We have a brand book that we can go back to with every project we work on and see if it meets our brand promise.
Since our company recently went through a brand revitalization, I can share with you what an exciting time it’s been. It’s not just the visual changes, like the logo, signs, letterhead, etc.; it’s the palpable energy that comes from us all engaging with and upholding our brand promise. Time stands still for no one, even the greatest brands in the world. Changing things up once in a while is a good thing.
Barry LaBov is founder of LaBov & Beyond.