Have you ever been so focused on your clients and customers that your own business gets neglected?
It’s an issue that I suspect rings true for pretty much every business on the planet at some point. But as an agency that spends so much of our time helping our clients stand out from the crowd, it felt a little surreal for us to turn our attention to our own brand over the past year.
You see, after 18 years and more than 1,500 projects as 6S Marketing, we recently made the decision to rebrand. The end result of more than a year of careful planning is Major Tom, a new agency with a new position in the marketplace.
As anyone who’s ever experienced the process for themselves will no doubt tell you, there are a lot of things to consider when you roll out a new identity. You have to inform your clients, your customers, and your employees, but you also have to ensure that every document, digital asset, and design changes to reflect your new brand.
But beyond the pain points of excessive admin, our recent rebrand posed an entirely more existential question for our company to consider — and that was how we could change our brand without losing our identity.
How Do You Rebrand Without Losing Your Identity?
It may sound like an oxymoron but changing your brand does not mean changing your identity. Sure you’ll have a new moniker, a shiny new logo, and the fresh makeover that is part and parcel of the process.
But the aesthetics only tell part of the story. That’s because people are a key part of the identity of any business.
People are the lifeblood of an organization, the driving force behind products and services as well as those who are manning the frontlines, working with clients and customers every single day of the week. So it’s vital that you don’t lose sight of them during the rebranding process.
Putting People First
When it comes to rebranding, outside opinions will no doubt help to shape your decisions. Whether it’s designers, agencies, or customers, everyone will have a say. And so should your people.
After all, before you decide who you want to become, it’s vital that you understand who you already are.
In our case, we’ve always defined ourselves by the trust we place in our team, and so when the time came to change our brand we knew they had to be at the center of each and every decision we took.
After all — if our people weren’t on board with our rebrand and the philosophy behind it, why would anyone else be?
[Related: Employee Engagement Checklist and Calendar]
How We Put Our People to Work
We contracted an outside agency to speak to them so that we could define the purpose, vision and values that would be used to drive our new brand.
With their help, we set about interviewing our stakeholders. From clients to contractors and, most importantly, our employees, we conducted workshops and sat down to speak to people about what we do, where we needed to go and what we needed to become to get there.
No one knows an organization like the people who work in it, and so we wanted to put our employees in the driver’s seat of our new brand.
We didn’t just want to consult them, however. We wanted them to define who we were going to become, to use their knowledge, experience, and vision to be the building blocks upon which our new brand was built.
Once it was built, they even helped us to test drive our new brand.
They gave us feedback, had their say in design decisions and even became a test audience to help us refine our new website. In some way or another, our people have had a hand in every single decision that has helped us to create Major Tom.
[Related: The Ultimate Benefits Checklist]
It’s all well and good creating a new brand, but how do you ensure your team feels a connection to it?
By consulting our people from day one, we were able to make sure that even though we were changing our name we didn’t lose our identity. Perhaps most importantly, however, by creating a sense of shared investment we helped to make them feel a part of the new brand from day one.
Of course, it’s impossible to consult every member of the team on every decision along the way, nor did we want to rebrand by committee. Ultimately there was one single decision maker and we implemented systems to solicit feedback.
We did run into challenges once we announced that we were rebranding, as people asked questions that we simply did not have all of the information on (as it had not been invented yet). However, we decided that transparency was better than operating in a silo and then just unleashing the brand unexpectedly to our team. So when we received feedback that people wanted to have more input we launched anonymous surveys to try and extract concerns or questions and to provide a mechanism for honest feedback.
In any customer-facing industry, your employees are going to be vital in communicating the story behind a rebrand. They will not only need to tell clients and customers about the name change, but they’ll also have to explain the rationale behind it, as well as answer any questions or queries people might have.
Your people will be the ambassadors of the new brand and it’s vital that they not only understand who you are and what you stand for, but fully buy into it.
Once again it’s something we’ve chosen to face head on, and as a result our team is playing an active part in introducing Major Tom to the world. In fact, alongside traditional considerations such as PR, and advertising we’ve engaged our employees to help spread the story via their own blogs, social media channels, and LinkedIn profiles.
[Related: Employer Branding for Dummies]
It may sound like a cliche but when it comes to business, your people really are the best marketing tool that you can ever call upon. They’re your evangelists. So it stands to reason that if you’re embarking on a project as big as a rebrand they should be involved in every step of the process. If not, then you run the risk of not only changing how people view you, but losing what made you in the first place.
A man of infectious spirit and boundless energy, Chris Breikss leads a team of 75 digital strategists. He was instrumental in leading the rebranding and merge of the digital agencies he founded, 6S Marketing (in the year 2000) and Drive Digital (in 2012). He currently leads the sales and marketing teams and is responsible for new product development. From 2014 to 2016, Chris lived in New York while setting up and staffing the new office, while also launching the multicultural subsidiary Sheng Li Digital.