Agency chief Owen Cullen recently appeared on RTE’s main lunchtime TV news bulletin, providing some insights about the current hot topic of rebranding.
Owen was invited on the RTE programme to discuss a blog we had posted earlier in the year – our ‘5 rules of rebranding’ – in the context of UPC Ireland’s decision to rebrand as Virgin Media. The rebrand was rolled out under the theme ‘Here comes the magic’.
Since then another major rebrand has taken place in corporate Ireland, with Eircom dropping its second syllable to become, simply, Eir. (Given the company had previously changed its name from the Department of Posts and Telegraphs to Telecom Eireann to Eircom, this latest act of reductionism was always on the cards.)
With CityJet also undergoing a corporate revamp, some of the biggest brand names around have taken the plunge in the past few months alone. Rebranding is a major strategic decision, one that requires significant investment on a number of fronts, and a move that involves both pros and cons.
Then again, some of the world’s most successful companies – Google, Pepsi, Harley Davidson, Apple, even McDonald’s – have transformed their corporate identity and gone from strength to strength. How did they do it? Why did they do it? Here once again are our top 5 rebranding rules:
Do it for your customers, and only your customers
Every successful corporate rebrand that’s ever taken place has one thing in common – it helped their audience to engage better with the brand. This is rule number one. This is why you do it. Whether your audience is changing, or your business is changing, a rebrand should send forth a simple message that resonates with your customers. In the case of UPC, which became part of the Virgin group last December, customers have been told to expect better service, faster speeds and more choice – all good.
Get your people on board before you press go
In any organisation, the best brand ambassadors are the people who turn up for work every day. While a rebrand should always be undertaken for the benefit of your external audience, it’s vital to get your internal stakeholders on board before going public. Engage them in the process. Solicit their views. Explain everything. Then, when they get asked why there’s a funny new logo on their business card, they can start spreading the word.
If you’re making a fresh start, make sure it’s fresh
Speaking of logos… While there are myriad business/operational/etc reasons and processes around a rebrand, the creative process is the one that will generally have the most public impact. That’s what people will see on the ads, in other words. Don’t miss the opportunity to make your new brand a thing of beauty. The creative team should be given plenty of direction, plenty of trust, then left to get on with it. We can be fairly sure that no committees were involved in the design of the new Apple logo back in 1997.
But keep in touch with your core values
Rebranding can be a huge breath of fresh air, a chance to reinvent your brand’s image, but amidst the change it is vitally important to hold on to your core values. (Unless of course those core values are the reason you’re rebranding in the first place!) Your loyal customers need to know that you’re staying true to your mission even while you’re connecting with them in new ways. One of the key messages around the UPC/Virgin rebrand is the latter’s global achievements and reputation for “delivering more for customers” which is certainly what subscribers would want to hear.
Don’t dither over the detail
There’s always a reason to hold off, postpone the launch for just another few days or a week, or end of the month latest. The new logo didn’t test well with the last focus group, or the comments section on the site isn’t working properly, or the boss has some undefined “feeling” about the ad. Sometimes you just gotta do it. Allow time to do it properly, of course, but at a certain point the leap must be taken.
To Virgin Media, Eir, and anyone else taking the rebranding leap, we wish you well. And if you need any PR support, you know where to find us!
(Photo © irishexaminer.com)