Corporate rebranding is much more than changing the visual identity

Boitshwarelo Lebang –Head of Marketing Communications at #NewBDC


The concept of Branding has evolved over time and effectively authentic branding can be relied on to deliver more value. Branding now penetrates deeper than a cosmetic level and delves into “how” we do things and not just “what” we look like. In the same token the concept of re-branding takes the same angle; Repositioning with a view to leave a new and refreshed feeling on those who come into contact with our brand in any way. Let me hasten to say the visual identity still remains key and without a doubt has to be aligned to the brand promise, after all as those who are in this Image Optimisation vocation often say “Image is everything”. The crux of this discussion, to quote Jason Little in his article entitled “The Logo is not Dead”, is that re-branding involves a whole plethora of activities, some of which involve identity design and some of which don’t.

As it were, to get to the value of branding, you really have to look more broadly than the visual. It’s about actions, behaviour and personality. The key is crafting every experience and interaction so it adds up to something worthwhile.  Effective and meaningful rebranding is centred around an actual transformation in the business, rather than just changing what is on the surface. Regardless of the reasons for re- branding, the excercise needs to put greater importance on how to take the client beyond superficial value.

The desirable end result is enhanced brand equity which emanates from the perceptions of customers and other stakeholders. In my world and in our area of operation, perceptions are not just perceptions! It is my business that my stakeholders’ perceptions are a tangible reality. Accordingly if those brand perceptions are not aligned to our brand values, a number of things need to happen. First, look objectively into why those perceptions exist; If they are not proved to be true, then more effort needs to go into educating the relevant publics accordingly; If they are proven to be emanating from realities on the ground, then one must work on corrective business actions.

What needs greater appreciation though is that, internal stakeholders especially employees have to own the bigger brand “idea”. It is not just a saying that they are the primary brand custodians. If the Team owns “the idea” then the idea can translate into being at the heart of the organisation. This can greatly assist the brand to spread across all relevant touch points and channels regardless of external factors. A rebranding process can be an anxious occasion for internal stakeholders. Ryan Rieches in his blog on branding being more than a logo, points out that, “the healthiest organisations are comprised of people who care.” Rieches goes further to state that in a re-branding exercise, companies have to connect with hearts and minds of internal stakeholdersfrom the outset, and recognise the powerful impact that organisational culture has on implementing change.

Organisational habits which are obviously partially based on human nature can be difficult to change.  This can lead to challenges which once effectively managed has proven to be the foundation ofsuccessful and progressive rebranding programmes. Branding is very much central and pivotal to strategy; it is not a fluffy by the way issue. Successful and progressive organisations understand this and the branding programme is driven right from the apex of the organisation.

As mentioned earlier, living the Brandcan translate into “how” we do business. Entrenching”how” we do business into our culture bears positive results. If you have a great strategy on paper, with great scorecards butdon’t pay attention to issues of culture, you are doomed for failure. As in one of my most enjoyed reads this year,RegLascaris in his book “Lessons from the boot of a car”quotes famed management consultant Peter Druckerwho asserts that one of the most important business lessons to note is that, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”