Rebranding successfully? Don’t focus too much on the tip of the iceberg!

| 22 October 2021

When you have been working with brands all your life, you’re very likely to think that the magical world of branding holds no more secrets for you. My thoughts exactly. It wasn’t until two years ago that I saw an entirely new side to branding – one that plays a critical role in successful rebranding. 

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The invisible part of branding

If branding were an iceberg, I would be the Titanic, sailing full speed ahead, oblivious to the world that lies beneath the surface: brand execution. The organisation and structure required to maintain a strong brand and the technology used in the process remained hidden from me until I joined VIM Group. And it remains unknown. Or at the very least, unexplored, by many branding professionals. These factors, undoubtedly crucial to everyday branding operations, become even more critical during a rebranding project.

Throughout my career in branding, I focused on the more visible part of branding: the world of ‘magic’ and creativity. Think of all forms of strategic and creative development: high-profile campaigns, bold brand identities translated across various touchpoints, an innovatively designed product, a unique UX design, iconic packaging, or brand name.

Working with VIM Group introduced me to the world beneath all that. This side of branding is less about the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ but instead focuses on the ‘how’ of branding. This world is far more complex than it seems and has a substantial financial impact on organisations.

“Execution is where the rubber meets the road.”

As the saying goes, “execution is where the rubber meets the road”. And in rebranding projects, it is crucial to avoid neglecting this aspect of branding. In this blog, I’d like to share in detail everything that the last couple of years with VIM Group has taught me about rebranding execution and brand technology execution.

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The most common reasons for rebranding

Every so often, an organisation comes across a need for or the possibility of a rebrand. The change is usually due to one or a combination of the following reasons:

  • New strategic direction
  • New brand positioning or proposition
  • International growth
  • Bad reputation
  • An outdated brand visual identity that is unfit for digital applications
  • Unifying the brand architecture
  • Mergers and acquisitions

Brand change and its impact on your business performance

A well-executed brand change, done for the right reasons, carries a wealth of benefits for your business performance. I’m not just talking about the increase in brand value. Rebranding can also help optimise brand organisation and management functions.

Take, for example, one of our clients: two multi-brand organisations that had just merged.  The merger called for a rebrand. We decided to unify the brand architecture and develop a new monolithic brand identity to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of branding. Adopting a branded house strategy for this newly merged brand meant rebranding all existing sub-brands and their associated brand touchpoints. This included branding over 700 site locations, the corporate clothing for more than 7,000 employees, and updating all other offline and online branding and communication tools.

As expected, executions as complex and time-consuming as this involved a massive financial investment. However, creating a more efficient brand organisation can lead to significant cost savings. This solution also makes use of all available resources to promote one new, clear, and compelling brand strategy.

Efficiency and cost savings in your brand change project

During a rebrand or brand change, organisations seek external help to develop a new brand strategy and the creative design of a new brand identity. However, organisations often overlook the fact that it is equally important to get external support in executing a rebrand.

On average, organisations change their brand once every seven years. It is no surprise that they lack the specific project management expertise and capacity to roll out a successful brand transition.

“Every pound invested in strategy and creating a new brand leads to an investment of 20 pounds for implementation.”

Expert project support right from the beginning of the process is bound to help you save time and, ultimately, money. On average, it’s safe to assume that every pound invested in strategy and creating a new brand leads to an investment of 20 pounds for implementation*. Making intelligent choices in translating your brand to different brand touchpoints, your selection of suppliers, or the consideration you give to brand rollout scenarios can significantly impact the total investment in your brand change project.

Rebranding execution in four phases

As a Client Partner at VIM Group, I’ve advised and supported several rebrand projects. For these projects, we use an approach called “Look before you leap”, emphasising the preparation and organisation for the rebrand. This four-phase approach is best illustrated by the infographic below:

Phase 1: Investigating the impact of brand change

An Impact Analysis on a proposed brand change provides insights into the implications for the various categories of brand touchpoints from a financial, visual, and organisational perspective. This gives you a clearer view of the possible implementation scenarios and which resources and investments you would need to make them happen.

Based on the impact analysis, we develop a detailed project plan and a reliable budget request. This can help you set up your case in the boardroom. Once the project plan and budget have been approved, you can move on to setting up the project management organisation (PMO) with a central programme manager and establish several working groups with representatives from specific disciplines.

Phase 2: Planning and organising brand change

In Phase 2, we perform an in-depth inventory which will then inform the specific requirements for rebranding the various brand touchpoints (i.e., site locations, fleet, corporate clothing, digital applications). Prototypes may also be developed to test the suitability of the designs and materials. We will help you select one or more suppliers through tenders for each brand touchpoint based on these tests. Production of the different brand touchpoints can immediately begin after selecting suitable suppliers.

“To be successful on the outside, you must focus first on the inside: your employees.”

Phase 3: Implementing the new brand identity

In Phase 3, the actual implementation of the new brand takes place according to the pre-defined scenario. Communication to all internal and external stakeholders shall also commence in this phase. During this critical stage in the process, we keep this one crucial principle close: to be successful on the outside, you must focus first on the inside: your employees.

Phase 4: managing and organising the new brand

If all goes well, phase 3 will seamlessly blend into phase 4. During this phase, the organisation will work on ensuring that employees use and promote the brand correctly. To do this, we set up extensive training and a good brand organisation function with appropriate brand and marketing technology to support it. For example, you can set up a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system and template management software.

This is also the ideal time to introduce a brand portal, making new brand assets and guidelines easily accessible to employees.

Smooth implementation is essential for a successful rebranding

There are so many things to say and even more things to do when it comes to rebranding. This insight into the invisible side of (re) branding and outline of the critical considerations for its execution only is but a sneak peek into what lies ahead.

However, I hope this gets you thinking about the importance of good, thorough preparation for a smooth and successful brand transition.

Are you currently preparing for brand change? Or are you facing too many bumps in your ongoing rebrand? Perhaps our expert guide on the 7 steps for a successful rebrand can help you on your way. Would you like to get some personal support or feedback? Please get in touch with me at or +31 6 15 09 09 01.

*Source: Impact Valuator VIM Group.