This perhaps comes as no great surprise, given that so many brand leaders have a background in marketing and communications, rather than in business administration. In the boardroom, however, finance and business are the languages that are understood, so it’s paramount that brand leaders also speak to the ‘How’ if they truly wish to be heard. Without a clear case for this, no board – and more specifically, no CFO – is going to approve a rebrand process. The board will undoubtedly want answers to the following questions:
- How will we set up a programme to get this first time right – as brand is our most valuable intangible asset?
- What will be the interdependencies between this initiative and others that we already have going on?
- What are the roll-out options – do we have choice and what are the pros and cons?
- Alongside providing budgets for the roll-out options, do we also have opportunities to realise savings and synergies?
- What will be the incremental budgets required, broken down into OPEX and CAPEX, and also into internal communication, external communication, and changing assets and touchpoints?
- What internal resources would be required to effect change and how much will that cost?
- If we rebrand companies that we have acquired (sometimes years ago), how will that affect the book value of the goodwill that we have in our balance sheet?
- Would our internal or external royalty charge for the transfer pricing of the brand be affected by this rebrand?
Whilst this is not a comprehensive list, one can see that there’s more complexity than just coming up with a compelling ‘Why’ and ‘What’ for an initiative like this, which is why I refer to the ‘How’ as ‘The business side of rebranding’.
Over the years I have gained some valuable insights into the financial impact of a brand change or rebrand, having consulted on different rebranding programmes. Having collated the figures from hundreds of rebrands over the past 20 years into a comprehensive database, it is possible to provide an indicative calculation for the level of investment required for any given rebrand.
2. The agency eco-system you need for rebranding
Once the need for a rebrand has been approved by the board, a myriad of things will have to happen in parallel, in a short period of time. Alongside the appointment of a creative and communications agency, the actual planning of the rebrand will need to kick into gear.
Time and time again, I see that finding the right agency setup is a real challenge for clients. I believe this is because clients use agencies sporadically and not always for the same tasks and expertise, therefore it can be difficult to stay up to date on the performance and capabilities of all agencies. A common tactic is to run pitches, which can present as many problems as solutions.
Whilst the pitch process is a tried and tested means of selecting an agency, in addition to the challenges for agencies, this archaic approach is often counter-productive for the would-be clients. The ‘win at all costs’ mentality that many agencies understandably bring to the table often leads to them presenting themselves in the way that the client’s brief implies they should, rather than a true and, more than likely, more useful representation of itself. This might involve a misrepresentation of capabilities or experience, and it would be naïve to expect that the winning creative idea hasn’t come from freelance talent or that the team delivering the pitch is the team that will actually deliver the work itself – classic agency hustle. The time invested in looking for an agency looks all the more wasteful when the decision isn’t made for the right reasons.