Rebranding: The Role of PR

Rebranding is serious business. It goes without saying that the better a company engages its brand with consumers, the better is the impact on its bottomline.

Brands often rebrand. We remember Micromax’s strategy to revamp, when it used crowd sourcing to develop the new logo, which created history, for it led to a phenomenal growth story.  Another brand that comes to mind is the ethnic apparel brand – BIBA. Keeping pace with the fast evolving times and trends, BIBA moved on to a fresh, new identity. For over two decades, the brand celebrated ethnic fashion that captured the imagination of women in India, and then it ventured out to cater to the aspirational, changing, yet traditional and fashion-conscious woman.

A successful rebranding campaign demands a vision that inspires customers, investors, and others to see the company in a new light; it is more than just a revamped logo. And, rebranding a company’s goals, message, and culture is tough. Many have tried and failed.

Understand that rebranding is a tricky issue. Before you take the risk of rebranding your company, it’s important to seriously think about whether you should actually go in for a brand makeover, in the first place. If your target audience is changing or if your competition is biting into your market share – it’s a smart move.  

It’s important to create a positive experience for customers as Apple did with its stores. This is where Public Relations has a big role to play.

‘Rebranding’ is a marketing strategy, where the objective is clear – developing a new, differentiated identity in the minds of consumers, investors, competitors, investors and other stakeholders.

PR can build strong connection: recreating image

As we track brands go through a makeover or rebranding, we notice that a rebranding campaign is actually a PR campaign, for during rebranding, the organisation goes through the task of recreating an image or message to earn public trust. Creating a communications strategy is vital. Successful rebranding involves overhauling a company’s goals, message and culture. For the brand’s success, Public Relations must be involved in major rebranding decisions. PR professionals have the strongest connection with a company’s audiences or publics.

The insights that PR can dig up, as far as potential public reaction is concerned, is important to the rebranding process. When a rebranding occurs, PR should take charge of some vital steps, which include:

  • Informing the change to different publics
    PR has the responsibility of making known the ‘new’ brand to different stakeholders – employees, customers, shareholders, the media and so on. Each of these audiences require different messaging, which is something PR can handle. Communicating the change to employees might be as simple as communicating via an in-house newsletter. Disseminating the word to other stakeholders like – investors, partners, government etc – requires personalised announcements that address potential or identified concerns.

    PR can and should utilise all appropriate communication channels to get the word across to customers. A thorough PR plan would create targeted communications, directed to reach audiences on social media, email, blogs etc.

  • Managing audience expectations
    A PR tactic that can’t be ignored for rebranding is a crisis communications plan. PR professionals should keep track and play out every situation/reactions that may occur, once the rebranding is made public. It’s also important to assure all key audiences connected to the company, and let them know about the changes; they should understand the finer points when company’s new logo rolls out.
  • Rebrand launch to be phased out
    PR has to ensure that ideally, the rebranding process is planned properly and phased out.  Internal communications come first.  The internal employees are the company’s biggest rebranding advocates, so all key questions must be clearly answered in their minds. Before launching externally, make sure all internal parties understand the changes in the name, logo, services and features.

In addition, all corporate communications material must be considered, that needs change like –  website, email mastheads, letterheads, press releases, promotional materials, investor relations communications, signages etc. All messages announcing the change should be consistent across all media.

Philips used a slow and steady approach with its creative launch method. Philips slowly released its new crest by inviting Twitter and Facebook fans to use the hashtag #UncoverPhilips before it unveiled the new logo.

A brand name creates the identity, so when a change to a corporate name or logo occurs, PR communicators have the task ahead of not just spreading word about the change, but also managing reactions to the rebranding. To be successful, the overall communications plan must cover all aspects – good, bad or ugly.

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Shree Lahiri
Shree is the Senior Editor at Reputation Today and hopes to move from one focus area to another in the editions that will be released this year. Having worked in Corporate Communications teams, she has experience of advertising, public relations, investor and employee communications, after which she moved to the other side – journalism. She enjoys writing and believes the power of the pen is indeed mighty. Covering the entertainment beat and the media business, she has been involved in a wide range of activities that have thrown open storytelling opportunities.

She can be reached at: @shree_la on twitter

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