What Are Strategies for Approaching a Rebranding Initiative as a Chief Marketing Officer?

    Authored By

    CMO Times

    How did you approach a rebranding initiative and what was one unexpected obstacle you encountered?

    When embarking on the complex journey of rebranding, we've gathered insights from marketing managers and a fractional CMO to uncover the nuances of the process. From navigating SEO transition challenges to evolving a brand while maintaining its core identity, explore the unexpected obstacles in our compilation of six expert answers.

    • Navigating SEO Transition Challenges
    • Craft a Brand that Resonates
    • Involve the Employees
    • Understand the Reason Behind Re-branding
    • Implementing Essential 301 Redirects
    • Evolving the Brand While Maintaining Identity

    Navigating SEO Transition Challenges

    As part of the marketing team at Hockerty, during our transition from Tailor4less in 2017, we faced a complex and intriguing challenge. The rebranding process was meticulously planned and executed with expert advice at every step, ensuring we adhered to best practices, especially in our SEO strategy.

    Despite our thorough preparation and expert guidance, the rebranding journey presented an unexpected difficulty in SEO transition. We anticipated changes in our online visibility, but the actual impact on our SEO traffic was more significant than expected. This underscored a vital lesson: even with the most rigorous planning and professional input, certain aspects of rebranding, particularly those related to digital presence, can yield unforeseen outcomes.

    This experience reinforced the idea that rebranding is not just a marketing challenge but a comprehensive business transformation. It requires not only adherence to best practices but also a readiness to adapt to unexpected scenarios, especially in the digital arena where brand visibility is crucial.

    Salvador Jovells
    Salvador JovellsMarketing manager, Hockerty

    Craft a Brand that Resonates

    When you're at the helm of a rebranding mission, like I was with Digital4Good, think of yourself as a party planner for a diverse crowd. First tip: Dive deep into your market research, but remember, data is just the starting point, not the whole story.

    Here's the zinger: Don’t get tunnel vision on one group. I did initially, and let me tell you, it's like throwing a party and forgetting to invite half your friends. So, what’s the fix? Flexibility. Be ready to pivot faster than a cat chasing a laser pointer.

    Your rebranding should be an all-embracing group hug. Mix in a dash of creativity with a sprinkle of real-world insight. The result? A brand identity that resonates with everyone, from millennials to boomers.

    The golden nugget of advice? Always, and I mean always, keep an eye on your blind spots. This way, you ensure the party - or in our case, the brand - is always buzzing with energy and inclusion.

    Joshua Lipka
    Joshua LipkaCreative Director, Joshua Lipka Design

    Involve the Employees

    Helping brands rebrand and reposition is often a complicated initiative to undertake. We usually are challenged with being tasked to blend the brand's heritage with a forward-looking identity, guided by comprehensive market research and collaboration across design and marketing teams. However, an unexpected challenge that seems to come up often is internal resistance, particularly from long-standing employees deeply attached to the old brand.

    To overcome this, we actively involved these employees in the process, helping them feel a sense of ownership in the evolution. This experience underscores the importance of balancing respect for a brand's history with the need for innovation and change.

    Steven PicanzaCo Founder, ANEWBrand

    Understand the Reason Behind Re-branding

    At the core of re-branding would be to understand the need to rebrand and to believe in that reasoning. We had undergone a re-branding exercise as our consumers often used to associate us with the parent company, which had quite a different brand perception. It was important to establish a unique brand identity to connect with our audiences. We approached it with the consumer-first approach, studying their lifestyles and weaving our brand tale around their lives to create a value proposition that would connect with our consumers more strongly.

    Being a part of a larger parent company, we underestimated the resistance to changing the brand persona. Internal and external stakeholders were hesitant to change their perception of the brand despite having a robust roadmap to do so.

    Shamik SadhuBrand Manager, Bajaj Electricals

    Implementing Essential 301 Redirects

    Several years ago, I helped a client who had lost a huge percentage of search traffic after a rebrand. The client created a new brand for his company, which already had customers across the United States, and didn't know about 301 redirects—an SEO staple.

    301 redirects direct users and SEO link juice to their new, proper pages. “301” is the HTTP status code, indicating that the page has been permanently moved. The client's developer had only 301 redirected the original homepage to the new homepage, without 301 redirecting the rest of the original site.

    As a result of this, the client had two websites, two brands competing with one another, with the homepage of the first being redirected. This resulted in customer confusion and lost link juice, causing rankings to drop. Though a big problem, the solution was simple. We first created a map for 301 redirects. The map is essentially a to-do list, and with this particular rebrand, it required a bit of consideration for which page would redirect to which.

    Then, we implemented it. Within a month, rankings had returned. Within two, they had stabilized and begun to improve. The client eventually sold the business, and at the time of the acquisition, SEO was the dominant marketing channel.

    Edward Sturm
    Edward SturmFractional CMO, Edwardsturm.com

    Evolving the Brand While Maintaining Identity

    For my company, PGF Technology Group, we had had the same logo since opening in 1970.

    This year, we made it part of our marketing mission to rebrand to a more sleek look that encompasses how our services and values are continually evolving. I started by researching companies within our realm of services and focusing on their branding. By starting this way, we could ensure that our personal brand still stands out without reflecting an industry other than our own.

    Next, I began taking our original logo and playing with the various elements to see how we could update it without losing our core design style. An unexpected obstacle was working around the font and company name in our logo. The entire name, “PGF Technology Group,” can become quite cumbersome to include in a sleek design. The compromise consisted of shortening our main name to the nickname, “PGF Tech,” while still referring to our 'government name' in a smaller font type.

    Overall, the final logo and brand design allowed us to branch out to new spaces and revamp our marketing content.

    Madylen KablakMarketing Manager, PGF Technology Group