The Challenges of B2B Rebranding: Part 2

What are the most critical mistakes or causes of failure in rebranding?

The Challenges of B2B Rebranding: Part 2

Try this experiment: Say to a colleague at work, “Hey, we’re going to rebrand.” Then, wait a second. You‘ll hear some variation on the inevitably ill-informed response, “Oh, well, I guess a new logo would be nice”

In Part 1, we discussed how the process is different between rebranding vs. brand creation. For this issue, we reflected on our experience rebranding dozens and dozens of B2B companies – having seen the good, the bad, and the ugly – and asked ourselves the top reasons organizations fall short of reaching their objectives or outright fail when rebranding.

Although many mistakes and missteps are common, three stand out as most critical.

The first most critical mistake is failing to involve leadership. It takes a village to raise a rebrand – and the c-suite, to every business unit and functional group, within the organization should be engaged during the process.

Additionally, the most successful rebrands a led by two essential roles: The Visionary and the Implementer.

The CEO, President, or executive responsible for the business, serves as “The Visionary.” They see the big picture and desired future state for the organization. They also influence critical internal and external stakeholders to create buy-in and alignment.

The “Implementer”ƒ is the person who drives the project through the organization. Their titles and roles are varied, yet they share several common traits: They have access to, and respect of, all key participants in the process and know how to navigate the politics. They are adept field marshals, managing time, expectations, resources, budgets, dependencies – and know how to move mountains to overcome internal obstacles to make it happen.

In larger organizations, the Visionary and Implementer are almost always two different people. Think of the relationship between Steve Jobs and Tim Cook during the turnaround years of Apple. Steve saw the future of the company; Tim knew how to make it happen.

The second most critical mistake is a “rebranding” that is just a new logo or new advertising campaign. Internally this is seen as “another marketing project”, and new logos are quickly forgotten by customers.

Instead, use a rebrand as the catalyst for instilling broader change throughout an organization — and externally into the marketplace. There are many situations where rebranding can help drive change. For instance, when a new CEO takes leadership of a company, he or she often brings a new vision and direction to the business. Rebranding can be used to articulate and demonstrate this vision and direction to customers — and as importantly, to employees, suppliers, partners, and investors.

Rebranding is an opportunity to drive more widespread change and innovation throughout:

  • Culture
  • Talent attraction and retention
  • Product and service development
  • Customer experience
  • Operational processes and procedures
  • GTM strategy
  • Marketing and sales

And more.

The third most critical mistake is when companies get their Be. Do. Say. out of order. In other words, not aligning the actions of the company with its market promise.

The BP “Beyond Petroleum” rebranding is a textbook example of this. In 2001, in response to negative press on British Petroleum’s poor safety standards and a desire to improve their environmental image, the company rebranded itself as BP (“Beyond Petroleum”) – and adopted a green sunburst logo as if they were committed to being a more environmentally responsible company. Globally, they invested over $200 million behind their new logo and campaign.

But they didn’t change any aspect of the company. They stayed focused on fossil fuels and created several major environmental disasters leading to unprecedented backlash from media and consumers worldwide, which persists today for their hypocrisy and greenwashing.

The result was heavy damage to their reputation, ability to attract and retain talent, bottom line, and stock price.

Brand is an essential element of every B2B business strategy. And if done correctly, a rebrand can permeate virtually every aspect of an organization to drive positive change and accelerate growth.

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