Why do most rebrands fail to reach their full potential?

Once a brand is defined, the hard work of bringing it to life through activation begins. Brand activation is the most important piece to get right when it comes to a rebrand because it ensures the long-term success of the brand. Making certain that a rebrand lives well beyond the launch and stays top-of mind for an organization is critical.

Activation has four main components:

  • Implementation: Identification, prioritization, and conversion of all touchpoints, from stationery, to collateral, to signs.
  • Governance: The people, processes, and tools required for the ongoing management of the brand.
  • Engagement: Educating and inspiring employees to live the new brand.
  • Launch: Launching the new brand internally and externally to generate awareness, understanding, and excitement.

And yet, despite its importance, brand activation remains one of the most neglected parts of branding, and is the main reason why the majority of rebrands hit a wall within 18 months.

Why? Brand activation requires significant time and attention, oftentimes daily, in order to manage successfully, which is counter to the idea that once a brand is designed the work is done. Activation also requires organization-wide buy-in and attention to making sure people constantly live a brand.

Seven deadly sins of brand activation:

1. Impulsiveness 

“We just need to get moving, we can figure it out as we go.”

The reality: Significant planning and preparation allows for a much smoother and more efficient process down the road.

2. Envy

“I like what that brand is doing, we need to be more like them.”

In reality: Every company is unique, and what worked for someone else may not be right for you. Applying insights is one thing, copying directly is another. 

3. Superficiality 

“Our rebrand is about a new, updated logo and identity.”

The reality: Activation is about a symbol of change, not a change of symbol. The more your efforts are aligned to the business strategy and embraced by the people, the more successful it will be.

4. Apathy 

“Brand isn’t my problem. It doesn’t impact me, someone else will take care of it.”

The reality: Everyone plays a role in building and growing a new brand. Successful organizations foster brand champions and use brand as a lens to guide all they do.

5. Secrecy 

“This is a marketing/brand project, we don’t need to involve anyone else.”

The reality: A rebrand is a journey, and employees need to be brought along with you. It is critical to get buy-in from stakeholders, influencers, and even potential detractors up front to avoid potential roadblocks further down the line.

6. Impatience 

“We have an immediate need for the new logo now, we can’t wait for launch.”

The reality: Once the brand is revealed, it will get used. While people need to be brought along the journey, if you reveal the new identity too soon you can minimize impact and make your life more difficult with an onslaught of logo requests.

7. Shortsightedness 

“The brand is launched, finally we are done.”

The reality: Once the brand is launched, the real work of ongoing brand management begins to ensure the integrity of the brand is maintained. 

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Gunnar Jacobs
June 16, 2022 By Gunnar Jacobs