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Launch

Insight: Rebranding recipe

by Randall Craig on September 23, 2016

Filed in: Blog, Branding, Insight, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , , ,

Have you wondered why an organization’s rebrand doesn’t seem particularly right?  That maybe they missed something along the way?  A bad rebrand can mean that at best, it doesn’t deliver the expected benefits, and at worst the brand is ridiculed in the market.

There are no shortage of these flubs – here are two:

  • The American SciFi cable channel renamed itself SyFy, presumably to appeal more widely.  Syfy is British street slang for syphilis, which definitely does not have much appeal.
  • When Houston Oil and Internorth merged, they chose the name Enteron.  This name was quickly discarded, as it was discovered to be the anatomical name for  intestines.  They then shortened it to Enron, which of course went bankrupt after the discovery of accounting irregularities. (Maybe they should have kept the name Enteron?)

So what does a successful rebranding recipe look like? Here is our approach, boiled down to ten practical steps:

  1. Rebranding scope:  Is it to change the name?  Change the logo and visual identity? “Refresh” the logo and visual identity?  Completely change the brand positioning?  Change the underlying attitudes and organizational culture?  Depending on the initial scope – and the scope might change after the discovery audit and competitive analysis – the investment and the time required can vary significantly.
  2. Discovery audit:  To determine where you want to go, a realistic assessment of your current brand is critical. Using surveys, focus groups, and interviews, ask three key questions:
    • What are the current brand attributes in the eyes of future target prospects/clients/members?
    • What are the current brand attributes in the eyes of staff and leadership?
    • What (future) brand attributes are important, by key audience?
  3. Competitive analysis:  What brand attributes are critical in the market, and how are competitors positioned?  For example, assume that the critical dimensions are price, expertise, and trust; imagine a 3D graph with each on an axis.  Where is each competitor in this space?  Where are you?  And is there a spot that is unoccupied?
  4. Positioning statement, Brand Promise, and Personas:  These define the core attributes of the brand, and the key aspirational messages for each persona. (Personas are representative descriptions of each key audience.)  Looking at the brand through the eyes of each persona puts meat on the brand skeleton, and allows an exploration of how the brand might be executed.
  5. Validation:  This means testing the positioning statement and brand promise, both internally and externally.  It can be as robust as national market research by persona, or as simple as an informal discussion with key audiences.
  6. Name discovery and research: If a name change is involved in the rebranding, this is the process that converts the positioning statement and brand promise into potential name candidates.
  7. Validation:  The names must be tested for meaning in different languages, cultures, and geographies.  There also needs be checks for existing domain names, trademarks/copyrights – and Google.  When there are several name options, ask focus groups to rate each option against the desired brand attributes.
  8. Logo and Visual Identity:  This begins the process of transforming the brand from words into its visual representation.
  9. Validation:  Often times, there are several visual identity and/or logo alternatives.  Use focus groups to rate each option against the desired brand attributes.
  10. Collateral production:  This includes the production of business cards, stationery, signage, powerpoint and word templates, website, social media, etc.

A rebranding process is only half-done if it stops at the production of the collateral – the brand must be launched.  The rebranding opportunity must also be used to lock in other changes, both in attitude and in behavior. This can be accomplished in many ways:

  • A launch event
  • A PR campaign
  • An advertising campaign
  • Employee training
  • New perks or policy changes
  • Internal town halls
  • Management shuffle
  • New management metrics
  • Improved internal communications
  • New business processes

Does a rebranding effort need to have all ten of these steps?  No – the effort accordions up or down, based on a number of factors, including business criticality, timeline and deadlines, budget, and management priorities.   Recognize however, that your risk increases dramatically as less effort is spent.  (Syfy, anyone?)

This week’s action plan:  Strong brands get stronger because they approach branding strategically, not opportunistically.  This week, use the rebranding process as a checklist: which activity (Discovery audit, Competitive analysis, New collateral, etc) can best strengthen your existing brand?

Marketing insight #1:  Of the ten rebranding steps, notice that a full half of them are external validation?  This ensures the brand’s market relevance and impact.  And of the ten launch activities, seven of them are internal?  Only if your brand is strong on the inside, will it be strong on the outside.

Marketing insight #2:  While brand standards are critical for consistency, locked-in-stone branding can become brittle and break.  The best brands have some built-in flex.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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Website launch checklist

by Randall Craig on December 11, 2015

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Marketing, Web development

Tagged as: , , , ,

While websites aren’t new, most organizations only redesign their website every 3-4 years – which is just enough time for everyone to forget what needs to be done to properly launch it. While every website (and organization) is unique, here is a partial list of activities that can help:

Three months prior to launch:

  • Confirm metrics to evaluate the success of the new site.
  • Integration points with existing systems defined.
  • Revise existing traditional marketing collateral.
  • Amend social media editorial calendar to take into account the new site launch.
  • Identify campaigns, advertising (and any communications) that promotes the website, or a landing page URL.
  • Review website legal terms and conditions for potential update.

One month prior to launch:

  • Demonstrate website (design and functionality) with a wider internal audience.
  • Update graphics within marketing collateral that reference the website.
  • Prepare internal communications plan.
  • Prepare external communications plan (including prospects/members/clients/regulators/customers.)
    • Design launch collateral (postcards, direct mail, posters, etc.)
  • Schedule appropriate Social Media posts to support launch.
  • Train front line staff on answering queries about the new website.
  • Site security regime in place and tested (certificates, firewall code, intrusion detection, reporting, recovery, etc.)
  • Final usability testing.
  • CSS/HTML code is validated and compliant with standards.
  • Legal compliance testing (Accessibility/WCAG standards, Privacy, and CASL/CAN-SPAM.)
  • Collect screen shots of all [existing site] lead generation forms for proof of CASL compliance.
  • Review all content (images, videos, text, etc) to ensure all is appropriately licensed and documented.

One week prior to launch:

  • Final content updates.
  • Robots.txt and (dynamic) sitemap.xml files created.
  • Site speed optimized.
    • Code “minified”, graphics optimized, site cached, content distribution networks enabled, etc.
  • Finalize reporting dashboard(s).
  • Even more testing:
    • All forms work correctly, including user feedback when incorrectly filled out.
    • All ecommerce transactions work correctly.
    • All password-protected areas of the site work correctly (and are secure.)
    • All placeholder content (eg “lorem ipsum”, “Hello World”, etc.) removed from site.
    • Error pages work as expected.
    • Final review for bad links.
  • User content update training is completed.
  • Website training for call center/receptionist/front-line staff.
  • Website preview for selected audiences (internal and external, including media.)
  • Back-up and restore systems tested.

Launch

  • Update “redirects” so that old URLs are redirected to new URLs.
  • Final test for bad links and errors.
  • Cut-over tracking tools (Google webmaster, Google analytics, Yahoo Web Analytics, Adobe SiteCatalyst, etc.)
  • Change links in internal systems.
  • Cut over changes in CRM and Marketing Automation systems.
  • Cut over uptime monitoring and back-up systems.
  • Update Social Media.
  • Internal and external communications.
  • Kick off traffic generation plan (Pay-per-click advertising, SEO, etc.)
  • Update corporate signature on outgoing emails.
  • Copy of “Final” version of the site is made.
  • Hand over from the web development team to the support team.

Post launch

  • Post mortem review meeting: what went right or wrong.
  • Daily/weekly/monthly monitoring (Social Media, Web analytics) for issues.
  • Double check Google to ensure the site is fully indexed (and tweak robots.txt and sitemap.xml).
  • Development and Feature roadmap planning session.

This week’s action plan:  Print this Tipsheet, and file it in your web folder – then forward it to others on your web team.  And if you’re feeling helpful: what else would you add to this list?

Marketing Insight:  Almost every marketing and communication activity involves some connection to the web, which means that this list can be easily adapted for…

  • a new microsite,
  • specific landing pages,
  • new service or product pages,
  • a change in information architecture,
  • a design or interface change,
  • new functionality.

The list can also be adapted for the launch of an intranet or extranet.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com

www.108ideaspace
.com
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com

 

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