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In today’s society, image is everything. Having a strong brand is crucial to your business’ success. So whether you’re looking at branding for the first time or about to embark on a rebrand, there’s a lot that needs to be considered.

In order to discuss rebranding we need to first define ‘brand’. Put simply, a brand is how a business differentiates itself from all other businesses, especially its competitors. The brand is its personality; and the way that personality is perceived may differ between stakeholders such as the general public, customers, staff, media and shareholders.

According to Wikipedia, a brand is “a collection of images and ideas representing an economic producer”. More specifically, it refers to the descriptive verbal attributes and concrete symbols such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme that convey the essence of a company, product or service. Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product or service, both directly relating to its use, and through the influence of advertising, design and media commentary.

Branding is rising in importance in today’s increasingly cynical society, where each person receives thousands of messages per day that they they need to sift through in order to make decisions about their lifestyle needs and desires. If you want your brand to make a greater impression than the rest, and one that sticks, you need to carefully consider each aspect of your branding strategy and the target markets you must influence. Branding is not a finite process, it is a continual campaign. The moment you lose concentration is the moment all your branding plans begin to unravel.

How do you ascertain the way in which your stakeholders perceive your brand? Ask them! Whether it’s via simply talking to people or by using more formal methods such as customer surveys and shareholder audits, you will get a good idea about the aspects of your branding exercise that are successful and the aspects needing work.

When a business goes through a rebranding process it is changing its identity, its personality, and therefore the way it wants stakeholders to perceive it. This may involve significant changes to areas including logo, tagline, jingle and business name, along with its marketing and public relations strategies. Businesses usually rebrand themselves because the previous brand was not putting across the desired impression. Sometimes rebranding happens inadvertently due to stakeholder influence or corporate activity.

Considering rebranding?

1.   Ask why you are doing it. Are you planning to rebrand for necessity or to stroke your own or someone else’s ego? Is it really what your stakeholders need from your business? Examples of positive reasons include rebranding to reposition a company to take advantage of changing market conditions or because a business has stagnated and it is a way of kick-starting a brand.

2.   Review what you are saying about yourselves as a business. This needs to be reflective of the consumer experience: what franchisees offer is the ability to put consumers in a position to make clearer, well informed choices.

3.   Perform a comprehensive audit of all the factors that make up your brand. It is more than the collateral, more than the physical attributes, more than your logo, your colours and your posters, TV or outdoor ads. Wyatt describes a brand as ‘the movie that plays in someone’s head whenever your brand name is mentioned’.

4.   Include a review of your corporate culture. It is about creating perceptions and about what all your stakeholders feel are the promises you make to them.

5.   Be very clear about why you are doing it and what you are trying to achieve. Rebranding can often be a costly exercise and you do not want to unnecessarily spend time, money, resources and effort on a strategy that is not fully thought out. Work out the strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats involved before going ahead.

6.   Allow plenty of opportunity for people in the business to express their concerns about a rebranding strategy. Discuss the whys, wheres and hows with everyone whose role is affected by the new direction and make time for follow-up programs, to review timelines etc.

7.   Sell your rebranding strategy to all internal stakeholders in a way they need to hear it. Make sure everyone involved in the business is aware of the new brand push, from the lowest rung of staff to the managing director. Communicate it in a way that is suited to your audience, i.e. webcasts, emails, phone calls, word documents, staff meetings, management conferences, state conferences, etc.

8.   Ensure all brand deliverers are enthusiastic and engaged believers. Particularly for service-based businesses, there is a real need to realise the brand is about the people delivering on a brand’s promises. Hence, there is a strong need for high engagement from all the internal stakeholders who communicate the brand, whether deliberately or unintentionally i.e. staff, franchisees, etc.

9.   Use various forms of communication to communicate to external stakeholders. The rebranding strategy needs to be filtered throughout all the avenues the business uses to send messages externally. Consider revamping areas such as the call centre contact method, print/radio/TV/online media coverage (advertising and editorial), consumer website and referral marketing materials.

10.  Keep it going. Staying true to the desired brand is an ongoing effort. Constantly reassess your business activities and plans to ensure you are continuing to reinforce the business’s personality… that movie in your stakeholders’ minds when they think of your brand.

–    Kristy Sheppard is senior corporate affairs manager for Mortgage Choice (www.mortgagechoice.com.au), Australia’s leading mortgage and home loan broker.


Case study: Mortgage Choice

Australian mortgage broker Mortgage Choice recently replaced its longterm Only One Choice tagline with the new simple choice tagline to give consumers a compelling reason to become, and remain, a customer, and to differentiate the brand from its competitiors in a crowded marketplace. Simple choice indicates that the company proivdes choice without confusion.

This saw its consumer website and all its radio, television and print advertising and public relations materials (on a corporate level and for its franchisees on a local level) go through a major renovation. As a company with a high profile and almost 450 franchises nationwide, the campaign required a huge effort.

First, an extensive review of the company’s key branding elements was undertaken in a bid to assess market positioning and brand health. In a very crowded advertising marketplace it was important for Mortgage Choice to create a new space for itself among many brands and many new products. In a crowded lender market, with new product offerings and features being promoted on an almost daily basis, frequent interest rate rises, and a number of brokers also being lenders, consumers were understandably confused.

So the company introduced the new tagline then bought and heavily promoted a phone word (13 MORTGAGE) for its national customer service centre, to further demonstrate how simple dealing with it could be.

“The campaign was designed to illustrate that Mortgage Choice can bring clarity to the mortgage selection process. It also addresses the confusion in the market of the distinction between lender and broker, and sets us apart from our competitors, some of whom span both sectors,” said Mortgage Choice head of marketing Lynne Wyatt.

The company kept key brand elements in the new campaign (the Mortgage Choice logo, use of the teal colour, brand mascot Choosey the Beagle and distinctive audio jingle) but now with simple choice tagline. It commenced the rebranding campaign with three new 30-second TV executions featuring different customers in different situations who ‘sniff out’ a solution to their search with help from Choosey. The TV campaign forms part of a comprehensive mix of branding activities that span print, radio and outdoor as well as retail collateral support, all of which continue to rolled out. All public relations activities are conducted with the revamped branding position in mind.

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Kristy Sheppard

Kristy Sheppard

Kristy Sheppard is MYOB's manager for public relations. She has more than a decade of experience in the public relations space, spanning B2C and B2B corporate and consulting roles within the technology, financial services, franchising and FMCG industries. At MYOB she delivers programs communicating its vision, business advocacy stance and milestones as it advances products towards and within the online landscape.

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