Having worked in branding and design for nearly 18 years, some of the most rewarding, interesting and impactful – not to mention, award-winning – work I have done has been in rebranding existing companies, goods and services.
Re-envisioning elements such as positioning, concept, mood, identity, graphic assets and the rest – “resolving them” in a manner of speaking – delivers a real sense of satisfaction.
I have seen brands approach rebranding in every conceivable way and with varying degrees of success. That is because even the best agencies and clients cannot overcome the negative pull of poor planning. I have now been able to identify five areas that upscale brands must concentrate on to successfully rebuild. They include:
-Establishing strong positioning
-Knowing the target
-Creating a straightforward approval process
-Preparing for launch
ESTABLISHING STRONG POSITIONING
A concrete definition of “luxury” is, at best, illusive. It is safe to say that to be well positioned in the luxury category, a brand’s offering must be connectable in some way to the idea of being truly exceptional. If the offering does not make sense in the luxury category, take a second look. Ill-conceived luxury items such as Frisbees and Instant Noodles –which both exist – Google them – might have done well to look to other categories and models early on in their development.
LUXURY IS NOT JUST ABOUT A PREMIUM PRICE
Maintaining the proper perception of a brand associated with high-end goods or services requires careful consideration and steadfast dedication from beginning to end – and never giving in to tempting but inappropriate opportunities for sponsorship and product placement. Part of creating a strong position for a luxury brand is aligning your benchmarks, goals and objectives with key performance indicators (KPIs).
KNOWING THE TARGET
Be as specific as possible about the consumer—not just demographics. In fact, psychographics tend to be more helpful in the early stages of brand development. By zeroing in on the “Who?” you are acknowledging that the brand under development is for a specific group of people to become a part of. A luxury brand cannot be everything to everyone, and luxury brands need to be able to constantly anticipate or even create the wants and needs of their devotees.
It is crucial for luxury brands to have the right personnel in place. Branding, especially rebranding, is a very involved process – as it should be. In most cases, there should be one point-person on the client’s side who heads up the project. This will take significant time and energy and cannot be an afterthought – it is an important role. That person must be able to weigh and balance the internal interactions with stakeholders and the client/agency relationship. The goal is to keep things on-track, secure the proper approvals in a timely manner, and avoid design-by-committee direction at all costs.
If this is the first time your business is considering a rebrand, the roles that need to be staffed, both during and after the process, might require some additional consideration. For example, a brand without a chief marketing officer will need to take a close look at who is going to spearhead the project, or else everyone’s best efforts might be wasted. In another example, shifting focus to e-commerce would require the creation of jobs and allocation of resources that were covered by others in the past. E-commerce Web sites require as many, if not more, resources as opening a bricks-and-mortar store.
Without the proper people, roles go unfilled and projects stall, fail or die. When the right people are in place and are aligned, you have set your rebrand up for success.
CREATING A STRAIGHTFORWARD APPROVAL PROCESS
Sometimes clients think that keeping the boss out of discussions in the early stages will make things move more quickly down the line. It rarely does.
When the key decision-maker is left out of the process until too late, there are inevitable revisions, delays and scope creep.
One step forward, two steps back almost never leads to top-notch results. Usually characterized as the “wildly unpredictable owner/boss,” the real issue is that this key stakeholder be looped in early on to understand the context that leads to various decisions. Checking in with ownership/management at the beginning and at project milestones allows the boss to be involved without having to micromanage the day-to-day progress of the branding initiative.
On the flip side, the ability to receive timely feedback, along with approvals and commitments, is key to project workflow and successfully completing the work.
PREPARING FOR LAUNCH
No specific budget and insufficient or open-ended timing usually spells doom for a luxury brand looking to reinvent itself.
If a brand has not allocated a specific budget or considered a realistic timeline, the greatest idea ever might never see the light of day – or worse, emerge half-baked when it does. The planning or launch strategy stage is often looked at as expendable, when it is actually make-or-break to getting your project off the ground. Determine what budgets exist to undertake rebranding work, and consider realistic timelines required to bring that work to life.
Well-calculated and well-executed changes are crucial to positive luxury brand perception.
ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON LUXURY DAILY: “5 KEY ELEMENTS OF AN EFFECTIVE LUXURY BRAND REBOOT”.