One of the first questions I ask any client who comes looking for a rebrand is: “Why?”. I don’t just ask this because I’m contrarian, but because all too often they are looking for the solution to a problem that can’t be solved by brand alone.
A repair isn’t as sexy as a rebuild
A rebrand occurs normally because a fundamental aspect of the business has changed – new leadership, exponential growth, diversification and change in ownership may be some of the reasons. And a rebrand signifies a new start.
Rebranding is one of the most outward tangible things a business can do – it is a visual-line-in-the-sand and all stakeholders can see that change is happening. Execs want to get behind a rebrand as politicians want to build new bridges and commission projects like CrossRail and HS2 instead of dealing with existing infrastructure that is no longer fit for purpose. But in many cases, a new brand is akin to washing a car when it really needs a new engine.
A restructure means getting under that outer layer and working on the bare bones of the organisation that lie beneath. Which is why, unlike a rebrand, it’s driven by your CEO and board, and not the marketing team.
An organisation should be a unique combination of structure, system and process harnessing the collective power and culture of its people. But peek beneath the bonnet of many large organisations and you’ll discover a competitive internal feudal system – a setup that is more inward focused than outward, and highly counterintuitive to achieving business goals.
Can’t I just have a rebrand anyway?
The honest answer to this is: no. At least, not if you want long-term lasting impact. Structural issues within your business won’t just weaken your existing brand – they will inhibit a new one being built. Without the right structure in place, you’ll end up with a brand that’s not portraying a truthful representation of your business. This can be costly in a multitude of ways – unless you’re selling mass inefficiency and waste, which is unlikely.
So how do you know if you need to restructure or rebrand your business? I’ve identified five clear signs that tell me immediately if you should put your new brand plans on hold:
- You lack clear leadership – This isn’t about knowing who your CEO is. It’s about knowing exactly where you’re going as an organisation, how and why. A clearly communicated vision, plan and values. Any murkiness here creates questions.
- Your processes don’t work – If you haven’t got a set of robust internal processes in place, your rebrand is likely to be wasteful. Why? To get full value out of a rebrand, you need to maximise every resource you have and make it work for your business. Processes are the DNA of a well-run business. Dull but true. One of our favourite processes at JPC is giving each team member a clearly defined action plan that’s aligned with our business goals from their first day. It means everyone knows what they need to do, we are all on the same page, and it’s easy to see where each person adds value.
- All your meetings are meaningless – Meetings are the opportunity to exchange wisdom. They can be very powerful, or an utter waste of time. A new brand doesn’t improve internal communication – the oil of an organisation’s engine. Great meetings will. Tip: if you’re still in doubt read ‘Death by meeting’ by JB Lencioni.
- It takes a year to get anything signed off – One of the simplest indicators that something is structurally amiss within your business is your sign-off process. If you find that you have no shortage of great ideas – but none of them go anywhere – then you need to address the way your business is structured. At JPC, our mantra is to ‘never leave the room without a leader’ because without one there will be an enormous grey void. You can’t build an effective brand without delineated, decisive and empowered leadership. Does your organisation enable that? A new brand won’t.
- Your senior team don’t like each other – Success requires your senior team to be fully aligned. You can have all the right processes in place, but if your senior team are not cohesive, rest assured a crack at the top will become a chasm further down the organisation.
If any – or all – of the points above sound like your business, then it is the leadership, structure, system and process you need to consider. Get them aligned and the rebrand will be the jewel in the crown, not the plaster covering a gaping wound.