Rebranding. Change of brand image. New corporate identity. They are similar terms, which we tend to confuse with something aesthetic and superficial such as a change of colours, a name or a new brand logo. The truth is that a brand rebranding is something very serious that, in the case of large companies, can be born from Internal Communication. Sometimes it is essential that employees are the ones who shape and adopt a new corporate identity from within, before launching it to the world. Here we explain how the Internal Communication department can lead a rebranding.
What are the reasons for tackling a new corporate identity and why should a rebranding from internal communication be relevant?
It is a question of numbers. Let’s say we work for a listed company. And that company has 35 subsidiaries around the world. Many subsidiaries share a brand, but others do not. And all together they have several thousand employees of dozens of nationalities and a similar number of languages. Let’s suppose that this company must change its corporate identity, for example, because it decides to unify its brands around the world. And for its new brand to succeed, it must first convince its thousands of employees and partners around the globe. In practice, this multinational company must tackle its rebranding from within.
For this specific reality -and quite common in the business world-, it is essential to tackle rebranding from Internal Communication. We must put those employees, who are essential for the company to function and meet its objectives, at the centre of our strategy. It is not a question of retouching a logo or corporate colours, but of making the necessary changes to connect with each target audience. It is about internal communication becoming a lever for rebranding. It is about making the personality and values of the brand more tangible.
To tackle this rebranding, every company must have guidelines. It is essential to set up an action plan that covers both Internal Communication audiences -employees, workers, collaborators- and external communication audiences: users or customers, stakeholders, the media, potential customers and even competitors. Each aspect of this communication plan will depend on the nature of the company and the sector in which it operates. And whether the company is business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C). These and other factors will shape whether corporate communication is more in-depth and rational or more direct and spontaneous.
“Every company should have guidelines or an action plan for both internal and external communication”
Regardless of the reasons for rebranding, the important thing is to be very clear about the objective of the corporate image change and what you want to convey with it.
Why is rebranding from the inside so important?
Corporate image affects us on an emotional level. The identity of a brand influences us as people, as human beings tend to create emotional ties with brands that we like… Or that repel us! So, any change can generate affection as well as rejection. If that rejection spreads among employees, we can find ourselves in the first hours before the perfect storm. Many of us work for companies because, in addition to the payroll, we share certain brand values with them.
Not having a good Internal Communication plan can lead employees to mistrust. If they do not understand the new corporate identity, they may feel alienated from the company. And if this happens, not only will they not support the change, but they will no longer recognise the company as their own.
“Not having a good internal communication plan can lead employees to distrust. If they do not understand the new corporate identity, there is a risk that employees will disengage from their own company”.
In the face of so many changes, there is one part of the brand that should not change. In fact, all the expertise, good customers and good reputation should be maintained. The new corporate approach must be reinforced by the essence of the brand: its values, mission, and commitment. A good rebranding takes everything that is good about an organisation and integrates it with the new assets.
4 keys to approaching a corporate rebranding
- Involve employees
The team of professionals should know about the change first hand and, if possible, they should actively participate in the renewal. If employees feel identified, it is easier for them to share it, explain it and be able to represent it.
- Build a good story
A change of image should not be based solely on aesthetic reasons. A coherent and consistent story must be built to support the new image and serve as a link between the personality and the brand values. This is how the brand will generate consistency and it will be easier to connect with different audiences.
- Adapt communications to the new story and the new image.
Any change of image implies a renewal of communication media and materials. Document templates, mail signatures, presentations, etc. These assets are also part of the change and the new discourse, and the new image must be integrated into them.
- Communicate it and make it visible
In the world of communication, rebranding campaigns are usually accompanied by a strong advertising investment to publicise the change. Today, with all the benefits of the digital world, social media serves as one of the most powerful platforms to showcase and explain the change. Best of all, it is one of the fastest ways to receive feedback from interested audiences.
“Today, with all the benefits of the digital world, social media serves as one of the most powerful platforms when it comes to showcasing and explaining change”
At Incognito we always want to give you more. That’s why, in addition to these 4 steps that will help you in any Internal Communication plan, we share with you a guide of how we have approached these projects from the agency. The most important idea that we want you to keep in mind after having read this far is that each organisation is unique and different, so it will need specific and differentiated plans, what works for some may not work for others, although we must consider all these steps.
Incognito’s guide to working on a change of image through Internal Communication
- Starting point: audit and setting objectives
In the words of our director, Carlos Molina, the first step should be to identify with the company or brand what the problem or need is: visibility, improved reputation or repositioning in the market. Whatever it is, it is important to assess the positive and negative aspects of the brand, what the risks are and what we gain by facing a change.
If the change is already a fact, it is important to take into account how the company communicates, what it wants to communicate, how it wants to do it and how it wants to be perceived, both by internal and external audiences. It is increasingly common and advisable to develop an internal audit to identify the tone and style of the company, its “corporate voice”, and thus determine how it should be redefined in accordance with the company’s values, mission, vision and corporate purpose. It is very important that there is a coherence between what the company says it is and how the company feels internally that it is.
“It is very important that there is a coherence between what the company says it is and how it feels internally that it is the company”
- Creative process
After crossing the starting line, it is time to develop the new brand image with logo, isotype or isologotype, colours, typography, tone of voice, personality and many more details that will be reflected in the brand manual. At this stage, a new corporate storytelling should also be developed to help support the new image.
- Develop a brand implementation plan
As explained by our director, this plan will specify how to implement and develop the new image for both external and internal audiences. In the case of internal audiences, it must specify the actions to be taken with employees and different departments to make them aware of the new branding, help them become familiar with it and integrate it into their daily routines.
- Implement the change
Start working on the different content pieces and media to implement the new image.
Carlos stresses that the priority for the launch should be the employees. They should not find out about the change from third parties. The company must take into account employees, stakeholders, partners and the media. The branding plan can be extended if necessary to achieve the objectives of recognition and integration in the use of the brand image, symbolic elements and formats.
“The brand plan may be extended as long as necessary to achieve the objectives of recognition and integration in the use of the brand image, symbolic elements and formats”
After the launch, you should evaluate the effectiveness of the change and its internal acceptance. Remember to include in the communication plan, actions, initiatives, or roles that help to reinforce and consolidate the rebranding.
If you need help with your company’s internal communication, click here.