Best Practices - Brands: Parent Companies Versus a New/Existing Subsidiary

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Best Practices - Brands: Parent Companies Versus a New/Existing Subsidiary

The 3 rebranding best practices considered essential by marketing experts and companies that undergo rebranding are: Aligned and consistent messaging; Keeping customers & stakeholders in the loop; Keeping the internal organization/employees on board.

Best practices for brands trying to re-brand as a parent company / unified brand

1. Aligned and consistent messaging

  • According to Nick Bell, the VP of Marketing Communications at Cision, in his article about unified branding, suggested that brand design should be decided upon by analyzing logos, color palette, and typography which are then incorporated in emails, templates, brand videos, PowerPoint templates, letterheads, office signage, and supplies.
  • Nick Bell also said that content is equally important for conveying the brand story and developing a guide for the entire company to communicate with one voice and a unified narrative.
  • In an effort to rebrand the company, Cision worked across channels to update web properties, social handles, and blogs in accordance with the decided brand image and voice.
  • For the brand Tapestry, the agency created a new tone of visual language with a vibrant and optimistic yellow in tandem with an elegant system of typography and photography that symbolizes the energy for the global company.
  • According to Jennifer Jackson, VP Development at the Hungry Howie's pizza franchise; rebranding involves optimization of names, logos, imagery guidelines, URLs, social channels, print collateral, among others. More importantly, it requires consistency.
  • According to Kim Ince, former director of strategy at Blue Fountain Media, the company needs to make sure that its entire brand presence — online and offline — is aligned once it has been rebranded.
  • According to Lee Frederiksen, Managing Partner of HingeMarketing, it is important for the organization to align everyone with the rebranding message and communication. Every employee of the organization needs to consistently communicate the visual brand message in all marketing and collateral pieces, like sales materials, brochures, pitch decks, website, among others.

2. Keeping customers & stakeholders in the loop

  • Cision conducted extensive research on 25 stakeholders across six countries; the profiles of interviewee included people from — sales, insights, product development, HR, and marketing department. Further, Cision also surveyed over 1,500 employees to understand how they view their brand portfolio.
  • According to Anaezi Modu, founder of the Rebrand 100 Global Awards, to get the rebranding efforts right from the start, the company should include suggestions from a mix of ‘hands’ from top to bottom, inside and out.
  • CSA designed a responsive website for Tapestry to tell the story of the brand to their investors, future employees, and future brands, who can experience being a part of this inclusive and diverse house.
  • According to Steve Rockman, CMO at TruFusion, the existing brand communication, dialogue, and engagement are important factors to inspiring customers and protecting the brand's reputation during a rebranding effort.
  • According to Jennifer Jackson, VP Development at the Hungry Howie's pizza franchise, it is essential for the customers to know why a company is rebranding, and it is important to issue a press release about why the change is significant for the growth and revitalization of the brand.
  • According to Pamela Webber, CMO of 99designs, rebranding revolves around managing "who you were and who you want to be," and it is very important for the new brand identity to resonate well with the people who made the brand big in the first place; hence, the rebranded identity should not be too distant to recollect the original brand.
  • According to Lee Frederiksen, Managing Partner of HingeMarketing, the organization should spend time communicating with and listening to key stakeholders and representatives, so that everyone is “rowing in the same direction,” and will speak in a unified voice and avoid internal discord.
  • Lee Frederiksen also suggests that rebranding efforts should be conveyed to clients to highlight compelling differentiators and proof points for the clients to understand how they’ll benefit by working with the company.
  • Example of marketing communication by Cision was telling their stakeholders about the new brand using Twitter and using Time Square as a venue for their visual ads.

3. Keeping the internal organization (employees) on board

  • Nick Bell at Cision analyzed an internal executive feedback system to optimize the brand refresh roadmap, next the marketing team rolled out all the suggested changes on day one, with a timeline for the remaining changes to be completed.
  • Cision held an internal “town hall,” a global team meeting to inform their employees about the reasons behind the change; the company took the opportunity to provide an open-door policy for feedback.
  • Nick Bell was quoted saying that it is imperative to involve employees in the rebranding process; further, by spending time on preliminary research and communicating the change among employees, customers, and other key stakeholders, brands can be more confident about their rebranding decision and changes.
  • Carbone Smolan Agency (CSA), the branding agency for Tapestry's branding agency, spoke with employees across the world to understand the unique perspectives for the brand's cohesiveness.
  • According to Pamela Webber, CMO at 99designs, business leaders should try to incorporate everyone's feedback and ideas, and give the employees the chance to be heard.
  • According to Lee Frederiksen, it is important to inspire employees for the new brand by making internal communications such as throwing an internal launch event and sending regular communications like email newsletters from members of the executive team.

Helpful insights

  • Cision has acquired several names such as PR Newswire, Gorkana, Bulletin Intelligence, and more and decided to have a unified brand.
  • Cision 2018 annual revenue is $730.4 million.
  • Coach, Inc. changed its name to Tapestry, Inc in October 2017, to highlight the fact that the company has acquired Stuart Weitzman and Kate Spade & Company and its portfolio also include brands other than Coach Inc.
  • Tapestry's 2018 annual revenue is $5.88 billion.

Research Strategy:

There was no pre-compiled list for the best practices employed by medium-sized companies that will undergo/have undergone rebranding to the parent company or a unified brand. To be able to address this request, we dive into the following strategies:

We first searched for companies that have undergone rebranding to a unified brand and looked into their best practices. We were able to find Cision and Tapestry as examples. Alternatively, we considered these two companies by looking at their revenues. We found out that their revenues are not comparable in terms of the revenue of P&G, so we decided that these two can be a proxy for medium-sized companies.

Next, we found general marketing strategies for rebranding companies from marketing-focused websites such as HingeMarketing and Business News Daily. We consolidated their best practices and found out that they have almost the same recommendations and paralleled those from our examples.

We then matched the practices from the two companies and recommendations from the marketing experts to have the best practices for rebranding into a unified brand.

To summarize, we have provided 3 best practices for companies undergoing rebranding to a unified brand which includes 1). Aligned and consistent messaging 2) Keeping customers/stakeholders in the loop and 3) Keeping the internal organization/employees on board. We have also added Cision and Tapestry as examples to illustrate the best practices. We have outlined and organized these in our Key Findings above as instructed in the first review.

  • "After growing so quickly and acquiring many big names like PR Newswire, Gorkana, Bulletin Intelligence and more, we quickly realized we needed a unified brand, something that PR professionals could easily recognize and relate to."
  • "Our brand is rapidly growing through mergers and acquisitions as well as through technological innovation. We spent some time examining ourselves as a company and quickly realized that one unified message was warranted if we wanted to build on the brand equity we already have in the marketplace."
  • "Ongoing dialogue and engagement are the most important factors in inspiring customers and protecting your brand's reputation during a rebrand, said Steve Rockman, chief marketing officer of the TruFusion fitness franchise. Your customer base should be informed of the changes and, if possible, included in the process, he said."
  • "If you're rebranding due to an acquisition or merger, your small company may need to do a little bit of work to assure its customers (and employees) that they won't lose out on what they love about your existing brand, said Kim Ince, group manager of digital strategy at Avanade and former director of strategy at Blue Fountain Media."
  • "Ince noted that once the company has rebranded, you'll want to make sure that your entire brand presence – online and offline – is aligned."
  • "Coach, Inc. on Thursday announced a major new branding strategy that, as of Oct. 31, includes changing its name to "Tapestry, Inc.""
  • "The name change reflects the fact that the company, after its recent acquisitions — of Stuart Weitzman in 2015 and Kate Spade & Company this summer — now has a stable of brands, beyond Coach, according to a company press release."
  • "CSA conducted an intensive discovery process to understand this global house of brands that is present in over 55 countries around the world. CSA spoke with employees across geographic markets to discover their unique perspectives and what binds the house together. What became clear was the importance of individual expression across all the brands, their customers and every employee. "
  • "To bring Tapestry to life, CSA created a new tone of voice and visual language. We chose a vibrant, optimistic yellow in conjunction with an elegantly designed system of typography and photography that embodies the spirit and energy of the global company. Additionally, CSA designed a responsive website to tell the world the Tapestry story so investors, future employees and future brands can experience what it means to be part of this inclusive and diverse house."