If I asked you to think of a brand, the first thing that may pop into your head is its logo. But a brand is so much more than this. A business’ brand is its identity, its identity to all of its touch points – customers, stakeholders, competitors, observers. It’s key to the success of a company and therefore needs to be maintained and kept fresh. One way to do this is through a branding/rebranding project and done properly, such a project can give a business a new lease of life.
So when is the right time to rebrand? Some reasons can be a merger or acquisition, a change in business strategy, a period of growth, an outdated image, new products coming to market or wanting to stand out from competitors. But whatever the reason, it isn’t an easy process and it is in the implementation as opposed to the conception that many projects can fail. A poorly executed implementation phase can cost five times as much as the entire conception/design phase. It is for this reason that an experienced project manager is needed to manage the process with the aid of a comprehensive project plan.
Such a project plan, needs to be in place at project kick-off outlining each and every step that will need to be considered; from conception to implementation and even after project close. A project plan should aim to smooth over any difficulties and also to cut costs by making sure things are tackled in the right order. Based on my experience, I have put together a Branding Project Plan template as a starting point, outlining some of the steps you will need to run through.
The evaluation phase acts as the foundation for the entire project so it should not be overlooked or rushed. It is a time for the project lead to get the project team up and running and gain buy-in from the project sponsor. The target outputs here should be agreement across the business on the project scope and approval on project initiation. It’s then time to move onto the concept/design phase.
The concept/design phase for a project manager is about managing the various stakeholders on board to achieve agreement on a single route. To describe it simply – meetings, meetings and more meetings. So whilst the agency or in-house team works on developing the various options, the project lead will try to achieve consensus across all stakeholders. The length of the process can vary based on the size of the company and span of the brand. A lot of other factors such as politics, resource availability, budget etc. can also play a role. Once finished however, the outputs should be agreed brand concepts and visuals as well as a short brand guidelines brief.
The implementation phase can be the most challenging for a project lead as with every project, the chances of something not going quite to plan are pretty high. This is where a structured project plan can really prove its worth helping avoid any potential pitfalls that may be thrown your way. It is also worth remembering to build in some buffer so that the critical path remains unscathed no matter what you come up against. I like to run through the project plan in weekly project team meetings so as to avoid any nasty surprises. That way, you can stay ‘agile’ and minimise the impact of any potential nasties.
Project close; a time for reflection; a time to step back and admire your successes (hopefully). A lessons learnt is an important opportunity to look at what you have done and work out what can be done better next time around. But after the reflection, it’s as important to celebrate the end product. Projects big or small are never easy and it can be a great chance to bring the project team together with all of the stakeholders and showcase your new brand. This can also be a great chance for your PR & marketing teams to build a buzz around your new shiny brand.
So that’s it. This hopefully provides you with the key foundations for a branding project plan. If there are any requests for an electronic version of the plan please drop me a message on Twitter and I will be happy to oblige. @Christifurrr