Over the years, we’ve assisted clients in several corporate identity roll-outs. Each was different, but all shared some common characteristics. Most recently, we helped the former division of a large global company launch its new brand identity and underscore its position as a focused, stand-alone company.
This time, we were called in to assist the spin-off just one week before the name change was required to be implemented. Not a lot of time for planning. And compounding the short timeframe was the fact that we were heading into the Labor Day holiday weekend.
Here are a few of the key lessons learned from these kinds of projects:
1) A short timeframe can clarify the mind. Decisions come quickly, because they have to! There’s little time for second-guessing. And in this kind of environment, you find you may not need as much time to prepare as you might think.
We were initially called in to handle the external media relations effort and some message development for key internal and external audiences exactly seven days (four business days) before the launch. Our role expanded as other needs were identified. The key to succeeding in a short timeframe is to get the right number of people involved … too few and they’re overwhelmed, too many and you add confusion and communication gaps.
2) Attitude is everything. Henry Ford was right when he said whether you think you can do it or think you can’t, you’re right. Pick team members who have a “can-do” attitude. Despite the tight deadline and the prospect of working long hours over a holiday weekend, the client staff – to a person – was helpful, positive and upbeat. Individual agendas were set aside and team goals were paramount. Likewise, at our agency, several people willingly set aside their personal plans, rolled up their sleeves and got the job done in record time.
3) Continuous communication among all the parties involved is key. We had daily (sometimes twice a day) conference calls to identify issues, remove obstacles and make decisions … and in-between we shared detailed timelines which tracked progress and kept everyone on the same page. Team members on both the client and agency sides made themselves available at a moment’s notice, when necessary, to resolve immediate issues.
4) One person needs to “own” the management of the project. Preferably, select someone with superb project management and organizational skills. This project manager’s job is to keep all the tasks organized, assure all team members are on task, ensure the tasks are on track, share progress reports and remove obstacles. In addition having project management chops, this person should also have a good sense of humor, which may be needed at crucial moments to break the tension when the pressure mounts.
5) Consider all of your stakeholders. Develop strategies, tactics and messages to reach every one of your company’s audiences … spelling out what the change means to them, how it will affect them and what they need to do. This includes employees at all locations and all levels, customers, shareholders, analysts, suppliers, partners, local officials, etc. While the messaging will be consistent overall, it will vary slightly to address each group’s unique interests and perspectives.
6) Identify local or regional spokespeople for media inquiries. This is especially important if your company operates multiple locations that span countries, cultures and/or continents. Ensure that your chosen spokespeople know the key messages for their area and can provide local or regional perspective on the impact of your announcement.
7) Remember that nothing goes perfectly. Expect a few glitches and speed bumps, address them head-on, make quick decisions and move on.
Finally, remember that, while the launch of your brand is important, your “Day One” is only one day … and just the beginning of a long journey. Every day thereafter, you’ll have the opportunity to continue to build your brand and deliver on your brand promise. So, enjoy the ride!
What other lessons learned would you share?