One mission we have here is to deliver perspectives on the building industry in ways that can positively impact your brand. So, we determined it might be of interest to take a closer look at what defines a brand and what you should expect if/when the time comes to rebrand.
We sat down with Chris Denney, vice president and creative director of IMRE, to gain insight into his experience building brands – both B2B and B2C. Chris began his career as a photographer, working with top agencies and clients and learning to tell their stories through imagery and advertising. He moved to the marketing and corporate world when he began his branding career at Men’s Health, which was experiencing explosive growth around the world. Next came a stint at Time Warner where he helped brands like Ford, Trane and Andersen Windows find their voice. Now at IMRE, Chris specializes in B2B brand development and appreciates the authenticity that comes with the territory.
BI: How many brands have you worked with and/or helped develop?
CD: I’ve worked with many brands on different levels but helped at least 15 brand from the ground up. I get extremely excited when we work through the branding process. If you’re rebranding or even just reexamining, you get to the core of what the brand is about and start understanding things like personality and vision. You envision how a brand can speak about itself at its root and then ideas are born from true understanding, not assumptions.
BI: How do you define a brand?
CD: To me, a brand is a vision. It is holistic and needs to be looked at holistically. It’s embodied in the vision of what the company or service wants to provide. Underneath vision falls personality; what’s the brand’s promise and what does it stand for? The vision, personality and promise are all embodied in a positioning that informs what goes out to the marketplace and makes up who you are and what you stand for.
A brand is not a communications strategy or a logo; it is not a color palette or a singular CEO. It’s an entity, a force of what it wants to accomplish, and it could be as simple as making widgets and as complex as making airplanes.
BI: What do you see as the key components of a brand?
CD: I have found that a key component is for a brand to be honest and transparent. The emotional part is the hardest; telling yourself “this is what I do well, this is not what I do well,” “this is what I stand for and this is what I do not stand for,” “this is what I want to deliver and promise and this is what I don’t, etc.” It’s about having the ability to put a mirror to your brand and put it out there, and then reflect on the core values of a company and the products/services it delivers.
BI: How would a company recognize the need for rebranding?
CD: There are many business factors that inform the need to rebrand. It could be that there are wholesale changes in the product offering, or the brand has become stuck because of competition catching up to them or copying them. I’ve seen brands own market share and then competitors start copying their success, making them become part of the pack and no longer relevant; the brand goes from #1 to below the radar.
BI: What steps are involved in rebranding?
CD: Everything varies depending on the company and the brand. However, if you look holistically at rebranding there are three modes of intrinsic and extrinsic activity. First, you need to look intrinsically at where your brand stands. Discover what affects your business, like the strengths and weaknesses of your competitive set, the state of the industry and industry forecasting. You really need to look at what the company thinks of itself, identify its challenges, explore the “feet on the street,” and understand the state of the C-Suite. Then, look at where they all converge.
From there you go into extrinsic mode and start to formulate assertions and messaging triggers that get tested. Go to customers and focus groups; ask questions like, “Is this who you think we are? How does this feel to you?” Also, gauge how the assertions resonate internally. If everything’s done properly up to this point, including all of the research, you’ll start to get really great insight. Gather all of that feedback, bring it back to the three pillars – vision, personality and promise – and then create the brand positioning, the messaging and then the creative.
BI: What makes a rebrand successful?
CD: Success vitally depends on insight and approval from the top down, including all key stakeholders. It will fail if there’s no buy-in from the C-Suite at the very beginning to act as ambassadors, and the sales force should be very much involved for most B2B companies.
Metrics for success of a rebrand can vary based on the size of a company and what stage of development it is in. It’s so important to be honest. For a long-term vision to work and convert to sales, you’ve got to look at yourself and be truthful so you can deliver against competition in honest and transparent ways. Then you’ll deliver relevancy to your customers and make people feel good when they put money on the table and give it to you.
Sales are always going to be the ultimate measurement, but awareness is probably the first metric you want to measure right after a rebrand. If you’re getting the message out and it’s resonating, you did a good job in the first stage. Sales ultimately follow.
To learn more about the IMRE (re)branding process, contact Chris Denney at firstname.lastname@example.org or Denise Kitchel at email@example.com.