Having been through the process of launching new brands and rebranding existing operations, I realize there is not a more valuable tool than a system to manage the project, the many moving parts, and resources all working to a shared deadline. A rebranding checklist can be the extra team member you never knew you needed.
This post is about the part of the brand that sits at the top of the proverbial brand iceberg – the outward manifestations of your brand. This is the part that comes well after you have settled on your brand vision and purpose, and after you have created your brand style guide.
As we mentioned in an earlier post, you want to build a brand in the way you want the world to see you. We all know the real work happens behind the scenes. It takes time. “It takes effort. Creating an engaging brand can assist you in reaching your business’s highest potential, but it takes strategy and vision. Slapping a logo everywhere and calling it a day is the opposite of strategic branding. A properly formed brand gives you dividends over time. The brands you see every day would not be as successful in the absence of a well-thought-out branding strategy.”
Inevitably, however, there comes the point where you do have to slap your logo on a variety of places. It is what people see, and much like your profile picture in your social media accounts, it can create the first impression.
Why and how you proceed through the branding or rebranding (which we will soon see many instances of in our industry) project can make or break it.
Why You Might Want or Need to Rebrand
There are common reasons why businesses will rebrand in their corporate lifetimes.
A company may find opportunities in international space. Brand names may have different meanings in those new markets that require rebranding.
To attract new audiences, companies may opt to rebrand to something more appealing or unique, particularly if it feels too similar to another product.
The rebrand could be as simple as updating your image, such as the change from the rainbow apple logo to a more modern version. If you look at the history of Pepsi’s logo, you will see an evolution starting in 1909.
Some companies need a reputation shift. This should not be mistaken with rebranding for the sake of hiding a bad reputation. No amount of great logos, freebies, and employee pep rallies will mask a lousy reputation.
Market changes could also threaten the life of a brand. Rebranding can stimulate growth.
As mentioned in previous posts, acquisitions are the primary reason for casino rebranding. In some cases, the existing intellectual property may not have been included in the transfer of assets. In other cases, the buyer may feel a rebranded acquisition would add value to their existing portfolio.
As we look to update our products, we may find the need to refocus the brand or introduce a new product altogether. Such was the case when the Isle of Capri Casinos team recognized the need and opportunity to create buffets that could be fresh, local, and seasonal. Along with rethinking the traditional buffet, the team created end-to-end rebranding that would excite guests, team members, and vendors.
How to Rebrand
Whatever your reason or need to rebrand, your first step should be to research and understand the market from both the guest and team member perspective. Chatting with your stakeholders will uncover jewels and traps equally. Review existing strategies, materials, and communications.
Settle into WHO you are and how you will consistently project your brand. Ask yourself and your team the following questions.
How will you express the brand’s values, purpose, and mission, both internally and externally?
What is the right opportunity for branding? Likewise, what are the opportunities to say “no.” Never ask me to put a logo on a floor mat or a roll of toilet paper. Seriously though, what was the weirdest place you had to put a logo?
What was the weirdest place you had to put a logo?
Then research names and design elements. Look for trademarks, domain names, and common usage. A search through social media will show you a ton of use cases that may be off the radar because they may not be officially registered or even have a website. Just because something is not trademarked does not mean it is usable. IP lawyers specialize in providing you great insights into these cases. I have been on both sides of the trademark and usage conversations.
Once you have studied, researched, designed, tested, and approved, you are ready to start putting your logo EVERYWHERE.
It is so easy to miss something. I remember sitting in the conference room at our soon-to-open casino in Iowa when we discovered the construction company had taken it upon themselves to tackle a small, innocuous piece of the deliverables – the emergency innkeeper placards you see on the back of the hotel room doors. You know what I am talking about. Sometimes they have any special rules, the going rates, and typically an illustration showing you where your room is located in relation to exits. The problem with these signs is that the construction company used an old logo. They were unaware that we planned on introducing an updated version as part of an evolution of the company’s offerings.
You must consider the timeline, the team, stakeholders, and any phases that could affect prioritization.
A casino branding project is always impacted by construction, staffing, and even storage. Where are you going to put a palette of items if the inventory system is not ready or the warehouse isn’t open and staffed?
Identify anyone that needs to be a part of the process. This could include department heads, the buyers, the designers, and the guy who might throw a wrench in your plans.
Once you agree to a timeline, stick to it.
Consider bringing in extra resources if you have got too many projects for your go-to creative resource to handle in the time frame. Be fair to yourself and them.
Why You Should Use a Branding Checklist
Being well organized is critical. Perfect for my Type-A personality, a collateral checklist is always part of any rebranding project I am involved in. However, if you are the exact opposite of a super-organized Type-A person, a checklist can still be your best friend.
Start creating your branding checklist.
A simple spreadsheet and an easily accessible tool, such as Google Sheets, Dropbox, or Sharepoint, work just as effectively as the most complex of project management software. Everyone involved in the project should be working from a central document that can be recovered should some sort of disaster strike. You might also consider project management software. We use Asana and love how you can create dependencies that will illuminate why something might fall behind schedule. I would also recommend whatever tool you use to have some sort of status easily visible to everyone.
Identify the stages each item might go through. It could be getting a reference sample, creative brief, and specifications. Sometimes, you just need to know something that is not required. When you discover those, do not delete them. Note them and move on. You never know when you will need to open that task back up again.
We divide our checklist by department and then all of their requests under that. If multiple departments need an item such as a service recovery form, we assign it to be owned by one department knowing every other department will draw from the warehoused inventory. However, we do include the other departments as stakeholders so they can be a part of the process and ensure the item will work for them as well.
Items should also have a specific owner – the person you will work with to get the project done or, in some cases, this might be the person you stalk to get the project completed. Due dates should be clear and achievable. Dependencies should also be linked (easy to do in a spreadsheet or project software).
It is a great idea to color code the status of projects to give you a great visual of what is on schedule, in danger, or completed.
Capture any notes as you go along. Do not rely on memory when you are juggling multiple projects at once.
There should also be a project czar – someone who will not be ignored or pushed aside when it comes time to review and report. I once worked with a great project manager who had to juggle every department as we raced to meet the opening date of a new resort. Seeing 600 things with the status “not started” was daunting, yet slowly but surely, his visits came to be a highlight of my week as we started seeing line item after line item shift to the completed column.
The list we created with him has evolved over the years, but it is still our go-to. It can be yours as well. Just drop me a note, and I will send it on to you for you to adjust as needed.