The New You: Re-B.R.A.N.D.
How to manage a major franchise brand change with tips from the Neighborly process.
By Mike Bidwell
Rebranding can be a difficult but necessary step in a business’ plans for continued growth and development, particularly in an evolving market where consumers’ preferences constantly change.
For 37 years, until September 2018, Neighborly was known to consumers by a different name: Dwyer Group, after the company’s founder, Don Dwyer. Following a successful launch of the Neighborly online platform in March 2017 – a consumer-facing portal where the company’s franchised home service brands were united under one umbrella – it was decided for strategic marketing purposes that it was time to rebrand the company from Dwyer Group to Neighborly.
This would involve so much more than a simple name change; it was a strategic effort led by Lisa Zoellner, Neighborly’s Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, to more clearly position the company’s image in the eyes of consumers. It was an effort that required “all hands on deck” from the executive departments of the corporation, as well as extensive research and investments, and thorough planning to ensure that the rebrand would be successful. Along the way, the company learned many valuable lessons.
“Once the rebranding is public, make the transition immediate.”
If your company is considering undergoing a major franchise rebrand, the five tips detailed here – remembered easily by the acronym “B.R.A.N.D” – provide a framework for how best to approach the process from the perspective of Neighborly, a company that has now “been there, done that.”
B. Brace Yourself for the Process
The decision to rebrand requires extensive deliberation. First, consider the “why” behind rebranding. Then, take the appropriate amount of time to consider all options and the potential outcomes of rebranding. If, after that, you are set on following through with a rebrand, the planning process can begin in earnest.
Preparing a comprehensive rebranding plan requires investment in numerous resources, so prepare to budget for necessary expenses that will accompany these. One resource worth investing in from the start is the help of experienced advisors who can guide you through the process. It is valuable to have someone, or even a full team, at your side as you take on an unfamiliar and daunting process.
R. Research, Research, Research
Once you have decided to rebrand, the next most important step should be research, both internally and externally. Conduct surveys, focus groups and more to determine how your key stakeholders currently perceive your brand. Look for insight into how the current brand image will translate into the new one.
Not only will this help with how to move forward, but also it will validate further whether the rebranding is a change worth making in the eyes of your audiences. The entire rebranding process needs to be supported by the data this research provides so that there is justification to support every choice you make, and every expense you employ.
A. Art of the Roll-Out
The part of rebranding that makes everything official is its roll-out to the system. There are two key elements needed for the roll-out process: supporting data, and emotional and targeted messaging. The research will justify to your company why the decision to rebrand was made. But what is the right way to communicate this to all the members of your company impacted by the change?
In Neighborly’s case, Zoellner’s marketing team took on message development and appropriate delivery to all Neighborly stakeholders. To ensure that Neighborly’s internal teams were the first to know of the rebranding, we announced the name change in a live setting at our annual company-wide reunion in September 2018. The announcement essentially kicked off the three-day event, creating excitement among convention attendees and giving us confidence to announce the rebranding to the public shortly after.
N. No Secrets – Be Transparent
Throughout the roll-out of the rebranding announcements both to the company and the public, you must be completely transparent regarding the motives behind such a major change. Circle back to the initial thought process you underwent as you considered whether this was the right move to make.
Publicly answer the questions you once asked yourself privately: Why make this change now? What will happen if we do not make this change? Why does this move support where the company is headed? Be prepared to publicly discuss all the “who, what, when, where, why and how” details.
D. Declare Commitment to the New Brand
When rebranding, be prepared to give 100 percent. Once the rebranding is public, make the transition immediate, which includes changing websites, logos, uniforms, etc. Prepare all these changes prior to the unveiling so that they can be made as soon as the rebranding is official. However, remind yourself to be realistic about the time it will take for the change to completely sink in among your stakeholders. Continue to search for opportunities to promote your “new brand.” The more your audiences are exposed to your company after rebranding, the sooner it will become the norm.
Essentially, rebranding your company is a process that is lengthy and challenging to execute. But if you follow these steps recommended by our “B.R.A.N.D.” approach to help guide you through the process, it can become a turning point for the future success of your company. Change can be intimidating, especially when on a grand, public scale, but sometimes it is exactly what a company needs to move forward to its next chapter.
Mike Bidwell is President and CEO of Neighborly, the world’s largest holding company of home service franchise brands. Learn more about Neighborly.