How to survive after rebranding and not fail the customer's expectations
In the life of every company, as well as in the life of a person, sooner or later comes the awareness of the need for change. Sometimes it can be dictated by internal feelings and sometimes the trigger is external factors, when everything around you literally screams that the point of no return has been passed and you need to change right now. Feeling the "wind of change", a person usually goes to update their resume on the site with vacancies or finally decides to cross the threshold of the gym (or, alternatively, the office of a psychotherapist) or rushes to search for the truth in books and travel. The company finds itself face to face with the concept of rebranding. Scary but terribly exciting.
Rebranding in Russia
A wave of rebranding swept across Russia in the middle of the "noughties", when business owners were actively getting rid of the legacy of the Soviet times or the image taken in the new millennium from the"dashing nineties".
This period includes rebranding of MTS, Beeline, Russian Railways and a number of banks that have already become classics. Then this boom passed but in recent years, despite the difficult economic situation, we see many examples of high-profile rebranding. So, in the fall of 2017, the corresponding plans were announced by the Shokoladnitsa chain which plans to spend 60 million rubles on updating its brand and institutions. The company also announced the start of the rebranding of the Coffee house chain that it owns (the waiters will be waived and the average check will be significantly reduced).
Why, how and whether
If you are planning to step on the road of change in 2018, let's understand what rebranding is and what pitfalls it may contain. First, let's briefly go through the process diagram, and then analyze the four rebranding histories of Russian companies.
Determining the reasons and goals. The reason may be changes in the structure of the legal entity (for example, the ru-Net Fund bought the Russian business from the American coupon service Groupon, after which the site became known as Frendi). Sometimes rebranding is necessary to get rid of the consequences of a high-profile scandal and restore the reputation (see the rebirth of the airline "Siberia" in S7 after a series of plane crashes). Finally, brands tend to become obsolete, especially against the backdrop of increasing competition from new players in the market. And the latter reason, when a company feels the need for a new brand positioning and a complete change of course, often becomes the most important.
Analysis and development of the rebranding strategy. It is a big mistake to think that rebranding is just replacing a couple of elements on the logo. On the contrary, it is a serious and expensive business process that requires a thorough approach.
Start by conducting an audit of your company. Determine what your brand's current status is, and what your financial situation is. Pay attention to the current target audience. It is important to understand how loyal your clientele is to major changes because sometimes even small changes can scare away regular customers.
Next, determine the width and depth of the planned rebranding. A list of areas that it will affect. You may want to limit yourself to changing the design and making small changes to the corporate identity. Or you will understand the need to rework points of sale (you need to calculate the cost of repairing each location).
However, if you set a goal to completely change the positioning of your brand, you will need a comprehensive approach and just changing the visual identifiers will not be enough. Relatively speaking, you will have to re-Prime a ready-made and already familiar canvas and from a "clean slate" to write a completely new picture of your brand.
You will need to create a fundamentally new brand core which will then begin to set the tone for all processes in the company. We are also talking about updating the brand's values and philosophy. And when this core is formed on your palette, from it you will "dance" with the creation of accompanying colors and tones for the new canvas. Under the dictates of the new brand platform, the entire structure of the company's activities will need to be redesigned: from the form of interaction with the client to the selection and training of personnel, from visual elements to the work schedule of points.
After determining the areas to be reloaded, a separate strategy is developed for each of the items with a plan of specific steps. Of course, you can do this on your own but a serious approach, of course, requires the involvement of specialists from outside.
The announcement of the rebranding. A sudden change of name or style may frighten the customer. Imagine that you have already changed the sign in one area, but not in another. Maybe there was a shareholder conflict in the company, some of the stores were sold? To avoid misinterpretations of your changes for the better, tell the world about the upcoming changes in the life of your brand using the media, your official resources and social networks. This way, you will simultaneously prepare your audience for innovations and attract additional attention to yourself.
Actually rebranding. Changes that will be made in accordance with the updated platform of your brand, according to the approved schedule. Companies often implement them from the external (logo, packaging design, point of sale interiors) to the internal (changing the format of work, personnel management, redesigning the menu, service schemes, etc.).
Employer's brand. One of the key points that is easy to forget in the pursuit of external changes. When changing the brand, it is important not to forget about the company's employees, both present and future, because they are the ambassadors of the new image of your company.
In an effort to create a positive opinion about the company in the market, we resort to rebranding. And, in an effort to attract the best staff and retain already proven "stars", we are entering the path of creating an employer's brand. Here, the client is your employees, who need to form a positive experience of working with you all the way: from the moment when they first learn about the job until the last day of work with you and transition to the category of Alumni.
When forming the right employer brand, it is important to solve the following tasks – to form a common understanding of values among all employees, to formulate a unique picture of values that will allow you to stand out among competitors. And also create a communication plan that will allow us to "pour" the necessary messages into the "fertile ground" of our corporate world.
Evaluating the effectiveness of changes and working with feedback. The key point, ignoring which, you risk nullifying all your good beginnings. It often happens that even when the rebranding is purely external (replacing the logo), the company continues to use business cards of the old corporate style after it is carried out. Such errors should be avoided.
Remember that no matter how beautiful your new wrapper is, if it is packed with annoying flaws, the client will expose it on one-two-three. The truth, it would seem, is obvious, but it often becomes the rake that companies step on in the process of rebranding.
Sberbank and dance lessons
The example of Sberbank has long been canonical but even ten years later it remains a visual guide to rebranding. "We must prove that elephants can dance" - this phrase of Herman Gref not only aptly describes the rebranding of Sberbank but is generally suitable for any process of this scale.
Goals. Sberbank's rebranding was launched in December 2009. At that time, the organization had about 20 thousand branches throughout Russia but could not get rid of the image of the "Soviet savings Bank", suffered from an outflow of customers and was associated with a low level of service.
Steps. The development of the rebranding concept was entrusted to the British Agency Fitch. The Bank's management did not disclose the exact amount of expenses, but the media estimated them at 20 billion rubles. The logo was updated. Then came the redesign of the offices. All these "anti-aging procedures" were accompanied by skepticism from experts and streams of malicious jokes from the population. And yet, contrary to expectations, Sberbank managed to make a breakthrough.
The secret of success. In our opinion, it lies in the correct understanding of the meaning of complex rebranding. The list of measures taken by Sberbank as part of its "customer-oriented" policy is huge. The introduction of online banking, the abolition of the notorious lunch breaks, flexible working hours of branches, the appearance of electronic queues and Express service zones finally made the "elephant dance". Sberbank has significantly improved its image, increased the number of customers and in 2017, it (not least thanks to a well-conducted rebranding) topped the list of the most expensive brands in Russia according to Brand Finance.
Russian post and escape from rakes
Another textbook example of domestic rebranding, not without pitfalls.
Goals. Similar to those pursued by Sberbank - to get rid of the image of a clumsy, bureaucratic, hostile structure to the client, to increase the level of competitiveness, to update the list of services.
Steps. The upcoming changes were announced by the Russian Post in 2002.We started with updating the logo which was done by the same Fitch. The first "rebranded" branch opened in 2006.
Criticism. And here they are the same rake which we have already mentioned above. Neither the new logo, nor loud statements about expanding the list of services, nor changes in the color scheme of offices did not help. Pretty soon it became clear to everyone that all this did not affect the image of the postal operator in the eyes of people too much. Russian post was still associated with unfriendly staff, red tape, queues and problems with delivery. The apogee of the latter was the collapse at Sheremetyevo airport, where tons of packages accumulated in the spring of 2013.
Steps part two or resuscitation. After the airport scandal, which generated a lot of memes and jokes, the FSUE management began to take emergency measures. The company's management team was significantly updated, new terminals for processing shipments and a large logistics center in Moscow were opened. Also, Russian Post "went out" to social networks establishing feedback with customers. Over the past couple of years, the company has been gradually opening branches of a fundamentally new format with electronic queues and extended schedules.
Result. Finally dissatisfied with the work of Russian Post citizens, of course, did not disappear. However, the effect of the second "reset" was still there. There is really less negativity about the company's work, employees and delivery times, although there is still something to work on.
Now let's look at two examples from the restaurant business. Rebranding of cafes and restaurants may be more common than others. You may not use the services of mail or a specific Bank, but you will definitely notice changes in your favorite coffee shop or restaurant chain.
KFC and "territory of self-expression"
The fast food chain KFC experienced a worldwide rebranding in 2016, and it was the first for Russia since 2011, when the company acquired the brand "Rostik's". For each country, the brand platform was developed separately based on specially conducted research.
Steps. The rebranding of the Russian KFC was handled by Depot WPF. The client was asked to convince that the chain's restaurants are "a territory of self-expression, a place where bright emotions and impressions live, where you can be yourself and share your story with the world".
The focus was on design: product packaging, menu boards in restaurants and other communication materials were redesigned. Thus, the packaging got rid of unnecessary details, received a new color coding and navigation system for product groups and the location of the logo and image of Colonel Sanders was built according to a new unified system.
Criticism. Two points stand out here. The first concerns the design itself. Experts pointed out that it did not help the brand stand out from the main competitors Burger King and McDonalds. Despite the fact that among these three, KFC just has its trump card in the form of chicken, they did not manage to play on it and break out in positioning.
Many also noted some similarities between the new KFC packaging and McDonalds. And, in our opinion, it is really the place to be. For the sake of experiment, you can go to KFC, order a couple of burgers, spread out the boxes on the table and look at them from a distance of at least a meter.
In other words, the client did not feel any special "territory of self – expression" and continued to choose not a brand but a General category-fast food.
The second claim to the rebranding of KFC is the same malicious rake. Namely, the lack of work "on the ground". Customers still scold the inarticulate staff and share stories of fights between cashiers right in front of guests. This should not be allowed if you are conducting a comprehensive rebranding and not just changing the sign, of course.
Bushe in my heart
The network of pastry bakeries Bushe is one of the mainstay of catering in St. Petersburg. The first point was opened in the Northern capital in 1999. Today, the company has more than 30 establishments. Rebranding Bushe experienced twice, and both times they were entrusted to the Agency Volga Volga Brand Identity. In 2011, the focus was on changing the logo, and in 2015, the network went through really serious changes which will be discussed.
Steps. Bushe not only received a new logo and colors in the corporate style but also completely updated the format including a full kitchen with an author's menu.
As part of the" field study", Volga Volga specialists sat in coffee shops for several days and watched how guests move before making a choice, how they place an order, what they pay attention to, whether they prefer to take food" to take away " or not. Analysis of user behavior revealed weaknesses in the new concept. For example, it turned out that many customers simply did not know that there were kitchens in pastry shops. At that time, the cafe's menu was reissued and the queue navigation was updated, as well as a system of pointers. Of course, all this helped to survive the process of getting used to the change of format.
Secret of success. The creators sought to position Bushe as a modern, functional place but at the same time with an idea and soul. And these phrases really came to life, not just left on paper. The already mentioned format of a bakery, pastry shop and restaurant symbiosis is responsible for the functionality.
The idea can be formulated as "we care". The company's management then introduces its own roasting coffee then launches cheese production, then releases short films dedicated to St. Petersburg in which Khabensky, Tsyganov and the Caste group are filmed for free.
This "not all the same" is also felt at the level of ordinary employees. It is obvious that serious internal corporate work is being carried out with the staff, and, for example, it is they who become the main character of the new advertising campaign "Boucher". Here we will once again emphasize the importance of this detail. Of course, working with staff is necessary in the activities of any company, but with rebranding, its role increases at times. No matter what new missions you invent for yourself, no matter what clothes you change your brand into, the staff remains the "showcase" of the entire enterprise.
The atmosphere of inspiration is responsible for the "soul". It is formed from the same attitude of the staff from the interiors of premises, from design solutions, different interpretations of slogans like "mentally in the Bushe" in advertising products.
Today, the company is firmly on its feet in the St. Petersburg market, developing, launching third-party projects and planning expansion into Europe. And in many ways this was achieved thanks to the successful and timely rebranding.
As we can see, rebranding, with all its risks and costs, can become the basis for a new round of development of your business. And sometimes a straw that can save the brand. The key to success is a well-chosen strategy and control over the implementation of innovations. If you think that your brand needs a "reset" - go ahead! And we will always help you with this!