• Transform magazine
  • August 23, 2017

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Opinion: How do you gain buy-in and a consensus for change?

greg hobden.jpg

In today’s complex, competitive world, it’s no longer sufficient to simply market quality. Gone are the days of relying on traditional marketing tactics or merely promoting the announcement of the arrival of a new senior hire on a company’s dotcom to stay top of mind.

Everything has changed and continues to develop at a fast pace. Even traditional sectors need to figure out how to differentiate and compete in a digitally savvy, socially networked world or be in fear of being left behind – if not forgotten.

Organisations’ must identify, develop, and leverage their brand essence to market themselves in a truly distinctive and memorable way. Today's brand managers know that if they want to stand out, they need to be bold in their thinking and bold in their decision making.

A rebrand has the capability to create meaningful change in an organisation by aligning to a business strategy or client perceptions, improving processes and increasing stakeholder ownership. But sometimes the thought of a rebrand is met with resistance from senior leadership and difficult stakeholders. How do you gain buy-in and a consensus for change?

First, listen, challenge, understand and interpret. It’s all in the careful due-diligence and up-front planning. Placing structure around the rebranding process and having a core focus on an in-depth discovery programme will help deflect potential bumps and scrapes along the way and facilitate thoughtful debate between stakeholder groups.

In doing so you’ll be able to validate any initial thoughts and set a path to identify something special; the way of articulating your proposition in a distinctive, memorable manner. Adopting this principle can often instigate the need for a revolutionary change in mindset, brand proposition and creative expression – of which may not have been on the cards at the start.

Our experience of working with companies both large and small tells us that there are often concerns during a rebrand because it challenges tradition, with fear of change the number one issue. It is therefore critical that there is the opportunity to speak with any dissenting voices to listen to their objections and, through open dialogue, help them understand the case for change. This process usually results in objectors becoming brand ambassadors later down the line.

A discovery-fueled approach should be geared towards gaining senior buy-in involving discussion directly with senior folk and leadership teams to ensure your new brand strategy aligns directly with your business strategy. Through focus groups and one-to-one internal interviews and discussion with clients, you’ll also get to understand the spirit of the firm from the inside-out and the outside looking in – altogether driving an objective and balanced view.

During any rebranding process, everybody has an opinion. Start with a strong foundation of research, including words directly from your clients, but be mindful of design by committee.

From the outset, it’s important to agree on the process for how decisions will be made. The most effective way is to have a small project team to support the day-to-day, together with the backing of a brand steering group. to represent the company’s interests and helps guide the direction of the new strategy and visual identity.

The information gleaned from regularly interacting with the brand steering group is invaluable to building a brand that supports the business strategy and ultimately ‘feels right’ to leadership and employees.

Finally, be bold. Putting all this into practice can, of course, be a challenge, but start with the determination to be bold in your thinking and bold in your decision making.

Greg Hobden is client strategy director at Living Group