Rebranding: How to Get Started with Strategy Implementation

By Brian Benson January 10, 2020 Marketing Operations

Ask and you shall receive!  We're back by popular demand to talk more about an issue that faces so many of our clients today: rebranding.  Due to an overwhelming response from our first blog on company or portfolio-wide rebranding, we decided to dig a little deeper into the topic.  View the first part here: 

Rebranding: Part 1- How to Be Successful in a Unique Industry 
Critical Success Factors & Common Perils to Avoid

Rebranding Part 1

Once you understand the uniqueness of multifamily and build your company's strategy, many marketers and operators do not know where to turn or where to begin first. The process of portfolio rebranding involves many stakeholders, requires a deep scope across your entire organization, and is incredibly tricky to execute without the right playbook.  The sequence of events, planning, and communication is critical to avoid an expensive, disruptive, and ineffective launch.  By comparison, it is relatively easy to create the company strategy; the challenging part is to execute, and to execute well.  In that spirit, the most popular question I receive from other executives ready to start a company rebrand is simple, yet powerful:  "Now what?" 

That's why we decided to expand this series.  

How to Get Started with Strategy Implementation

This article is designed to pick up where the first one left off.  It assumes you have created your strategy and you're ready to begin implementation across your company.  

If you’ve been through a company rebrand, you know the sinking feeling once the strategy is approved (after many rounds of edits) and the next question is, “How soon can you get it launched?” The scope and scale of this new experience is bigger than a logo. It’s your brand. And it’s important. It’s probably taken your company many, many months to land on the strategy and brand guide, so activating it isn’t immediate either. There is no rebrand light switch that can be flipped. There are suppliers involved, associate training, and a mile-long list of things that need to be updated simultaneously. All on budget, of course. Marketers are often overwhelmed and left to determine where to begin.

Over the past 25 years, Benson has been fortunate to serve hundreds of management companies and many corporate rebrands across our 2 million+ unit portfolio. That experience has helped us to curate a battle-tested, methodical, and an industry-specific process to effectively implement your rebrand. As we learned in the first part of this series, rebranding is unique in the multifamily apartment industry. That’s why we developed a proprietary Rebrand Playbook to streamline the implementation tactics so you can focus on delivering the strategy and experience.

Whether you are a smaller company that is new to the odyssey of rebranding, or you are an experienced, large corporation, your initial steps are critical to your long-term success. Make them count.

Getting Started

Now that your strategy is complete and you are ready to begin brand implementation, where do you begin? Based on our experience supporting countless corporate rebrands, the optimal way to kick off your rebrand efforts come from a combination of two simple concepts:

1. Audits: Most companies have disparate systems and various teams, past and present, involved in procuring branded materials. We have found the best success to discover what already exists is a good old-fashioned audit and visual inspection. Corporate and on-site photo audits are the best way to visually inspect, organize, and catalog your materials. This also provides insight into how to plan for inventory depletion. These audits include everything, like signage, print collateral, promotional products, apparel, digital marketing, and more.

2. Focus Groups: Unlike most consumer product industries, our residents literally live inside our product. Our associates work on-site, and many may live there as well. Conducting focus groups and surveys with the people that know our company the best is a cost-effective solution to ensure associates are included in the journey to build a refreshed brand.

Many forms of feedback are available, and the purpose of a focus group is to leverage both qualitative and quantitative feedback to produce the most effective business recommendations.

We believe satisfaction levels measured from real renter feedback are directly correlated to the likelihood of resident renewal, community referral, and rental rate tolerance. A successful execution roadmap will better position your brand launch for long-term, profitable success and real estate value creation.

Gathering the right amount of feedback from real associates is essential. The purpose of an associate rebrand focus group is to define what matters to your organization, curate a collection that supports it, and then align all your new tools with your customer experience vision and refreshed brand. Avoid the common mistake of assuming the small group working on your rebrand knows everything.

In addition, this is also the phase where you need to develop a communication plan. Rebranding will raise many questions, some you have prepared for and some that will be new, wildcard scenarios. Having a communication plan on hand ensures you can align your action steps to your communication plan.

Access the Full Rebrand Playbook

Rebranding Playbook

While we can't reveal our entire proprietary playbook, we can share a high-level review of each section.  To access the entire Rebrand Playbook, contact your Account Manager to discuss your project.  The playbook includes all quick-start resources, checklists, forms, and communication tools.  The process includes step-by-step guides to prepare for a thoughtful, intentional, and thorough brand launch that aligns with your company's vision, including: 

  • Getting Started | 2 Must-Haves to Get Started 
  • Determining What's Out There
  • Developing Your Rebrand Product Collection
  • Budgeting for a Rebrand
  • Audit, Audit, Audit
  • Finalize, Apply & Approve
  • Store Buildout / Administrative Portal Setup
  • Planning your Rebrand Rollout Experience
  • Post-Launch Reporting & Analytics 

3 Considerations for your Execution Journey

1.  With the right tools and partners, especially during this critical rebrand phase, your company stands a greater chance to enable wider spans of control while driving improved brand consistency. It is critical to bridge the gap between the marketing vision and the operational reality of a rebrand in multifamily marketing.

2.  Most rebrand refresh challenges are actually a strategic messaging or leadership engagement problem in disguise. We find that the most successful launches are a strategic company initiative that is owned, messaged, and lived at the highest level. Take inventory of your firm’s potential roadblocks to success by carefully reviewing and finding opportunities for key leaders to publicly address the rebrand.

3.  Remember why you started the rebrand in the first place. It’s easy to be excited about your new brand at the initial stages. It’s hard to keep the passion to see it through a successful execution. The companies that do it best have the determination and focus to keep the rebrand fire alive well after the honeymoon phase is over. Avoid the perils of a “set it and forget it” mindset.