Shhh – don’t tell my boss. The day before we relaunched our company website, I realized we’d never discussed who, exactly, was going to host the thing.
** SPOILER ALERT ** Rebranding a company is hard. It’s complicated, it’s frustrating, and it requires a lot of long days.
But it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of a marketer’s career – and a chance to materially impact the presence of his/her company. That’s why I love branding. You get to dig deep and uncover the true essence of your organization – its people, its culture, its values and goals. What it means to internal stakeholders, and what it means to its clients. And then, tenderly shaping all that into a cohesive, distinct personality.
So when my engineering and environmental consulting company, EMG, merged with the project management company, QPM, in September 2014, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the rebranding project. By the time the dust settled the following spring, our newly-combined, four-person strong, Marketing Team was ready to go; starting with the creation of a new visual identity, all the way to the integration and relaunch of our websites.
Fast forward six months. Launch Day was October 1, 2015, and my head has finally stopped whirling. I’d like to share some of the details of the experience while it’s still fresh, in the hopes that some of you marketers out there may find solace in knowing that you’re not alone. Rebranding an entire company can be a gigantic pain. But at the same time, it is marvelously fulfilling.
- A clean launch!
It’s a universal feeling: that combination of relief and pride when you see something you’ve worked so hard on come to fruition. And luckily, on Launch Day, everything seemed to come together. The website worked. Our clients had been informed. People were adopting the new email signatures. Ah, the sweet, sweet smell of success.
- Positive comments.
Of course I don’t need to be praised for my efforts at every turn – but it is nice to have a little acknowledgement once in a while. Even the smallest gestures can mean so much. I was delighted to have both clients and coworkers alike express their appreciation, “Website looks great,” or “Thanks for helping me with my resume One man even referred to me as “utterly fabulous.” Now tell me that wouldn’t put some pep in your step.
- Website work.
I’ve discovered that I love being involved with the design, messaging, and flow of a website. (And for better or worse, my web team actually allowed me to do it!) From suggesting a client-focused “what are you working on?” navigation for the homepage, to spending three hours one Friday night giddily surfing iStock for interesting banner photography – I got the biggest thrill out of helping to architect and construct my company’s “digital house.”
- The thrill of organization!
I can’t help it: I’m a geek for project management. Always have been. I find it incredibly gratifying to manage all the moving parts of a project and orchestrate them into a finished work of art. That said, this particular project was a huge challenge at times. There were roughly 150 pages of web content that needed to be written, rewritten, edited, or approved – and more than 10 people doing some phase of it at any given time. The site map kept changing. Vendors needed to be coordinated: Web developer; content writers; graphic designers; printers. Hundreds of pieces of collateral needed to be rebranded – from our EMG report templates to business cards, from presentations to envelopes. One night, I even found myself ordering EMG-branded balloons from my hotel bed.
(Incidentally, I have to admit that my organizational style is pretty basic. I write lists, I keep Excel spreadsheets of projects and due dates, and I set reminders in my Outlook calendar. But it works for me.)
- Becoming an office recluse.
Maybe I should have expected this one. But with so much to do, and the rest of my Marketing Team working from remote offices, I tended to come into work early in the morning, plop down at my open-air cubicle, insert my earbuds, and for the next 10-12 hours, bang away at my keyboard, make phone calls, and try to mentally track my 17 open windows. My sincerest apologies to the coworkers sitting around me – I did not mean to ignore you.
However, I am happy to report that I have begun the re-entry process back into office civilization. I even went out to lunch the other day with a coworker. Nothing will soothe your tired, post-launch soul like a chicken quesadilla and good conversation.
- Assuming the role of Brand Police.
Shudder. Nobody likes this job – not even marketers. It’s just no fun informing grown adults that they need to correct the colors on their email signatures, or that no, they can’t keep using the old logo just because they don’t like the new one. But for better or worse, it’s a marketer’s job to protect the integrity of the brand she has worked so hard to create.
- Insensitive comments.
True, people generally don’t like change. But I’d been hopeful that my excitement for our new-everything would maybe rub off on the other 499 people in my company. Imagine my dismay when, after spending a month toiling through every detail of our new style guidelines, I overheard one coworker refer to our new orange color as “hideous.” Insert sad face.
(Tip: Save those positive comments in a file – mine’s called “Warm Fuzzies” – and refer to them whenever you need a pick-me-up!)
Rebranding your company can be an incredible opportunity, not only for your personal growth as a marketer, but for the clarity of your company’s message. Remember along the way that all the late nights and frustrating status calls will pay off in the end – and for every insensitive comment you receive from naysayers, there are likely two more who appreciate your efforts. So buckle up and enjoy the ride. You’ll get to stop for lunch when it’s over!
A special thanks to Kate Neilson, a Marketing Manager with EMG, for her funny and insightful guest blog post!
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