Launching a New Brand to an Internal Audience

Launching a successful re-brand not only matters to the external audience, but to a brand’s internal people as well. In recent years, company culture has taken top ranking for what matters to current and future employees. How you treat your people matters. They are the face of your brand, and often, one of the first touchpoints consumers have with your organization. In a Forbes article, author, Benjamin Larkin, discusses how culture can be a company’s single most powerful advantage, “Employee expectations are closely tied to their values. When employers deliver on these expectations, they see more loyal and productive employees, which in turn improves business outcomes and propels company growth.”

A successful company culture includes internal communication. Josh Ong discusses this further in his article, “Why Your Brand Needs a Clear Internal Communications Strategy,” stating, “Internal communications is important because it puts everyone on the same page. Everyone’s marching toward the same goal, which in turn creates a more cohesive strategy and reduces confusion and inefficiencies.”

At Motion, we’ve concepted, developed, and executed many internal brand launches including deeply rooted, legacy brands. What we’ve learned is there are five key elements to ensuring you’re checking the right boxes.

Evaluate where employees currently stand.

How do employees feel about the brand? Are they proud? Excited? Motivated? Where are the gaps? What are the barriers? Being able to gauge where your people stand is an important first step to pivoting brand sentiment internally.

For one of our healthcare provider clients, Lightways Hospice & Serious Illness Care, we conducted qualitative and quantitative research through an all-staff survey and 1:1 interviews with select leaders and donors to better understand how they felt about the brand and organization overall. We learned there was a deep fondness with the legacy name.

Powered by our research findings, we were able to work with the client to pre-emptively combat questions and focus on remaining sensitive to the passion that came through with our internal audiences in primary research. This helped guide our strategic approach when it came to the tactical roll-out.

Get leadership on board.

Whenever change is involved, leadership buy-in is essential to a smooth transition. They set the pace for the rest of the organization and their voice should be the prominent one speaking to staff.

It’s a standard practice at Motion to include leadership upfront in research, planning, and crucial approvals along the way. We go one step further to gain leadership buy-in, utilizing a ‘brand task force.’ This is a more intimate group of leaders and prominent voices in the organization which we incorporate more frequently in the process. Having these voices continuously engaged results in a more seamless process due to early reviews and understanding of strategy to concepts and then implementation.

Include everyone.

A successful strategy should ensure every office, clinic, department, and person is included in your internal brand launch planning. Once your internal audiences have been identified, determine how you can reach them. If they can’t be a part of an on-site event, what are alternative ways to include them? How can you ensure that everyone experiences the news on the same day or week? Does communication differ between the internal audiences?

Our solution for Lightways was to mail personalized brand boxes to the entire staff prior to the internal launch. When opened, recipients found newly branded items and a FAQ sheet explaining what the re-brand means and what to expect moving forward. These boxes were a tangible way to bring the new brand to life during the virtual environment of COVID-19. The FAQs were designed to provide more context to employees and address the anticipated questions of ‘why’ and ‘when’ – questions we knew to expect based on our early research with internal audiences.

Be creative and informative.

A re-brand is, and should be, exciting. Forego the standard practices of e-blasts and town hall announcements and get creative tailoring your external campaign message to your internal audience. This is your chance to showcase the full depth of your new brand. At Motion, we love a good environmental graphic, wild posting ambush, or interactive tactic. 

Also, don’t forget to address what this means for your staff. Why is this important for them? What can they expect and what can they do to help showcase the new brand externally? You want them to feel included and informed by sharing your vision and the key messaging points of the new brand, along with the plans for the external campaign.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Lightways was unable to host an internal celebration launching the new brand. Inspired to still make this a special and memorable event, Motion worked with the client to create a virtual event to provide employees information and build excitement. The highlight? A carefully curated animated video unveiling the new name and tagline emphasizing the thoughtfulness of its inception.

Express your gratitude.

Most importantly, thank your people. They are key contributors to your success and ambassadors to your brand values and voice, within your walls and out in the community. Take the time to recognize their hard work, efforts, and commitment to the organization.

Launching a new brand takes a lot of time, effort, and money. That’s why a thorough rollout is essential to an easier and more enthusiastic transition. While you have been living with the new brand for some time now, the rest of your organization has not. Bring them under the tent and, as a united front, launch your brand externally.