Parent companies. Subsidiaries. Daughter companies. Expanded product offerings. Spinoffs. All of these corporate structure changes impact your brand, and peoples’ perception of it.
These scenarios present an important brand architecture challenge. Just as a high-rise tower needs architectural planning for aesthetic and human needs, companies need to be proactive when it comes to a change in their structure. Otherwise, like a building that nobody likes, you may risk being misunderstood by your stakeholders.
The key to a successful expansion of services or products is to ensure your corporate brand evolves along with your corporate structure. Here are four key steps to keep your organization on track during this process:
Step 1: Engage in Brand Planning to Ensure Trust
Brand planning is all about thinking into the future. Questions like, “What if?” and “What’s a great future newspaper headline?” can help you put on your planning hat. A good brand planner will also help you articulate the essence of each business unit, as well as rationalize the change in a meaningful manner.
Start your planning process by gathering your executive team together and asking:
- How are the various business operations of each of your offerings related?
- Should they be related, or remain separate entities?
- How do they complement each other and bolster the bottom line of the parent company?
- Does your current brand structure suit the addition of a new entity, or does there need to be some hard thinking about something new and fresh?
Often, the addition of a new corporate entity is a great time to refresh the brand so that it stands for something across all business units.
Our industrial electrical client, Western Integrated, created a spinoff company for residential service. We provided them with brand strategy, naming and identity design.
Brand structure and inter-relatedness helps drive meaning and understanding. Planned creativity helps drive consistency, which in turn drives trust. The fact is, consumers, customers, clients, investors, everyone will always go with a trusted partner. It’s in our nature.
Step 2: Invest in Design that Conveys the Message
A brand is represented by its identity (logo and related creative elements) and its basic common look and feel elements. When a new related entity is added to the mix it will need its own logo, within the existing structure of the brand, to ensure customers understand the breadth of your company’s offering. This is where a great design team can help ensure consistency and differentiation at the same time. It’s a fine line, and should be left up to the professionals.
Step 3: Implement the New Brand Through Storytelling
The addition of a new business unit provides a great opportunity for a brand campaign to educate your customers, clients and most importantly, staff. In fact, communicating your new structure is vital. This avoids the dreaded phrase, “Oh, I didn’t know you guys did that.”
Ensure you have a budget for a brand campaign that tells the story of your corporate structure in a manner that keeps the customer squarely in mind. It’s not enough to simply communicate a change. Customers want meaning, so you’d better have your story straight.
After we developed the identity system and website for Western Integrated’s sister company, Western Integrated Home, we created awareness through a website and digital ad campaign.
Step 4: Monitor the Health of the Brand
Once you launch your new business unit, keep an eye on business success indicators like revenue, profit, and customer and employee satisfaction. Brand is king. It gives human qualities to a non-human entity (your business). If it’s not resonating with customers and staff alike, there may be a chink in the armour.
Taking a look at your social media channels will help to take a temperature check and, fortunately, customers will be honest. Take that feedback to heart, and find ways to tweak your messaging to ensure it really resonates with your customers.
In a nutshell, complicated changes to business structure need to be understood and embraced by your stakeholders. Creative professionals are business professionals and they have training to assist you through this kind of architecture assignment. If you leave it too late, or if you don’t give the architecture budget and brain power, you’ll miss an opportunity to drive understanding, and more importantly, meaning—which translates into a healthier bottom line for your business.
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