After a little soul searching, and maybe a quick read of last week’s blog post, you’ve decided to rebrand your cannabis company. But now what? Coming up with an entirely new brand identity is one thing, but retooling and revising what you’ve already got is an entirely different story. Here are a few tips to help you pull off a successful rebranding.
Get Back to Basics
Although rebranding is a different journey than the initial branding process, many of the core concepts remain the same. The first thing you need to do before you start rebranding your cannabis company is to get back to the basics and start over. Ask yourself what your company’s core values are. Is it the same as when you started? How has it changed? Find out who your core customers are, find out what they like, and figure out how to best serve them. Even if you’re not doing a complete rebranding, it is essential to at the very least start by defining these basic principles. By getting back to your roots first, you will be better equipped to know where you should go next.
If you want to pull off a rebrand successfully, you’re going to need to document absolutely everything you do. If something goes wrong (or right) you will want to know exactly how it happened, who made the decision, and how to avoid (or repeat) the same decision in the future. Furthermore, strict documentation will help every stakeholder or member of your team stay in the loop and informed about the ongoing rebranding process. Make the records readily accessible for your team members and stakeholders. One way that you can keep records is by using apps like Evernote or Trello, which allows you to write notes that everyone on your team can see. You may also want to use applications like Slack, which not only will help you communicate with your team but also keep records of every conversation that your team has.
Keep What Works and Discard Everything Else
There are two common phrases which sum up this point perfectly: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” When you are going through the rebranding process, figure what works and what doesn’t. Maybe your logo is perfectly fine, but your target audience is what’s off. Don’t risk your brand’s integrity just to try something new. A great cautionary tale can be found in the clothing company Gap. In 2010, the company decided that it needed to refresh its brand. One of the ways Gap hoped to accomplish this was by rolling out a brand-new logo, which on its face is not wholly unreasonable. The problem is that there was nothing wrong with Gap’s original logo. Needless to say, the new logo was widely condemned, and the company quickly switched back to their old logo. Don’t be like Gap, keep what works and get rid of everything else.
The rebranding process is very much a journey, and like all journeys, you need to do your homework before you begin. In the case of physical journeys, this means looking at a map and plotting your course. In the case of rebranding, this means researching both your competitors and the market. Although you may have done research when you first launched your company, it always pays to refresh things.
The market will almost certainly have changed since the first time you launched your brand, so it is paramount that you find out all you can before doing going any further. Likewise, you will want to research your competition to see what they’re doing right and wrong. Aside from the fact that you just generally want to get a leg up on the competition, it’s also important to research your competitors so that you can better distinguish yourself. Nothing kills a brand faster than blending in with the crowd; do your homework!
Work with Key Stakeholders
If you want your cannabis rebrand to go off without a hitch, then you are going to have to work with the key stakeholders every step of the way; whether that is an investor or project manager. The reason why you want to keep everyone in the loop, aside from the fact that it is the right thing to do, is that you run the risk of derailing the whole project if you don’t.
You may think changing one aspect of the brand is a great idea, but others may not. Those other people may have the power to stop you from implementing your plans or they may merely be privy to something that you are not. When communicating with these key stakeholders, be sure to keep them abreast of things like:
- Project timelines
- Research that supports the decisions you’re making
- Any and all changes to the brand
- How this rebrand will affect them personally
Effective communication with everyone involved will not only save you time, but it will also help keep your good ideas from going down the toilet just because you didn’t say anything.
Create a Project Management Workflow
Let’s be honest, the term “Project Management Workflow” is probably one of the most boring phrases ever uttered, and yet, it is also one of the most critical aspects of the rebranding process. Everyone on your team needs to know what the objectives are, how you plan on achieving them, what their role in the process is, and what the time frame for those objectives are. If these things are not communicated, then your team may run the risk of doubling your efforts or spending more time on a task that is needed.
One way you can organize your cannabis rebrand workflow is by hiring a project manager. If you don’t have the budget for one, or you just want to help make the process more efficient, then it is paramount that you use task management software. Task management software will allow you to share objectives, assign team members to those objectives, and check off tasks that have been completed.
There are countless task management platforms out there; feel free to use whichever one that works for you. Asana is an excellent tool for task management. You can create tasks, subtasks, add team members, and more. There’s also Basecamp, Bitrix24, and even Evernote will work in a pinch. Go out there, try a few apps, and pick which one works best for you.
Plan the Rebrand Rollout
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised to learn how many people will go through the entire rebranding process and then have no plan for how to launch the rebrand. Simply changing everything about your brand and then telling no one that you did it or why you did it is a recipe for disaster. A great example of this can be found in the Microsoft Zune.
Launched in 2006, the Zune was meant to be a competitor to Apple’s iPod. Although it was cheaper than the iPod, had more features, and even offered a music subscription service; the Zune was a commercial failure. The reason why the Zune failed was that Microsoft never really planned the Zune’s launch past Day 1, and so the MP3 player never really found its footing.
As you go through the rebranding process, start thinking about how you’re going to launch it. Start writing press releases to explain the rebrand, reach out to publications or PR agencies to help get the word out. You may also want to think about how you will explain the rebrand to your employees as well since many of them will most likely be unaware of what’s happening. You may also want to consider hosting a launch party and invite industry tastemakers to get the word out.
Defend Your Brand
Regardless of whether your rebranding your company or not, defending the brand is one of the most important things you can do. People inside and outside of your company will want to tweak your company’s colors or change your message or simply be overly critical of the changes you made. When that happens, you need to stand firm on your decisions and defend them as hard as you can. This is your hill to die on. The most important thing about a brand is consistency, and if you’re not ready to defend your brand with every ounce of being, then you need to change what you’re doing.
No cannabis rebrand is guaranteed to succeed, but there are plenty of things that you can do to make sure that it has every chance of success. Understanding what makes your brand work, taking the time for work with everyone on your team, planning the rebrand launch, and doggedly defending your brand are just a few of the things you can do to make sure you cannabis rebrand goes off without a hitch.