THE BLOG
01/22/2014 06:21 pm ET Updated Mar 24, 2014

How Rebranding at an Organization Starts From Within

Company rebranding means creating a concept that not only motivates and energizes customers, but also -- most importantly -- your team. At all levels, from management to staff, your team must understand and believe how your company is going to change and improve. If they don't, the company will never evolve, and no amount of external rebranding will make believers of your outside audiences.

According to John Marshall, senior partner and global director of strategy at Lippincott, the global brand strategy company, data indicates that less than 50 percent of employees believe in their company's brand idea, and even fewer are prepared to deliver on it. The outdated model of reaching out to the external audience with rebranded material first just doesn't work anymore. And today, most successful companies instead rebrand from the inside out.

They do this by establishing long-term internal goals and implementing concrete initiatives that help their teams understand and relate to the brand's refined purpose and messaging. By making their teams part of the evolutionary process of the brand, they create zealous brand ambassadors that back up any external efforts launched.

To succeed at rebranding, whether making small changes or undergoing a complete overhaul, I recommend the following ideas, which are based on my own experience in rebranding MAACO:

1. Dive into your company's culture.

Look at your roots and core competencies, and use those to create a game plan of deliverables that you ultimately give your consumers -- those that your company needs to innovate, grow and become more profitable. This game plan should include notable and actionable guides for your team that make it clear what actions will be rewarded. It's as simple as recreating your corporate pillars to match your rebranding initiatives, and guiding your team toward strengthening those pillars in their new form. To do this you need a solid game plan, updated training programs and sometimes even new reward systems -- all of which should drive your newly established goals.

In our efforts to rebrand at MAACO, we provided every team member specific goals to serve as a guide for where we want to be and who we want to be as a company. In particular, we set "customer first" as a top priority, and all of our training and rewards are geared toward making that a reality. To help get that effort off the ground, we created the Tony Martino Mentoring Program, named for our founder and mentor, which pairs the most successful MAACO team members -- those who are best at attracting and retaining customers -- with those who need guidance. Knowing that this will help our team members adopt our new initiatives allowed us to set relevant goals to motivate them to both take part in the rebrand and become the driving force behind the new MAACO.

2. Integrate your key message into everything you do.

Rebranding means developing a new story. While you should work to maintain the core of your brand, company rebranding needs the story of why it's happening, not only how. This explanation is what reaches your audience. And explaining your story should begin with those playing out your story -- your teams. Your team members need to understand how the playbook is changing and why, not just that they need to change.

Therefore, all internal communication -- not just the guidelines -- should support your story. From internal blogs, to updates on the company's business goals and vision, it's important to dedicate time to conveying in detail what this journey is about to your employees.

3. Never limit the reach of your brand message.

When you have made sure that your teams are on board, it's time to take that spirit and enthusiasm for your new brand to the public. But branding is much more than advertising, events and promotions. You can't expect that simply introducing a new logo will change customer's perception of you.

It's a feeling that you exude at every touch point. Spreading marketing dollars to improve, refresh and update the customer experience from service to signpost will yield higher returns and directly impact your success.

At MAACO, continuing with our priority to put the customer first, have updated our centers to be customer-centric at every turn. We have simplified the process for repair and choosing paint, we've added more variety that is easy to see and readily accessible and we've added technology to make the experience easy and stress-free. And since implementing these changes, we have started to see sales lifts close to 10 percent.

We attribute this success to not only having our team members on board -- through training and messaging -- but also to transparency. Our team members and our consumers can see how changes are happening. This creates a clear, trustworthy environment where internal members want to thrive and customers want to leave their car.

Rebranding a company is hard. Many try, many fail -- including big-name brands with years of business experience. If your company is still operating the same way it did when it launched, it's stagnant. The best way to keep your brand vital is keeping your internal audience refreshed and on board.