1. What is rebranding?
The term ‘rebranding’ is often used incorrectly and loosely, but the best way to understand it would be to first establish what it is not. Rebranding is not just about changing the logo of a company, or its colour scheme or even changing other visual representations of the brand.
It is about understanding and analysing the changes in the external environment of the organisation as well as in its internal functioning and then channelling these insights to ensure a comprehensive restaging of the brand.
However, this restaging retains the best from the past and provides continuity to the story of the brand. For this reason, it requires a study of the brand’s track record with utmost precision and care to ensure consistency while renewing it.
When done well, rebranding brings a higher level of brand intelligence into the decision-making process of the organisation. It helps clarify for everyone what to expect from the brand, brings a higher degree of trust and confidence and imbues the brand with magnetism that helps attract talent and resources.
This repositioning of the brand is rooted in a new unified narrative that is communicated to the market using a new logo, a new look and feel, and creative communication across all touch-points, including the website.
Rebranding is one of the most powerful ways to connect with and commit to your external stakeholders while also energising and inspiring your employees.
2. When is a good time to rebrand?
Rebranding involves revisiting the Foundational Brand Assets of your organisation.
These assets help define what you wish to stand for and hence, ensure clarity in future decision making. They also help formalise the marketing function beyond the intuition of the founder/entrepreneur.
Rebranding is typically done when an organisation has undergone a significant change in its external or internal context. In our experience, we’ve seen a few patterns in the kind of brands that have come to us for rebranding.
Trusted, well-established, profitable but intuitively built brands preparing for a more competitive future by modernising themselves.
Healthily growing brands in an emerging category that are keen to amplify their presence.
Early stage ideas (start-ups) that need to be sharpened and captured in a compelling vocabulary to attract resources.
Not-for-profits wanting to create greater affinity around their cause among different stakeholders.
Occasionally, we also get a client who has the courage to revisit the Foundational Assets on a brand that is formally managed and is well-established. There are many marquee brands that we can think of who are in need of not just a refresh but a serious overhaul. These brands were once role models for the marketing fraternity in a different era but are now running on past momentum. However, given the short tenures of middle managers, such introspections are rare.
3. Brand Positioning, Verbal Branding, Selective Touchpoints… I’m lost! Can you explain the jargon to us?
Here’s a breakdown of some terms you are likely to hear us use often:
Core Values: The brand’s characteristic way of working
Core Purpose: An expression of how the brand wants to change the world
Strategic Segmentation: Meaningfully different and actionable groups of customers in a particular market
Brand Positioning: the distinctive benefit that the brand aims to deliver
Brand Personality: The human characteristics of the brand, its tone and style
Meta-narrative: The big story of the brand that provides it context and character
Thought Leadership stance: The point of view about the change the brand is seeking to make in the world
Magnetic Essence: The most attractive truth about the brand
Naming and Architecture: A visual system that defines how many brands are needed, how they work and tell a story together
Verbal Branding: A pithy, memorable phrase that can be deployed in a number of media, from email signature to social media.
Visual Identity: The logo and its rendition across different contact points
Brand Identity Guidelines: A manual that sets the rules for the consistent presentation of the logo and its extensions
Thought Leadership Content: Content that delivers a brand’s differentiating perspective by combining real-world experience and evidence
Website: The home base of the brand where it comes together as a totality
Selective Touchpoints: Vehicle, Newsletter, Brochure, Environmental Graphics, Packaging etc.
4. What does Foundational Assets of brand marketing really mean?
There is a myth that marketing can be done in a swashbuckling way. That gut-feel and anecdotal opinions can be relied on for clarity. Truth is that, much like an architect’s blue-print, a marketing journey needs rigorous thinking through. This blue-printing is called a BRAND STRATEGY.
Organisations are usually very good at controlling the supply side of their work – talent, technology, finance, supply chain etc. However, the demand side is usually less controllable as the consumer is not on your payrolls. In fact, she has a range of choices to pick from. Often people underestimate this dynamic and believe that ‘if we make it, they will come’.
Our work, then, is about making sure your marketing isn’t flying blind. Even before you spend a rupee on ‘publicity’, there are 3 things that need to be worked out –
- In depth market understanding of customer segments, competitive space and equity of various brands within your crosshairs.
- Definition of what your brand would stand for in terms of its distinctive benefit and its personality.
- Translation of these traits into a compelling IDENTITY and the more enduring expressions of it in the form of brand assets.
Only when these aspects are thoroughly sorted out, can your marketing be effective. Contrary to popular notions, marketing is not about some form of showmanship, playing with and manipulating the truth, or hollow publicity. It is about deeply understanding the needs of your consumer and your own offering and aligning the two for mutual benefit.
Foundational Assets of brand marketing is about getting this alignment right.
5. We are already doing great work. Why do we need marketing and branding?
Whether we like it or not, each one of us is competing for attention. As a business or as a not-for-profit, as a firm or as an individual, the most precious commodity today is getting people to pay attention to your work. In that context, getting your story across quickly and with impact is of critical importance.
Unfortunately, the word ‘marketing’ is often associated with hype, showmanship, manipulation and a host of other malpractices. It is a distortion that needs to be corrected. We believe the fundamental role of marketing is to create better customers. Very often, that role boils down to educating people (as users, as employees and as influencers) about how your offering is the best fit for certain situations and when it is not.
The stakes are high and usually, the budgets are low. Investing in getting your narrative right at an early stage can give your brand the magnetism to attract the right target audience. It not only helps attract external resources, but very often, also provides a boost of inspiration for those already onboard.
6. While choosing a branding agency, what should one look for?
The critical distinction to make here is that ‘branding’ is a loosely used term for a range of services that are needed in a specific sequence –
- MARKET RESEARCH provides you a lay of the competitive land, segmentation of customers and the equity various existing brands enjoy in your market.
- BRAND STRATEGY helps define how your offering can be competitively different in terms of its benefits and its style.
- IDENTITY crafts that differentiation into a naming system, logo, colour scheme etc. These are the most enduring, visible elements of the presentation of your brand.
- PUBLICITY of the brand through various forms of agencies – advertising, PR, digital etc.
Unfortunately, the ‘branding’ industry has been guilty of miss-selling and a vast majority of firms promise clients each of the specialisations above by giving it an umbrella term called ‘branding’. Each of these is a unique specialisation and requires deep expertise acquired over years.
Moreover, the first 3 skills are housed in firms with a totally different rhythm and culture from those of the fourth category. Research, strategy and design are usually project based, patient, deep work oriented cultures while publicity agencies are youthful, energetic places promising savings of cost and time.
Another important aspect to consider is that a publicity agency is organised around particular media and to that extent will be conflicted about looking for media-neutral solutions. In this day and age, when there are so many options to choose from, you need someone who can think on behalf of what is right for the brand.
7. Our organisation is struggling to survive, is this branding exercise right for us?
Our intent is to help you take your business to the next level. Our involvement might be an indulgence for a client who is bleeding. If that’s the case, we will tell you.
In our experience, branding is not effective in solving short-term issues. If you are facing operational or sales and lead generation issues, consultants operating in that space will be able to help you better.
8. What kind of clients usually hire Cracker & Rush?
In our experience, we have found rebranding is most relevant for:
Established brands running on past momentum
New-age aspirants in emerging sectors
To know more, read about Our Ideal Client here.
9. What type of problems do clients usually come to Cracker & Rush with?
The actual brief almost always gets redefined into solving a deeper set of issues for the business. However, here are a some of the typical problems clients to come to us with –
- Naming and packaging of new offerings
- Update and revamp of website to reflect current realities
- Brand extension into new categories
- B2B business foraying into the B2C space
- Refreshing brand in the wake of international competition
- Positioning and magnifying brand in a cluttered category
- Premiumization of a trusted but undervalued brand
- Revitalizing brand to deal with intensifying competition
- Organising portfolio of offerings into a neat, synergistic system of brands that are easy to trust and understand
- Help sharpen and simplify the brand story for the world to better appreciate it
Our approach in each case is similar. We first look at all the tangible and intangible assets at the client’s disposal. And then we line them in a way that the entire idea is sustainably differentiated. However, to get to that point we go through a rigorous diagnostic process. This process ensures that everyone internally is aligned to the final action plan and can move ahead with clarity and confidence.
10. Are there things that you don’t do?
Over time, we have zeroed in on a few policies that help us create the kind of relationships and outputs we can be proud of. This has helped us develop a clear understanding of what we can and will do, and what we won’t.
Here are a things we don’t do and, as we keep learning, some more may follow.
- We don’t pitch. Our work and our approach are available for anyone to see. We are happy to sit with you and help you navigate the choices in front of you. Our priority is to establish a fit, not win a deal. We don’t see any reason to waste time in showing customized work without getting paid for it.
- We don’t discount. Our quotes are based on a fair and honest assessment of the value we provide to a particular client. If the client cannot afford the proposed solution, we offer alternatives which work within the given budget
- We don’t take on stand-alone research or design engagements. The blending of the two disciplines is what we bring to the table, and this integration is a rare combination.
- Once the strategy is agreed upon, we insist on developing the first set of all creative outputs. It is important for you, as clients, to allow us to do that and set the template that others can subsequently follow.
We don’t do time-sheets. All our projects are fixed fee-based, with clear scope definition.
11. How does Cracker & Rush charge for its engagements?
Each engagement goes through a journey from diagnostics through recommendations followed by application and ongoing re-application of the identity. Fee for the DIAGNOSTIC and PRESCRIPTIVE stages is agreed upon in advance and billed with the achievement of certain milestones.
In case we work on the brand identity, we charge in a similar manner. For ongoing replication of the identity, we have a time-based billing rate.
We also charge a nominal fixed monthly amount towards communication and travel expenses.
12. How does Cracker & Rush arrive at a fee for an ENGAGEMENT?
Over the years, we have developed thumb rules to arrive at a fair pricing model. We begin each new client relationship with providing you options for the engagement.
Our pricing model hinges on two fundamental questions:
- Nature of engagement
a. Only strategic branding recommendations.
b. Strategic recommendations plus identity & website development.
c. Strategic recommendations plus development of an entire range of touch points including the website.
Our pricing is directly correlated to the amount of risk we carry on behalf of the client.
At the highest level, we are responsible for both, the recommendations as well as the implementation of an idea. At the most basic, clients hire us to do the diagnostics which includes analysis of the situation and some recommendations. In those cases, the in-house resources or other external agencies take care of the execution and the project management.
- Nature of firm
The size of the organisation determines the extent of effort involved. Every organisation has a different number of people having opinions, insights and experiences around the existing brand. The more the pie-holders, the higher our effort. After all, our process is meant to merge multiple perspectives so that they align with ground realities.
Our relationships are structured in phases to accomplish specific objectives within a certain timeframe. Depending on the nature of the engagement, our client’s investments range from Rs. 20 Lakh to Rs. 2 Crore over the course of a multi-year relationship.
- Nature of engagement
13. We are a small organisation with little or no budget for this kind of work. Can we still find a way to work with Cracker & Rush?
There are 2 ways in which we consider a small engagement –
- We have spare capacity and the client comes along with an exciting challenge.
- Helping the client take a more informed decision through a diagnostic process by the end of which either a client is convinced of the value of the larger exercise or is able to redefine the problem in a manner that the solution can be developed in-house.
We are a small team and usually our best work happens in really deep engagements with a small set of clients and we prefer to keep it that way.
14. What about ROI?
Really speaking, given the intangible and artistic nature of these outputs, it is difficult to give a scientific basis for an RoI. Our clients have been satisfied with the experience and clearly see the value in giving us repeat work.
There is one thing you can do to get maximum return from this exercise – get educated on the process involved and what you can expect with each milestone. We will involve you throughout and keep the process completely transparent.
At the end of the exercise, you would have created a number of core assets that lucidly articulate your uniqueness for both, internal and external stakeholders. This will lead to aligned employee behaviour and a consistent experience for the customer. We call this orchestrated action. That’s your ROI.
15. Our organisation has never done this before. How will we stay in the loop and feel comforted by the progress being made?
Do check out our process. At every point in time, you will feel well informed. We begin each project with that assurance.
16. What if Cracker & Rush is not the right fit for us?
Our ultimate aim is to help you become self-sufficient in building your brand. So our process is designed to help you participate and be a part of the entire journey so that you can take over and run with the ongoing maintenance of the brand at your convenience.
If we feel that you will be wasting time and money by engaging us, we will tell you upfront.
We would ideally like to do both strategy and design for you. That’s our killer combo. In case you already have a design agency, we will gladly work with them as long as we are convinced of their ability to deliver in your best interest. We want the best for your organisation. Even if it doesn’t come from us.
We make no compromises while representing you. If we or an agency we hired (research firm, design firm etc.) does not deliver an authentic output, we will redo the task and bear the cost. Chances are that you won’t even hear about this additional cost and effort. We call this process integrity.
17. Are you always as self-assured as you sound?
We are the least self-assured at the beginning of every project. Quite often, we feel as if this is the most difficult challenge we’ve faced till date. We are anxious to study your domain, your market. We are keen to deliver the promises that we have made to you.
When we feel this uncertainty, we know that we have, yet again, embarked on a journey worth undertaking. That’s when we are ready to give it our best shot.