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Most companies will have to rebrand several times over their lifespans. As a CEO in the e-learning industry for two decades, I’ve seen lots of rebranding examples — where companies change their visual identity, mission, product names, go-to-market approach and more.
Speaking from experience, rebranding isn’t a walk in the park — it can take up to 18 monthsand typically rebrand every seven to 10 years. It isn’t just about changing your logo or rearranging a few words in your company boilerplate. Rather, it’s important to dig deep into the “why” behind your rebrand — the logo and messaging are reflections of that.
Plus, because you’re going to change your strategy and possibly internal processes, you need to be prepared for resistance to change (from employees, partners, clients, etc.) and be able to address it.
That’s why it always baffles me when people don’t mention training — or treat it as an afterthought — when rebranding. What good is changing your mission statement if sales reps don’t receive training to incorporate it in client interactions? Your rebranding efforts won’t pay off if employees can’t see the relevance.
Here are a few points to consider when creating rebranding training.
1. Develop training in parallel with rebranding
Developing training alongside rebranding ensures that businesses keep employees in the loop. It also builds excitement around what’s to come and cuts down on misinformation. The learning and development (L&D) department can work with marketing to create training materials and release them when appropriate, adding more as the process advances.
The easiest way to plan your training is to first decide what training employees will need, and then schedule it around the rebranding timeline. If you plan to enter a new market, you might create training that explains the go-to-market strategy, buyer persona and business goals. You don’t need to make this available right away to the whole company if there’s sensitive information you need to keep under wraps.
It’s also good practice to tailor courses for each department. For example, sales training should include information about the brand’s visual identity, as well as the ideal customer persona. My company’s recent rebranding included an online course explaining how sales reps should work with marketing to request new promotional material.
In short, give employees the tools they need to be part of the process and help make it a success.
2. Link rebranding training to job goals
Training is a great opportunity to showcase how the rebranding will help employees achieve their goals.
Rebranding training prepares employees to deal with future job demands and responsibilities, whether it’s using a new company name or adopting a different approach when interacting with clients. However, simply telling employees what to do isn’t enough; they need to understand why and how it benefits them.
So, lead with the “why” of training at the start of each session. For example, if you want to target a different market, you also need to tweak the main marketing message. Explain how this new message will help leads grasp the product’s benefits — making it easier for sales reps to start conversations with prospects and hit their targets.
With well-thought-out and timely training, leadership doesn’t have to constantly justify the rebrand — let training do this for you.
3. Involve employees in training
Most companies launch rebranding internally first, so employees have time to adjust. What’s more, their feedback is also important. Employees (especially those who’ve been at the company a long time, and are in leadership or client-facing positions) can help with decisions about the strategy.
Key employees can also spread your rebranding message and even lend a hand in creating training for colleagues. Importantly, ambassadors can also clarify any misunderstandings and help build excitement.
Adopting this bottom-up approach is, admittedly, more time-consuming than a Zoom meeting where you announce changes. However, involving employees leads to a more effective and “sticky” rebrand, and you’re making a statement that employee voice matters in your organization.
4. Don’t forget about the client
Focusing on employees first is natural since they’re directly involved in and affected by the rebranding process, in one way or another. At the same time, remember why you’re likely doing this in the first place: to build a stronger connection with clients.
Your clients or prospects are more likely to be confused and misinterpret your new direction if things aren’t clear enough. One way to avoid this is to use client training to your advantage, especially if you’re rebranding a product or transforming how users interact with it.
Client education is a major part of my company’s strategy since we work with schools, corporations and individuals who have used the product for many years and want to get the most out of their investments. So my client training tips for a rebrand include:
- Use this opportunity to improve your help section and user guides.
- Design a better user onboarding experience to help clients increase their ROI.
- Create on-demand courses that help clients better use the product.
- Find PR opportunities to help you explain directly to clients why and how you plan to rebrand.
- Build a new certification program for clients who want to become resellers or proficient users. You can also use client certification as a path to brand ambassadorship, with perks for helping spread your rebranding message.
Well-planned rebranding training drives outstanding results
A successful rebranding depends on training, so employees feel equipped to deal with the changes and are actively involved.
In this fast-paced business environment, companies can’t afford to stagnate. If and when the time is right, rebranding is one of the most important investments you’ll make — so build a reliable training plan to support your efforts.