The Change Called Rebranding

The brand is the soul of a company and that is why it requires professional care at every step of its updating

The Change Called Rebranding

Снимка: Pixabay

Автор: Tatyana Yavasheva

Rebranding is a word that has entered our new market reality. It describes not only the change from the outside, but also from the inside, although even just the visual change can be considered as a rebranding. Despite it being just a formality. True rebranding, however, is not a perfunctory process. There may be many reasons for such a step - mergers or acquisitions, entry into a new business niche, expansion of the portfolio of services, expected growth - especially international. The brand may have lost influence and the time may have come for refreshment and “brand lifting”. Whatever the reasons, whatever the scale, the process of rebranding is important because the brand is the soul of every company. And in order not to become an end in itself, everything must be well thought out, planned and realised. If we are to only change the sign, it may not be worth the effort and the investment.

With questions on the topic, we turn to three business representatives – from a large and a small company, which have gone through rebranding, and to a strategic marketing consultant.

Iliana Zaharieva, Director of Corporate Communications, A1 Bulgaria:

With А1 We Brought the Client Experience to a Whole New Level

 The rebranding does not include only a visual change, but also a series of improvements so that our network is the best in Bulgaria

- Ms. Zaharieva, what do you feel when you hear the word “rebranding”, after all your efforts to build a new image for the company?

- Now, a few months after the rebranding, when we can say that all was completed successfully, the word “rebranding” fills me only with positive emotions. The efforts, the time, the tense expectation, the hundreds of tasks that we had to do – all those things fused into the great feeling when you overcome a big challenge. I say successfully” because our surveys shows that 95% of all A1 clients already know that Mtel is A1. We have about 40% spontaneous recognition – something that few 5 months old brands can boast of. We also extended our services portfolio and implemented new working standards. 

- Let’s remind our readers how this significant change from Mtel to A1 happened?

- The company that we belong to – A1 Group – had an idea to unify all its European markets under one common brand. Our incorporation into that A1 Group brand, which is part of the fourth largest telecom group in the world América Móvil, allowed us to provide our clients with access to the most recent technologies and innovations in the sector. We wanted to undertake a full transformation with the goal to bring us closer to our clients and to make their life in the digital era easier and more fun.

- Could you please point out some of the key moments of the whole transformation?

- The rebranding had a few key aspects. At the beginning of the project we organized a series of meetings with experts from the whole company. During those meetings, we clarified the formula of what a successful rebranding should be, so that it leads not only to a simple name and logo change, but a whole transformation placing the clients at the core of all our processes.

We also organized a preliminary campaign that aimed to prepare our clients and partners for the upcoming rebranding. The campaign introduced A1 Group and América Móvil, which were unknown to most of our clients. It gave us the communication basis that helped us have a logically-sound and successful rebranding. Another key aspect were the activities aimed at our employees, which prepared them for the future changes and for the new work methods. There were also dozens of other key moments, which I believe is usual for such a huge project.

- How and with what resources did you plan and implemented the corporate rebranding?

- The main driver that we relied on to carry us was the professional and expert potential that we have as one of the leading Bulgarian companies. At A1, we have one of the best specialists in different fields and their expertise played a key role for the successful rebranding. Who else could be so dedicated to e project of such scale if not the people inside who are constantly striving to make the company better? Of course we also worked with a lot partners who helped us during the visual transformation of the brand.   

- What is the approximate estimation of the financial investments in the rebranding?

- We have to clarify that the rebranding does not include only the visual change of the brand. In addition to our 250 stores that had to be entirely transformed, the rebranding also included internal restructuring, reorganization of processes, functions and whole departments in the company. We improved the infrastructure and the software of our network, the internal systems and many other things that aimed to prove that our clients have on their disposal the best network in Bulgaria. The invested resources in all that amounts to approximately EUR 2 million.  

- Is the cost of so many resources and efforts to introduce a new brand justifiable, if the old one is well perceived and recognized on the market?

- Definitely yes. The old brand was mainly perceived as a mobile operator. However, we had outgrown this definition long ago as we are currently operating as a new generation full telco – we offer TV, fixed internet, own channels with the best sports content, we offer digital financial services, a streaming music platform and many other innovative solutions both for businesses and for end users. The change was necessary so that our clients can learn about this. With A1 we brought the client experience to a whole new level.

- What is your advice for anyone who dares to try such a huge transformation?

- Organization and consistency – that is the key. When everyone knows what, how and in what deadline something must be done, the mission becomes possible. I am not surprised that we made it because A1 has a wonderful team. However, such a rebranding cannot be seen every day.

- Your rebranding was awarded during the annual BAAwards. Did you have any competition?

- We certainly knew that there is no company of our scale that had rebranded or  implement a campaign of such significant scale in 2018. That is why we were not surprised that we received the award. The prize is an acknowledgement for all our efforts and definitely brings us satisfaction.

NeykoNeykov, Manager of Responsa Prevent OOD:

With a new name, we are moving towards higher growth

We learn from the rebranding experience of others before us, but we will probably make our own mistakes


- Mr. Neykov, how did you decide to rebrand and even change your company’s name?

- The group of companies I represent has been in Bulgaria for over 12 years. Under the name Team Prevent, we have built a good reputation for health and safety services. But our desire was to expand, as was the vision of our German co-owners. Meanwhile, we joined another large international group with know-how in the area of safety. On Bulgarian ground, however, we are part of a group of companies under the name Responsa.

- What is the focus of the activity of Responsa Prevent?

- We offer consulting services in the area of health and safety, and for a year and a half, we have also entered the automotive sector. Bulgarian legislation requires each company to carry out certain activities related to the so-called occupational medicine. But we also offer additional know-how – suchas for a safe kindergarten and safe school, safe construction; we also help a number of other businesses to work safely. We're even developing rules for a safe home.

- How did you choose the new company name?

- We decided to make a change, which was to show our affiliation to a business family, behind which actually stands a family business. Responsa Prevent is our response to the necessary prevention. We put a big smile in our logo because we want people in Bulgaria to smile more.

- What gives you confidence that the enormous effort for this change is worth it?

- When the company sets its goals and its team is inspired to achieve them, we gain confidence that everything will go well.

- How did you go through the rebranding until now?

- This is not an easy process at all. We use social networks, but also media, and the campaigns are of different length.

- Do you use external support?

- Of course, we work with a marketing and an advertising agency. They help us actively and that is why I'm sure that without them, it would be a lot harder.

- According to the initial calculations, how expensive would your rebranding be?

- We will know how much it will cost when we pay the bill. The campaign will end in two years, and it is then that we will recapitulate.

- Before you threw yourselves into the deep, did you investigate what mistakes were made by others before you?

- The marketing agency gathered many examples of successful and unsuccessful campaigns. We understood, for example, that the overexposure of the statement “We are the old Company Team Prevent” would set us back. Surely we will also make mistakes, our mistakes.

- Which is then the right approach when the name is to be changed? How to communicate with those who know you with your old name?

- We were advised to work openly with our current clients and inform them in advance so that they wouldn’t be surprised by the change.

- Did you tell them the exact date of the change?

- Yes, we told them and... we lied to them. Because, just when we filed the re-registration documents, the Commercial Register collapsed. Sometimes fate plays a bad joke, but everyone we worked with at that time knew what was happening.

- What did you do on the day when the new name was announced?

- At the start of the rebranding, 17 October 2018, we sent to all our partners information that the change is already a fact. We received many greetings and emotional messages that charged us with positive energy.

- What will you say to all those who are yet to decide to go your way?

- I will tell them to work for the name, and it will reward them for their efforts. Many Bulgarian companies don’t invest in the creation of a memorable name and a powerful logo.

- But you have been working for twelve years for a name that you gave up...

- We are convinced we reached the top with our previous name. The expansion of our portfolio of services became the reason for the rebranding. “We share your responsibility” is our new slogan. There is a reason for this - in Bulgaria the only guilty person is the employer. We provide a guarantee for our services and we are ready to share the responsibility of the employer.

- But how do we identify the right people for the right job, called corporate rebranding?

- Bad marketing is better than the lack of any marketing. It is better to walk boldly ahead and make mistakes than to be afraid to do anything. In Bulgaria, there are already good consultants, but no one knows the company better than the people who work in it.

MiroslavaIvanova, Chartered Marketer, Strategic Marketing Consultant and Manager of Miracle Works:

Healthy change comes from the outside, but also from the inside

If a company has good products and a poor market presence, it is better to seek marketing approaches for better positioning instead of investing in rebranding

- Ms. Ivanova, when is the best time to rebrand a certain company?

- In Bulgaria, this usually happens when there is a change in the ownership. The first thing every international company, which buys another company on the Bulgarian market,does is to rebrand its offices and conduct its communication campaigns with a new logo, new values​and promises to its current and future clients. If we look from a marketing point of view, the reasons may be more - for example, the desire to reposition on the market, to enter into new market segments, meet new consumer needs, create new product lines.   

- What are the pros and cons of rebranding?

- The pros can be many, in cases when behind the overall rebranding, there is a serious strategy, which is subject to business goals and client satisfaction, better recognition, greater trust, and, ultimately, increased sales and market share. Unfortunately, most of these projects are being done just because they are seen as a communication strategy and an opportunity to stand out on the market with the new brand.

Among the cons are the high costs, but also the possible deterioration of the company's market position rather than its improvement. If the “outer façade” is rebranded, but “from within” nothing changes, and if the campaigns promise miracles, but in reality the products and services are changing in a negative direction, then, this rebranding and the invested funds are simply unprofitable. Or, in other words, when you spend huge amounts for rebranding and communication, but you can’t get them back from the sales in the medium-term, then your investment is unnecessary.

- In which cases do you recommend this difficult path to be walked along, and in which you don’t?

- If we have a company with a long experience on the market, but with outdated product lines, inconsistencies in the corporate identity, outdated brand image, low sales, but good distribution at the same time, then rebranding would be an appropriate strategy.

- When is it worth spending considerable amounts of money and carry out loud rebranding campaigns?

- The overall rebranding of a company and all marketing P’s can really cost a lot to a company. Therefore, it is important the decision for the overall rebranding to be made by competent teams and a realistic assessment of the expectations to be made. These are investments that in most cases cannot be recovered for years ahead. That's why I'm a supporter of effective marketing strategies and campaigns. From my experience, I can say that an effect, equivalent to the one of rebranding, can be achieved with a smart marketing strategy and low-cost marketing campaigns.

- What is good to know so that rebranding doesn’t become an end in itself?

- Before you decide to start rebranding, it’s necessary to have the answers of questions such as: why the company will be rebranded, what changes will be introduced in the individual marketing P’s, what strategy would we develop for the coming years, when will we regain our investment, etc. Unfortunately, what happens quite often is that people turn to rebranding because there is nothing else to do with the brand, the products and the services, the distribution, the procedures, or in other words, there is a lack of vision and strategy.

- Can rebranding be a lifeline for companies with good products and low market presence?

- I think that if a company has good products and a weak presence, it should look for marketing approaches to increase its presence and rely on a serious marketing strategy instead of investing money in rebranding. If we assume that the company is only doing rebranding, then how will this rebranding increase its market presence, its sales, earnings and profits?

- A few important tips to those who are about to take such a step?

- If you have decided to rebrand, you should be aware of:

-         The future positioning of the company;

-         The values​of the brand;

-         What emotional and rational expectations you want to create in your clients;

-         The promises you intend to give to your clients and the guarantees that you will keep them;

-         Rebranding should be consistent and reflected in all marketing P’s: Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Physical evidence, Process;

-         The efficiency and effectiveness of rebranding are very important, as well as the time for its execution.

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