August 16, 2015

Brand rollout quandary – to outsource or not to outsource?


Who should handle your brand rollout? How far in advance should you start planning your brand rollout? I recently spoke with a C-level executive who had these questions. With only five months to go, she was concerned her organization had waited too long to successfully implement a corporate brand rollout. Because no one on her team had complex brand implementation experience, she wasn’t sure.

This executive’s concerns are common. People don’t know what they don’t know, and very few corporate executives have experience leading a nationwide brand rollout. It’s even rarer to find an internal team with experience in the trenches of a complex brand rollout – creating budgets, arranging for fleet vehicles, signs and other customer touchpoints to be converted, selecting and managing multiple suppliers, tracking each touchpoint to make sure nothing falls through the cracks, and so on.

As we talked, the executive realized she should have considered outsourcing the planning and change-out stages of her brand rollout sooner. Her company had outsourced the design phase, so outsourcing the other phases of the brand rollout also made sense.

Here are a few red flags to let you know it’s time to outsource your brand rollout to specialists:

  • Your team lacks complex brand implementation experience
  • Your team is understaffed and struggles to accomplish day-to-day responsibilities
  • Deadlines are critical
  • You have an aggressive budget number
  • You don’t have processes or a brand management system in place to handle the brand rollout
  • You don’t have a comprehensive, up-to-date database of brand touchpoints
  • You have received change orders and upcharges from suppliers in the past

While the design phase is easy to define and visually assess (e.g., which logo do we like best?), the brand implementation phase is far more abstract to someone who hasn’t done it before. Even the brand rollout questions are too general. How much will it cost? Can’t we just replace the old signs with new ones? How long does it take to convert 20,000 fleet vehicles from our old brand to our new brand?

Brand rollout experts ask more precise questions. Where are the 20,000 fleet vehicles located? Who “owns” each vehicle – fleet management, operations, etc.? What year, make and model is each one? What color? What branding currently appears on each vehicle? When is the vehicle in service, so we can avoid disrupting customers and employees?

Outsourcing the brand rollout to experts is no different than outsourcing other operations to specialists, from accounting firms to law firms to graphic design firms. In branding, what you don’t know can hurt you!