October 20, 2014

Managing brand implementation by making good decisions at the start

Managing brand implementation from inside a corporation can be difficult, as a friend reminded me the other day. His branch needed new signage and his branch’s vehicles needed new branding, and he called to ask for the names of installation vendors. The new signage and vehicle graphics had already been ordered, and was set to arrive the following week. He’d been given a target budget for signage and vehicle graphic installation, which seemed low to me. By waiting until the last minute to look for installation vendors, it was clear the company was not managing brand implementation in a strategic manner.

My friend had originally contacted me at the start of the company-wide project and introduced me to the brand management decision-makers. I decided not to pursue the project because the decision-makers were taking the “Push” approach to managing brand implementation instead of the “Pull” approach I recommend. The Pull approach to managing brand implementation works backward from the completion date to create benchmarks for success along the way. We know up front when specific rebranding activities need to be completed (branded assets identified, signs produced, etc.) in order to meet the final deadline and stay on budget. My experience with the Push approach has always been problematic, which is why I decided not to bid on the business. This Company was attempting to Push its current suppliers’ signs and vehicle graphics to its newly acquired branches without a thorough planning of the details required to remove the old brand and install the new brand.

Now, midway through the company’s Push approach to managing brand implementation, my friend had been put in the difficult position of point person for a portion of the rebranding. I asked, “What’s your deadline?” He replied, “As soon as possible.” He was looking for sign and vehicle graphic installation companies based on price, rather than quality and skill levels, which also meant the vendors could control the completion date.

While the Push approach to managing brand implementation is meant to stay within a fixed budget, it often results in losing control over quality and timing. And, it can also lead to unforeseen costs. For example, most of the vehicles at my friend’s company are in service during the workday, so the company will have additional costs for the vehicle rebranding. It can either: (1) pay overtime to have employees stay onsite after hours while installation crews are working; or (2) for daytime installation, rent trucks to continue doing business while their trucks are pulled out of service.

As I mentioned, my friend is only responsible for a portion of the rebranding, which means the company is managing brand implementation in pieces as it has numerous branches throughout the country. My friend’s “mini project” for a single location, to find contractors to change out exterior signs, interior signs, and vehicles graphics, doesn’t offer a supply chain vendor enough volume to command the lowest price. Because his project is small, the sign and vehicle graphic installation companies will have more power than he does during negotiations related to time, cost and quality.

I feel bad for my friend, since managing brand implementation for his “mini project” is harder than it needs to be. Maybe I’ll let him beat me at golf the next time we play.

Click the video below to see the typical steps of a vehicle rebranding project done by DI Graphics powered by Implementix.