Thought Leadership Strategy Public Relations Brand Strategy

Company Rebrand: Three Tips to Take Your Launch to the Next Level

By Erin Augustine

So, you’re moving ahead with a company rebrand — no small undertaking. And with so many resources being poured into this costly and time-consuming process, it’s critical to create a media relations strategy that gets influential publications talking, and writing, about your company once launch day rolls around.

But, it’ll take more than new positioning and updated brand visuals to hook journalists. To gain their attention, you have to tell a compelling rebrand narrative. You have to deliver the so what.   

Below, we’ve broken down three tips for building a strategic communications campaign for your rebrand. These insights will help you determine how to translate your brand story for the media, plan your launch, and grow your recognition as an industry expert under your new name.

To help illustrate each step, we’ll talk through how we worked with international test and measurement company, National Instruments, to successfully launch their rebrand to NI.

1. Keep It Human  

B2B rebranding and messaging can be especially challenging in the tech space. Here, products and services are often complex and difficult to explain. Your key audiences will be quick to move on if they don’t understand who you are, the narrative behind your rebrand journey, or why they should be interested.

For instance, NI spent three years developing a new core strategic vision, reorganized roles to form new business units, and shifted from point product solutions to software-defined test systems. Despite the internal changes, to the outside world, NI looked and sounded the same. The challenge for INK then, was to show how NI’s strategic shift would not only disrupt industries — but resonate with customers on a human level.

As you approach how to communicate your rebrand to a wide audience, think through what parts of the story will be most compelling to your target customers and the industry you operate within. Ask yourself the purpose behind your rebrand, the heart of the “why?” Consider how you can synthesize what it aims to do and for whom. By uncovering these insights with your team, you’ll pin down the so what that needs to be delivered to the media.

To INK, the most interesting part of NI’s rebrand story was its call to action – “Engineer Ambitiously.”

This was a relatable message that resonated with NI’s target audience. A rallying cry for NI, engineers, and innovators everywhere to think bigger, aim higher, and go faster. We highlighted the human elements at the center of NI’s story because it focused less on updated visual brand elements. Instead, it focused more on a shared experience of marching towards greater innovation and engineering the extraordinary.

2. (Re)Brand Your Company As the Expert

A company rebrand is an opportunity to remind the world that your organization is the subject matter expert in your industry. Cultivate a media relations strategy with this opportunity in mind. This signals to journalists (and their publications) that your company’s deep industry knowledge enables you to provide commentary on relevant news, emerging trends, and more.

When the NI team walked INK through the rebrand story, they gave us a company-wide brand packaged for the test and measurement community as a whole. To help us better position NI as a subject matter expert across its desired industries, we returned to the origin story of the rebrand for inspiration.

NI had reorganized the company into four separate business units: Portfolios, Transportation, Aerospace, Defense and Government, and Semiconductor. We saw this internal shift as an opportunity to establish NI as a subject matter expert across all four of these industries. This is the story we wanted to sell to the media. As a result, our media and analyst relations strategy became more focused and tailored, delivering the so what to each industry, publication, and reporter.

Bottom line: Keep your expertise in the front and center of your media relations strategy. It will create more opportunities to grow brand recognition among your key audiences. And ultimately, it positions your brand as the resource to tap for trusted information and opinion. Translation – you’ll increase thought leadership and brand awareness.

3. Think Beyond Launch Day

Lastly: make your rebrand more than a single moment in time. This is a key part of any successful rebrand launch. Your launch plan should include a strategic timeline of communications activities both laddering up to the big day and continuing momentum in the months following launch.

Fortunately, NI had created a dynamic and multifaceted campaign with ample time built in to create momentum. As launch day inched closer, INK strategically used this built-in time to reengage analysts and generate buzz across business, technology, and industry publications.

Engaging analysts prior to launch gave NI a chance to incorporate feedback and also get the buy-in of these key industry influencers. Engaging media allowed us to tease priority themes of the rebrand while building relationships within the new markets NI wanted to reach.

This builds a solid foundation for your launch and lends credibility to the new brand messaging. You can point to this work and say, “See? We’ve been delivering this message for a while and now we are making it official.”

Keep Up the Momentum

Launch day calls for celebration, but don’t take your foot off the gas. Now is the time to extend outreach and continue to offer your expertise. Doing so will reinforce the legitimacy of your new brand. By developing a multi-phased outreach strategy, we helped turn test and measurement analysts into NI advocates, seeded the so what ahead of the corporate identity launch, and established NI’s subject matter experts as valuable media resources.

With any news announcement, you want to give it as many legs as possible. This is especially true when it comes to a rebrand launch. A new brand strategy often takes months or even years to develop. Don’t limit yourself to one day or one announcement – take your time. You have striking visual elements and most importantly, a stellar story to tell the media. Hold a 360- degree mirror up to your brand and shine a light on all the angles of your strategy.

As the old adage goes, even the best-laid plans can go awry. In creating a longer-lead launch campaign, you’ll build in flexibility and take some of the pressure off of orchestrating one, perfect launch day.

Company Rebrand: From Status Quo to Superstar

Once you’ve decided to run with a rebrand, the pressure to see it succeed can be daunting. But it doesn’t need to be. Take the time to ensure your rebrand story and media strategy is about more than just the visual rebrand. Capture the human elements at the center of your mission and brand. Work with your team and agency to craft a well-timed outreach strategy. And finally, identify the areas of expertise that you’d like to focus on and highlight. Taking these extra steps will pay off on launch day – and beyond.