Take a Cue from Poly: Six Tips for a Successful Rebrand
A year ago, I was one of many who updated my LinkedIn account with my new employer: Poly. Nobody had ever heard that company name before, because we had just invented it.
We brought the new brand to life through an extensive marketing campaign highlighting the new company, which was formed from the combined forces of the two companies formerly known as Plantronics and Polycom. About a year of planning went into creating and launching a new identity for our combined companies. Our vision and strategy behind the rebrand were to honor both brands’ equity and history while charting a new path forward.
Looking back with the benefit of 12 months of perspective, it’s easier to identify what went right, as well as some things that surprised us along the way.
1. Get all your top execs on board from the start – Having a unified team from the start helped Poly to set the tone and direction of our campaign, and then build from there. Everyone was contributing to helping us all move toward the same goal. No one wants to spend months developing a campaign in a vacuum, only to have top execs make unneeded (or unwise) overhauls at the last minute.
2. Lean on your “franchise” employees – Securing buy-in from executives is one thing, but big changes aren’t effective when they are simply handed down from on high. For our rebranding, we recruited employee ambassadors from both Plantronics and Polycom. We sought out people who had a strong influence in the company, such as people with long tenures, social connectors and anyone else that people looked up to with admiration. We made them a part of our planning, and they, in turn, were able to evangelize the rebranding to their fellow employees. Their messages were well-received, bolstered by their existing credibility.
3. Timing is everything – When the time finally came to go public last year, we kicked things off at one of our industry’s largest trade shows, Enterprise Connect.
While our executives on site were the most visible representatives of the rebranding, hundreds of people behind the scenes worked in harmony to saturate the world with the news. As we cut the ribbon at our trade show booth, we went live with our Poly social channels, our press release and a dedicated executive thought leadership and media and industry analyst relations campaign. Each element complemented and reinforced the others.
4. Leave no stone unturned – Part of creating a new brand is phasing out the old ones. We weren’t naïve enough to think it would be as easy as registering a trademark and hanging a new sign on our offices, but you’ll probably be surprised when you challenge your legal team to track down all the places the old brands and logos appear. This is especially true if you have offices around the country or around the world, as we do. At one point I found myself investigating a few pickup trucks in Mexico and a shuttle bus in San Jose that still had old logos and adding them to our rebranding plans.
5. It’ll be more difficult than you imagine – Ordering new stationery and business cards with your new logo is the easy part. Making sure everyone in your business’ sphere of influence knows who you are is the real challenge. We had an amazing launch plan in place, and the results far exceeded our expectations.
But even now, a year later, I still find myself having to explain who Poly is, who we were and what we do. And that’s fine! Even if the topic has consumed your every waking (and sleeping) moment for more than a year, you can’t expect every single person in your company’s sphere of influence to be up to date. Our education campaign is ongoing, thanks in part to solid messaging that was designed to live beyond the momentary flurry of interest at launch. And be prepared for the unexpected. Whether it’s trademark challenges, translation surprises or tracking down an absentee owner of a URL, build in some capacity for the unplanned.
6. It’ll be more rewarding than you imagine – Crafting a brand from scratch can be a once-in-a-career experience. With the right support, you’ll have a huge amount of freedom to explore, invent, play, create and even fail before you land on your final plan. With Poly, we had new permission to be more real, more irreverent.
Our “Perils of the Open Office” campaign takes a humorous look at the pain points of life an open office and real ways Poly helps make work more productive.
We’ve crafted Poly’s identity to bring in authenticity and emotion and reflect the human connection our solutions seek to create: You won’t see stock-photos of heavily PhotoShopped people – we reflect real workers, complete with wrinkled knees and used coffee cups.
Our integrated marketing campaign made Poly a reality for our external and internal stakeholders. Now we face our next long-term challenge: to help the brand continue to grow, adapt and mature.