Sean Donahue

Treat Rebranding Like a Product Launch

May 6th, 2008
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Marketers often face skepticism within their companies when they embark on a new brand launch or corporate rebranding effort. Non-marketing types, particularly engineers, tend to think of branding as one of those fuzzy, feel-good exercises that don’t really have an impact on their jobs.

So, I was intrigued by a unique approach to this problem adopted by the marketing team at NetApp, which recently unveiled a new brand identity. (You can read more about this project in our Sherpa Case Study,(here).

Elisa Steele, SVP, Corporate Marketing, told me they mapped out and managed their brand development project exactly as they do a new product launch. They framed it as a corporate project – not just a marketing project.

They used analogies to the product development process that would resonate with their technical employees:

o Gave the project a code name – “Project Bigfoot”

o Mapped out a product development life-cycle that included milestones and a hard launch date

o Organized teams with representatives from multiple departments, including IT, HR, marketing, and engineering

o Required all team members involved in the process to sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect against leaks of sensitive market research or early versions of new brand elements, such as logos and taglines

The tactic is a great example of how marketers should communicate with colleagues from other divisions in terms they understand and relate to. Doing so can win you widespread support for your marketing initiatives.

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