Around mid-May, about six weeks into the pandemic, sports teams found themselves bored. My Dallas sports teams in particular.
For a few years now, people have been clamoring for the Dallas Mavericks to change their branding. The futuristic design was cool and hip back in 2001, but for many fans, the retirement of franchise icon Dirk Nowitizki signaled a need for a new direction- perhaps even back to their 90’s cowboy-style logo digs. Plus, the logo seems so…… 2000’s.
Their billionaire owner, Shark Tank star and rumored presidential candidate every four years – Mark Cuban – shot it down, much to the chagring of many fans (including me), and current Mavs players.
Many other teams followed suit. Even some brands participated- Dunkaroos had many older millennials salivating as they decided to bring back their classic cookies and vanilla dip. Did people seriously want rebrands or were they just nostalgic for the life they had 2 months before?
A Rebrand Is A New Identity
While sports teams and consumer packaged goods companies can show a rebrand in product offerings (though on-field performances might exude the “same old, same old” response from fans), rebranding is a little different for organizations.
I thought about this article in early May as the whole world was in lockdown, except my state. I then thought about it even more after the killing of George Floyd, and the change that came through from the protests.
There’s a new paradigm at work here. People are nostalgic for the past, but they’re also eager for the future. They want change. Your employees have been living in fear for 3+ months; they want comfort, security, a commitment to anti-racism, and something to look forward to. This is why the best time to rebrand is now.
Why Is Now The Best Time to Rebrand?
Everyone has their eyes on you- I feel like with lockdowns and social distancing, everyone is glued to their phones, social media outlets, and televisions. This is a good thing. Not only do you have an immediate feedback loop, but you have a more captive audience as well, meaning your rebrand might get a little more play in the news than it normally does.
It’s a different world- I think one thing that has come out of both the pandemic and George Floyd is that the future of work, the future of communication at work and the future of how we approach difficult conversations. Your brand has to be able to reflect that. Take a look at your brand and organization- what does it project to the outside? Aggressiveness may have been great in January 2020, but guess what the people want now? Vulnerability. A commitment to anti-racism. Understanding. Flexibility. It might be time for a whole rebrand on how you approach these things.
You need a shakeup- Yes it’s a different world, but sometimes, organizations just need a plain shakeup. The shakeup could be messy- involving layoffs or removals/replacements of some leadership that are impediments to success. I call this a people rebrand. This people rebrand can allow for you to get back in the good graces of society, your customers, vendors and your industry and easily pivot into this new world of work.
A motivation tool for your employees, and a chance to get them involved- The employer brand and recruitment cynics might roll their eyes at me on this one. But think about it- your employees are tired, frustrated, scared, and some are unmotivated. Not only that, but business is slow (for many businesses), their friends are getting laid off all around them, and they have no idea what is happening with their kids’ schools next year.
In my opinion, a rebrand, if done right, can offer motivation for your employees, in a way that they can help impact the change in your business. Now is your time to hold ideation sessions via zoom (or socially distanced with masks), and give your employees input on your values or EVP.
A chance for a new candidate pool- Many, many A players are out of work. Many, many people are trying to do something different. A company going through a rebrand might attract a new candidate pool – perhaps one more entrepreneurial as they might feel they could leave their mark on a changing company.
When Rebrands Backfire- Especially during these times
Rebrands are fun, but they’re also delicate. You’ve gotta make sure ALL your bases are covered and everyone is in alignment. Your employees and customers are MUCH smarter now- they can see a CYA from a mile away.
Your rebrand might backfire if there isn’t alignment within leadership, or a large disconnect between leadership and employees. Additionally, large public scandals, followed by a rebrand, always raises the eyebrows of consumers and employees alike.
A rebrand isn’t to be taken lightly. We’re seeing it with many products and organizations (Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s) who are struggling with both internal and external rebrands. When the Mavericks rebranded in 2001, it revitalized the culture of an entire organization. That could be the case for your organization too.
Remember this: a reband always comes down to intention. If you do a rebrand for the sake of doing a rebrand, you won’t see the desired results. If you do it with intention, meaning and understanding that these are new times, then you will find success.
Adam Rosenfield is an HR pro focused on all things talent management, design thinking, diversity and inclusion and how to put the “human” back in HR.
After years of recruiting and doing employer brand work, his future wife prodded him into an HR career. But really, his interest in total rewards and talent acquisition came from following the intricate goings-on of his favorite Dallas sports teams as a young kid.
He’s involved in his local AHRMA and Hacking HR chapters, while always finding something new to collaborate with a fellow HR professional on to move the industry forward.