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Making rebranding a reality

As the architect of the recent rebranding of IT services firm ICL as Fujitsu Services, Steve Isherwood, head of brand marketing at the company, knows first-hand the challenges involved. Here, he shares his understanding of how to make rebranding on a large scale a reality.

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Rebranding represents a significant change in the way customers, employees and other stakeholders are emotionally engaged with a company. A fundamental part of this is a change of name, but rebranding involves much, much more.

In a successful rebrand, there must be a change in the way people perceive the organisation and a change in the emotional response towards that organisation. The decision to rebrand ICL as Fujitsu Services was taken to capitalise on the global strength and dynamic nature of Fujitsu, so that interested parties truly began to rank Fujitsu Services as a viable competitor to companies such as IBM, while maintaining the solid and proven local expertise gained over ICL's 30-year heritage.

However, to rebrand a company of such scale and complexity successfully -- Fujitsu Services employs 15,500 people and operates in more than 30 countries -- there were many crucial elements that needed to be in place. Several of these are universal to making rebranding a reality and an outline of the key steps is detailed here:

Research the possibilities

It is imperative to research and understand how a company is perceived in the marketplace, what the brand is synonymous with, what customers want from an organisation and the opportunities for developing and repositioning that brand.

At Fujitsu Services, we worked with high-profile companies that specialised in market and brand research, such as Interbrand -- the world's leading branding consultancy.

These companies invested considerable time speaking to our stakeholders, customers, potential customers, employees and partners to be in the best possible position to advise on how and when to migrate to the Fujitsu brand. However, it is important not only to invest time and resources into such research, but it is also essential that the advice provided is listened to and acted upon.

Enlist support

You can not do this alone. Rebranding on any scale is a mammoth task and will require the determination, drive and support of many people at all levels and from all areas of the business. Throughout the rebranding to Fujitsu Services, a dedicated team worked on the rebranding full time and many thousands of people throughout the company were engaged in the process.

Most importantly, make sure those at the top of your organisation share your vision and understand why the rebranding is important and the implications of this. You will not obtain the financial support to complete the rebranding and to revise business strategies in line with the new brand, if this is not in place. An effective internal communication strategy is key to achieving this.

Work with specialists

Work with agencies who are specialists in their area and who are able to provide expertise and advice. Throughout the rebranding to Fujitsu Services, collaboration with research agencies, advertising agencies, public relations consultancies, direct marketing companies and brand agencies was instrumental in deciding why to revamp the brand, how to achieve this, the new name, the timescales in which to do this and the tactics to use.

Choose these partners carefully -- most organisations do not get a second chance to rebrand. A company's brand is precious, so make sure chosen partners working with you are immersed in the company's needs and are committed to achieving them.

Be sure of tactics

Decide on the tactics to use and the communications strategy to put in place to communicate the brand change. Be sure to consider all groups that could, in some small way, be affected by the rebranding -- not just customers, employees and partners, but also shareholders, potential customers, industry bodies and the press -- and use a variety of initiatives to reach them.

The rebranding of ICL to Fujitsu Services has involved a totally integrated communications strategy, including elements such as print and online advertising, direct mail, culture programmes and corporate gifts to name just a few. Rebranding is not just about the new, remember to incorporate the good things about your previous brand in all communications.

Measurement is everything

There is no point in rebranding a company without knowing how the new brand has been received by all audiences. Responses towards it comprise the results of the rebranding. At Fujitsu Services, we have put in place many processes to measure these factors. We are measuring the increased business worldwide that is a direct result of the rebranding.

We are also measuring the success of the internal and external communication of the rebranding. In addition to this, once the new strategy is in place, we will also benchmark our customer's satisfaction with our services. There are many metrics that can be put in place, but the key differentiator is putting systems in place in order to respond appropriately to the results obtained.

Finally, rebranding is never complete. A new name can be implemented and a new strategy deployed, but building a brand is an ongoing process and one that will never cease.

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