One of my companies recently opened a massive can of worms when it comes to branding. It’s like a project premise from Marketing 101, and if it hadn’t been dropped on me AFTER the fact, I would have really enjoyed this intersection of academia and real-world application. Unfortunately, this branding challenge was dropped on me after it was too late to make a strategic decision. So, now I’m trying to strategize backwards. It makes for fun (well, fun for us marketing nerds) thoughts on branding! Let’s take a look at a few of the challenges I’m facing, shall we?
Company structure. I work for the Parent Company, and this Parent Company is strictly a holding company for Child Company A, B, and C. Parent Company doesn’t actually buy, sell, make, or distribute anything, other than money and marketing prowess to the Child Companies. Child Company B buys, sells, and services aircraft parts and engines. Child Company B recently went into a new market under the name Child Company B, Country. Unfortunately, another company in the new country has a very similar name, so all of the incorporation documents were denied, unless we used a different name. Parent Company decides to just use the name “Parent Company” for this new market. The problem is, Parent Company isn’t actually in the business, and it would mess up a lot of things for Parent Company to enter the business!
Name recognition. In preparation for full-fledged entry into the new market, Child Company B has been actively working for brand awareness. They’ve attended trade shows with a booth that proudly displays “Child Company B”, they’ve handed out business cards with the name “Child Company B”, and they’ve had tons of promotional items and marketing collateral printed and distributed to get people thinking about buying from “Child Company B”. Now, all of a sudden, we’re talking about making people buy from Parent Company… who they’ve never heard of… and never met… and who doesn’t actually even operate in the business! We’ve built a pretty strong reputation as Child Company B, so it’s not just starting from scratch, it’s backtracking!
Logos, websites, and names, oh my! A name change for a company is not as simple as just writing out a new name on a form. There’s logos, websites, promo items, letterhead, email addresses, and the list goes on! From an IT perspective, all of the personnel from Child Company B have emails @childcompanyb.com, and all of the contacts for each rep have saved the reps as @childcompanyb.com. We’ll need to have a completely new set of business cards made, and we’ll need to change all the servers to give them new addresses. We just finished a huge website overhaul for Child Company B, which included several sections on our new market offering. And, we can’t just cut and paste that content in to Parent Company’s site, because Child Company B’s endeavors are completely different and completely separate from Parent Company’s! A “name change” touches so many areas of marketing, and in many cases, kills the brand momentum we’ve already started.
I’m the only “marketer” in my company, and this change was made on-the-fly, so I don’t think management realizes that complexity of this can of worms yet. So, cheers to a marketing case study, right off the bat in 2012! I’m excited to see what I can pull off for this project, and I foresee some interesting blog posts about my action items in the next few weeks.