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04 - 01 - 2018

Blog Brand implementation: phased or with a big bang?

Just like there are many roads leading to Rome, there are many ways to modify a brand identity. Apart from a logo, a brand identity consists of a brand name, fonts, colours, iconography, and a tagline. There can be multiple reasons for organisations to decide to rebrand, like a merger, a repositioning or a name change.

When it comes to the implementation of a new brand identity, there are many strategies possible. The two extremes are the phased implementation and the big bang implementation. Obviously, there are all sorts of gradations between these two.

Phased implementation vs. big bang

The key feature of phased implementation is the deployment of the new brand based on replacement. For instance, stationery with the new brand will only be ordered until the organisation runs out of the old. This strategy is usually linked to a specific period of time, in which the old and new brand identity will co-exist. While with a big bang implementation the old identity will cease to exist from one moment to the other.

brand implementation gradient from phased implementation to big bang

Strategy determination

Apart from the lead time of a rebranding project, there are several other factors that help you decide on an implementation strategy.

A new brand identity always entails costs, and not only for the new design of the brand identity carriers. With a phased implementation strategy the replacement of the brand elements is usually charged to the organisations’ operating budget. After all, your organisation will need some new stationery eventually, regardless of whether or not you have a new brand.

The expenses of a big bang implementation, however, are way higher. This is partly due to the early amortisation of stock. And in case of the rebranding of a fleet, you have to take vehicle downtime into account. Moreover, the time frame in which the expenses are made is relatively short.

Dave Kulik, CEO, heads CEVA Logistics speaks after the unvealing of the new company brand CEVA Logistics in Hoofddorp, The Netherlands 12 December 2006.

Brand impact and target audience
During a phased implementation the old and the new brand identity co-exist. This can be confusing for your target audience. However, it can be equally confusing when a brand suddenly stops to exists, as is the case with a big bang implementation. Therefore communication with your target audience is essential, regardless of the strategy you choose. In one of our projects, CEVA Logistics (former TNT Logistics), we have rebranded the organisation using a big bang strategy. When the CEO revealed the new brand identity all CEVA offices worldwide watched the event via a live stream. Even the project members did not know what the new name of the organisation would be until the moment of revealing. Therefore the impact was huge.

It is always important to take the logistics into account when you decide on a strategy. Some brand identity elements take more production time or need more preparation. As is the case with elements that consist of more than one branded element or of elements in which legal requirements must be complied with. Think about a medicine box, with a strip of pills and a medical leaflet. Solid coordination is fundamental in these cases, especially in case of a big bang implementation strategy.

Internal brand experience
How does your personnel cope with the new brand identity? The success of a rebranding is largely dependent on how much your organisation is able to let go of the old brand and to embrace the new one. It is sensible to adjust the strategy by implementing the new brand identity gradually, while for some organisations it is better to do it just in one go. To overcome internal resistance, it is important to explain why the organisation invests in a new brand identity. A solid internal communication strategy can determine your rebranding success.

Association with initiated projects
Sometimes there are existing internal projects that have such a large organisational impact that a rebranding can be incorporated. In one of our recent projects, for example, it turned out that the launch of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) was the ultimate moment to launch the new brand identity. This IT-project had a huge effect on the number of applications that ceased to exist due to the EHR. Because these applications did no longer exist, there was no need to rebrand them, thus realising a major saving in the rebranding project.

Unfortunately determining the appropriate strategy for your organisation is not as easy as checking some boxes. Every organisation is different, as are the reasons for rebranding. A careful consideration of all the factors is important, one factor often outweighs another. In order to help you determine the best strategy for your organisation, we have summarised the pros and cons of both the phased implementation and the big bang.

As stated before, there are two extremes on the implementation spectrum. We have experienced that in most cases a strategy will be chosen that lies somewhere in between. It is possible to use the big bang strategy on one type of brand element and a phased implementation on others. No two organisations are identical and the same goes for implementation projects.

pros and cons of a phased rebranding and a big bang rebranding

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