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Successful global companies know that brands are not stagnant, and therefore periodically need a refresh. If you fail to consider the evolution of your organization and your customers and how it’s reflected in your brand, you risk turning your brand into a time capsule, reflecting what was, rather than illuminating what you are.

My global corporation recently updated its brand, using a methodical process that refreshed our brand based on who we are today, while facilitating buy-in and enthusiastic support across the globe. Change management was essential to our success.

Embrace Change Management Principles

Any company implementing a major restructure would likely implement it through adherence to change management. While a brand refresh may not impact your structure, it is a significant undertaking that impacts everyone, and requires good change management practices.

Three of those practices were especially helpful as we rebranded globally:

  1. Demonstrate the need for change
  2. Have a credible process for achieving change
  3. Provide a road map to guide behavior and decision making

Demonstrate the Need for Change

To get buy in for refreshing your brand, you first have to get people in your organization to understand why a change may be needed. You’ll get less resistance when you roll-out your new brand if everyone is already aligned behind the need for a refresh in the first place. Once they understand why, the rest is easier.

We presented a clear rationale: our company had evolved, we had grown through acquisitions, added new services and were providing a broader array of services in the marketplace than we were just 10 years ago.

Making the case for change also meant explaining what we were not going to do: start from scratch, or completely scrap elements that are core to our company’s legacy. For long-term employees wedded to the existing brand, knowing that your intent isn’t to discard the past, but build on it, is reassuring and affirming.

A Credible Process for Achieving Change

As a global company, implementing the right process was critical to moving a dispersed organization to identify and then unite behind a refreshed brand. This process was comprised of multiple parts.

Use and Explain the Science of Rebranding

With 90 percent of people’s assessment of products and services based on color, ensuring that your color choices evoke the right feelings is foundational to an authentic brand. Anyone who has ever been in disagreement with a spouse over what color to repaint the family room knows that those discussions and choices can be personal, subjective and frustrating. To elevate the conversation and decision-making above mere personal preference, introduce science.

Take time to educate key internal audiences and decision makers on the research behind which colors signify emotions, geography and gender. Include research that shows that brands that deliver consistent experiences across different touchpoints don’t just win hearts, they actually win minds and change how people think.

Learn from Others

We studied the rebranding of other large global organizations. Apple, for example, has rebranded three times since 1976, with the last two changes retaining the familiar Apple shape while updating the color scheme. FedEx provided a good example of a logo treatment with two different color schemes, one in orange representing energy and speed, used for the company’s air transportation; and one in green for ground services. We used these examples and applied them to our own thinking.


If you’re basing your refresh on core scientific truths, you still need to conduct a “field study.” Find out what your customers and your own employees find distinctive about you. Conduct surveys and one-on-one interviews. Collect testimony and stories. Discover the brand needs of different parts of your organization.

Once you’ve collected these inputs, organize the findings into a brand brief that summarizes insights, points of distinction, positioning and personality. Use this to guide and inspire the new brand creative options.

Develop a Controlled process for Collaboration and Feedback

We wanted to ensure we had support, input and buy-in from the diverse and dispersed parts of our company. To that end, we created a Global Communications and Branding Council. Its membership was representative of our entire organization and acted as a mechanism to help gain senior leadership support. The council had global representation and active participation from all levels of the organization, including representatives of employees from each global region. Representatives of investors and clients were members of the Council as well.

We presented the new branding options we had created to the council (relying again, on the science and research we had completed to explain our choices). This helped guide their input and feedback efficiently, and kept everyone feeling included in the outcome.

Provide a Roadmap

After laying the groundwork through education on the “why” and the science that would guide our decision making, we found that once we launched the new brand people were eager to embrace it.

To help people experience, live and incorporate the brand into their work, we created a Brand Book, a roadmap for logos, style sheets, templates, guidelines on content style, tone and voice. The Brand Book is a living resource, and it continues to evolve as questions arise or new elements need to be added.

As a global company, the Brand Book helps set a consistent standard across our landscape, outlining subtle variations permissible to reflect local differences without weakening brand integrity. So, it’s still the same message, same tone, same experience no matter where a person encounters our brand.


Like a fine wine, brands do get better with time. Unlike wine, you can’t cork up your brand and stash it on a dark shelf and trust it will age well. At the appropriate time brands need to adapt and evolve, to reflect the authentic growth and changes in our businesses.

Implementing change management processes to refresh our brand delivered a solid outcome that is seen as a success across the company. Our refreshed brand identity aligns with our people, culture, values, and unique position in the marketplace. We have gained renewed attention from clients and prospects, as well as increased web traffic and social media engagement. Our employees are re-energized around the “why” we exist, giving us a clearer sense of purpose and mission.

Read More: Challenges for Managing Brand Risk.