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Google, Alphabet and the Rebranding Game

You’ll no doubt have heard about Google’s recent announcement that it will move under a newly created parent company, Alphabet. Naturally, this has been much discussed in the media; from this piece in Wired magazine suggesting the chosen font signals a more mature approach, to this piece in the  New York Times which reports the new company may have trouble securing the domain name – Alphabet.com is owned by car giant BMW, who has a “very active” subsidiary of the same name.

Any rebranding or renaming initiative at any scale relies on meticulous planning and communication to get right. While this Google to Alphabet move will have very little impact for consumers (in his statement announcing Alphabet, co-founder Larry Page said that they are “not intending for this to be a big consumer brand”), the company still has their work cut out for them in communicating the brand (the stock symbol will remain GOOG and GOOGL on Nasdaq, despite the company being known as Alphabet).

There is, of course, a long history of companies changing their names and introducing new brand identities. In fact – as unbelievable as it may seem – Google actually started out life as ‘BackRub.’ And in 2007, Apple dropped the word ‘Computers’ from its original name to allow itself a broader reach (and to communicate those broad capabilities to investors and consumers alike), extending to phones, tablets and music. But whatever the reason for the change of name – a strategic change of direction, an acquisition or modernization – having a crystal clear communications plan is essential.

Here are my top 3 insights to getting a rebranding right:

  1. Internal communications

Making sure your employees are fully briefed, understand the reason behind the change, and are equipped with the language to explain it before the relaunch goes live will save a lot of stumbles and misfires later on. After all, your employees are your front-line brand advocates who are most invested in your company’s success and care about its future. Which leads to…

  1. Don’t overestimate how much people care about your brand

As business owners and leaders, we are passionate about our companies and brands. We do everything we can to push them forward and continually improve them. The harsh reality is that to our customers, we are ultimately just service providers fulfilling a specific need. There are very, very few of us who operate without competitors offering very similar services. We may cultivate excellent, lengthy customer relationships, but if we introduce ambiguity and confusion those relationships can quickly fall away. Simplicity and frequency of messaging is key here. By all means take a tiered approach with “We (X) will now be known as Y” for the broader universe, and more detailed “what and why” messaging elsewhere, but repetition and assurance are your true friends here.

  1. Open new doors with a fresh narrative

Depending on the reason behind the change, this could be a great opportunity to tap into new markets or even re-introduce your company to potential new hires in a meaningful way. Again, clarity of message is key. The ultimate litmus test is “why should people care?” which really means zeroing in very clearly on the customer benefits.

 

Should you’d like to discuss your branding or renaming communications needs, please get in touch.



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