Planning for large-scale brand transformation

Liz Olson is a brand and marketing leader with over 20 years invested in answering the question, “What makes a great brand?” She believes there are no shortcuts, silver bullets, or magic tricks. Instead, she knows great brands understand the power of shared vision and disciplined execution.

When Liz took a new job opportunity at a large healthcare technology company, she knew the organization was ripe for rebranding, stating “During my onboarding, I was provided an employee entrance badge with the logo and name of an acquired company, and the HR orientation presentation had a different company logo. Then, the stock ticker symbol and my paycheck stub had another different company name and logo. I couldn’t help but think that customers must be extremely confused if I was so confused as an employee.”

Liz took time to walk us through her journey to a successful rebrand implementation, sharing her challenges along the way.

Identifying rebranding triggers

Liz started observing and documenting reasons for rebranding. “Based on my experience, companies traditionally evaluate ten common triggers (or reasons) to initiate a rebrand. This healthcare tech company hit eight out of ten common reasons,” she said. Below she shares with us her initial observations.

Making the case for change

Liz presented the idea of a rebrand to leadership, suggesting that they undergo a brand equity study to inform the brand positioning, brand architecture, evolved logo, and visual system. “I had to ‘sell in’ the idea of a rebrand for the company’s betterment and pitch it to C-suite Executive Leadership, providing credible reasons why spending X millions of dollars was necessary for the company’s future,” said Liz. Following her thoughtful proposal and sound rationale, the team was on board.

Having a plan

From the start of the journey, she knew a brand implementation plan was critical. “I’d managed rebrands at large healthcare organizations prior and realized how important it was to have a solid plan for implementing the brand at the beginning of the project,” said Liz. “After the initial strategy was approved, I developed a project charter by workstream with initiatives and deliverables. That way, we could ensure all deliverables were accounted for and completed on time. I initiated a kickoff and meeting cadence with clearly defined goals and criteria for each workstream team. I stacked the deck at the beginning with any deliverable possible to avoid problems later.”

  • Mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures. The company was divesting the ambulatory care division and acquiring six companies. At that time, there were eight distinct brand identities and six disparate websites.
  • Repositioning. The company lacked a core market position and needed new messaging, sales strategy, and website consolidation.
  • Changing markets. The healthcare landscape for this specific category had changed drastically due to government infinitives.
  • Outdated image. There were hundreds of companies with a similar logo style and treatment.
  • Changing brand portfolios. New product categories and solutions based on acquisitions.
  • Negative reputation. Win/loss studies found that clients thought the company was disjointed and offered an a la carte approach versus an integrated solution.
  • Confusion in the market. There was no clarity around what the company was selling, given that invoicing came from the parent company, yet the products were branded differently.
  • New CEO and leadership team. Leadership wanted to weigh in on the direction of the organization and influence the brand vision.

Being realistic about challenges

When implementing large-scale brand change, Liz identified resources – people, time, and dollars– as the biggest challenges: “When implementing this brand program, I had workstreams for each department or division based on how the company was organized. The time allotment for each workstream member and the core team owner was a big challenge. Tracking deliverables and ensuring they would be completed by launch was time-consuming. Some workstreams had hundreds of documents or deliverables that had to be touched or evaluated, so essentially, the workstream owner became a project manager for their charter on top of their full-time job. They might have managed four people as a part of their day-to-day job. and then an extra 10–15 for their workstream. Companies typically underestimate how much time it takes to finalize deliverables for a rebrand and maintain them accurately. I coordinated over 50 stakeholders for this project to identify, audit, and rebrand portfolios ranging from facility signage to media placements.”

Budget was also a challenge. Liz obtained approval for the phase one budget upfront but did not obtain approval for phase two or three until six months before launch due to the time required for executive alignment. This made for tight timelines considering the brand launch was tied to a tradeshow, which reduced flexibility.

Liz also noted the human element of brand change. “People tie their identities to where they work, so the emotional impact was prominent when their old brand was sunset. Communication was important, as was proceeding with caution and kindness as we folded in multiple brands/companies,” said Liz.

Seeing the project through to success

Despite these challenges, Liz and the team were able to successfully rebrand the healthcare technology company, consolidating the brands for a stronger, more meaningful internal and external presence. Thanks to Liz’s leadership, the company had a plan for launching and rolling out the brand, which provided direction and accountability. When asking Liz what was key to her rebranding success, she answered:

  • Solid rationale as to why rebranding was necessary
  • Executive sponsor for the initiative
  • Allocated budget
  • Detailed program charter and plan by phase and deliverables  
  • Outstanding workstream leaders and members
  • Establishment of KPIs and benchmark data to accurately measure success
  • Ability to find humor because, “Sometimes you want to cry so much you have to laugh!”

We were excited to speak with Liz and learn from her experience as a part of our Tell Us About Your Rebrand series. If you’ve recently gone through a rebrand, no matter what industry, we’d love to hear about it. Reach out at to share your thoughts and stories.



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