Profile - How We Rebranded Our Company

Planning And Teamwork Made It Happen

Fred ParkerFred Parker wasn’t looking for a quick fix. Back in 2009, he knew rebranding his company – then called Bluegrass Promotional Marketing – would take a lot of time and a lot of patience. He was right. "I sometimes joke that I aged 13 years during the process," he says.

Over three years, culminating with an announcement in 2012, Parker transformed Bluegrass into Activate! Promotions + Marketing (asi/141964), giving the company an improved go-to-market strategy. "To do all the planning and hard work takes major resources, focus and endurance," says Parker, Activate’s president. "Still, when it’s done right, the payoff is extremely rewarding and satisfying."

Read on to see how Parker rebranded Bluegrass.

Q: Why did Bluegrass decide to rebrand?
A: Our rebranding was part of a master plan that was several years in the making. From 2005 to 2010, Bluegrass had made significant growth in our leadership structure, business model and marketing. I had a strong gut feeling and some compelling anecdotal evidence that the Bluegrass brand was holding us back. Our brand was a bit behind our organization.

Q: What were your rebranding goals?
A: We really looked at the rebranding as a fantastic business development opportunity. It was a chance to motivate salespeople, reconnect with clients, drive new business and give us a reason to prospect with a fresh, exciting story to tell.

Q: What research did you do to get started?
A: We sent out surveys to current customers, internal staff, suppliers and even companies we had pitched and not gotten business from. The results confirmed our motivation to ignite our rebranding plan.

Q: What was involved in the rebranding effort?
A: We were very fortunate to have a long-standing relationship with an integrated marketing agency that really knows our culture, our organization and our industry. This group helped develop the strategy and ultimately did all the creative work, too.

Q: How did you come up with the Activate name?
A: We looked at many different ideas. We spent lots of time brainstorming and discussing strengths and weaknesses of names and graphic options. Our marketing partner culled the finalists, did basic URL research and then gave a presentation and recommendation to our board of directors. Activate! Promotions + Marketing was the winner and everyone was pumped.

Q: How were your employees part of the process?
A: What we really wanted was for everyone in our organization to rebrand, improve their processes and their expertise and become more valuable to customers. Employees were involved in the research surveys and in many of the rebranding activities. We also created a contest called Project United to see who could go out and see the most key clients and present the Activate rebranding story face to face.

Q: How did you communicate the rebrand to customers and publicize it?
A: We worked hard to keep the sequence right. We wanted to go to our employees first, then to key accounts, and then to the market and press. We also couldn’t forget our suppliers, so we created an event right before the 2012 New York ASI Show at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square. Seeing the new Activate brand light up the marquee in Times Square was special, and it made a huge impression with our supplier guests.

Q: Has rebranding led to more business?
A: The Activate brand continues to pay dividends every day, and it’s more than just new business. It’s all about how important groups perceive our company, especially early on in the relationship. I see it every day – people react to our brand with interest, excitement and energy from the first moment I hand out a business card or have people visit the website. While the rebrand gets us off to a great start, no logo has ever sold anything; you still have to deliver the value and provide great service to close the deal.