Often we are asked by college Heads what the return on investment is on a rebranding exercise, and how it is measured.
The question should really be: whose responsibility is the return on investment?
Think of the rebranding exercise as if you were John the farmer, and you went through the process of procuring a new tractor. There are plenty of options out there when buying a tractor covering all cost points, but lets say you decide to spring for a customised top of line model for $300,000.
Les, the salesman at the tractor yard listened to your needs, came up with the best solution that meets your needs, and delivered it on time and budget, and even shows you how to use it in a way that will yield better results than the way you used your old tractor.
Over the next 12 months, you use the tractor here and there and when you do, you revert to the ways you used your old tractor. The harvest is no better than before you parted with your $300,000, and you kick the dirt and throw your hat down, cursing the day you met that charlatan who calls himself Les, as you’ve seen no return on the investment you made with him.
Is it John’s fault, or Les’ that there’s been no return on investment in this scenario? Of course John’s to blame, but as simplified as this example is, to some, it doesn’t seem as simple when transferred to the scenario of a rebrand.
A rebrand can be a large investment depending on the size of your organisation, but there is no return on investment if you aren’t rolling it out and maintaining it properly, in the way that was intended by the firm who undertook the exercise for you.
Universities have sizable marketing teams whose reason for being is to ensure the brand remains pure and that everything the university does is effectively on-brand. Obviously a smaller college doesn’t have the funds for a marketing team, but the people in charge of the college’s marketing activities — whether this is the college Head, or other staff member/s are the ones who bear the weight of the ROI.
Too often we see excellently executed, but poorly implemented brands in higher education, almost always because the change in culture and workplace ideology that must accompany a rebrand hasn’t happened.
And who gets the blame? Poor old Les, the tractor guy.
When planning a rebrand, factor in this change of culture as part of the project. Factor in the need to actually use the new brand, which may mean ceasing to photocopy marketing material or placing in-house-designed press ads that were produced in Publisher by your secretary, and stop believing that having a brand made up of half new elements and half old remnants is good enough.
It’s one in, all in, or not at all. A well executed but poorly implemented rebrand is worse than a poorly executed well implemented rebrand, or for that matter, no rebrand at all.
Poor Les. Leave him be.