We recently hosted the webinar “Standing Out in a Sea of Sameness: A Fresh Look at B2G Branding”. Joining the conversation were three government marketing leaders who recently completed or are in the process of leading their companies’ rebrands, as well as our co-host REQ’s Creative Director.

More than 140 government marketers registered for the event, so this topic clearly resonated. Here are the highlights from our conversation.

  • Rebrand triggers – There are many reasons why an organization decides to rebrand. And indeed, each panelist noted a different impetus behind their company’s branding initiative. Two of the drivers were related to M&A. In one case, a private-equity firm acquired the company’s federal business, and they needed to carve out a separate entity. In the second case, two competitors merged, and the newly formed company wanted to establish a unique brand in the market. In the third instance, the rebrand was more evolution than revolution. The company is rapidly growing, and expanding its product portfolio, and recognized the need to refresh its brand to more accurately reflect where they are in their lifecycle.
  • Identifying a new name – As most marketers know, choosing a new company name can be a long, painful, and often expensive proposition. One of the marketing leaders on the panel hired an outside agency to lead their naming project. A critical component of the project’s success was establishing clear parameters early on with the agency about what the company wanted and didn’t want, in a new name. In another case, the company turned to their own employees and ran a naming contest. Before you cringe, the Vice President of Marketing set guidelines upfront to manage expectations, leading to a new name that was well-received by their staff.
  • Mascots – Using mascots to personify (or perhaps animal-ify?) a brand’s values and personality is a tactic that’s been used by consumer companies for decades. As we also discussed in our last conversation with B2G marketing leaders, this strategy is gaining traction with government contractors. Whether it’s an Arctic fox or an alpaca, mascots are being leveraged to help organizations stand out in a crowded market that has typically relied on more conventional imagery images such as flags, eagles and rotundas.
  • Lessons learned – Leading a rebrand is not for the faint at heart and will undoubtedly, in hindsight, result in several key lessons. The panel shared these hard-earned recommendations:
    • Be open minded. When their marketing agency first recommended a new company name, one of our panelists admitted to not liking the name. At all. But she stayed open minded, listened to the agency’s rationale, and is now a big fan of that very name that adorns all of the company’s communications.
    • Choose an agency partner that can adapt with you. In this case, the marketing leader knew there was a decent chance that his leadership team would throw a few curve balls during the rebrand. He chose an agency with a flexible approach to the project who he felt would be comfortable pivoting in response to a change in direction.
    • Know the final decision maker upfront. Identifying who will say yea or nay to the new name at the beginning of the project will make for a much smoother process.
    • Factor in the employer part of branding. Recruiting talent is a huge challenge for many government contractors. It’s imperative that your rebrand strategy considers how the new brand will resonate with prospective employees.
    • Have a solid plan for internal communications. Often, much of the focus of a rebrand project is on external stakeholders. However, just as critical is developing a comprehensive plan to communicate to employees throughout the course of the initiative.

Check out the full webinar here. Our sincere thanks to all of the panelists for sharing the twists and turns of their rebrand journeys with us.