Even when a company is doing great, a bad piece of business can rock confidence in the brand. Spinning off a division can be a smart solution to escape a negative perception, especially when your back office has superior transaction processing capabilities that could be applied to a broader market.
One company decided to do just that—creating a standalone company to capitalize on new opportunities. In doing so, they had to maintain the historic brand confidence while reinforcing the newness to separate from the unfortunate negativity. A delicate balance needs to be undertaken in such an endeavor; here are the three steps required to make it happen.
1. Move quickly, and act today like who you expect to be tomorrow. Whenever you are launching a new brand or refreshing an existing one, you have to stay focused on the future. Dwelling too much on the past will keep you from seeing new opportunities and truly capturing your full potential. The company in question began by banishing the phrase "we have always done it that way," and started fresh with a new set of rules. They wouldn't allow members of the sales team to be resistant to the change in brand because they had a good rhythm going, or others to be threatened enough to undermine the new brand by refusing to give up their old e-mail addresses.
Move quickly to empower your sales team with the new brand, its messaging, and its products/services. They will soon see a whole new world open up to them—one that profits not just the company, but them personally—and soon they'll "talking the talk" of the new organization.
2. Carry your new brand and theme through your entire operations. Starting fresh allows you to re-arrange more than just how you look or sound but can determine how you are going to act. This company implemented a brand tenet of Honesty/Being Straightforward. They quickly dispersed this attribute into the culture, inviting more open meetings and roundtables for discussion. Additionally, they prepared themselves to face external scrutiny about the reasons for the separation of the two firms by preparing truthful talking points that reinforced the positive reasons for the separation and quelled the rumor mill. Internally and externally, they engaged in a honest and straightforward dialogue that immediately improved their market perceptions. They kept themselves connected to the parent company through their history and FAQ documents, and never shied away from the question—however, they also chose to focus on the future and the positive reasons for embarking on this journey.
3. Take good care of your relationships. Current clients who you would like to bring into the new business need special attention. Prioritize your outreach based on who they are, what your previous engagements were, and how you’d like to advance the relationship. Plan carefully to be sure you engage them appropriately to answer their questions, be there to guide them through the transition, and set expectations properly. The aforementioned business conducted a multi-level, multi-media campaign to introduce the new brand. Top clients who were either very active or long-standing received elite gifts, e-mails, and personalized phone calls. The next tier of clients who were not currently active, but had been in the past, received a thoughtful but modest gift, an e-mail and a follow-up mailing. Vendors and other channel partners received mailings, e-mails, and phone calls. After the brand was established, they continue to answer questions by reinforcing the strength of the old…while embracing all of new.
Brenna Garratt is CEO of The Delve Group (www.delvegroup.com). Contact her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.