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Surviving a Rebrand

Our firm just went through a whirl-wind and I survived! Earlier this month, my firm went through a significant transition to unite globally under one name, WSP, and launch a fresh brand and identity. Like many companies out there, we have experienced tremendous growth, both organically and by acquisition. Over 80 companies worldwide make up WSP today.

In the United States, WSP and Parsons Brinckerhoff came together in 2014 to form a cobranded firm, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff. After extensive research including client and market surveys, internal focus groups and stakeholder feedback, the decision was made to move forward as WSP worldwide. The initial announcement of the name change was released in January with the new brand identity rolled out in early May.

 

As part of the U.S. corporate communications team, I not only had a front-row seat to the rebrand, I was in the mosh pit. January through May has been a bit of a blur. Even though it was a chaotic time, the experience helped me hone my communications skills, think outside the box, and strategize under pressure. Throughout the process, I learned several valuable lessons. Below are my top five rebranding survival tips based on my recent experience.

1. BE FLEXIBLE! Things change often during the course of a rebranding process. Everything from deadlines being pushed up to meet a new timeline, to unexpected projects tumbling into your lap, to technology challenges. You can’t predict the unpredictable but you can plan, adjust and make the needed accommodations to meet the various project goals for the rebrand. Managing your work flow and deadlines is imperative and you need to use a method that works best for you and your organization.

 

2. COMMUNICATE, COMMUNIATE, COMMUNICATE. Did I mention you should communicate? If you feel you are over communicating, you are doing it right. Not every person in your organization digests information in the same way or through the same channel. Some people will disregard your emails but will happily read each and every Intranet post while others may find the posters in break areas a great way to catch up on company news. I can’t express how important it is to keep staff engaged and updated during the rebranding process!

 

3. BE CONSISTENT AND PERSISTENT. When the marketing and communication staff is immersed in the rebrand process and efforts, it’s easy to occasionally take for granted the knowledge we have. We forget that we know a lot more about the rebrand than the rest of the staff. It is crucial that we continue to communicate (through several channels) throughout the process to provide consistent messaging. It is our duty to educate staff on the meaning of the brand as well as keeping staff informed of upcoming key milestone dates and activities. If you say you will send daily or weekly email updates, send daily or weekly email updates. If you have committed to hosting weekly webinars, host weekly webinars. Keeping staff informed and engaged will result in higher levels of buy-in.

 

4. HAVE FUN WITH IT! All work with and no play can make the rebranding process somewhat tedious. Find something unique and fun that speaks to your organization and can turn staff into brand ambassadors. We found Instagram was a great way to have staff interact and engage with our new name. We asked staff to show their pride in #becomingWSP with the tag and sharing photos that included the WSP name or around WSP projects in their communities. 


Superheroes spelling WSP in the city of brotherly love 

 
Our Raleigh staff showing their WSP pride on the lawn

Yours truly in Tempe getting off a train at Valley Metro Station after Pat's Run!

5. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! The rebranding exercise is not something that happens overnight and can be a grueling process. To be successful, it will take months of hard work with a lot of long hours and stressful deadlines. Keeping a work-life balance is difficult under normal circumstance; throw rebranding into the mix and all bets are off. During the process, it can be easy to forget to give yourself some ‘me time’. Whether it is having dinner with friends or family, centering yourself at yoga class, or making it to your child’s hockey game, it is essential to give yourself a break. These breaks will help to rejuvenate you and by stepping away for a bit, will help you to refocus and bring new insights to the process.


Suzi Mein, CPSM 
Marketing Communications Manager, WSP USA 
Suzi has worked for WSP USA for the past five and a half years, has been in the A/E/C industry for over 15 years and has been a SMPS member for over three years. In her free time, Suzi likes to disconnect! She enjoys traveling and outdoor activities including hiking, camping, boating, scuba diving, fishing and SUP. 

 

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