By Linyu Huang
With fast changes every day such as industry development, government regulation changes, corporation merge and acquisition, etc. updating brand is crucial to reengaging the current customers and attracting new ones. Sometimes branding just needs refreshing, while sometimes it needs a bit of a jolt. Even a strong brand must stay relevant to survive.
Kathy Broniecki, partner and chief strategy officer with Envoy and Andy Williams, director of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska shared their brand cases at the May PRSA Nebraska luncheon. Broniecki talked about the agency’s re-branding experience with Roberts Dairy and Hiland Dairy. Williams discussed the process of refreshing a 40-year-old brand, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, to meet the needs of and appeal to today’s health insurance consumer.
Broniecki’s agency Envoy has worked with Robert Dairy for more than 25 years. In 1981, Prairie Farms purchased Roberts Dairy and Hiland Dairy Two years ago, Hiland Dairy acquired Roberts Dairy. The two different brands of dairy operated in 11 state market areas with two different websites, consumer campaigns, and brand marketing budgets. In order to create a strong, unified brand across the Midwest and to save on product labeling and marketing costs, Roberts Dairy was renamed to Hiland Dairy.
In the case of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska, the company had already built one of the most recognized and respected brands in the country. The challenge came when the health insurance industry changed with federal health care law. Blue Cross and Blue Shield had been primarily a business to business company insured through employers. A major shift occurred when more individuals began to buy their own health insurance. To meet consumers’ needs, Blue Cross Blue Shield adjusted its marks, logo, and market strategies to become a more direct consumer company.
How to Change?
In Broniecki’s case, the team changed the name on the logo but kept it looking similar to the previous one to be recognizable for customers. They also unified the websites and planned consumer campaign. The vital part is to reach the consumers and deliver the message. The key message is that the only change was the name on the package. The Hiland Dairy would continue to provide fresh hometown dairy with no antibiotics or artificial growth hormones, Broniecki explains. The team used traditional, digital and social media in creating an interactive campaign to deliver the message.
In Williams’ case, the team simplified the logo to a blue cross, a blue shield and capitalized Nebraska to show it as a brand for everyone in Nebraska not just for employees. “Nowadays, people don’t read, especially on the Internet, they scan,” Williams says. “We have to grasp their eyes in three seconds.” The team also adjusted the marketing strategy from general brand promotion to direct consumer promotion. Unlike Broniecki’s case, they applied the new logo directly without any advertisement because it was a small shift and the brand was already well known.
Employees Are the Ambassadors
In both Broniecki and Williams’ cases, they involved employees as part of the re-branding process. Employees are one of the most challenging parts of Broniecki’s case. “Long term employees really had a difficult time with it, Broniecki says. The team developed a PR plan for employees to accept the new name by telling them the change will not affect their job and would probably improve the work.
Williams worked with employees to test 10 different logos and educated them the re-branding reasons and processes. “They are the best ambassadors to reach their friends, families, people they know,” Williams says. “They need to present themselves differently after the change.”