Rebranding is a pivotal moment for any organization. It signifies growth, evolution, and a renewed commitment to your company’s values and community. Still, with how complex rebrands can be, there are opportunities to make mistakes at every turn.

Paul Hoffman, President of Lake Ridge Bank, joined AMA-Madison’s Craft Marketing event on March 26 to tell the story of Monona Bank, to create an entirely new bank, Lake Ridge Bank. Over less than a year, they implemented an entirely new brand package. In their effort to merge the legacy and culture of both brands, Paul and his team overcame multiple challenges and learned valuable lessons. 

Read on to get his advice on the top 4 tips for navigating a successful rebrand:

4 Tips for a Successful Rebrand: Insights from Lake Ridge Bank’s Journey

1. Understand the Importance of Your Brand’s Name

Your brand’s name is more than just a label. It’s the essence of your identity and the first point of interaction with your audience. However, for Paul and his team, one of the most surprising hurdles was finding a unique yet meaningful name in a sea of over 24,000 pre-existing registered bank and financial institution names. 

Their strategy to overcome this challenge: a hefty amount of brainstorming. Paul shared that he and his team had to dig deep into the geography and the two brands’ culture, heritage, and values to create long lists of ideas with the thought that ideally, at least some of the options wouldn’t be already in use. At the end, Lake Ridge Bank was chosen, uniting components from both banks: “Lake” to represent Monona Bank’s Lake Monona, and “Ridge” to represent the plains area of State Bank of Cross Plains. It’s a challenging journey, but choosing a name that both stands out and stays true to your brand’s core can significantly impact your brand’s perception and success.

2. Embrace the Merger of Cultures in Rebranding

A merger doesn’t just combine two companies; it fuses two distinct cultures under a unified brand. And this comes with its challenges as Paul and his team discovered. The two banks had very different histories, challenges, and identities within their respective communities. 

To unite the loyal customers of the two different brands, Lake Ridge Bank aimed for a “merger of equals,” or a cohesive identity that honored and celebrated the legacy of both brands equally. This approach helped ensure that the new brand would resonate with employees and customers alike, fostering a sense of pride and belonging.

3. Forge Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement

The right partnerships play a massive role in your rebranding efforts, from marketing materials and signage to supporting local non-profits and connecting with employees.

Signage and Marketing Materials

Paul and his team were committed to getting their signage and marketing materials right. After all, these investments don’t just involve writing a hefty check. Even more, they serve as prominent visual representations of the brand. They quickly learned the importance of finding partners who are ready to sit down and understand your brand and vision on a comprehensive level. If they “get it,” they’ll get it right, and your audience will notice. Paul said that even a detail as minimal seeming as a business card’s design and material can create a stand-out moment for people that reflects positively on your brand. 

Employee Input

Getting your employees’ input on your branding decisions is also valuable. This not only offers you valuable perspective, but can build buy-in from your employees, which is pivotal during transitional periods like a rebrand. Paul explained that throughout the rebranding process, he’s heard from staff members at all levels of the organization, from facilities associates to tellers and beyond. It can be as simple as “This pen doesn’t work. We need something that reflects our brand better,” feedback on the smaller and larger things matters.

Community Engagement That Reflects Your Brand

Another crucial partnership Lake Ridge Bank remains committed to is community connections, whether it’s sponsoring a little league team, a local hockey team, or a local non-profit. Paul explained that since Lake Ridge Bank now is a part of 18 different communities, it’s constantly getting requests from members and non-profits around the area for sponsorships. The causes and organizations a brand supports says a lot about it, and for Lake Ridge Bank, playing an active role in the local community comes first. As a result, Paul and his team have made it a priority to support local non-profits and organizations versus national ones, and to say “yes” to as many as possible. It’s yet another opportunity to amplify your rebranding efforts and communicate what your brand is all about.

4. Prioritize Clear Communication and Decision-Making

Executing a rebrand can be a tremendous undertaking, especially if it’s taking place during the span of a single year, as it did for Paul. To keep it all organized and meet deadlines, prioritizing decisive communication and having a clear plan are key. Paul found it helpful to appoint specific people as project managers who were responsible for specific initiatives. Maintaining and strengthening the communication within these relationships was vital to keeping the project on track and fostering a collaborative environment during such a large change.

Make Waves with Your Brand

As we’ve seen in Paul’s experience, rebranding is a complex, multifaceted endeavor that requires careful planning, a deep understanding of your brand’s identity and the community it lives in. Lake Ridge Bank’s rebranding journey offers valuable lessons in tackling these challenges head-on. By emphasizing a thoughtful approach to naming, integrating cultures, building strategic partnerships, and ensuring clear communication, your rebranding process can lead to a stronger, more unified brand identity.

See You at the Thirsty Goat for April’s Craft Marketing

Craft Marketing invites you to its next live in-person event at the Thirsty Goat in Fitchburg at 4:00 PM on April 30, From Belong to Be Madison, presented by Erik Greenfield, who will share the strategies he’s used to successfully market the Greater Madison community. You’ll get to network with your peers and enjoy a delicious beverage of your choice.

You can learn more and register here.

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About the Author

Kara Martin, Content Writer at Naviant, specializes in written B2B content, from case studies to blogs and beyond. She transforms complex technical information into compelling, data-driven content that helps organizations turn their digital transformation goals into a reality.

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