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Rotary International introduced a new logo, isolating the word Rotary. Courtesy image
Rotary International's original logo before a recent rebranding. Courtesy image
Ask Mr. Marketing Columns

Rebranding to-do list

Traveling from Cabo San Lucas to San Diego, I stood next to three men who recognized my Rotary pin. We spent 10 minutes talking, and I left with several new friends.

RI has traditionally used this logo in collateral, websites, signage and jewelry. Because the name Rotary International was so small, only those “in the know” typically recognized it. Most folks assumed we were a secret society.

So RI introduced a new logo, isolating the word Rotary. This clarified their identity and encouraged greater conversation.

Typically older and set in their ways, most Rotarians have personal collections of pins from various conferences. They see little reason to throw these pins away and aren’t wearing the new logo on their lapel.

So much for rebranding. Most people don’t like change, and Rotarians are no different. Confusion has ensued.

RI could have appealed to Rotarians’ giving nature, offering free pins with the new logo and collecting old ones to melt into a town square sculpture in some less-privileged community.

This kind of idea never evolved, though, because RI did its rebranding process in a vacuum.

Rotary International introduced a new logo, isolating the word Rotary. Courtesy image
Rotary International introduced a new logo, isolating the word Rotary. Courtesy image

With 1.4 million members in 46,000-plus clubs worldwide, it’s no surprise this transition became disjointed. It’s human nature to revert to old habits.

And though RI’s new logo is slowly appearing on more collars, the old logo remains on countless community signs. This leaves the public perplexed.

If you’re planning on rebranding your own organization, allow adequate time for informing all key stakeholders (members, customers, media, staff, etc.) about your intentions and strategies. Communicate why you’re doing it and have a global project manager capable of educating everyone about how to help make the change successful. Have solid plans, budgets and milestones … and stick to them all.

Publicly announcing the rebranding effort should only be done after all this advance spadework has been completed. This will help the larger community anticipate the change and reduce misperceptions. Involving your audiences is also a great way to maintain brand loyalty.

Rebranding can be an important way to jump-start any business. But if you’re planning to go through all the time, trouble and expense needed to properly reposition yourself for the outside world, be sure to invest the extra effort upfront to ensure it’s all being done the right way.

With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.

More rebranding ideas at askmrmarketing.com.

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