Change Management: How to Brand Your Change Project

By Emerson Client Director, Lisa Westerfield

Corporate brand identity

What are the best brand images you can think of? Maybe it’s Nike’s iconic swoosh, the golden arches of McDonald’s or Apple (minus a bite), or. Nike’s logo says “speed.” McDonald’s huge glowing initial, flung high into the sky, beckons people from miles around to a guaranteed, hot, fast delicious meal. Apple’s logo represents the original taste of knowledge. Successful companies use these symbols to connect consumers to their brands.

Of course, we brand our change projects too, for the same reasons. We want people to connect to the initiative, understand its essence, and buy in.

To develop a strong brand, answer these questions:

  1. What is it? If you haven’t already, define that vision and get leaders aligned.
  2. Who are we trying to reach? Identify the target audience for your brand. Who do you need to motivate? Define them. Are they end users of a system? Customers? Virtual global teams? How many? Where are they?
  3. What will make it stick? This is about audience and culture. What do they value? How do they see themselves? What was their reaction to previous initiatives?
  4. What are you trying to say? You need a core message. Is it speed? Excellence? Innovation? Making people’s lives better? Make sure your brand says that.
  5. What does it look like? The visual – logo, colors, mascot, tagline – comes last.
  6. Where does it go? Think about where your audience is, both physically and virtually. Break rooms? Employee website? Meetings? Project communications? Layer your brand message so it’s inseparable from the change.


My last tip: when in doubt, keep it simple. A good brand doesn’t make people think too hard; they just get it. A simple, strong, memorable brand will give your project the boost it needs.

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