Transforming from a house of brands to a brand house

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I have had the great fortune of working for an amazing company over the last 10 years, built over a period of time through a series of acquisitions and with has a solid reputation in the marketplace. We have operated for the most part as individual business units, each with our own budget and revenue targets.

Since I joined a decade ago, we've seen shifts in our market position, and not the kind of shifts I want to brag about. Over time it became obvious that we needed a much different approach—and that approach was transforming from a house of brands to a branded house.

We'd been known in the marketplace by our product identity and much of our culture was built around that. However, going forward we would now be moving to focusing on our master brand versus the individual product brands.

 The shift, as you can imagine, is a large one for our organization. We all agreed it was the right thing to do and made perfect sense, but how we would do it was another story entirely. We're not quite there yet but we're close, so I thought I'd share some of what we've learned along the way.

  • Change management. The internal change management was the first, most-critical piece. When going through a transformation like this, it's important to get your employees up to speed and on board early. I'd advise others in the same situation to continue to engage employees the entire way—be open, ask for feedback and share candidly. Test your ideas with existing customers and prospects. Engage them in the communication plan. Be collaborative and help your employees become brand ambassadors.
  • Hire an outside expert. While we have a ton of expertise internally, we felt that it would be best to hire an outside expert to work with us on this journey. We were all a little too close to the process, and it helped tremendously to have an outside partner asking us questions and pushing our thinking.
  • Be realistic but aspirational. Be honest and ask, what does your brand stand for and what can you honestly deliver? Building your new brand on strong foundational attributes is key in creating authenticity, but if you desire your new brand to expand its depth you should consider adding an aspirational component.

Transforming from a house of brands to a branded house has had some unexpected effects. Operating in our own business units for so long generated silos. What little internal walls were up are now for the most part gone. It is by no means perfect, we still have a lot to work out, but we've stretched our thinking and we've all learned a lot in the process.

We think we've dotted all the I's and crossed all the T's but true to my nature, you can be sure that I'll provide you with a candid review of any additional lessons learned along the way.

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