There’s a lot of contention surrounding councils after it was announced 19 councils across Sydney and NSW are merging. Is this a good idea? Who knows, but what I do know is that rebranding one brand is a delicate operation, let alone merging two or more distinct brands into one.
So, how do merging councils survive this ultra delicate operation without causing a significant scar?
First, you have to decide if you’re going to combine your brands or work your brands in tandem with each other. The way to assess the best option for you is to audit your existing brand by looking at:
- How big your community following is across all digital channels (social media followers, website traffic and app downloads/usage). Look at the numbers over the past three years and see if your online community has grown or gradually declined.
If you find your website traffic and social following has increased significantly and has remained steady or continues to increase, then you have a strong brand presence that should be maintained.
- Do you have brand advocates? These are supporters of your council and you can tell them apart because they sing your praises on social media and post positive comments in retaliation to negative comments and engage with you constantly. Brand advocates exist because of a strong brand and they are major assets for you during this transition.
- Have you got a distinct brand voice? Can someone tell your council apart from another purely based on the tone and type of content you promote? A brand voice is what differentiates you from everyone else.“Brands that communicate successfully are successful brands. And in order to communicate successfully, you have to distinguish and define your voice” (Contently). Developing a definitive brand voice isn’t easy, though if you have achieved this over the years it is worth maintaining your brand and keeping your voice heard.
If there are two or more strong brands at play, a strategy is to combine them all into one ‘main’ brand and create sub-brands of each council before dropping the weakest-performing brand over time.
Whether you opt for sub-brands or not, merging your brand and adopting a new identity provides a clean slate to engage your existing community and create new audiences. “By adopting a completely new identity, these companies can signal to customers that they have acquired fresh capabilities because of their merger. ” (HBR)
If you are merging brands, here are some questions to consider:
- Do you share the same goal?
- What are your strengths and what your weaknesses?
- Is your audience online similar or vastly different?
- What value does brand each provide?
- How will your new brand be promoted?
- How will you measure the success of your rebrand?
I know it’s not going to be easy during this transition but I hope this helps you decide the next steps for your council’s brand.
For merging councils only, we are offering special consulting packages for marketing, communications and social media to help you get a get head start and avoid losing community engagement.
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Having worked in local and state governments, I understand the challenges you face. Lack of: resources, trained staff, innovative technology and big budget are common factors that hinder standout communications and customer engagement online. I’ve been there. I get it.
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