Rebranding with Words – with Steven Johnson

Happy November marketers and branding experts!

This episode is all about rebranding from a writing standpoint. My guest today is Steven Johnson, longtime copywriter and founder of Savor Content – a full-service writing + content marketing agency.
Rebranding with Words – with Steven Johnson
Our discussion today is about breathing fresh life into a brand with copy. We start the show with Steven’s general take on rebrands and why businesses need to do it. We discuss some good examples of rebrands over the years – namely Dunkin’ Donuts (now just Dunkin”) and Old Spice.

Steven talks about some of the biggest misconceptions about rebranding. In short, many companies assume a rebrand is a surface-level change of color, logo, packaging, etc. A rebrand goes much deeper – it requires a great deal of research, customer analysis, and problem-solving.

As we get into the main topic, Steven gives us his take on the role of copywriting in the rebranding process. Maybe we’re biased, but copywriting plays the most important role. Without words, a brand is little more than a jumble of colors and images. Copy is what brings the values, messaging, and feel of the company to life.
The next item we discuss is the main pillars of copywriting in a rebrand. At a glance, these are:

  • Providing real answers
  • Establishing credibility
  • Conveying features and benefits
  • Creating uniqueness

The conversation then shifts the process itself – and the mindset needed to approach it. As a common thread throughout this episode, a lot of it comes down to making sure everyone is on the same page.

Steven then discusses some of the major mistakes in the rebranding process, as well as some tips for setting yourself up for success. Shortly before the break, we touch on an interesting aspect: outsourcing in a rebrand.
Steven and I talk about the benefits of doing this – an outside perspective can be extremely helpful in taking a step away from the emotional ties to the brand.

After the intermission, we get into the nuts and bolts of conducting a rebrand. We kick off part two by discussing the first major steps to take, the most important questions a brand needs to answer, and what should be understood before the process kicks off.

We then shift to the touchy subject of managing clients in a rebrand. Steven talks about the major areas of pushback copywriters can expect, which include:

– Clients being too emotionally attached to the current brand
– Keeping goals aligned
– Having too many cooks in the kitchen
– Breaking a level of distrust as an outsourced creative

These answers lead to a chat about the major red flags of a toxic client:

– Refusal to collaborate
– Client does not fill out the questionnaire
– No alignment/communication across the company

Steven and I talk about the common scope of work in the rebranding process, managing a 180-degree turn, and how to get your feet on the ground in showcasing the new brand.

As in normal wrap-up fashion on this podcast, Steven gives us some parting words for copywriters conducting a rebrand:

– Don’t give up – even after some poor client feedback.
– Get out of your comfort zone with writing.
– Failure isn’t the end of the world.

Are you a creative professional – or a company – about to undertake a rebrand?

If so, this episode is full of valuable nuggets!

You can find more episodes of the Marketing Microscope on Stitcher.