Building Better Organizational Rebrands: Exploring the Employee Viewpoint
Miller, Debra L.
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Organizational brands can be powerful, and it is risky to rebrand and potentially alienate stakeholders with a change (Abramovich, 2014). Yet, despite its high failure rate and cost, rebranding has become commonplace (Zhao, Calantone, & Voorhees, 2018). Research on the topic of organizational rebranding is considered to be in an early stage and so far, researchers have largely ignored the employee perspective of rebranding initiatives (Chad, 2016). In this qualitative case study, the employees’ views of a rebranding initiative were explored, including their perspectives on how to engage them to strengthen buy-in and alignment with the new brand. Interviews—supported by multiple sources—were the primary form of data collection. Individual and group interviews were conducted with selected employees of a nonprofit private university in California that recently engaged in the process of rebranding. The data were triangulated and reported in comparative tables and in narrative form. The findings from this study reinforce prior rebranding research by Miller, Merrilees, and Yakimova (2014) about enablers and barriers and also contribute to the literature by adding employees’ perspectives and by proposing two new barriers to successful organizational rebrands. A better understanding of employee viewpoints will help organizations to build better rebrands with their stakeholders, including customers, organization leaders, organizers of these initiatives and, of course, with employees.