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Keep Your Branding Process Nimble: A Hard Lesson From the E-cig Industry

branding-process-e-cig. For many organizations, branding and rebranding can be addressed in deliberate fashion over a period of months. But what happens when circumstances—such as unexpected passage of emergency legislation—force a very quick and unplanned turnaround? Just such an event is now happening in the electronic cigarette (e-cig) industry, where young children across the country have ingested the liquid nicotine used in e-cigs. In addition to repeated calls for child-proof packaging from a growing number of states, the federal government also is weighing in on the dilemma. The challenge doesn’t stop there. Many nicotine liquids are candy or fruit flavored and come in colorful packages that appeal to children. They also carry such names as Peppermint Patty, Bubble Gum and Caramel Surprise. So, along with childproofing, e-cig companies now face rebranding challenges to make the products less attractive to kids while continuing to draw adult buyer interest. Right about now, you may be wondering how this could possibly apply to you. Well, in our lightning-fast-changing world, no one can know for sure if or when their brand may come under attack. For example, it’s highly unlikely that the makers of pet food saw the specter of tainted ingredients that wound up harming and killing many animals. But, the time to face the potential need for rapidly changing branding, including labels and packaging, is long before anything occurs. Just as companies increasingly have reputation management crisis plans in place to address future negative reports and reviews, look at how a rapid rebranding process could unfold. Among the areas to address: 1. Fast-track team assembly/responsibilities. Determine what team members will oversee the effort. Establish pertinent task lists, deadlines, budget and how revisions and approvals will be fast-tracked. 2. Concept creation. Assign the appropriate team members to oversee the big picture of the rebranding effort. (It might even be useful to do some brainstorming sooner than later about what ideas could be in play for this effort, providing a jump start of sorts.) 3. Design and content development. Decide if/how to use in-house and/or contracted services to create what’s needed quickly. If time permits, consider holding a crowdsourcing competition to get outside ideas/input into the process—and perhaps get some positive social and mainstream media coverage at the same time. 4. Make sure that all printing and packaging systems can rapidly deploy. Digital label printing can provide the best option for quick turnaround (can be ready to ship in 1-2 days from receipt of approved artwork),offers cost-effective pricing in any quantity up to 10,000, and delivers quality comparable to or better than other forms of printing. In today’s dynamic marketplace where social media-fueled comments and reports can spread literally like wildfire in a matter of minutes, it’s important to get and stay way ahead of the game—even if you think you’re immune from emergent problems. You never know for sure.