Getting Buy-In for Your Revitalized Brand

By Jeanne Frazer, President, vitalink

Developing a brand for a new concept can be much easier than creating a revitalized brand for an existing product, service, or organization. When you have an existing brand – even a brand no one loves – you usually have large numbers of stakeholders who all have opinions about what the brand should be! Getting the majority of stakeholders on board with the new concept can be a challenge.

Let’s admit up front the chance of everyone agreeing on the exact same thing is somewhere in the neighborhood of zero. Most people do not like change, and it can take them some time to warm up to the new brand. That said, there are ways you can engage with stakeholders and increase buy-in for the revitalized brand.

The brand revitalization process

Here are some ways you can improve your odds of getting buy-in for your updated brand:

  • Identify your stakeholders. Who is your audience? If you are rebranding a university, for example, consider current and prospective students, alumni, faculty and staff, influencers (parents, clergy, guidance counselors), legislators, and the community. For a city or town, look to residents, business owners, visitors, transient workers, city/town team members, and elected officials.
  • Determine how to best reach all audience groups. If you have an email list, you may assume that will be sufficient. It may not be inclusive and fully representative of your stakeholders. 
  • Engage your stakeholders. This might be done through online (or print) surveys, focus groups, public forums, or other means. Do you need to offer the survey or focus groups in multiple languages? Hold sessions outside of normal business hours? Make sure you ask relevant questions so you can analyze the response data by stakeholder group.
  • Allow enough time for the process. We have found many people do not leave sufficient time to conduct all the research needed. This is especially true when surveys must be mailed out or notices published in print.
  • Go beyond just showing the logo by itself. Consider providing examples of the logo in use on a mocked-up brochure or flyer, digital ad, business card, or a web page. For many people, seeing the logo “in action” can be the difference between being unsure or loving it.
  • Have a plan to deal with haters. No matter what you do, there will be at least a few people who like the old logo better. They may question why money was spent to revitalize the brand when the old one “was perfectly good.” Put together talking points for everyone on your team that explains the “why” behind the change and (high level) the process you went through collecting detailed research, and the results from the stakeholder vote. They may not like it, but should accept the change if you can prove you’ve done your homework and there is a need.

Why not just leave the brand alone?

Brands get tired, and they often need to be refreshed (and sometimes totally reimagined) to stay current and competitive. The need for a change can result from external changes (new technology, marketing channels, or audience fatigue) or internal shifts (product changes, new ownership, or a new mission/vision for the company). When it’s time to revitalize or reimagine your brand, take the time to do it right. Engage your stakeholders and do your research. You’ll be glad you did.

Averett Family Law Case Study

"We are now a little more than a year out from the rebranding and have seen significant increases in client acquisition and referrals. We have now added estate planning in support of our family law clients. Last year, we were able to pay bonuses to the team - all as a result of the marketing."

~ D. Melissa Averett, Attorney at Law, Averett Family Law

Click to read the case study and learn more about our work with rebranding Averett Family Law.


Marketing for the Competitive Senior Living Segment

The population of the United States is aging and the number of senior living communities in the U.S. is growing quickly to support these seniors. Indeed, the the population in these senior living communities is expected to double by the year 2030. 

The SilverLife Marketing division of vitalink was created to help senior communities, elder law attorneys and other professionals focused on the senior living market stand out in an increasingly competitive market segment. 

Does your business fall into these categories? See a list of our tools and how we might help you. 

Authenticity + Value = Millennial Marketing

The millennials are currently the largest generation group consisting of approximately 80 million people. Which answers the question of why it is important to be able to effectively market to this generation of people. There are a couple of values that most millennials hold true; understanding these values will help to understand them better, as well as allowing you to market to them more effectively. 


These are two important values to keep in mind while marketing to millennials. 

Tina Blake Joins vitalink Team

Tina Blake Joins vitalink Team

Raleigh, NC – Jeanne Frazer, president of vitalink®, today welcomed Tina Blake to the team. Tina’s background includes strategic marketing, product rollout and business development experience across medical and pharma, senior services, and politics.

“We’re so excited to have Tina on board,” says Frazer. “I met her several years ago and was impressed with her background and strategic approach. When the opportunity came up to get Tina on our team, I jumped at it! We know our clients will enjoy working with Tina.” Tina is a graduate of East Carolina University. She handled the product rollout of the Alzheimer’s drug, Namenda, as well as that of the Da Vinci robotic surgical device. Tina has been active in politics, and has run campaigns for several candidates. Her most recent position was as a consultant at Bartlett Reserve Senior Resort Living in Durham.

Marketing on a Whim?

Jeanne Frazer, President, vitalink

Do you make major marketing decisions based on research? If not, you can end up headed in the wrong direction or spending more than you should. We recently did some research for a client that was considering a name change (an expensive proposition, if you’ve ever done it!). They felt the current business name didn’t represent who they are and were leaning toward changing the name. The client asked vitalink to do find out what the market perception of the business was and recommend next steps. After completing our research, the research came back in favor of keeping the current name and simply tweaking the brand and messaging.

Here are some things to consider before you make major marketing expenditures:

  • What are your goals – both from a high level for the organization and your immediate goals for a specific marketing effort? You want to be sure each marketing campaign or outreach effort supports the ultimate goals of the organization. It’s easy to get sidetracked and lose sight of the end goal, so using a checklist each time you plan a campaign is a good strategy.
  • Have you defined your target audience? Marketing is part art and part science. It’s important to understand who your target audience is, where they spend their time (how to reach them), and what message is most likely to resonate.
  • How will you measure the results of your marketing efforts? If your goal is brand awareness, it’s harder to measure than a specific promotional effort (i.e., a 20% off coupon code).
  • Are there outside influences that might impact your marketing? You may positively impact your efforts by tying in with a relevant event (i.e., promoting your new local cheese products before and after National Grilled Cheese Day!). Conversely, outside events may negatively impact your efforts; for example, a natural disaster in your target area might mean you want to put efforts on pause or shift your focus to your support of disaster victims.

In short, research is an important part of marketing. While we don’t recommend worrying overly much about doing research on a $100 local team sponsorship, you do want to make sure everything you do is in line with your goals. Your research efforts should also be commensurate with the dollars you will spend. Questions? Just ask us!

Matching Your Website Design to Your Target Audience

Whether designing a website yourself or through an agency, it’s easy to get caught in the trap of trying to please ourselves (or our boss) and forget that a successful website needs human visitors who use it, enjoy it, and buy from it. But unless your best customer is you, you’ll need to turn your focus away from what you like in a website design, and towards what your users need and want.

UX expert Zoltan Gocza says:

“When designing a website, it’s easy to assume that everybody is like you. However, this leads to a strong bias and often ends in an inefficient design.

Your Whole Other Level©

If you’re 40 years old or older and I ask you what’s most famous about the 1980 Olympics, you will immediately say “the U.S.A. hockey team beat the Soviets and won the gold medal.” Likewise, if you’re 50 or older, you can probably recite where you were when you watched the U.S.A. vs. U.S.S.R. game (which was actually the semi-final game) and the way you celebrated as Al Michaels shouted out his famous phrase, "Do you believe in miracles?”

Changing Brand Attitudes

We often talk about other people’s perception of your brand. In an ideal world, your brand would be so clearly focused that perception matched reality. In the real world, that seldom happens! If perception and reality are very close, your brand may be highly effective. If there are disconnects, you may need to tweak or revitalize your brand.

Listen to that Inner Voice

There is one major common denominator I have found in my career coaching clients that I talked about heavily in my recent Keynote speech for a national health conference for Virginia Tech. It is called the desire for fulfillment. I personally believe the lack of fulfillment and the depression that sets in is one of our biggest health issues today.

Why Should I Care About My Brand?

Many people equate a logo with their company’s brand. But branding is so much more than the brand mark or word mark. Your brand represents who you are and sets expectations for consumers—it is your promise to the consumer. The brand must be well defined and carry through to all touchpoints. Your logo, store design, website, and even your tone of voice when communicating—both verbally and in writing—must all represent your brand. First impressions are critical; whether the consumer calls you, emails, receives a direct mail piece or checks your website, your brand must shine through to show the best of your business.

Frazer Named 2016 Treasure Her Legacy of Elegance Honoree

Raleigh, NC – Jeanne Frazer, president of vitalink®, will be recognized as a 2016 Treasure Her Legacy of Elegance Award Honoree at the 4th Annual Treasure Her Elegance Grand Tea™ benefiting The SISI. The theme of this year’s event is Treasuring the Selfless Sacrifice of the Caregiver.

“I am so honored to have been chosen as a Treasure Her Legacy Honoree,” says Frazer. “The other Honorees are all accomplished professionals and I proud to be recognized among them. As a cancer survivor, I’m very aware of how difficult it can be for patients to go through the cancer ‘journey’ and how important the caregivers are in the process. The SISI is a fabulous organization that helps cancer patients have one less worry by giving back in the form of transportation assistance. This is a great cause!” The SISI is a 501(c)3 public charity whose mission is "Transportation Assistance Across the Colors of Cancer." They help cancer patients get transportation assistance to medical appointments, chemo and radiation toward survivorship without regard for cancer type, ethnicity, age or gender.

The 4th Annual Treasure Her Elegance Grand Tea will be held on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at 8:00 a.m. at the Grand Marquise Ballroom in Garner, NC. This is a hats, gloves and PEARLS event, open to both men and women. Stephanie Glance, Executive Director of The Kay Yow Cancer Fund will be the Keynote Speaker, and Toni Mozingo will host the event. This year’s event will focus on the role of caregivers in the cancer journey. Tickets may be purchased online at Questions may be directed to Terry W. Spicer, Founder & Executive Director at 919-801-4842. The Grand Tea is The SISI’s primary fundraiser.

vitalink ( is a branding + strategic marketing think tank based in Raleigh, North Carolina, with offices in Huntington, West Virginia. Founded in 1996, vitalink partners with colleges + universities, non-profits, membership organizations, law firms, small businesses and other types of companies to vitalize their brands. vitalink and its team members give back to the community on a regular basis.


Just Another Cause?

Just Another Cause?

If you are a legitimate non-profit or a university looking to grow your donor base, it’s important to understand how potential donors see you, i.e., do you look credible? what value will they get from supporting your cause?

We recommend stepping back on a regular basis to take an honest look at your organization. Do some research and find out if your perception is the same as potential donors, clients and volunteers outside the organization. Here are a few things to consider:

Branding vs. Design

Branding vs. Design

A graphic designer will start by asking you what you like, what colors you want to use and gather some additional basic information about your company and preferred style. They will then come up with a few designs for you to choose from and call it done.

Branding takes the design to the next level and flows it out through your entire organization. Your brand should represent who you truly are. It takes some research to get to this level, and works best when you have input from outside stakeholders. We don’t always see ourselves the way others do, and that disconnect can sabotage your brand.

Why Branding is Important for Non-Profits

Why Branding is Important for Non-Profits

Non-profits (and small businesses!) start off with limited funding. Paid staff members and volunteers may all work separately to get the word out. Brand quality and consistency often suffer during these early days, and it can be a challenge to go back and adjust that first impression of the brand.

Here are three reasons branding is so important for non-profits, and what you can do to carry your brand throughout your efforts:

A Law of Attraction Prescription for Social Change

Using Ferguson, New York, Boston and Baltimore Events to Create a New Reality

By Karin Cross

 Karin Cross

Karin Cross

Every experience in life is an opportunity to better define what is wanted for the future. From the perspective of right now, do you want more of the same or do you want something different? If you want more of the same, do nothing and continue to focus on what is. If you want something different, however, then your thoughts and actions must shift to reflect the change that is wanted. Creating a different experience is simply a matter of making a choice and lining up your thoughts and actions with this choice. This is the Law of Attraction at work – what you focus upon expands.

Recent events in Ferguson, New York, Boston and now Baltimore present all of us with the opportunity to look at what is and decide whether we want more of the same or something different.   If we want more of the same – fear, anger, frustration, powerlessness, loss – then we simply need to keep doing what we’re doing and continue to focus on what is – the details of each event, blame and the past. This is typically how we tend to respond – unconscious, reactionary and totally focused on the negative – and thus the reason that social change takes so long.

If, however, we do not want more of the same, we can use the incidents that have occurred in these cities and others to better define what we DO want instead. Consciously choosing peace, equality, justice, compassion and then aligning our thoughts, words and deeds with them guarantee the creation of a new reality. And when we focus collectively on what is wanted, it unfolds for us in powerful and unexpected ways.

So…What do we do? What does the process of “aligning with peace, equality, justice and compassion” look like in the real world?

  1. First, find your happy place. No kidding! Anyone involved or wanting to help change the status quo must first connect to a sense of peace and calm in whatever way works for you. Meditate, pray, walk on the beach, go fly fishing, play with your children or grandchildren…anything that helps you re-establish your own sense of personal balance and well-being. We live in a vibrational universe, and like attracts like. Because our thoughts are also vibrational, they attract similar thoughts, people and situations into our lives. Thus, to attract ideas for positive and empowering solutions and the pathways by which to pursue them, you must first set your own vibration – your own point of attraction – to that which you are wanting to achieve.
  2. Talk, Write, Meet. (But ONLY AFTER you have quieted your own spirit and are coming from a place of calm and hopefulness.) If you have the public’s ear or eye, uplift us with your words and paint a picture of the new reality we are wanting. Focus on solutions and celebrate the progress that is being made. Inspire us to release the past so that we can move forward toward this new reality. Again, everything is vibrational. Focus on anger and injustice simply attracts more of the same into our organizations, communities and homes.
  3. Be the change you want to create! Science shows that positive changes that we enact in our own lives influence others four degrees removed. To attract and create more peace, equality, justice and compassion in the world, we only need to seek it in our own lives. Ask yourself then:
    1. What would it feel like to experience more peace and calm in my own life? What can I do that would make me feel more like this? Go do that.
    2. What would it feel like to experience more equality and empowerment in my own life? What can I do to feel more empowered? Go do that.
    3. What would it feel like to experience more justice in my own life? What can I do to bring more of this feeling into my daily life? Go do that.
    4. What would it feel like to have more compassion in my life? What can I do to increase compassion in my life now? Go do that.
  4. Turn off the News! Last but not least, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your community is to turn away from anyone spewing negative thoughts and details about what is. Reporting the facts is one thing, turning facts into hype is another. These ideas and words are of a low vibration and only keep what is alive and thriving by attracting more of the same. There are, however, strong, visionary leaders in the world who inspire positive thoughts and actions and leave us feeling hopeful and eager for the new reality. They set a different tone, pursue a different approach and have a very different vibration from those who focus on the negative aspects, and thus they attract and create solutions that truly lead us to the new reality we are wanting.

That’s it. It is neither difficult nor complicated. Experiencing peace, equality, justice and compassion in our cities and communities is only a matter of consciously thinking about what we want rather than what we do not want and then seeking to experience these things in our individual lives. So tell me…What will you do today to change the world?

3 Reasons Not to Rebrand Your Law Firm by Yourself

 Jeanne Frazer, president of vitalink and a member of The Expert Speakers

Jeanne Frazer, president of vitalink and a member of The Expert Speakers

Many people think revitalizing your law firm brand is fairly simple. You have or can hire an artist to create a new logo, right? But there are often factors that are overlooked when heading down this road. Branding is not just about your firm’s logo or brand mark. Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t (re)brand your law firm on your own:

  1. A coordinated rebranding must be based on your core strengths and should include developing a brand platform. And that’s just the beginning. You must then not only develop the new brand visuals that support your brand platform, but also the brand messages. These must be fully integrated across all channels and touch points. Your messages must be consistent and must support your core brand truth. Building the brand platform requires time and effort. Many law firms aren’t staffed to take on the extra work.
  2. Perhaps one of the most overlooked challenges for do-it-yourselfers is working in a vacuum. Your rebranding must engage stakeholders to gain buy-in early in the process. Think this support isn’t needed? If you miss the mark and have to pull a new brand because you don’t have buy-in, you’ll have wasted time and money and have egg on your face. You don’t want to be explaining your mistake to the managing partner.
  3. Ineffective rollout. The external rollout is typically the easy part. Not having a plan to ensure all groups internally are communicating the new brand platform can lead to even more brand iterations and confusion. Old assets must be removed and replaced with new. Your rollout plan should include how you will have the changes implemented (it doesn’t always happen all at once) – from business cards and letterhead, to social media and videos, to the website and signage. You’ve also got to designate someone to monitor these channels for consistent brand usage. Oh—and the biggest thing you’ve got to have: the commitment of senior management team to make the change and support enforcing the new brand. It’s easy to say a different brand here or there won’t impact things, but these inconsistencies cause disconnects with your target audience that reduce effectiveness and harm your brand.

Yeah, but I can do this with a good checklist, can’t I?

There are certainly law firms and businesses out there capable of handling a rebranding internally, however even if your marketing department is large, doing all the work in-house is not always wise. Over time, brands (both the logo or brand mark and message points) can become tired and dated. In some industries, like technology, this happens extremely rapidly. In law firms, the pace of change may be a bit slower. When recent experience has all been in one industry or with one institution, we can easily allow our focus to become too narrow or insulated, missing some opportunities to make the brand even better. Consider the following ways a third-party can help you rebrand more effectively:

  • It may be obvious, but a third-party with no “skin in the game” is probably going to be more objective. There is no attachment to past art or content assets, which leads to a more honest assessment of what truly resonates with the intended target audience. During our recent work with one client, leadership thought that the history of the organization was the most important aspect. Our research with prospects told a much different story. They did not have the same reverence for the historical aspects, but were more concerned with how doing business would benefit them. That didn’t mean we ignored the history, it meant we reframed the historical references and we led with benefits that potential clients told us were important to them.
  • If surveys or focus groups are conducted, participants may be more open and willing to share honest opinions with a third-party, knowing their responses will be shared anonymously. We find respondents sometimes like to please and will change responses to get approval. Doing it yourself can also lead to unintentionally including leading questions that skew results. Some folks can’t help but stack the deck in favor of a pet idea or project.
  • It can be easier to “hear” something from paid outside experts. Sometimes the results of our research support what the marketing department has been saying all along. Leadership just needs to hear it from a different source. In addition, a firm hired specifically to complete the research and go through the rebranding process can make recommendations management may not want to hear. If you are the marketing director and are presenting a best plan that incorporates elements you know the managing partner will not like, would you be inclined to adjust the plan to gain easier acceptance – even if it is less effective? Management may also be more likely to argue the merits of the plan with an internal resource. An outside firm will likely present the best plan based on unbiased research, then work to justify it to senior management. The management team may still not like some aspects of the plan, but the response won’t be personal.
  • An outside firm will not have preconceived notions that may be held by those who work for the law firm or have been in the legal industry for many years. At vitalink, we have developed a survey tool based on our 15+ years of rebranding experience that gets to the core truth and promotes buy-in. We call it Perception vs. Reality. The survey compares responses of stakeholder groups important to the law firm or organization to give us a 360 degree view and identify the sweet spots where the stakeholders are all in agreement. These areas of alignment form the basis of our brand platform, because they are already widely believed. We do, however, often find a number of points where the perception of some doesn’t match the reality of others. If the firm chooses only one of these perspectives, the brand could be out of alignment. Instead we recommend working on a plan to bring these differences into alignment going into the future. Some law firms in the midst of change may want to reinvent themselves. They ask, “Why would old areas of alignment be important? Shouldn’t we just use message points that say what we want to become?” Change doesn’t happen overnight; we recommend focusing on select positive aspects where the brand is in alignment and telling your audience where you are going. A great example is the old tagline, “We’re #2, we work harder!” Remember the campaign?

If you do have the staff to implement a new brand, we recommend you consider hiring an independent party to handle the high-level rebranding process and strategy. Utilize your internal folks to support the effort and to implement the plan. Not sure if it’s time for you to vitalize your brand? Talk to us by calling 919.850.0605 or emailing today.