From Zero to Launch in 86 Days (But Hey, Who's Counting)
What it takes to build a brand in record time.
Cybersecurity leader Open Systems was spinning off its Managed Detection and Response division, to create an entirely new brand from the ground up. Which meant they needed the works: new strategy, new name, new logo, new look—all blown out across collateral, a new website, and a launch video with the pomp and circumstance to get everyone at this “NewCo” on board with all the new updates.
Oh—and did we mention we had 86 days before the launch and sales kick-off to get it done?
At WHM, branding and rebranding are our bread and butter. But, that level of companywide transformation doesn’t always come easy—or quick. Major decisions take time, it’s hard to get consensus and a thoughtful rollout across the business can add months.
Our cybersecurity client didn’t have that sort of time so that became our challenge: how to build a brilliant brand in 3 months, without cutting any corners? (Or totally losing our minds.)
Learn how we got it all done for Ontinue, the brand we 86’d (but in a good way). And discover a few tips if your own business has a sudden need for speed.
From timeline to stakeholders to feedback,
keep consistent, transparent, and direct.
A schedule like this, you don’t have a lot of room for change, delays, misunderstandings, or mistakes. From the very start of the project, we needed to be clear about our goals, how we were going to get there, and how we’d deal with anything that might get in the way.
- First and foremost: What’s the deadline? And is it as immovable as we’re saying it is? It is? Then that’s our new gospel. We explicitly worked out exactly how long it was going to take to get things done–day by day, round by round, week by week. And these weren’t guidelines—they were deadlines. That meant hitting every meeting, every feedback due date, every number of rounds—no more, no less.
- Next: Who’s really got a voice in this project? Brands are a big deal—given the option, almost everyone in the company would love to chime in with their two cents. But there wasn’t time for that. If someone entered late in the game with ideas that canceled out everything that came before, so much for the launch date. We worked with Ontinue to decide who got a voice, at which points in the process, then stuck with them. We love fresh thinking—but we especially love it at the beginning.
- Finally: Set the terms on feedback. Clarity is critical. If you’re working with a good creative partner, they should have bright ideas and thick skin. Knowing what you loathe is just as valuable as what you love. In the immortal words of the Spice Girls, “Tell us what you want—what you really, really want.” We’ll move fast in a direction based on your preference and our experience.
Don’t skip the strategy—it’ll move things along in the long run.
Speaking of plans, with a tight deadline breathing down your neck, the last thing you want to spend your time on is discovery and strategy. “Come on, come on—let’s just get a website out the door!” Jumping straight to execution may seem like a shortcut, but that extra investment up front makes a major difference—in buy-in, in end-quality, and ultimately, even in speed.
The goal of a brand is getting everyone on the same page about your business, both in market and internally. But first, you actually need to find a grounded, meaningful story that people understand, agree with, and can get behind. And that takes some legwork.
With Ontinue, we did our diligence—with research, interviews, and exploration into every aspect of the business. We uncovered the pain points, the key perceptions, the real value at hand. Then, backed by all this insight, we found our driving idea: Above all, Ontinue is all about continuous, nonstop protection–and that’s where every part of the brand should lead back to.
Lacking research and discussion and alignment, choices can seem subjective, which gets people rethinking, overthinking, questioning, debating, and delaying.
For Ontinue, the pieces fell into place quickly. With a sound, supported strategy as rallying cry, suddenly everyone was speaking the same language, focused on the same goals, and moving in the same direction. When you pick a lane, it’s a whole lot easier to accelerate.
Start small—get the easy decisions out of the way early.
Building a great brand out of thin air can feel as daunting as staring at a blank page, trying to write this damn blog post. (Whoops!) There are so many decisions to make and so many considerations to take into account. The key is getting comfortable with making decisions fast. So, start small. Low stakes. Baby steps. As soon as possible, we started helping Ontinue figure out what they didn’t like, so we could start making moves toward what they do. As you get used to small decisions and small steps forward, you become more and more equipped to make bigger, faster leaps towards a full-fledged brand.
With Ontinue, before we did almost anything else, we began with a casual round of range-finding workshops up front. When we started talking company names, for instance, we met with stakeholders with a stack of no-pressure starter ideas. We weren’t there to choose a name. We were there to discover what might be taboo, what they liked, what strategic territories seemed most fertile and which we could eliminate.
With this new company, the notion of continuous protection came first. With this agreed-upon direction, we were ready to really deep-dive into naming, better informed and more confident that everyone was on the same page. We could focus our time and resources the right way, for a better shot at success and approval, with less wasted time and resources.
(P.S. We did the same thing to get going with visual expression, too. Starting with moodboards in another stakeholder workshop, we quickly sussed out a clear direction on colors, fonts, and overall look—dark mode, baby!).
Make sure there’s a strong client lead in place to keep things on track.
Every business is juggling a thousand different tasks. Every stakeholder wants to have their opinion heard. Everyone could use just a little more time to think things through.
In a brand building project of any length, it’s easy to get bogged down in bureaucracy, belabor decisions, or deprioritize the process for other short-term demands. A designated standard-bearer inside your business—someone to spearhead the process and help keep the project top of mind, on track, and moving forward is key.
But this sort of internal leadership isn’t just about forward motion—it’s also about taking the lead on decision-making. Getting companywide buy-in to your new brand is important, but more voices can make gathering feedback and finalizing decisions that much harder and that much slower. Ultimately, someone needs to call the shots and make the final decision. Make sure it falls to a strong leader everyone can unite behind.
Fortunately, Ontinue had a key stakeholder always pushing the brand initiative forward. They made their team feel heard at every step, but ultimately made the decisions and hit the deadlines.
No one said it was going to be easy. But with the right preparation, communication, and discipline, we can work wonders—check out ontinue.com to see what’s possible.
Ready to make the impossible, possible? Connect with us.