Rebranding Best Practices with Jim Heininger


June 29, 2020

jim heininger on brand

“Rebranding itself signals change.” Change is something that Jim Heininger focuses on extensively in his work as the leader of not one but two agencies. Dixon|James focuses on communication and change management while Rebranding Experts focuses on the comprehensive art and strategic science of rebranding. We discussed all of this and more on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.

Enjoy This Episode Now

About Jim Heininger

Jim Heininger is a Growth Communicator, Change Activist, and Rebranding Evangelist. He has spent 30 years in the marketing communications industry building and protecting some of the best-known brands including McDonald’s, Anheuser-Busch, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Wendy’s, and Molson Coors. Based in Chicago, he leads two agencies: Dixon|James Communications, a communications and change management firm, and Rebranding Experts, a team which focuses solely on the rebranding of companies and organizations. A firm believer that rebranding is an enterprise-wide strategic growth accelerator, he regularly shares first-hand insights on when to consider a rebranding strategy and how and when to rebrand successfully.

Episode Highlights

Rebranding is a heavy lift. “Rebranding goes from the top to the bottom, inside and out.” Many struggle with employee alignment during this, which is why Jim notes that you should plan on 18 months for a rebranding project with another 12 months after the announcement for adoption.

Not everything is ‘rebranding.’ Jim notes that rebranding is used by many as a generic way to describe an identity change. He then walked us through three key applications that Rebranding Experts focuses on.

  • Refresh — updating the look and feel of a brand; modernizing.
  • Reposition — positioning the brand with a new audience as Old Spice did a few years ago.
  • Rebrand — a comprehensive revision of everything including a brand’s purpose.

At the end of the day, to know which strategy to pursue, it’s all about answering one question: what problem are you trying to solve?

Textbook examples of good and not-so-good rebranding. As a teacher, I had to ask Jim for his favorite good and bad examples. On the good side, he cited Arthur Anderson’s rebranding as Accenture, noting that it happened at a key time when the brand needed to lose the baggage of the existing company identity. On the not-so-good side, Jim pointed to Weight Watchers rebranding as WW. “I’m not a big fan of acronyms. They don’t have a lot of meaning.” I couldn’t agree more!

What brand has made Jim smile recently? “During the pandemic, the brands that make me smile are really individual personal brands like Brené Brown and Oprah. They understand the human condition and what it means during this challenging time.”

To learn more, go to the Rebranding Experts website.

As We Wrap …

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

On Brand is sponsored by my book Brand NowDiscover the seven dynamics to help your brand stand out in our crowded, distracted world. Order now and get special digital extras. Learn more.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!


Nick Westergaard
Email Brand Driven Digital

is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.




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