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June 20, 2023

Deep-Dive Q&A on Rebranding with Trina May

Deep-Dive Q&A on Rebranding with Trina May
# Transformation
# Sales and Marketing
# Business Management

Marketing strategist delves into her rebranding and repositioning process

Deep-Dive Q&A on Rebranding with Trina May

Trina May is a marketing strategist who loves helping businesses shape and improve their branding. She understands the goals and challenges of graphic arts companies, having worked in the printing industry for over 25 years. She spent more than 20 years at paper and substrate supplier, GPA. Trina joined GPA in 1997 as a Graphic Designer and proceeded to hold a variety of roles from Marketing Manager and Director of Marketing to Business Development Director, Client Marketing Services. She was instrumental in helping GPA to advance its brands, products and culture.Today, Trina is thriving as an independent marketing consultant and experience creator. She loves helping clients create authentic, personalized campaigns that blend traditional, digital and direct-channel strategies, and she also loves recognizing cool branding moves and awesome print projects.Trina has recently worked with some printers to rebrand and reposition their companies successfully, as well as to attract and retain more customers. She shared with Dscoop a great outline of the rebranding process she uses to guide those efforts. This interview delves into that process and spotlights the creative, consultative mind behind some great print industry marketing.

DSCOOP: Thanks for spending time with us, Trina! It’s a pleasure to speak with you, and congratulations on the difference you’re making with brands today. 

TRINA: Thanks so much! It’s truly an honor to be asked to share some insight into branding. Dscoop has always been at the forefront of helping print businesses stay ahead of the curve, and I’m happy to give a bit more from my perspective and what I’ve seen be successful. 

DSCOOP: Before we get into some specifics about how printers can best approach rebranding and repositioning, we have a couple of questions about you personally. The first is, you seem to have a genuine passion for sharing your creativity and energy, and also for highlighting the passion and energy of others, which you do regularly on social media. As you connect and engage with the print community today, what motivates you?

TRINA: Honestly, it’s about personality. I get pumped up when I see a company that has really looked at who they are and what their audience wants. It’s not about creating a corporate “persona” persé, it’s more about better understanding the entire company culture and drilling down to identify who you are as a company. It’s exciting to work with companies that really see who they are.

"Audiences and people in general are looking for authenticity and true, down-to-earth connections today. It’s an evolution of both the consumer and the companies. Invented archetypes or generated connections won’t work."

Trina May, marketing strategist and print industry expert

DSCOOP: As an independent marketing strategist who also has extensive print industry experience and has seen and heard what today’s marketing teams often think and try, what’s one thing you wish print companies understood more about the topic of branding?

TRINA: To say it straight, it’s not about them (the company). Audiences and people in general are looking for authenticity and true, down-to-earth connections today. It’s an evolution of both the consumer and the companies. Invented archetypes or generated connections won’t work. It really is about their audience and understanding who they are and what they want. Seems simple, but it's an area that doesn’t get the focus or genuine attention it needs. It’s like shedding layers of the old “ancestral” ways to uncover the pure core purpose. State your values and earn your customer’s trust by sticking to them.

DSCOOP: Companies that make the decision to rebrand often have been thinking about doing so for a while. Among those print businesses that have dipped one toe in the water, so to speak, instead of diving in, what might be holding them back?

TRINA: It’s usually fear. Fear of change, workload, resource requirements, outside perceptions, costs, time and more. Branding can come across as daunting and complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. I always suggest breaking the project up into smaller, bite-sized segments. Most branding projects are drafted in phases, which can help the company see it in smaller nuggets versus one big, overwhelming project. My advice is to take one step at a time. All things happen when they are supposed to, and that goes for branding and rebranding too.

DSCOOP: At GPA, you worked with a team to develop, coordinate and execute fully integrated marketing plans. You were also responsible for directing, training and evaluating employees. Getting all of those internal people on the same page seems to matter greatly when it comes to a company’s ability to communicate its brand. Can you talk about the need to involve and inform your internal team throughout the rebranding process?

TRINA: This is such an important topic, I’m so glad you brought it up. The thing is that each team member IS the brand. So, it’s critical for your employees to be a part of the process. Identify where you can involve them and where their input will give valuable perspective in the process. Build those moments into the project, then be sure to share what the journey looks like and updates along the way. This can be done easily by providing stories and facts from the research you have done. Schedule periodic updates to keep the entire company informed and share the stages and reasoning behind the direction. When your employees know why you made the choices you did, they’ll take the same journey to understand the brand. Make it personal, interactive, and fun. Branding is an exciting venture and when you give your team the tools and information, they are better brand advocates. 

DSCOOP: Let’s get into your recommended process for helping businesses reposition and rebrand. In one step, you work with clients on a positioning worksheet that articulates the company’s unique value. What’s a common roadblock or misstep at this important stage?

TRINA: At this stage open discussion and exploration with key stakeholders is super important. Many times, there is more than one key stakeholder, and each person may have a slightly different view on the company. These people may consistently talk about the day-to-day business with each other but may not focus on key elements that align the who, what, why and how of their company. My practice is to provide a brand questionnaire that key stakeholders fill out independently. Although they complete it on their own, many times this exercise opens up essential, internal dialogue among the key stakeholders which may not have happened without it. Many times, it can expose other areas of need within the business. The completed questionnaires then allow the identification of common words and phrases to begin the positioning worksheet exercise. This worksheet is used as a basis for discussion, shaping concepts and narrowing down words to create a clear, succinct, and compelling picture of the company.

DSCOOP: Another part of your rebranding process is a customer audit, where a company takes stock of what its key customers think. What should a printer pay close attention to at this stage?

TRINA: This stage usually uncovers a plethora of information. In this confidential setting customers tend to feel they can be open and upfront. They will share stories about positive experiences and always things that are less favorable from their standpoint. I encourage companies to look at both sides. You don’t want to lose sight of what’s working and just focus on areas that need improvement. You have to look at how can you make it easy for your customer to buy and with the best experience. Try to set a plan to take small steps to improve the areas that need it and to continue what works already. It is very important to share the results with the entire team so that everyone can be on board and work together. This can be a great time to get feedback from your employees on ways of improving the customer experience. You’d be surprised and what insights they have.

DSCOOP: There’s an interesting exercise you ask clients to tackle called the “uncommon denominator exercise.” Can you explain what that is, and what it does? 

TRINA: This takes the internal learnings, competitive research, and knowledge about the customer and maps the data in relation to your business. There are three segments: 1) Customer’s Desires — what is important to your customer, 2) Competitor Strengths — what your competitors are good at and 3) Your Company Strengths — what you are good at. In the center of it all is that “thing” (service, characteristic, benefit, etc.) that your company has that your competitor doesn’t. It is what your company, different than anyone else, offers and the meaning it has to your customer. Get creative with this. Sometimes on the surface it doesn’t seem like there is much difference between you and your top competitors, but no one person is alike, and no company is exactly like another. Tapping into differentiation moves your business away from price focus and into a healthier, sustainable business model. Sometimes it is deep within the company or something that might not jump off the page at first. You have to read between the lines on what your customer really needs that only you can give them. This is where you can really create value and identify opportunities, messaging, ways to market, new processes and beyond. This also plays into the positioning statement and is an ideal time to revisit the positioning worksheet to see if your statement, mission and vision are in alignment with your uncommon denominator.

DSCOOP: Last question: What’s one piece of advice you have for a print leader who’s considering a rebrand, and how can they best connect with you?

TRINA: Just do it! Even if it takes some time to get through the process, the results and information gained outweighs doing things the same way. The reason you are in business is to fulfill a need of your target customer. It’s a whole lot easier doing business when you make your customer happy and have your whole team on board.

DSCOOP: Thanks so much for your time, and for sharing your knowledge with Dscoopers, Trina!

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