When COVID-19 shut down life as most people knew it in early 2020, many businesses struggled to stay afloat. Then there was Labcorp, whose newly appointed CMO, Amy Summy, decided to use the pandemic as an opportunity to rebrand the organization. 

Labcorp, which provides diagnostic testing as well as support for clinical trials, had over a dozen brands in the market at the time. However, Summy felt customers were ready for a single centralized company with a more meticulously defined brand promise. The pandemic represented a “natural time” to tackle the assignment, Summy said.

The challenge was complicated by Summy’s status as Labcorp’s first CMO, as well as the absence of what she characterized as a “cohesive marketing team. That’s why she was surprised by the company’s appetite for change.

With the rebrand in the rearview mirror, Summy sat down with MM+M to share her six essential takeaways from the rebranding assignment. 

1. The customer voice has to be heard: “To make a rebrand successful, you must focus on your customers – to understand their perceptions about your brand, and what they expect, want and need. Their input led to our brand promise: ‘We are your source for advancing health: powering clear, confident decisions.’”

2. Timing matters: “Labcorp was a trusted source for information before COVID. During it, we became a central part of the COVID-19 response. Our leadership in diagnostic testing and clinical trials services is now more widely recognized by the world. The brand promise needed to reflect the recognition we gained.”

3. Employees are powerful brand ambassadors: “Our employees came together during COVID-19 and did everything they could to respond to the pandemic and deliver on our mission to improve health and improve lives. Our new brand campaign features our employees – our scientists, lab technicians, phlebotomists and couriers – and showcases how they bring answers to our customers and patients. Now they are bringing that brand promise to life every day.”

4. More than ever, brand is core to strategy: “Rebrands often get framed as a marketing effort or new campaign. At Labcorp, our business leaders understand the importance of brand, and view it as essential to our success.”

5. Always play the long game: “We changed the brands of a 50-year-old company that touches over 160 million patients, is involved with 87% of novel drugs brought to market and operates in over 100 countries. It took us about a year to move from concept to the first ad in the market, and involved hundreds of employees to execute and many external agencies and partners.”

6. This ain’t easy: “Changing your brand is an extensive, time-consuming initiative that should be grounded in data and insights gathered from extensive market research. Spending the time to do it right gives you a smoother transition with your employees and customers – and, importantly, results in a brand promise that can stand the test of time.”