6 Steps To A Successful Rebrand
An abridged version of this article first appeared on Inkbot Design. Read it here.
We live in a world where trends are frequently evolving. The knock-on effect is the status quo being challenged. Whether it’s business, technology, working style, or shopping - what worked yesterday might not work today. And what works today, well, may not work tomorrow. And it’s particularly true for branding efforts that companies undertake to keep up with the requirements of today.
Those that are successful have at least two aspects going for them: they are strategic in the way they operate and, two, forward-thinking in their approach. Rebranding is one way to keep up with the emerging trends. Moreover, it might be a necessary step towards staying on top of customers’ minds and powering growth.
We’ll get into the ‘when’ and ‘how’ of rebranding, but first, the ‘what’.
What Is Rebranding?
When a brand pivots its marketing strategy with a name change, enhancements to or a complete overhaul of its branding, and tweaks any element of design with an aim to foster a new brand identity, it’s known as rebranding.
It can either be small- or large-scale, the goal of it is simply one.
Whatever the scale of rebranding, it costs money, involves time, and, yes, manpower as well. And, we cannot ignore the possibility that the rebranding efforts may fall flat in the eyes of consumers. That, then, is a double whammy.
Over the years, behemoths across industries have rebranded to avoid stalling and to stop the business from regressing. Companies have rebranded twice, thrice, four times, and some even more. However, not all rebranding efforts are successful.
For example, more than 40 percent of people said they couldn’t recognize Uber’s rebranded logo, which also received only a three-star rating compared to the previous logo’s four-star rating.
Companies, however, can reduce the risks if they plan well, understand their actual reasons for rebranding, and use feedback to guide their decisions.
Why Should You Consider Rebranding?
Brands may need to rebrand for different reasons such as:
- To reposition
- To drive worldwide growth
- To overcome a bad brand image
- Acquisition or merger
If rebranding is part of a strategy to target different geographical regions, it’s paramount to adopt a brand name that appeals to different audiences and cultures.
Rebranding doesn’t always mean revamping the entire branding strategy either.
Walmart, the largest retail brand, is a case in point.
As it sought to reposition itself, Walmart tweaked its tagline instead of rechristening the brand name. In 2007, after being known for “Always low prices” for 19 years, the company changed its slogan to “Save money. Live better.” The new slogan was adopted with the aim of providing an emotional tone to its advertising campaign and improving sales at its US stores. Just three years after the slogan change, in 2010, Walmart became the world’s largest corporation in terms of revenue, according to Forbes Global 2000.
Let’s look at the different circumstances in which companies might need to rebrand themselves.
A change to the brand’s position and promise can help distinguish itself from the competition and provide clarity to the pain points that it solves. What’s more, it will shape a new way of brand storytelling that resonates with prospects and customers.
To Drive Worldwide Growth
If a brand name is too specific for a country and the company plans to expand its business across international markets, rebranding might be necessary.
Prominent examples include Smiths to Lay’s, Postbank to ING, and Raider to Twix.
Bad Brand Image
Rebranding might also be essential if a company has a bad brand reputation and it needs to overturn customers/audiences’ perceptions.
A poor reputation with customers may adversely affect operating results, and rebranding can help mitigate the negative image or dispel it all together.
Acquisition Or Merger
When two companies and, consequently two brands, join hands - rebranding is often essential to unify the identities. In this case, rebranding helps build trust and avoids confusion.
When Rebranding Isn't Necessary
While the reasons mentioned above are substantive enough for companies to consider a rebrand, the following reasons don’t really warrant one.
Maybe your branding efforts haven’t given you the desired results yet, or customer acquisition hasn’t gathered pace. But rebranding is not really a solution in either case.
At best, you might be able to generate short-term buzz through PR and social media campaigns. But without a sustainable sales and marketing strategy, rebranding won’t salvage the situation.
A company’s 25th, 50th, 75th, or 100th year anniversary doesn’t have to be marked with rebranding. The exception for this would be if you had already planned for a rebrand and now want to usher in the new identity on the company’s anniversary.
Board Thinks “It’s Time”
Perhaps employees aren’t happy, revenues have declined, and partnerships haven’t manifested. And so, the board contemplates a rebrand.
Rebranding should only be contemplated if the company needs a refresh of its brand identity, or if it plans to capture a new market or attract a new audience.
Leadership Wants To Make A Mark
Too often, executives and board members want to make their mark and so, their first big move is to rebrand. It is not a strategic decision to help the company grow in the long term, increase revenues, or improve customer acquisition.
The caveat is that once the current leadership’s tenure comes to an end, the next leadership might ask for another brand refresh.
Scale Of Rebrand
You’ve identified it’s time to rebrand, but do you need a full rebrand or is a partial rebrand enough?
Established brands have more to lose from a rebrand, especially if it’s a full rebrand. On the other hand, partial rebranding helps to refresh the image to keep up with the trends, all while retaining brand loyalty.
A full rebrand cannot be avoided if your company’s values and vision are changing, your product and service offerings have evolved, and you’re merging with another brand. In this case, your brand identity, logo, mission statement, and almost everything about your brand will need a complete makeover.
The scale of rebranding will shape how you drive the process to completion.
How To Rebrand
By now, you’ve understood what rebranding entails. You’ve considered and understood the need to rebrand. You have also evaluated if you need a partial or full rebrand. Now, it’s time to get the ball rolling.
The process typically involves six steps.
- Conduct audience and market research
- Revisit company’s values, vision, and mission statement
- Consider what you want to retain (and those you must change)
- Rework brand identity
- Understand customer sentiment
- Plan re-launch
Conduct Audience And Market Research
It’s the first and one of the important steps in the process. Companies must understand each aspect of their business, including their current offerings, customer satisfaction, and brand perception, to name a few.
Your research must help you understand who the target audience is, the concerns they face, how adequate your solutions are in helping improve your customers’ lives, the existing solutions in the market, and market gaps if any.
Thorough research, along with the collection of high-quality data to back the research and hypothesis, will provide a strong foundation for the rebranding process.
Revisit Company’s Values, Vision, And Mission Statement
As companies grow in terms of headcount, revenue, market share, product offerings, and more - it’s possible that their goals and vision have shifted.
A decade ago, Danish Oil and Natural Gas, Denmark’s largest energy company, hit a financial crisis as the price of natural gas plunged by 90 percent. Its credit rating was downgraded to negative by S&P. Henrik Poulsen, a former executive at LEGO, was hired as the CEO, for whom it was an opportunity for fundamental change.
He told HBR, “It had to be a radical transformation; we needed to build a new core business and find new areas of sustainable growth. We looked at the shift to combat climate change, and we became one of the few companies to wholeheartedly make this profound decision, to be one of the first to go from black to green energy.”
It’s important to note that every business decision should be driven by the company’s vision, mission, and values. If the approach changes at any point of the journey, companies must revisit re-evaluate their messaging and brand positioning.
Before rebranding, a company must review its vision and mission statements, and values. And, based on the scale, it might need to create a new set of brand ethos, and redefine its mission and vision statements.
Consider What You Want To Retain
In this step, the key is to understand the main problem that you’re trying to solve through the rebranding process.
A list of a company’s branding elements typically includes:
- Brand name
- Brand logo
- brand tagline (or slogan)
- Website design
- App design
Each of these must be measured for brand positioning, brand recall, ROI, effectiveness, and distinguishability.
Ensure that you measure them with the help of marketing and sales data, including website performance, brand searches, and social media followership.
It would also be helpful if you reached out to your target demographic and gathered their feedback to get a clear picture of what’s working, what might need improving, and what might need overhauling.
Rework Brand Identity
The logo design, brand colors, typography, graphic elements, and imagery combine to make up the brand identity.
It’s possible that a company’s brand identity has become dated and needs a refresh. And brand identity rework is a significant part of the rebranding process.
The brand logo may not have to be designed from scratch, but it perhaps needs a refresh to reflect the rebranded version of the company. It is, after all, a key part of representing a brand.
The principles of logo design do not change. It must be memorable, simple, adaptable, timeless, and unique.
For example, when a company was first established, it probably had a logo that was crammed and not simple. But with the company now moving in a different direction and having built an identity of its own, a simpler logo might be a good choice.
Use market research and color psychology to guide your choice of brand colors when you rebrand.
If a company’s products and services aren’t changing at the time of rebranding, the brand colors might not need to be changed. On the flip side, a new color scheme is necessary to promote a new line of products and services, and drive sales.
The choice of font depends on the industry you are in and the audience you are aiming to cater to. For example, if your target demographic comprises people in the age range of 35-45, a Sans Serif font will provide a professional tone. And it will be easier for your message to reach them as intended.
On the contrary, brands that cater to children and people in their teenage or early-twenties, fancy fonts such as Melon would be appealing.
Graphic Elements And Imagery
The imagery and design elements part of a company’s brand identity play a vital role in the tone and brand personality exhibited to the audience.
If brand elements are being changed, the imagery and graphic elements must also be altered to create a cohesive, consistent design.
Understand Customer Sentiment
As the rebranding process takes shape, customers and stakeholders should be reached out to for feedback.
At this point, it must be checked if the reworked brand elements and revised mission and vision statements are clear and meet the expectations of customers and brand loyalists. If the feedback isn’t positive, the messaging must be fine-tuned further to achieve the desired tone and clarity.
Feedback must not only be collected before re-launch, brands should collect feedback after the rebranding process too to understand how different people feel about the brand (or if they can see the rebranding efforts at all).
At this time, companies must get themselves in tune with the new brand ethos and prepare for the re-launch. They must get the word out using different media such as TV, print advertisements such as posters and flyers, and social media channels.
The next step is to publish a press release, announcing the rebranding and what it means for the company itself, its stakeholders, and customers.
This completes the rebranding process and ushers in a new avatar for the company.
As companies grow, trends evolve, and business needs change, rebranding is often a necessary step for companies. On average, companies may need to rebrand themselves after seven to ten years to stay ahead of their competition, cater to their customers’ needs, and drive business growth.
However, once companies have decided to rebrand, they must evaluate their reasons to do so - as the process involves money, time, and human resources. And it doesn’t guarantee success even after vision and mission statements are revised, brand elements refreshed or overhauled, and brand ethos updated.
At this point, if companies are sure about rebranding, they must follow a six-step process before re-launch. The process starts with conducting audience and market research. Companies must then revisit their existing values, mission and vision statements, evaluate what they can retain, and rework their brand identity. In parallel, they must gather feedback to check if the revised brand ethos are clear and reflect the changes that have been incorporated.
The final step is the re-launch. Companies must take advantage of different advertising channels and media to get the word out. A press release announcing the rebranding makes it official.
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