When you are first starting a business, it is likely that branding is the last thing on your mind. designers often find it hard to decide on fonts when they are still trying to determine who their customers are and how to find them.
Even if you prioritize creating a brand identity, your initial branding strategy may become obsolete if you change your business plans later on. If you started your branding design process with a logo jotted down on a napkin, or if you whiteboarded your way through the complete branding process, things may not be working as well as you had hoped.
However you got here, you’re not happy. Maneuvering a rebrand is not an easy task, but many companies have found success in the past. Some examples include Dunkin’ Donuts and Uber. If you’re thinking about rebranding your company, this guide will teach you how to successfully rebrand, with examples of other brands who have done it successfully. Rebranding can involve changing your website, name, logo, or company mission and purpose.
What is rebranding?
Rebranding is when your company changes its marketing strategy by creating a new name, logo, or design. The purpose of this is to develop a new, unique identity in the minds of customers and others who are affected by the company. Now that we understand what rebranding is, let’s make sure there is a good justification for it.
1. The target audience has changed (or expanded).
The brand messaging, design, and packaging that worked well for small business owners may not be as relevant to the large enterprises that are now your ideal clients. Do you offer products or services to different genders, age groups, or people with different interests? The NFL has been trying to make itself more appealing to women, as they make up 46 percent of its audience. This is an increase of 18.7 percent over the last decade. Since this new, important audience has been led to targeted messaging, advertising and PR/community outreach (due to negative scandals, such as domestic violence), businesses have had to change the way they appeal to this group.
2. The main benefits or value proposition has changed.
Your business may have started out providing A, B and C, but over time it has shifted to providing different benefits based on customer feedback or market trends. eBay started as a marketplace for previously owned goods, but has since shifted its focus to new and unique items, as well as designer merchandise. Salesforce.com built its brand around CRM but now offers a range of strategic business products and services. The brand’s messaging has changed to support its new promise. Although Amazon began as an online bookseller, it now offers much more than just books. The company’s messaging and advertising promotes its convenience and speed for your life.
3. The offerings or price points have changed.
This is not about expanding the product or service line under a consistent brand umbrella to reach new markets or improve benefits. A computer equipment seller adding strategic technical consulting services is more similar to a retailer going upmarket. If you change the product or service you offer, the value of what you offer may also change. This could mean changing the customer you offer it to. You could choose to rebrand your company, or start a new brand from scratch.
A few years ago, Talent Technology had a bunch of different recruitment and hiring technology tools that were not connected to each other. The company was known mostly to IT and HR analysts but stayed out of the view of most executives. In 2010, Talent Technology decided to create a more robust, strategic and integrated solution. This required improving their brand to engage C-level executives in more strategic conversations around topics such as efficiency, talent management, productivity and operational ROI. They changed their name to Talemetry and updated their messaging and design to appeal to a new audience. They are now marketed as a high-performance recruitment solution. They were so successful with their rebranding that in 2017, independent analyst firm #HRWins named them one of the top HR companies to watch.
The second choice is to create an entirely new brand. The accounting firm Arthur Andersen used to be prestigious. It spun off its management consulting services into a separate brand called Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) so that it could focus on its core accounting services. GAP is another example. They didn’t try to make one brand that would appeal to everyone, because that would have made it hard to establish a clear identity. Instead, they created three different brands that each have a different target audience and focus.
4. The competitive landscape has changed.
When you first started your business, there may not have been anyone else doing the same thing or serving that particular market. But as competition changes, the brand must adapt. Do your competitors offer a different product or service than you do, or do they simply have a different way of presenting their business? Is the industry becoming commoditized, with everyone looking, acting, and talking the same? Maybe you need to zig when they zag. Southwest Airlines saw that the airline industry was very boring and decided to change how travelers look at flying. Not to be outdone, Jet Blue and Virgin America soon followed suit by offering their own unique value propositions. Dunkin’ Donuts has expanded its menu and made its brand design and messaging more upscale to compete with Starbucks and Panera.
5. The customers’ behaviors or needs have changed.
Have the needs of your core customer shifted? Do they have different priorities as time goes on? You may still want to target the same market, but your brand may need to change to keep up with it. J Crew is creating a new brand identity within its market by adding new lines such as bridal, evening wear and more accessories. This is in response to what its customers now demand. On the other hand, Talbots’ retail brand became less popular when it did not change to meet its core customers’ needs and instead tried to rebrand to appeal to younger women. The retailer has been trying to be trendy and appealing, but it has recently begun to cater more to the needs of its core middle-aged female customers.
6. The times have changed.
If the logo and design style are old, do they look cool in a retro way or do they look outdated? Do your messaging and marketing materials use outdated terminology? If a company is still referencing “Web 2.0” as something innovative, their brand messaging needs to be updated. Even if your company has adopted a timeless look, everything needs to be refreshed and updated at some point, as many top brands have done over the years. Your brand will need to be updated if it was specifically designed to be “cutting edge, modern and fresh.” This is because trends and styles change and the “new” eventually becomes “passé.”
Brands can and should evolve. Too much change can be confusing for customers and investors alike A minor change in design, messaging, or even name can be helpful in generating excitement and increasing visibility. However, be careful not to change too much at once as it can be confusing for customers and investors. Don’t change design or core messaging every other month. It’s possible that your customers are not as sick of your brand as you are. Give them some time to get used to it before making any changes. Rebranding too often will make your company look lost and disconnected.
You should start by identifying whether you need a partial or total rebrand. After you have determined your goals for rebranding, research your target market to identify which demographic you want to attract. After you have analyzed your company’s strengths and weaknesses, you should redefine your company’s vision, mission, and values. These new definitions should be used as guideposts for your strategy.
1. Change your logo.
A common strategy used when rebranding is to change the logo. A new logo will signify to your customers that your brand’s identity has changed. You can make your logo sleeker or use different colors to match your new brand identity.
2. Shift brand positioning.
Your brand positioning is the way you communicate what your brand is all about—and it should be updated along with your logo to make sure the two are in sync. You can’t just change your colors and logo and say that’s all you need to do. The content you market should reflect your mission, values, or vision. If you change your brand’s image, your customers will be able to tell what your company’s new priorities are.
3. Create new ads.
After you have decided on the logo and messaging for your company, you can start creating new ads and content that reflect this. The ads should explain the changes to the brand and how it will affect customers. This will help you attract a new group of people and reach a wider range of people.
4. Change your brand’s voice.
When you’re ready to rebrand, you’ll need to adjust the way the brand communicates. The “voice” of your brand is the perspective from which all your marketing content is written. Your brand’s voice can be any number of things – formal, casual, witty, etc. If you’re rebranding, it makes sense to change your brand’s voice to match your new image, and to announce your rebrand in that new voice.
We should remember that not every rebrand is the same, and think about whether a partial or total rebrand would be best for our business.
Partial vs. Total Rebrand
If your business is well-established, a rebrand could cause you to lose customers who are loyal to your current brand.
You can keep your brand loyalists and update your image by doing a partial rebrand if your business is more established.
A partial rebrand is a slight change to your brand identity to adjust to new products or markets, rather than a complete overhaul.
A partial rebrand can be effective, but that is not what is being said. Just look at Old Spice . Deodorant company Old Spice has seen growth every year since it repositioned its brand, while still keeping what made Old Spice cool in the first place.
If you’re drastically changing your company, a total rebrand might be necessary. This option is typically better for situations that involve big changes, like mergers, product overhauls, and other similarly major changes.
At this point, everything is up for discussion, including your name, your purpose, your target market, or your brand identity.
If a partial rebrand is a small change, the total rebrand is a complete change.
Once you’ve determined whether you need a partial or total rebrand, take a look at the following five steps you’ll want to implement to successfully rebrand.
A company’s visual rebranding can be exciting, but it can also unintentionally show how emotionally attached customers are to the brandmark. This is referring to an event a few years ago when the company GAP revealed a new logo to the public. This logo caused a lot of negative feedback and uproar, so the company quickly changed back to their old logo. Heed this rebranding cautionary tale. The company may have been using a new logo to try and solve more fundamental issues at that time such as poor merchandising decisions, random pricing strategies, and unclear competitive positioning against upstarts like H&M. This is likely why the rebranding did not work and the company had to go back to its original logo.
Make sure you’re only rebranding for the right reasons, since it can be an expensive process. Making changes to your brand will never fix deep-rooted issues within your company. Before you make any changes, carefully examine your company’s overall health and make sure the changes are coming from a position of power. Effective branding must start from the inside out.
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