Often, when companies consider rebranding, it’s because they want to modernize the look of the brand or refresh its overall appearance. But rebranding involves much more than that – it encompasses: core purpose, vision, perception, and other intangibles that give a new identity meaning and longevity. In essence, rebranding to “spice things up a bit” is probably not a great reason to change the entire look and feel of your organization.
So, if a rebrand isn’t as simple as designing a new identity – why do it?
Because rebranding has lots of utility. From being the initiator of a company’s change in direction to paving the way for new offerings or brand extensions – it’s a vehicle for getting a brand from where it used to be to where it’s going.
Sounds pretty good, right?
Not so fast! Rebranding is not a decision you make on a whim, it’s not a quick-fix, and it’s not a one-and-done solution. There needs to be a real need for change and with that – ongoing initiatives in perpetuity (true branding never ends). In other words, it’s not a good reason to rebrand if you just sort of feel like doing something different. Afterall, this is your company we are speaking about – not your next trendy haircut.
Still considering it?
Here are a few key reasons companies rebrand:
- Your brand no longer represents your organization or it’s direction
- Customers have difficulty differentiating you from your competitors
- Internally your brand is known as one thing, externally it’s known as another
- You have introduced new offerings with different audiences
- Your brand has negative affiliations or poor brand equity
- A merger or acquisition has taken place
As purveyors of brand, we see a lot of these issues on a regular basis and provide a rigorous process to unearth gaps and set companies on the right course. In our opinion, here are some of the core elements each rebrand should incorporate…
In today’s turn-key economy, customers have too little time and too many options. From a brand perspective, it’s imperative we aim to stand out from the competition. In design, this is done through contrast. In branding, this is done through differentiation.
You can start by asking your customers what makes your brand different and, by proxy, why they chose you over your competition. Like each individual human being, each company will have its own unique strengths and weaknesses – and it’s direct feedback from customers that can help the brand in question, stuck in its own jar, read the label from the outside.
From there, the company must distill qualities that truly set it apart (big emphasis on the word ‘truly’). A quick way to do this is to try jotting down a list of your top five competitors. Then create a word cloud of adjectives that come to mind when thinking of them. Now, ensure what you’re creating is in stark contrast from what they have created.
Customers hold the power, not companies. Rebranding is an opportunity to turn a new leaf and put your customers first, not only with your product or service, but with the entire experience.
Most companies get this wrong because, originally, companies used to create brands that would attract customers. This meant founders, c-suites, and product designers created offerings they thought were best for their customer. Nowadays, good companies create customers first that in turn, help them build their brand.
By listening to customer needs, getting feedback, and understanding pain points – you can create a brand with your ideal customer at the center. Over time, this will allow you to attract more ideal customers and weed out customers that may not be a good fit.
Teamwork makes the dream work. Rebranding needs to be supported by key stakeholders within an organization, as any opposition to the initiative can stop it dead in its tracks. There is a fine line, however, between getting enough of the team involved and getting too many involved.
To make this point crystal clear, let’s visit a world wherein Apple was branded by a large team instead of a small team…
The name would have been different, for sure, as it would have been voted on by a committee. It might have been “Advanced Computer Systems USA” or “California Computer Technologies.”
The product would have been less expensive and likely of lower quality, as Steve put a large emphasis on design and user interfaces.
The advertising would have been typical for the period, touting benefits and differences instead of thought-provoking clips that invoked emotion and intrigue.
In essence, size of team does not matter when it comes to rebranding. The smaller the team – the more creative, outlandish, and inspiring a rebrand can be. With that said, that small team needs to be armed with brand purpose, perception, and vision in order for it to be long-lasting and a true reflection of where the company is headed.
You also have to let it marinate. Rebranding is an arduous process of creative workshops, strategic swarms, and depthy conversations. Once execution begins, it’s important to space out the time between logo iterations and general identity development for the rebrand. It’s not uncommon for the team to get all jazzed up over some designs, sleep on it, and wake up hating it the following morning. An open forum for honest feedback and time to let designs marinate are both essential for success.
Okay, so we have our course charted and new identity ready to see the light of day. Now what?
Pick a date! This will be the day you announce the rebrand to the world. It’s best to have this day mapped out early on in the process so all team members have enough time and are on the same page.
Make changes to touchpoints. There will be physical and digital touchpoints that need updating. Items like website, brand collateral, and sight & signage will likely take the longest – ensure these items are initiated ASAP.
Launch internally. Your own staff are your brand champions – they need to be briefed on the changes so they can speak intelligibly on them. Better yet, build excitement by having an event showcasing where the company was and where it’s headed!
Launch externally. The big day! It’s not uncommon for leaders of the initiative to stay late making last minute changes the night before. Try hosting an external event and invite core customers and industry partners to your big unveiling!
The bottom line – all brand touchpoints, or places a customer interacts with the brand, need to be updated and reflect the rebranding and direction of the company.
Overall, rebranding should be an exciting process filled with tons of great ideas. It’s important that the excitement it conjures up is projected externally and that the ideas are properly executed upon. With a formal launch strategy in motion (announcement, PR initiatives, etc.), the world will start to see you in a new light and will continue looking to see if you make good on your new direction.
Each rebrand will need its own specific set of measurables – there is no one-size-fits-all framework. This varies greatly from company to company as the rebranding initiatives tend to have different goals and aim to solve different problems, some of which can be rather idiosyncratic.
If you are rebranding to align the identity of the company with a new direction, you’ll need to implement metrics in several different areas.
- Brand equity will lend insight as to the overall worth of the brand
- Brand strength will help measure the pull that the new direction has on customers and new talent
- Sales performance will indicate how its affecting the bottom line
- Digital metrics will show your audience’s online behaviors in real time
If you are rebranding to solve an internal/external perception issue, metrics pertaining to perception should be the area of focus. Customer surveys, in-depth interviews, brand visibility, and other soft metrics will help clue you into the response of the overall initiative.
If you are rebranding to make room for new offerings or to reach new audiences, brand awareness and visibility will be essential in understanding how the market responds.
Continually measure both soft and hard metrics to develop a clear picture of your rebrand. Are your customers happy with ‘the new you’? Did the rebrand address some (if not all) of the paint points you were experiencing?
Rebranding is bigger than a new logo or a fresh identity – it serves as the marker for revitalization, new direction, or a new promise to customers and employees alike.
Oftentimes companies play it safe by doing what has been done. To this, we say “BE DIFFERENT”.
More often than not, companies do what’s best for themselves, not what’s best for their customers. To this, we say “MAKE IT RESONATE”.
It’s not uncommon for certain members of an organization to want to rebrand while others don’t. To this, we say “STOP, DROP, COLLABORATE”.
Sometimes rebranding processes produce great ideas but are never followed through on. To this, we say “EXECUTE”.
Now and again companies look back on a rebrand and think “wow, doesn’t it look great!?” To that, we ask “DOES IT MEASURE UP?”
How will your rebrand be remembered?
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