Rebranding and how to minimize the associated risks


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Rebranding is a concept that many business people approach with caution. The term refers to the process of refreshing an existing brand, which may include major updates or changes to values, logos, purpose, or positioning. A significant overhaul of a brand can not be completed without risk. After all, if a brand is at least somewhat successful it’s likely that you have loyal consumers who like your current brand identity and offerings. Will you lose their loyalty if you make too many changes? Will you attract a new audience through rebranding, or will the expensive and time-consuming task be a waste of time? It’s a challenging process, and yet in some cases, a rebranding is exactly what needs to happen.

The question is how do you determine whether or not you need to rebrand? Also, if a rebranding is necessary, how can you manage it in a way that the risks are minimized? We’ve provided a quick guide to the process so that you can maximize the success of your rebranding exercise.

How to determine if rebranding is necessary?

Whenever the idea of a rebranding comes up, you should first determine that it is truly necessarynecessary. The process will require a significant amount of time and energy, so you want to make sure that your investment is worth it.

Here are three characteristics that indicate your brand needs rebranding:

1. It’s outdated

If you feel like your brand has been left behind, rebranding is a way to help it get with the times. It is important for businesses to adapt as things change in order to remain relevant.

2. It’s weak

A strong brand is a brand that will stand the test of time. If your brand has become diluted or is a little vague, you’ll need to do something about it. Rebranding can help you provide clarity on what your brand stands for.

3. It’s limited

As your company grows, you might want to expand your business. The problem with some brands is that they can limit expansion as they are too restrictive. You want your brand to be an accurate representation of your business offerings and a rebranding might be necessary to make this happen.

Tips for making your rebranding a success

A successful rebranding is typically a careful balance between retaining the essence of your existing brand and rejuvenating it for a modern audience. You need to find the right combination between old and new so that you don’t lose your existing client base but can also move in newly identified directions.

1. Validate the need for rebranding both internally and externally

When contemplating a rebranding, it is important to confirm that it makes sense from an internal and external perspective. Check with core staff members to see if they believe a rebranding is necessary and can see the logic behind the move. Also, you should do a thorough review of external factors such as your target audience and current trends to make sure a rebranding makes sense within this environment. If it makes sense from both perspectives, you should proceed with the rebranding.

2. Seek feedback on the new brand

There’s no point in creating a new brand for your target audience based on what you think they’ll like. You may end up wasting time by going in an entirely wrong direction. Instead, seek their feedback! Better yet, get some of your target audience involved throughout the rebranding process. You might seek people’s opinions through a survey or a quick social media poll. It can be for things like brand name ideas or logo to see what people like most, or something more complex like the causes that are most important to them.

3. Check legal aspects

Whenever you are doing a rebranding, always seek legal advice to ensure you won’t encounter any issues. You’ll want to make sure that there is no part of your brand that may present a legal problem in the future and that there are no trademark risks.

While rebranding can be a challenging process, it can have huge benefits if done well. Make sure to confirm the need for rebranding and follow these tips to ensure yours is a success.

Grant Polachek
Grant Polachek is the Head of Branding at Inc 500 company, the world's #1 naming platform, with 25,000+ customers from early-stage startups across the globe to the largest corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi, and AutoNation.


  1. Hi Grant: to your list of situations that determine whether re-branding is necessary, I suggest adding one more: the brand is toxic. In response society’s heightened awareness of minority oppression, fabled brands have been withdrawn from the market: Mrs. Butterworth’s, Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s, and Cream of Wheat are among those recently changed. (please see . The potential for toxicity has received well-deserved attention.

    Land O’ Lakes no longer maintains an idealized Native American woman as an integral part of their brand identity. In public sector branding, the last state to adorn its flag with the Confederate flag, Mississippi, decided to remove it.

    Close to my home in Virginia, another re-branding drama is unfolding. The Washington Redskins football organization, long maligned for maintaining what to many is a racist slur, is now undergoing a “thorough review of the team’s name” – something that team owner Daniel Snyder vowed never to do.

    Snyder acts like he’s “thinking about it.” But he has no choice. FedEx, who has naming rights to the stadium where Washington’s football team plays, just made a public statement, saying “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.” You know your brand is toxic when your most visible corporate sponsor can’t even utter the brand name in a press release. Nike, Pepsi, and other team sponsors quickly followed, putting even more of a squeeze on Snyder. (please see Moral reasoning never mattered to Snyder, but at least financial threats speak to him.

    By contrast, Abe Pollin, now-deceased owner of Washington’s Bullets basketball team, re-branded his team within four days of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. He replaced it with the team’s current name: Washington Wizards. “My friend was shot in the back by bullets,” Pollin said, “The name ‘Bullets’ is no longer appropriate for a sports team.”

    Brand names can become toxic. Companies should take the example that Pollin and others have set by doing the right thing when it needs to be done – and not when they’re forced to do so.

  2. Couldn’t agree more with you, Grant. Contrary to popular belief, rebranding is a lot more than just changing logo or a new business card. It is all about how you want your audience to see you and therefore, before you get into this battle of rebranding, having a clear vision is essential. Your article highlights this point pretty wisely.
    Keep sharing more.


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