Rebranding: What, When and Why?


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Re-branding and restaging your brand


A colleague of mine is on the board of a company that is considering a “rebranding” effort. He was not sure if it would be a worthwhile exercise and asked me to share with him: a) what is “rebranding” and b) when is it appropriate?

Here are my thoughts:

1) What is rebranding? Simply put, re-branding is changing or updating your image in the marketplace. This can include a straight forward re-freshing of the brand or a complete brand overhaul. Here are some of the elements of a rebranding effort:

  • Brand strategy – reaching out to new segments/markets; launching new offerings
  • Brand positioning – re-focusing on what you stand for, why you are relevant, what compels people to select you
  • Brand design – brand mark (logo), website, collateral
  • Brand messaging – clarifying the critical few messages that resonate with the market and make you stand out
  • Company website – today, the #1 face to the market is the website; does it speak to the target? Is it relevant?
  • Brand Voice – making sure every “touchpoint” with the customer is clearly and consistently delivered with the brand message and brand voice.

2) When is re-branding appropriate? Here are some situations where Re-branding can make sense:

  • Declining sales, profits, membership
  • When you feel you are losing relevance with the customer and market
  • When competitors or the market moves ahead and you feel left behind
  • Reaching out to new markets or launching new products/services/offerings
  • When you start to feel like a “me too” and you have lost your “mojo”
  • When you have the sick feeling the competition’s brand, logo or website looks better than yours
  • When you are not proud to give your business card to someone
  • When you are not proud to tell a prospect to visit your website
  • When you web visits are going down instead of up
  • When fast moving trends, technologies, conditions make you appear out of touch, such as:
    • Not using social media in website and not communicating through Linked-In, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
    • Having an out-date text-heavy website
    • Not using podcasts, videos
    • Not having a blog and RSS feed

3) Rebranding Considerations. Here are a few things to think about as you think about a rebranding effort.

  • Think First – make sure it’s appropriate to make changes. Never jump into such an important decision impulsively. If you decide to take action, make sure you have a clear statement of the problem, the desired outcome, and an clear action plan. It is also advisable to engage an “outside expert” who has branding expertise and an objective perspective.
  • Respect your Loyal Customers – even when you feel the need to make a move, do a reality check with your loyal customers/members to make sure you will not alienate the most important people to your cause. Even big brands like Crayola (retiring the “old” colors) and Coke (new vs. Classic) make big mistakes by ignoring their most loyal fans.
  • Consider Easy Does It – Don’t feel compelled to change everything. Remember the saying “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”. A lot of elements of the program may be working fine and maybe you just need a nip and tuck or a re-fresh of the logo and the website to give you new energy. This is what the Girl Scouts did last year — they refreshed their logo and make some tweaks to get more contemporary, but they kept the fundamentals the same.
  • Some Re-branding Changes are More than Skin Deep – If the brand has really lost momentum and relevance, and if market changes have left you lagging behind, a simple change of the logo will not make a difference. The logo is only a visual representation of the inner promise of value of the company or brand. If the core promise has lost relevance and is no longer compelling, then the cake itself has lost its flavor and no amount of icing will make it appealing. In these situations, the brand must go back to square one and ask questions about its promise of value, positioning, relevance, uniqueness, and the key reason people should care about the brand. The ultimate question is: “Why should prospects select your brand versus all the other alternatives available to them?” After the core work is done, then the visual and verbal branding can be a signal to the market of the important changes that have been made inside.

What are your thoughts on rebranding? Do you see it differently? What would you add or change to this thinking?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Rick Thompson
Rick's passion for building brands and innovative marketing programs makes him an ideal partner for companies that want to build a strong brand that engages customers and drives revenue and profit. His experience in owning the P&L as a line manager help him appreciate that the goal of all branding and marketing is to drive the bottom line.


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