As your company evolves, so too must your brand. Whether your brand aesthetic needs updating or it no longer reflects your values or even products, it is important to be open to rebranding.
Some of the most successful companies in the world rebrand on a regular basis. Coca-Cola has had many incarnations, as has McDonald’s, Apple and Nike. As an audience changes or the social climate shifts, companies that are aware of their public persona also shift to ensure that they are representing themselves to their ideal customers and creating a ‘tribe’ or ‘community’ that their consumers identify with.
What is rebranding?
Rebranding is a marketing strategy. A business develops a new name, symbol, logo design, voice or slogan or a combination of those elements to create a new brand identity to present to consumers, prospects, competitors, employees, and others.
Rebranding is about presenting your business in a new way to appeal to your desired market. This can be highly effective for a brand that needs to modernize, stand out in the marketplace or even polish a reputation.
When should you consider rebranding?
Some smaller businesses do not put the funding into branding that is required to see the business grow. This can often mean that generic logos are used meaning the business is not differentiated in the marketplace. As a company grows it can be difficult to extend beyond a certain level if you look the same as everyone else.
Rebranding gives you an opportunity to showcase the things that make your company different and better than your competitors. Renaming or reworking a brand is not uncommon. Google started as Backrub, Apple Inc. was Apple Computers, Sony was Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo and Blue Ribbon Sports rebranded as Nike.
Sometimes companies need to refresh with a new name, other times it just makes more sense to create a business name that better suits your product line, which can also change with time.
Evolving your brand by using new fonts, colours and iconography can breathe fresh life into a stale business, and can even take a product from being something niche market to international reach with the right campaign.
Companies should rebrand to distance a poor reputation.
Rebranding can help to shift public perception, particularly if a business has sustained much negative media attention. In this case, the rebranding focuses on more than colours and logos, the aim is to shift perspective entirely. To do that, the business needs to focus on values and goals and how to communicate its commitments.
When McDonald’s was fast losing popularity among an increasingly health-conscious younger generation, it quickly changed style and menu. Although the revamp took some time, many of the fast-food restaurants these days resemble low-lit cafes with stylish decor and a more accessible menu.
This revamp of the fast-food brand, many believe, as a direct result of the 2004 documentary Supersize Me, in which a man eats and drinks only McDonalds’ products for a month, resulting in dire consequences for his health. The company denies any connection between its repositioning and the film. However, the changes have seen a younger more engaged audience once again and the new model seems to be working.
Where to Start Rebranding
Rebranding is a huge project for any company. Not only is it time and labour intensive, but it is also going to cost money. Getting it right means research, planning and relaunching effectively. To ensure that you understand the best strategy for your business, we’ve compiled this list of 10 steps to follow towards your successful rebranding.
Step 1: Understand Why You’re Doing a Rebrand
The resource-consuming nature of rebranding means that you need to really understand why it is important for your business.
The main goal of your brand is to communicate your products or services and connect with loyal customers and new prospects. There are a few reasons that your brand might be failing to communicate with your customers:
- Outdated: times change and brands need to reflect the climate in which they operate. In 2020, the ‘hipster’ phase of the past 10 years is starting to look tired and for many labels, it might be time to consider how they will respond to a massive global economic downturn and persistent pandemic fears.
- Negative Associations: Negative media attention can destroy labels. Fast-fashion houses have been under attack in the past few years and in response, they have introduced ‘conscious’ and ‘eco-friendly’ product lines. Websites have been created with much white space and reflect ‘diversity’, ‘inclusivity’ and more content that promotes social values.
- New Products: As a business grows, sometimes decision-makers take a new direction that was not part of the original plan. Take, Suzuki for example. It started out in 1909 as Suzuki Loom Works, a manufacturer of weaving loom machines for Japan’s silk industry. Its first motorised bicycle, the Power Free 36cc, was produced in 1952, and its first car, the Suzulight, in 1955. Since that time, the Suzuki brand has become synonymous with Japanese motorbikes and cars.
- Patient: Your business might face opposition as it expands into certain markets, and one of those can be patent issues. The US fast-food outlet chain Burger King couldn’t use their brand in Australia, as the name had been trademarked by a takeaway chain based in Adelaide. The Hungry Jack’s brand was established instead, and the first store opened in Perth on the 18th of April, 1971.
To rebrand, you need all decision-makers working together across all departments. While your marketing team will be doing most of the work, your company heads need to be kept informed and agree to all major decisions to avoid any conflict and unnecessary costs later in development.
Step 2: Build Your Brand Team
Rebranding is stressful. Deadlines and communications move fast, so you need experienced and creative people who understand the intricacies of their job, and how to communicate well in high-stress scenarios, to be part of your core team.
When it comes to finding the right people to execute your rebrand, you can go entirely in-house or consider a brand agency. There are benefits to each, and it really just depends on what you need.
- In-house benefits: No one knows your business as you do. If you have the knowledge, resources, and skills you will likely execute the rebrand better using your own team.
- Branding agency benefits: Brands can sometimes function in a bubble. An outside perspective can be valuable when understanding how your values are reflected in the real world.
Branding agencies can be used for an entire project or portions of your project, such as research and testing, to ensure that your intent is being communicated effectively. Agencies can provide the added support you might need at various stages, such as a graphic designer or typographer, to bring to your brand something truly unique.
Step 3: Complete a Competitive Analysis
Good branding is about good communication. Your brand should capture your entire business persona, which is a difficult task. You need to look at your competitors, understand what they are trying to do, why they are successful or unsuccessful, and create a point of difference.
The best way to understand the intricacies of the task is to create mock-ups and test them for appeal. Create different personas and styles and determine which appeals to your target audience through A/B testing. Also, get a feel for how your rebrand choice compares with your competitors. You might be ahead of the curve, or you might be too similar – either way, it is important to know.
Step 4: Know Your Market
You rebrand is about identifying who you are and communicating that effectively, but it’s also important to remember who you’re speaking to. If your rebrand is to update your image, consider the language you use or if it’s to redirect, be certain that you understand what is currently trending so that you don’t retrace old ground. Just because one large and successful company does something one way does not mean that it will work for all companies in the same industry. Do your research and find out what people are craving.
Step 5: Complete a Brand Audit
A good rebrand starts with good research. The more knowledge you have, the better your strategy and your creative approach will be. Before you officially start your rebrand (messaging, design, etc.), you need to understand what’s working, what’s not, how you need to grow, etc. Once you know how your current brand is perceived, you can make the necessary changes, and sometimes without going back to the drawing board.
Taking a deep dive into your own brand can be very revealing. Once you understand what is working and why you may discover that you need only make tweaks to reposition your brand.
Step 6: Articulate Your Brand Message
Your brand should be all about your values and what you hold at the centre of your business message.
- Purpose: Why do you exist?
- Values: Who are you? How do you work?
- Vision: What future do you want to help create?
- Mission: How do you create that future?
Your company needs to be certain of its purpose, vision, mission, and values in order to articulate it. Part of this is being transparent.
Transparency helps every person on your team understand your business objectives and provides people with a framework for finding purpose in their work. In terms of your rebranding, clear, concise documentation of everything, from your vision and timeline to budget and research, is helpful. Your project manager should be in charge of keeping research organized, documents updated, and everything stored in an easy-to-access place.
Step 7: Clarify Your Brand Messaging
Your visual identity is an extension of your messaging, so before creating new visuals for your brand, you need to ensure that your brand message is clear. You need to establish:
- Value proposition
- Brand personality
- Brand messaging pillars
These elements can become dated, so considering a rebrand might be necessary for well-established labels. Your goal is to create messaging that is consistent, cohesive, and aligned to your brand goals without confusing your audience by conflicting with your old brand personality. You can pivot position, but don’t try and reinvent yourself without first telling your audience what you are doing.
Step 8: Design Your Visual Identity
When most people think about doing a rebrand, they think about a brand’s visual identity, focusing only on what it looks like. However, your visual identity is only a reflection and extension of your brand.
Your visual identity will represent you at every touchpoint, so it needs to be:
- Comprehensive: It should be adaptable so designers can create motion graphics, icons, video and other content using your logo, whether it be on your website or a printed advertisement.
- Flexible: It should work across mediums, and be able to evolve as your brand grows.
- Intuitive: Each element should work together.
- Accurate: It should communicate your brand personality effectively.
If you get the basics right, you are then more easily able to do minor updates or changes as desired, such as:
- Interactive elements
Take the Nike logo. The Nike Swoosh has been slightly modified, changed colour, had the slogan beneath it and has survived many incarnations over the years, and is one of the most consistent and internationally recognised brands ever created.
Step 9: Create a Style Guide
Rewriting your style guide is an important part of rebranding to ensure consistency. If you change your company slogan, which your reception team says when answering the phone, it is important that they are aware of the changes and can refer to them easily.
A rebranding effort is only successful if everyone understands the changes, how to apply them and why they are so important to the business. If the rebranding represents a big shift in values, people need to be sure of the language they are meant to use and how to apply changes so that the inner dynamics can shift along with the outer image.
Step 10: Roll Out Your Branding
Your rollout is vital. You need to prepare a media strategy and launch so that your hard work can be seen. If you fail to announce that you are rebranding, you might lose customers who no longer recognise your brand, especially if you have selected a new business name.
Organise an official launch of your rebranding so that your loyal customers can follow you, and potential customers take an interest in you.
Rebranding is a huge task. You are creating an opportunity to bring your brand to life at every possible touchpoint. It is exciting, stressful and creative work that can transform your business when executed with research and care.
Once you have relaunched your brand it is important to follow through.
- Refine your content strategy to ensure it’s aligned to your new branding.
- Learn how to tell your brand story in unique ways.
- Optimize your content creation process to create high-quality content as effectively as possible.
- Track your results to find out how it’s working—and how you can continue to improve.