When to Rebrand Your Business
Rebranding is a natural part of the life of your business. Even large companies like Coca-Cola have rebranded multiple times in order to keep their brand modern and reach new generations of customers. Rebranding is about more than updating your company’s colors or creating a new logo. Your rebranding experience will often reflect a meaningful change in your company’s philosophy. It may even reflect an expansion into new markets. When you decide that it may be time to rebrand, you should choose to move forward mindfully.
Rebranding is expensive. Between the costs of redesigning your visual marketing, the hours of work put in to designing your new brand and the inevitable period of customer confusion when you relaunch your company, the costs of rebranding can add up. There are several things that you can do to make sure that you and your business put your best foot forward upon the relaunch of your brand. The most important thing to do is to consider your timing and determine that it is the right time for your company to rebrand. If it is the right time, you must consider important questions about the process and determine what issues you can resolve by rebranding. Finally, you should mindfully consider your new direction in order to avoid any serious rebranding mistakes.
In this article, we will explore 1) how to determine when it is time to rebrand your business, 2) questions to ask before your rebrand, 3) avoiding rebranding mistakes, and 4) conclusion.
HOW TO DETERMINE WHEN IT IS TIME TO REBRAND YOUR BUSINESS
The decision to rebrand is usually made when a company feels that their brand does not match the company that they have become. Whether it is because you are no longer reaching your target market or because your brand has become dated, many businesses are able to determine if it is time to rebrand with self-reflection. Sometimes there is a specific issue that causes you to reassess your brand. Upon reflection, you may find that there are actually several issues. Here are the top four reasons that most companies choose to rebrand:
You aren’t reaching your target market
There may be several reasons that you are no longer reaching your target market. It may be because your company has evolved and is now reaching for a different demographic, but your branding still reflects your previous goals. Or you may lose contact with your customers because the market has shifted, and your brand has not yet shifted to reflect the new market conditions. In some cases, your brand may be aimed at your ideal customer base but they may not respond because they are confused about what you do. It is important to identify the reason that you are no longer reaching your market. By identifying the reasons you are failing, you can address them as you move forward into the process of rebranding.
Your brand has become dated
The world is moving faster than ever with the help of the Internet. Whether you are a big company or small business, you can expect that you will need to modernize periodically. Your customers will expect you to be up-to-date with the modern age. Continuing to operate on the business philosophy you established even five to ten years ago may be perceived as outdated in the rapidly evolving market. Just as customers expect your service to accept credit and debit cards, they expect you to keep up with their tastes and interests.
Coca Cola is an excellent example of a business that has successfully evolved over the last 100 years. Coca-Cola began its life in an Atlanta pharmacy, but it quickly transformed into a popular soda fountain request. As time went on, Coca-Cola kept an open dialog with its consumers. Now, this 120-year-old brand is one of the most popular beverages in the world. The name ‘Coca-Cola’ is the second most recognized word in the world.
Coca-Cola did not change its brand overnight and neither should your business. Your customers will expect continuity in your services and your brand. People need time to become familiar with your new brand, and most consumers find value the comfort of familiarity. Coca-Cola reached out to customers who were looking for a low-calorie option and in 1982, Coca-Cola presented them Diet Coke. They then let Diet Coke evolve from being a low-calorie option to become the official drink of fashionistas everywhere. They continued to reach out to their client base by showing them that they were aware of their interests. To demonstrate their commitment, Diet Coke has partnered with Marc Jacobs and Karl Lagerfeld to show their consumers that they can offer the same quality product to a new generation of Diet Coke drinkers. Coca-Cola has kept the nostalgic features that their customers love, but they have expanded to embrace fashionistas, young men, and the health conscious. As a result, they have undergone numerous timely and successful rebrands without damaging their customer base or their brand power.
Your company philosophy has changed
You established a set of values when you started your company. These values were designed to guide your new company through the rocky first few years and provide a foundation for your business to grow. But as many businesses grow, they experience change. The philosophy of a company is often founded on the core values of its initial owners and leadership. As leadership changes and a new generation takes the helm of the business, the business itself changes. Your brand should reflect these changes. You know that your brand is more than just your logo. Your brand is a reflection of your business and your best practices. Your brand also provides a solid foundation and a set of guidelines that provide guidance in the way that you do business. Whether you have moved away from your original vision or just expanded upon it, your brand should always reflect your company policy.
You have expanded
If you have decided to expand your business, you need to make your customers aware of the expansion. A rebrand is one of the most straightforward ways to re-enter the market. By rebranding, you can let your customers know that they can still rely on you to be the valuable brand you have always been. The difference is that now they can expect new things from you as well. A successful rebrand will reflect a more sophisticated company that you have evolved into. It will also add value to the company.
QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE YOUR REBRAND
Think back to the early days of your business and you will recall that you asked and answered hundreds of questions. These questions were asked by banks, investors, employees, family, friends, and potential customers. All of these questions helped you to formulate the philosophy and rules that organized your business. When you decide to rebrand, you need to ask many of these questions all over again. By determining why you are rebranding, how you will benefit from your brand and how far you are looking into the future, you can lead your new brand in a positive direction from the start.
Why are you rebranding?
This is the first question you should ask before you make the decision to rebrand. Establishing why you feel that there is a need to rebrand will cause you to ask further questions such as:
- What has changed in your company?
- What has changed in the market?
- What problems need to be solved?
- How have your customers changed?
- What is meaningful to your customers?
By being able to answer these questions, you will be able to accomplish two things. Firstly, you will understand whether or not a rebrand is necessary for your business. Secondly, you will have a foundation upon which you can rebuild your brand. Rebranding can be similar to the experience of branding your company in the first place. When you first started to build your brand, you focused on your company’s philosophy. You also focused on your customer base and their needs. To rebrand, you will need to answer all of the initial questions again. But this time, you have the added benefit of being able to bring the power and experience of your previous brand into your company’s next phase.
How will your business benefit from rebranding?
Rebranding is expensive, and there should be tangible benefits for both your business and your customers. Having established why you are rebranding, you can focus on creating solutions through your new brand. Rebranding will not only benefit your business by allowing you to refocus on your business. Rebranding will give you a new opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competitors on the marketplace. By differentiating yourself, you can showcase your business’s unique strengths as well as bring it to the front of the competition.
Finally, rebranding will allow your business to stay current. Staying current does not only mean keeping up with technological trends. Staying current means connect with new customers that your new brand is trying to reach. The solutions provided by rebranding may now mean that your business appeals to a new demographic. Ideally, your brand will be able to connect with this new group of consumers. By determining how your business will benefit from rebranding, you can begin to weigh the true costs of relaunching your business.
It is not just your business that should benefit from rebranding. Your customers should benefit from your evolution as well. When you are rebranding, you should be providing your customers a better service. By providing customers a service that is valuable to them, your brand will grow in power. Your rebrand should focus on both your business and your customers. After all, you do not have a business without your customers.
How long do you expect the new brand to last?
When you are rebranding, you are attempting to move your business into its next phase. But leading your business into the future requires a plan. When you decide to relaunch your brand, you should make sure that your business is not intending to undergo major changes in the near future. If you intend to go through major shifts regularly, you may want to consider either to hold off on rebranding or to develop a brand devoted to broad innovation. When you begin to shift your business into its next phase, your customers will cling on to what is familiar to them.
For example, no matter what technological enhancements Microsoft offers their customers, the 1.5 billion people who use Windows everyday demand that they keep their start button. Windows users have been using their start menu to navigate their computers since its appearance in Windows 95. When loyal customers believed that Microsoft was working to take away their start menu and replace with the Windows 8.1 interface, PC users everywhere had a collective meltdown and attempted revert to their old operating system. Even though both you and your customers crave innovation, you need to give them time to adjust to your new brand.
AVOIDING REBRANDING MISTAKES
Rebranding is similar to establishing your initial brand but with one exception: you have the ability to bring your brand power forward with you. The ability to bring all of the positive aspects of your company with you can benefit both your brand and your rebrand. Careful consideration of your business needs and your customers’ needs must go into your branding decision. Choosing to ignore either of these facets can land companies in trouble with both their customers and the media. These are the top three brand damaging mistakes that companies make:
If It Isn’t Broken, Don’t Fix It
Rebranding solely for the sake of refreshing your brand is not worth the large costs involved. History tells business not to eliminate features that customers love because it will alienate your customers. Brands like Netflix and Xbox have rebranded with little consideration of their core customer base. Their actions alienated large groups of customers and did real damage to their business. After only a few weeks, they were forced to rebrand again and reverse many of their policies.
The bottom line is: if you provide a service that your customers love, don’t take it away from them.
A Rebrand is NOT a Change of Name
Sometimes business owners go through phases where they are bored with their brand. This is completely natural but it is not a good reason to rebrand. Not only is an arbitrary change confusing to customers, an unnecessary change of name may cause you to lose all of your brand value. Don’t take on pointless redesigns of visual marketing if you aren’t making any changes to your business or service.
In 2010, Radio Shack decided to change its name to The Shack but it offered no other changes or improvements. Customers got confused, and Radio Shack lost the brand power they had been building for decades. The company has not yet recovered from their change of name, and they have closed 1,100 stores. In 2014, they changed their name back to Radio Shack.
If you realize that you have negative brand equity, a change of name may be what you need, but it is not the only thing that you need. If your brand has a negative perception, you need to find out why and offer a solution to the problem when you change your name and rebrand.
Take Care of Your Customers
Rebranding is expensive, but its sole purpose should not be making your business more money. Your new brand should reflect not only a change in your philosophy but the way your customers have changed as well. 43% of millennials say that they rely on the same brands that their parents do; however, these brands are not the same brands as they were when their parents found the company.
Converse is an excellent example of a brand that has adapted through the years to continue to meet the customer needs. Converse was founded in 1908 and through the last 100 years, they have made shoes for movie stars, WWII soldiers, basketball players and skateboarders. Millennials love their timeless style and their utilitarian use but what they really love is that they can make their own pair of Converse as unique as they are.
Rebranding is a big decision. The decision should be made with as much care as you took when you started your company. To take your brand into its next phase, you will need to both consider your mistakes and remember what you have done right through the years. Though your customers are changing, they still crave the comfort of familiarity. Brands like Coca-Cola and Converse have expertly demonstrated have to move a brand into the future by harnessing their brand power through innovation. By mindfully taking advantage of your years of experience and paying close attention to your target market, you can navigate your business into the future.