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How do you know it’s time for a rebrand?

You are out at a networking event (pre-global pandemic) and you are crushing it, captivating bystanders with tales of how your new product/service is disrupting and forever changing the face of the industry. You did it! They want to know more and have requested a business card. You pause. You have a business card but the WordArt with ClipArt branding is completely misaligned with the brand story you just told. Do you hand it over anyway? Do you acknowledge the misalignment? 

Reluctance to use collateral is just one of the many reasons to rebrand. But how do you know if it’s time to take that leap? Below we’ll explore  reasons to rebrand, what’s necessary for a rebrand, and the types of rebrands. At the end of this article, you should be able to make an informed decision about whether your company is in need of a rebrand.

WARNING! DO NOT MAKE THIS MISTAKE

The biggest misconception about rebranding is that it is solely a visual effort. Your brand is the culmination of messaging and brand identity (visual treatments). If you are planning to redesign the look and feel of your company without examining your messaging, I strongly recommend that you reconsider. Defining how you talk about your products/services and present your value proposition is the single most important step in establishing a brand with impact and longevity. Your messaging is the core of your brand, not your logo or any other design element. Every rebrand should start with words because they are the building blocks of communication. The purpose of a brand is to shape the communication for and about your company. Only then, should you assign a visual system to support that communication.

Types of Rebranding

Before we get into the reasons for rebranding, we should first discuss the different types of rebranding. Each with a diminishing level of residual brand equity to springboard from. Rebranding a company is a serious undertaking and should not be done lightly. 

Partial Rebrand or Brand Refresh

A partial rebrand touches only part of a company’s overall brand identity and/or messaging. Are you using the best words to connect with your target audience? Are your visuals engaging? The secret to an engaging brand identity is creating meaning with your visuals. A brand refresh creates an opportunity to align your messaging and visual system. This typically involves keeping the logo and making changes to how you apply visual elements based on set parameters established by changes to the messaging. For example, your new approach could include changing colors or graphics for different audiences. For the most part, the existing branding remains intact, allowing you to continue to build on your existing brand equity.

Full Rebrand

A full rebrand is a complete evolution or transformation. This process starts with a deep dive into a company’s messaging and audiences to ensure that they are positioned for success. The messaging should set the tone for recreating the visual system both structurally and visually. Now, all previously established elements like a logo, font selection and color palette, can be designed and documented in a new brand guidelines document. You will retain some brand equity by keeping the company name.

New Brand/Company or Relaunch

This is a fresh start. You are scrapping everything including the name of the company to relaunch in the marketplace. Relaunching a company is a very heavy lift. Procedurally, it is the same as a rebrand, but there will be more impact on marketing and sales to rebuild awareness and trust (brand equity).

Bad Reasons to Rebrand

Boredom

Growing tired of your logo or colors is not a valid reason to rebrand. Remember that while you may see the branding every day, your potential customers do not. If your business is healthy and progressing, don’t create unnecessary disruptions.

Crisis management

Rebranding to avoid bad press is not an effective way to handle a crisis. Do not sacrifice your remaining brand equity, instead take action by accepting responsibility and forging a path forward. Consultants can be very useful in these situations. It’s better to invest in recultivating the trust with your audience than starting over.

Ego

A rebrand is an easy way for new leadership to shake things up and leave a mark on a company. The fact is most new leaders won’t be pushing the kind of institutional change on a company that justifies a complete rebrand.

PR Attention

Rebrands are not newsworthy. Paying for a rebrand is an inefficient use of funds, if your goal is to create buzz and draw attention. The money would be better spent cultivating relationships, creating community impact, or investing in marketing tactics that are more strategic to further brand equity, rather than starting from zero.

Good Reasons to Rebrand

The following are some reasons companies should consider rebranding to some degree. 

Differentiation

One reason to rebrand is to separate your company from competitors. Maybe you noticed that your visual elements are similar to many other companies in your industry. Or your messaging is nearly a carbon copy of the industry standard. True differentiation stems from key messaging. Start by looking at what distinguishes you from your competition. Here is a messaging test: find a volunteer, preferably a non-sales employee, read a piece of your coIlateral (a homepage or services web page) and something from a competitor aloud without telling them where it’s from. Does one make them want to buy? Can they tell that these are two different companies? If you are blending in, it’s time for a rebrand.

Company and Industry Growth

It’s possible that your company has simply outgrown your branding. The industry might have progressed and you’ve kept in step with innovation, but the brand did not evolve with you. In recent years, we have experienced the “rise of the customer” and many companies have failed to make the shift to customer-centric content. If your collateral is still all about you and, on top of that, you see a stark difference between the quality of your visuals or website presence as compared to your competitors, these things could indicate it’s time to rebrand. Nothing will turn potential clients away like having an outdated, salesy brand. 

Major Business Changes

Another great reason to rebrand is because of market repositioning. Major business changes can quickly misalign your brand with your audience or even your offering itself. If your company has expanded into new markets or locations and your existing branding doesn’t translate well, you may need to rebrand to gain geographic or cultural relevance. Additionally, mergers or acquisitions where target audiences, company culture, offering, or major product/service features are changing require consideration of impacts to the brand. These rebranding efforts require special care to create a sound brand architecture with a well-planned rollout that prevents confusion or brand “cannibalism.”

What you need to rebrand/The process

Who Do You Want To Be As A Company?

The first step is more of a pre-step because you cannot rebrand without alignment from the leadership team. The best place to get started with this alignment is by asking these three questions: “What are we doing?, How are we doing it?, and Why are we doing it?” Take some time to really collaborate with your leadership team to get on the same page. It is crucial to keep your audience at the forefront of your mind when reevaluating your company’s vision, mission, and values. Your company only exists to serve your audience so building a top-down culture that acknowledges that fact is foundational to building brand equity.

How Do You Talk About What You Do?

The next step in establishing a brand is identifying target audiences and framing key messages that best convey your value proposition for each of these audiences. Start by working through who your potential clients would be. What problems are you solving and who would want the solutions your company offers? From there you can build messaging to outline your solutions and why they should choose you over your competitors. Be very specific about your differentiators. Remember to list features and benefits separately. Yes, you have some really awesome features, but the value of that feature or the problem it solves is way more important to the customer. Always show them that you understand their pain points and have tailored your solution to address them.

Do You Need To Change Your Name?

In most cases the answer is no. A complete rebrand can include renaming your company, products, or services. If your current name is confusing or doesn’t align with the services you offer then it’s a good idea to rename. Additionally, if your product or services names are complex, wordy, or are too abstract, it may be worth revisiting your offering naming structure. However, a rebrand doesn’t have to include renaming. Consider the amount of brand recognition your name has and whether it will be worth it to rename. When choosing a new name it’s important to make sure no one else in your industry is using it to prevent confusion and competition. On top of that, check to make sure the name can be trademarked.

What Does This New Direction Look Like?

Once you have aligned your company leadership and found the best language to present your value proposition, now it is time to look over your existing visual elements like the logo, color palettes, and fonts. Review what your competitors are doing so that you can choose a visual identity that stands out from the crowd. Once the visual system has been chosen, protect the integrity of your brand by building a brand guideline that outlines these elements and how they should be applied.

Conclusion

Rebranding a company is a big decision, but the payoff can be huge. If your brand is outdated, hard to sell, or hasn’t been cultivating trust and loyalty from your customers, take a look at what parts of the brand need changing. It may not be the whole brand that needs updating but rather just a few elements. Keep in mind that needing a rebrand can be a sign of growth!

Do you think your company is in need of a rebrand?

In my experience, most companies have a messaging problem that limits their ability to connect with their audience. Schedule a free consultation with me to get started.

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