There's no such thing as a static market. Consumers are constantly evolving, technology is forever changing, culture is continuously growing, and product enhancements are never-ending. To keep up with these shifting sands, brands need to rebrand to maintain their relevance and performance occasionally.
A good brand communicates what your company does. A great brand communicates how and more importantly, why your company does what it does. A great brand builds credibility and motivates your customers. And like you, a great brand evolves, consistently and methodically over time, to persevere and retain relevance. The goal, of course, is to strive to be a great brand, one that can stand the test of time, but also be strong enough to lead the evolution of those around them.
While some moments in time are better than others to embark on a rebranding mission, there's almost no wrong time to start. It depends on what your future objectives are. Here are some reasons why you may want to consider rebranding now.
1. Breathe new life into your brand.
When was the last time you updated your hairstyle? Or your wardrobe? Have you changed your make-up recently? Looks, personal preferences, and styles evolve. And so should your brand. While I'm not an advocate of updating your brand with the seasons or every new trend, staying current, and therefore, relevant, is of hyper importance to the success of your brand.
Is your brand feeling outdated or dull in comparison to your customers, or desired customers? If the answer is yes, then an update or refresh is probably in order. Smart companies rebrand because they not only know the value of having a strong brand but also how much of a negative impact having a weak brand can have on their business. Recently Fisher-Price unveiled its brand refresh, which highlights a return to a playful sense of fun, a key brand trait that had become lost over the years. Through contemporary yet nostalgic visual language and messaging, parents of all ages are invited to once again engage with the iconic and trusted brand they all grew up adoring.
To what extent your brand evolves will vary from company to company and will also vary based on the desired outcome. But whether it's a whole new wardrobe or just a new pair of shoes, sometimes there's nothing more uplifting than changing how you appear to others.
2. Send a signal about improved brand reputation.
When mistakes happen, and they happen to the best of us, a rebrand might help send the right message of a course correction.
In this case, the change needs to be real. It needs to go beyond a new brand identity or name; it has to change the mistake or behaviour that happened in the first place. Unfortunately, a new brand won’t hide the fact that a CEO has acted poorly, or that a product has had a colossal failure. Make the necessary HR, policy or product changes, redefine your Brand Stance, and then embark on a thorough rebranding exercise.
Uber is a recent and relevant example of a well-timed rebrand to send a signal of positive change. They ousted former CEO, Travis Kalanick, and spent a year cleaning things up under the leadership of Dara Khosrowshahi before sending a message to employees, investors, customers, and partners that times have changed with a fresh new brand.
3. Your values or products have evolved.
Often, we describe brands as living things. Like people, they grow, change, learn, and evolve. Often, rebranding or even changing your name can be less costly than developing an ad campaign to redefine who you are, thus setting your company up for more profitable, future success.
If you have outgrown your existing brand by offering new products and services, a rebrand can both announce these changes and drive future opportunities. Some clear examples of these were when Apple Computer simplified its name to Apple, and Starbucks Coffee dropped Coffee to become Starbucks. In both cases, the Computer and Coffee monikers limited how investors and customers viewed each company and no longer appropriately defined what they offer and will offer in the future.
4. Going after a new audience.
Some brands are inherently young. Some are old. But as new cohorts move into your target market, new tastes, styles, preferences and expectations come along with them. Being relevant to these new cohorts may mean adapting and evolving your brand to stay connected.
Or in the cases above, some brands develop and evolve new products or services that cater to an entirely new audience. If your current brand is enticing to Boomers, yet your new service is excellent for a Millennial audience, a new brand, or even sub-brand, might be your ticket to success. Just because your old brand has a legacy and is known well by the existing audience, doesn't mean your goodwill can extend to a new demographic. A rebrand or introduction of a new brand will give you the opportunity to chase new ambitions and new customer groups.
5. Remain differentiated from the competition.
All too often, brands in a given category can start to share similarities. They begin to blend like the infinite sea of corporate blue in banking. As any category grows over time, more and more copycat brands emerge in an attempt to play off the goodwill of the category leaders. And yes, these strategies and tactics not only work for your competitors, but copycats can also be detrimental to your brand and your bottom line. It's essential to stand out and be distinguished.
Creating a differentiated brand and staying out in front of the competition will take some investment, however, creating unique and ownable assets will always pay off in the long term. As Ralf Speth, the CEO Jaguar Land Rover, once said: “If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.”
It's easy to find reasons not to rebrand: cost, history and legacy, or emotional attachment. But remember this, your brand has many more years of business ahead of it than behind it. A rebrand demonstrates a commitment to future growth — you have more future customers than you do existing. That's ambition. Your partners, employees, and prospective customers will appreciate and embrace this.
I hope this gives you the confidence to embark on a rebrand that's right for your circumstances and to achieve your brand's ambition. Focus on the positive outcomes, and ask yourself, What's the best that can happen?™
Published by Mike Leslie
A creative problem solver with a penchant for strategy and analytics, Mike is the President, Partner at Full Punch. Always calling Vancouver home, he has spent the majority of his career working throughout the Pacific Northwest, California and all across Canada managing small and large agencies, local and national brands. His experience brings unique insights to the entire marketing process.
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