In the simplest terms, a brand is a result. It’s the resulting feeling a customer has about your company when they interact with your business. People often use the term ‘brand’ to mean a logo, a product, an impression, or the style of customer-facing content, but in actuality, a brand is all of these and more. Your brand is an extremely powerful tool for your business. It gives you your unique identity and thereby sets you apart from your competition. It gives your customers something to remember and lastly, a strong brand leads to more sales.
However, a company rarely gets its branding perfect on the first try. Companies often have to go through many rebranding cycles until they land on something that works. As time goes on companies change, consumer preferences change, your audience may change, and all of this can leave your old brand to be misaligned with your current goals. This is where rebranding comes in. Let’s take a look at when you know it’s time to rebrand, and 7 winning tips for successfully executing your rebrand.
When Is It Time to Rebrand?
It can be difficult to determine whether your business needs a rebrand, or when the right time to do it is. Some companies choose to rebrand every couple of years, and others only rebrand every couple of decades, or when the company has experienced significant change such as a merger. Rebranding isn’t an exact science, but there are some general rules you can follow to help you determine whether you need a rebrand. Let’s take a look at signs it may be time to rebrand your business.
1. You’ve Gone Through a Merger
During a merger, two companies come together, and these companies will have their own distinct logo and branding. A merger is a great time to have a rebranding because you want to showcase the best of both of the companies. It’s a great opportunity to show your customer base that your skillset, tools, products, and expertise has grown as your company has grown. You might want to take parts of both logos or create an entirely new logo to reflect the new relationship. How exactly this is done will vary from company to company, but there are some common approaches.
Rebranding Company Names
There are a couple of options available when rebranding your company name after a merger. For example, you can:
Create a Compound Name
You create a compound name by merging parts of both company names together to form a new name. This approach can be a great choice because it fosters a higher degree of familiarity for customers of each brand, and it also represents an equal partnership or a united front. Some prominent examples of this type of name merger are:
- Price Waterhouse and Coopers & Lybrand merged to become PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and later just PWC.
- Alcatel and Lucent merged to become Alcatel Lucent
- Conoco and Phillips merged to create ConocoPhillips
This option works best for companies where their brand vision or purpose is already very similar and is also the most common method of arriving at a new name.
Keep the Stronger Name
Of course, what makes the name “stronger” is somewhat subjective, but generally speaking, it often makes sense to keep the company with the strongest reputation, customer base, or equity, intact. When Boeing and McDonnell Douglas back in 1997, the Boeing name was used exclusively, and McDonnell Douglas was scrapped.
Pick a New Name
This approach makes sense for organizations that are planning on significant transformation due to the merger. If you’re planning on making large scale changes, then it makes sense to create a new brand that you think better represents the business you plan to become and to separate yourself from the pre-merger version of your business. A good example of this approach is when GTE and Bell Atlantic merged and decided to rebrand, picking the name Verizon.
There’s actually one more approach, but this one is less of a dedicated approach and more in line with “keep it all the same”. In this approach the companies acquired by the larger company will maintain their brand identity and to the outside world appear as separate entities. For example. YouTube was bought by Google back in 2006 but has maintained its unique branding and personality even to today.
2. You Company Appoints a New CEO
A new CEO often represents a new chapter for the business. Rebranding is a way to distinguish the old CEO of the old way of doing things from the new way under the direction of a new CEO. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a change in CEO that triggers this type of rebranding, but rather any significant change in leadership. New leadership is often sought with the intention of taking the company in new and exciting directions. Giving your brand a facelift is a great way to celebrate this change. Shortly after the new Editor-In-Chief Lydia Polgreen was appointed, The Huffington Post was rather dramatically rebranded to Huffpost, with the name being only a small part of the overall rebranding.
3. Your Company is Bought by Another Company
As the saying goes, “everyone has a price”. You may love your company and put a lot of time and energy into it, but there may come a time when the price is right for you to sell. In this scenario, your company may be incorporated into the brand of the other company, or your brand may be scrapped altogether. Sometimes after an acquisition the smaller company may be rebranded straight away, or the rebrand may happen over several years.
We saw this happen when social media giant Facebook bought photo-based social media app, Instagram. The Instagram logo looks dramatically different than it did back when the company was bought by Facebook. Although Facebook and Instagram do still exist as separate entities, there has been significant steps taken to create a cohesive feel across the networks, for example with the Stories features and the ability to link accounts and share content instantly to both platforms. This merging in functionality has gone hand-in-hand with a merging in of other elements of the brand.
3. Damage Control
Sometimes despite our best efforts (or because of them), a company suffers from an extremely negative brand perception. Maybe the company was once held in high regard, but due to a few recent mishaps, public perception has shifted against the company. In this situation, it’s sometimes a good idea to rebrand and essentially start afresh. While some might argue that the intention here is to trick the public into unknowingly supporting the brand, there’s also a less cynical view. Sometimes it’s just time to wipe the slate clean and move forward with better intentions and with the knowledge of your mistakes to guide your way into a more prosperous future.
4. To Reach a New Audience
If you’ve done your research and decided it’s time to focus your energy on a new target audience, then you may want to consider rebranding to be more appealing to this audience. According to one study, 80% of marketing leaders said that a strong brand is critical to their growth plans. Your brand is weak if it is unable to connect with your audience, and your growth will suffer as a result.
The same is also true if your target audience is changing or expanding as your company grows. In this situation, you may find that your brand no longer aligns with your current audience and it’s time for something new. A good example of this is the deodorant Old Spice. For a long time, Old Spice seemed firmly placed as a deodorant for older men. However, this all changed in 2008 when Old Spice rebranded its marketing to appeal to a younger audience by using viral video marketing and younger models.
5. To Modernize
Styles, fashions, and preferences change over time and a brand that once looked classy can start to look stale. Apple has gone through several rebrands since it was founded in 1976. The original logo was only used for a short period in 1976 before the familiar bitten apple logo was adopted in the same year. Since then, the rebranding efforts have been largely focused on changing the color of the logo. We’ve seen a rainbow apple, a blue apple, 2 silver apples, and finally the black apple which is used today. This type of rebranding is a great way to stay current and stay connected with your audience. According to Lucidpress, 45% of customers expect great design across marketing and sales collateral.
6. Your Vision or Goals Have Changed
If the vision or long-term goals of your company have changed over time, you may find that your branding no longer aligns with this new vision. In fact, only 60% of marketers think their brand is well aligned with their long-term goals. As time goes on, your brand is even more likely to grow apart from these new goals, so rebranding is a great way to keep up with the internal change.
7 Tips for a Successful Rebrand
- Reanalyze: Embarking on a rebrand presents a great opportunity to analyze your company’s mission and values, your ideal clients, and whether you’re still connecting with your traditional target audience.
- Establish the purpose of the rebrand: There’s little point in having a rebrand if you don’t have a full grasp on the purpose of doing it. Take a look at the reasons we listed above. Do any of these apply to your company? If so, how? What do you want to achieve by rebranding?
- Reach out to customers: Sometimes when you’re working in a company every day, you can be too close to the operation to successfully step back and see where it needs improvement. This is where talking to both past and present customers is extremely valuable. Ask them what works about your brand and what doesn’t. Let their answers inform how you move forward. Transparency is becoming increasingly important to consumers everywhere, so the more you let your customers in, the smoother the process will be. In fact, 95% of consumers will be loyal to companies that are transparent with their practices.
- Brainstorm steps and make a plan: To pull off a successful rebrand, you need a robust plan that includes communication and collaboration with all relevant teams, and a timeline to follow. You should consider everything from whether you need a full brand overhaul complete with a new logo and website, whether you just need a revamp, how you plan to tell your employees, how you plan to tell your customers, and so on.
- Prepare for the backlash: Your rebrand will likely get noticed, and that’s a good thing – you want it to. However, it will also likely get some negative attention. Some people are very resistant to change and will be quick to criticize. Some fallout is expected, but you can minimize the potential impact by involving your customers in the rebranding journey. For example, you can ask them to pick between two color schemes or logos to see which they like best.
- Create a consistent and cohesive experience for your customers: Once you’ve decided on a new brand, it’s important to roll it out across all of your platforms as quickly as possible. Customers expect your brand to be consistent and falling short of this expectation can lead to confusion and frustration. This is particularly important if your target audience is Millennials since 60% of Millennial consumers expect a consistent brand across all channels.
- Launch with intent: when it’s time to launch your new brand, you should be upfront and honest about it. Customers may get confused if they go to your website and see a totally different branding than they remember and no message from the company about it. You want to get on top of this message and launch with intent and enthusiasm. Post about your rebranding to social media, put a message on the landing page of your website, shout from the digital rooftops!