To rebrand, or not to rebrand?
(7 minute read)
Rebranding is a big decision, not to be taken lightly. Change can help drive growth, provide flexibility and present opportunities but it’s easy to get caught up in the ideologies of a rebrand before all facts and consequences have been taken into account.
Rebranding your business is not about quickly getting a new logo designed or changing your tagline. A rebrand typically stems from a change in business direction. It needs to be a well thought out, meticulous process and, when done well it can drive incredible results for your business. If you get it wrong however, it can have huge detrimental effects.
For start-ups through to multinational organisations, taking on a rebrand project is huge. You will have spent a lot of time, and probably money, getting your original brand in place to begin with, and now it’s looking like you’ll have to do it all over again. Ouch. But sometimes, change really is necessary. The success of your business is, after all, wrapped up in the quality and effectiveness of your branding and, if it’s not up to the job, it could be holding you back rather than propelling you forward.
So, how do you know if you should rebrand or not?
You shouldn’t rebrand if:
Nothing’s changed within your business
If everything is going smoothly i.e. your company is continuing to grow, your management team hasn’t changed, your customers are happy and you’re reaching the right people then, you run the risk of confusing everyone involved if you start a rebrand. You’ll be wasting time that could be better spent growing your business.
What you may actually be looking for here is a design update. If you feel your logo looks tired or your professional documents don’t make you stand out amongst your competitors it may be worth considering a design refresh.
You just fancy it
This is no reason to rebrand. If you keep getting sick of your brand image and change it every 6-12 months you’re only going to confuse your customers and cost yourself of a lot of money. Consistency is key.
You’re not willing to get professional help
Amateur branding can cost your business money in the long term, and a full rebranding project is a lot to take on by yourself. You can’t simply get a new logo, change your colour scheme and buy a new web domain. It’s so much more than that, and your target audience are going to see right through you if you don’t get this right.
You should rebrand if:
Your old branding is out of date
You can create a fantastic brand image that works wonders for your business, but sometimes, after a few years and through no fault of your own, things change. Technology advances, trends evolve and you can get left stuck in the past. If this happens, your brand and messaging will most likely be missing the point, meaning it’s high time for a rebrand to catch up with the world and remain relevant in your market space.
You’re losing sales and customers
If your profits are taking a hit, you’re attracting the wrong customers or your customers simply aren’t interested, then it’s time to run some diagnostics. If you’re doing everything else right, then it’s probably your branding that’s letting you down. While a rebrand may seem like an expensive solution, this one-off cost for high-quality design and a clever branding strategy will actually help drive healthy sales and grow your business in the long term, as you’ll be reaching the right people with the right message.
You’ve had a shift in function or message
This is perhaps one of the most obvious reasons for a business rebrand. If the base purpose of your business has changed then your current branding will probably be fighting against your new message. Besides, if you’re looking to shout about a positive change in the outlook of your business – becoming environmentally friendly for example – then a rebrand will help draw attention to the new you.
What getting it right looks like:
Burberry’s rebrand is widely championed as one of the biggest successes in rebranding history, and for good reason. We all remember the days when Burberry’s distinctive check was synonymous with ‘chav culture’, an unfortunate hijacking of the brand – and a perfect example of a company attracting the wrong customers – which caused sales to tank and their intended customers to steer well clear.
But, Burberry pulled its expensive socks up and turned the situation around with expert grace, and without even changing their logo. They took a leaf out of Apple’s book and went for the tech-inspired, clean look with a brand new website, social media presence and innovative image. They dropped the check pattern almost completely, but kept it peeking out of coat linings and trims to keep true to their past.
And, while the employment of high-profile British actors and musicians to boost brand image isn’t exactly obtainable for all businesses, it’s the embracing of your company culture and the re-focussing on what customers want that counts with this rebranding success story.
What getting it wrong looks like:
Who remembers when GAP attempted a rebrand out of nowhere and for no apparent reason? They dropped their classic logo and replaced it with the word ‘Gap’ with a tiny blue square behind the ‘P’.
As you can imagine, the internet exploded with criticism and disapproval. The brand couldn’t defend or back up their decision and quickly reverted to their original branding just six days later. That was an expensive six days, with the rebrand costing them an estimated $100 million. A classic example of why you should never rebrand for no good reason.
You’re ready to rebrand, what’s next?
So, if you’ve made the big decision to go ahead with a rebrand, here are a few essential considerations to give you the best chance of success:
Do your research
By this we don’t mean spend one morning at the beginning on research, you need to be constantly assessing and thinking throughout the entire process. Take apart every element of your business systematically to locate weaknesses and add them to your list of things to be addressed with your rebrand. You also need to do extensive research into your customer base, competition and market space to identify if your rebrand ideas are likely to have the effect you want. If not, you can change direction before you commit to anything.
Really think about the ‘why’
Be honest with yourself and get your entire team involved when it comes to the ‘why’ of your rebrand. Is there really a good reason, like the ones we listed above, for you to take your business through this process? We can’t stress the importance of this enough, so really spend some time thinking about why you’re doing it, otherwise you could end up in the same leaky boat as GAP.
Don’t blindside your customers
Again, don’t do a ‘GAP’ and launch a new image on your customers overnight with zero warning, or you risk scaring them away or losing trust. Build up to it, announce your plans for change and make your customer base aware of it. This is your chance to shout about all the amazing improvements that are coming their way and generate some excitement.
Be prepared to follow it through
Your rebrand doesn’t end with the visuals. You will need to get behind your rebrand once you roll it out and build it into absolutely everything including your marketing efforts and customer service to maintain consistency and build a strong, trusted brand.
A rebrand is not just about the visuals: Brand VS Branding: What's the difference?
You should also take the time to get your customers’ opinions on the new look and constantly analyse the success and impact upon your business performance.
All of the above might seem a little overwhelming even for a big company, let alone a start-up, so getting professional help is a good idea. Finding a design and marketing agency that has experience in your sector or whose work you admire will ensure you get things right.