Are you contemplating a company rebrand? Perhaps you’re not so inspired by your logo anymore, or you feel like the aesthetics doesn’t speak to your values, or you’re branching into new territories (such as new products or new geographies) with your company.
The good news: needing to rebrand is not a bad sign; on the contrary! Most successful companies do it, from startups to those on the Fortune 500. Often, a rebrand means that the company has evolved beyond its previous identity and is now ready to reach new heights. Rebranding offers a great opportunity to strengthen the company’s presence and image in the eyes of your customers.
Rebranding, however, can be an effort-intensive process, so you need to be deliberate about the why and the how of going about it.
The why: when is rebranding a good idea?
The target demographic has changed
As it grows, your company may be trying to target a broader audience, and the brand should reflect this. A common example is that of an established company that rebrands in order to appeal to the millennial crowd. One company that has done this very successfully is Adidas. In the past few years, the sports retailer has gained considerable market share—to competitors like Nike and Under Armour—by capturing the increasingly large athleisure segment adored by millennials. The key to success? Focus on digital-only marketing and influencer branding strategy.
New competition, technological shifts or taste trends have emerged
If technology has disrupted your industry, a rebranding could be necessary to keep up with competition and to reposition as a leading-edge company in the new environment. Perhaps the change is not necessarily tech-inspired; new consumer taste trends may be affecting your industry, such as the wave of organic and locally-sourced preferences in the food industry.
The business has changed in a significant way
Your company may have pivoted, expanded into new product lines, entered international markets or acquired/merged with another company. Your brand needs to reflect these important changes, and not be left behind to represent your company’s past identity.
There hasn’t been a cohesive branding effort—yet
When companies just start out, it’s not unusual to be very scrappy with branding: you just slap a quick logo and come up with any other brand elements in a haphazard way. However, as your company grows, a more deliberate branding effort could go a long way to make the company appear more professional.
The brand is dated
After many years in business, your branding may not feel as contemporary as it should. Your 1990’s logo in neon-colored bubble letters could certainly use a fresh take (alongside anything in Comic Sans, please).
Why are you rebranding?
It is important to be clear about why you’re rebranding; this way you ensure that the effort of rebranding is worth it and will achieve the expected results in your business. If none of the scenarios described above reflect what is going on in your company, then take a moment to think about why you’re considering to rebrand. Perhaps there’s a problem that runs deeper in the company (such as no product-market fit *gasp*), which rebranding will not be able to fix.
Rebranding strategy and scope: some retouches or all-in?
Once you’ve made up your mind that the company would definitely benefit from rebranding, it’s time to determine the scale and scope of this effort.
Consider which level of branding makes the most sense, based on the why of branding that you determined above:
This is a lighter and more targeted effort. Instances where a simple refresh makes sense: if specific elements of the brand could use a more contemporary take, e.g. the logo or product packaging look dated; or if there have been developments to the business, e.g. new products have been released. For instance, Google’s logo has gone through several refreshes throughout the years, all of which relatively marginal.
A total rebrand
This is a wide-reaching, high-effort brand overhaul. If a critical part of the business has changed—for instance you’re pursuing a completely new market, targeting a different demographic, selling a new core product; or are undergoing a merger/acquisition—it might may sense to reconsider the entire brand strategy and execution. When McDonald’s entered Europe, for instance, the whole look-and-feel of the brand—from physical space to decor to menus—was staggeringly different from the American brand. A spacious and modern environment with healthy food options were a better fit for the European clientele.
Being clear about the scope of the rebrand upfront is essential to efficient planning, budgeting, and resource allocation.
Rebranding process: from high-level strategy to meticulous execution.
To tell a brand story that is worthy of your company and resonates with your client is not an easy task. Especially if you’re doing a total rebrand, this process should involve high-level strategy, considerable research, careful planning, and team-wide collaboration.
1. Start with your mission, vision and values.
If your company doesn’t already have a clearly spelled-out mission, vision, and list of values, this is a great time to bring the team together to come up with these important cornerstones of the brand. Keep these in front of you and refer to them constantly to ensure that the branding choices are true to the company’s core beliefs.
2. Have a holistic strategy.
Rebranding is not just about a new logo or website, but about the entire look and feel of the brand that you reflect to the world. Make sure that there’s a consistent and cohesive strategy that spans all elements (logo, packaging, signage, flyers, ads, etc.) and channels of your brand (digital, social, brick-and-mortar presence, etc.). If you’re doing a partial rebrand, this is especially important to keep in mind, as the newly-upgraded brand elements need to make sense when coupled with the existing ones. A new, fun mascot logo would clash with the more serious voice in website and social media, so consider these constraints.
3. Analyze what to keep and what to discard from your current branding.
Before you toss everything, consider what may already be working well in your brand. Typically, you may want to keep at least your company name. Ideally, some elements of your current brand will be preserved, so that there’s a feel of continuity when you rebrand, and you don’t lose the elements that already resonate with your target audience. Basically: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
4. Analyze the market and competition.
Research what’s working among your competitors, the trends in the market, as well as the new trends in branding, in order to ensure an informed and contemporary upgrade. However, don’t go after the very latest branding trend if that doesn’t speak to your company values and brand identity. The goal here is not to be bleeding-edge (i.e. taking “leading edge” a step too far), but to keep brand longevity in mind.
5. Make this a collaborative process.
Involve key stakeholders from the start to get their buy-in and feedback. Involve all departments of the company—leadership, business, design, engineering, marketing—and use this as an exercise to strengthen the company culture. You can even involve your customers by asking their feedback via polls on different branding elements, such as logos or taglines. Throw in a giveaway to the poll to increase participation and engagement!
6. Project-manage the rebranding, from brainstorm to release.
A rebrand, especially one that completely overhauls your look-and-feel, can be a very effort- and time-intensive process. This is why project management is essential to completing a successful rebrand within the deadline and budget. Project management can be as simple as a spreadsheet that documents projections of timelines, deliverables, risks (with mitigation plans), and team responsibilities for each work-package.
7. Finally, tell the world!
You’ve worked hard on this, so be proud of your new or refreshed brand. When you showcase the changes, make sure to transparently share the why and how with your target audience. This way you minimize the risk of confusing your customers when they encounter the changes, and you can also strengthen their brand loyalty by involving them in your brand story.
Whether your company simply needs a facelift or a completely new brand identity to reflect its evolution, rebranding is instrumental in molding the right perception. There’s value in the process as well as in the end result. Take rebranding as a great opportunity to strengthen and reaffirm your company’s identity and values, both internally with your employee base and externally with your customers.
Check out this article for more branding tips.