Is your company where you want it to be? Are you attracting the right customers, building a loyal following of brand ambassadors, and selling your products and/or services at the prices you should be?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, then a company-wide rebrand may be necessary.
And that’s what we’ll be discussing in this post: what a brand really is, when you should consider rebranding your company, and how to go about the rebranding process successfully. Shall we?
What a Brand Really Is
So what’s a brand? Is it a company’s logo or website design? How about the mascot or spokesperson an organization uses or partners with to represent its business? If you’re under the impression that these are the essential elements of branding, you’re not alone.
But this is a shallow, and largely inaccurate, definition. Yes, a company’s logo, web layout and representation add to a brand. But none of those things really capture the essence of what a brand is. Because it’s more than just those things.
A company’s brand is the story that people tell themselves about it.
Take, for example, a company like Starbucks. What comes to mind when you think about the coffee chain?
Some might envision a quick pumpkin spice latte stop before work on a brisk autumn morning. A much looked-forward to “power up” to get them through the day. To these people, Starbucks represents comfort.
Others, though, might see a cup of Starbucks coffee as an overpriced and unneeded luxury and long drive-through lines as a silly waste of time. To them, the brand means waste and overindulgence.
Every company is telling a story, whether they realize it or not. The key to successful branding is being able to tell the right story to the right people.
Meaning Starbucks doesn’t need to convince McDonald’s customers that their cup o’ joe is better. They simply need to focus on their own unique customer base and continue telling them the story they want to hear. Your company should do the same.
But there may be times during the life of your business that you’ll need to shift the narrative surrounding your organization. Adjust the story you’re telling consumers. This is called rebranding.
When to Rebrand Your Business
Rebrands can range anywhere from mild copy and logo updates, to complete name and business focus changes. Let’s look at a few revelatory signs that your business is ready to take the plunge and rebrand itself.
A Change in Direction
It’s happened before: a company begins one way, offering a specific kind of product or service to a specific demographic of people, only to change and grow as time progresses. Maybe they’ve released a complete line of products and serve a much wider audience now; making their original company story obsolete.
When this happens, it’s time for a rebrand.
A Sea of Sameness
Some industries are so saturated, differentiating a company is nearly impossible without dramatically altering the story an organization is trying to tell.
Target is a perfect example of a once struggling business that was able to successfully distinguish itself from competitors and is now an industry leader.
Just before the turn of the century, Target was losing ground to Walmart and K-Mart. So they decided to change the game. Rather than offering low quality merchandise at rock-bottom prices like its competition, it began selling cheaper versions of designer merchandise.
It worked! Today, Target is seen as more “upscale” than both Walmart and K-Mart and is a wildly successful business.
A Case of Growth
Sometimes the need to rebrand is a sign of success rather than failure. This is definitely the case when it comes to business growth. As a company grows, it may have the opportunity to begin working with a higher level of customer, or diversify its offerings to reach a wider audience.
If your business has begun to experience this, a rebrand may be necessary to continue growing.
A Combination Approach
When two companies decide to merge or one is acquired by the other, a rebrand might be needed in order to align both organizations under the same business values.
This, unfortunately, isn’t always something executives consider when two companies become one. But if branding isn’t addressed during a merger, problems are likely to ensue.
An Image Rehabilitation Program
This is probably what most people think of when they learn that a company is rebranding itself. “Uh oh, what did they do wrong?” is often the first question that comes to mind.
Yes, if your company has made large mistakes, a rebrand might be the only thing that can save the business. Thankfully, the history books are chock full with stories of organizations who successfully rehabilitated their image and have again built loyal followings.
Lego is an amazing example: rising from the ashes of an 800 million dollar debt in 2003, to posting revenue totals in the multi billions and claiming the title of the world’s most powerful brand just over a decade later.
The Rebranding Process
Is it’s time to rebrand your company? Then you’ll want to follow this five step process to ensure the effort goes as smoothly as possible:
1: Identify the Problem(s)
First, you need to identify your reason for rebranding. Which of the above scenarios best represents the current state of your business?
This can only be understood through extensive research. Really dive deep into your current brand, the customers you serve, what your competitors are doing, and the current state of your market; to find out how you can better position your company.
Once you know why your company needs to alter it’s image and begin telling a different story, you can develop a strategy to effectively and efficiently do so.
2: Involve All Stakeholders
Obviously, your entire company will be affected by a rebranding effort. But who are the specific people and departments that will be involved in changing public perception of your company? And who will make final decisions on all rebranding initiatives?
These are questions that must be answered — and understood by all involved — before any serious rebrand is set in motion. If they aren’t, your company is likely to experience numerous setbacks.
3: Define Your New Narrative
As mentioned previously, your company’s brand is the story people tell themselves about it. So, if you want to rebrand your business, you need to tell a different story; change the narrative in people’s heads.
So what story do you want to tell?
The reason behind your company’s rebrand will inform the narrative you craft. For example, if your business recently suffered production issues and is now dealing with the reputation of being unreliable, you’ll likely need to tell a story about the care your organization puts into crafting its products and the trust customers can place in your company.
4: Set Your Story in Motion
Once you’ve identified the current issues plaguing your brand, the stakeholders involved in changing your company’s image, and the new story you want to tell, it’s time to set that story in motion!
How will your company change the way people perceive it?
The Old Spice story is a great example of successful rebranding. After 70 years in business, the company was losing customers and was seen as “grandad’s deodorant” by young consumers.
But, through clever ad campaigns and the savvy use of social media, Old Spice was able to regain their position as one of the most popular deodorant and body wash companies.
5: Analyze the Results
Detailed analysis is inherent in any marketing effort. Rebranding is no exception. How else will you be able to tell whether your initiatives are having their desired effect or not?
Use the tools available to you — website and social media insights, third-party analytics apps, forum comments, etc. — to assess if your organization’s image is moving in the right direction. Are people accepting the new story you’re telling?
Then take what the analytics tell you and use that information to craft future rebranding campaigns that move your company in the right direction.
Additional Rebranding Tips
We’ve just outlined a five step process to follow when attempting to rebrand your company. But there are a few more things you should keep in mind before you embark on any serious rebranding effort:
Have a Timeline
When will you start your company rebrand and when do you anticipate hitting specific milestones? Also, who will be in charge of each project?
Implementing a timeline while rebranding your company will keep your team on track and motivated — even when things don’t seem to be going the way you want them to.
Changing the narrative around your brand doesn’t happen overnight. It takes consistent effort over a sustained period of time. So don’t get discouraged if you aren’t seeing the results you want after a few weeks!
Stay the course, continue to use analytics to inform your brand and marketing decisions and you’ll eventually succeed in changing the way people think about your company.
Focus on Your People
We mentioned it earlier, but it’s so important that we want to reiterate it here: different people will interpret your brand differently. Your job isn’t to change everyone’s mind, but to simply tell the right story, to the right people, at the right time.
So don’t worry if some consumers find your products overpriced, or your service to time-consuming. Focus on the demographic that appreciates what you offer and ensure that they’re perceiving your brand the way you’d like them to.
Different companies approach their rebranding efforts in many different ways and for many different reasons. But the five step process we’ve outlined in this post, plus the additional tips to keep in mind, will give you a solid foundation as you attempt to change the narrative in consumer’s heads regarding your organization.
Just remember, a brand is more than a logo or a fancy website design. It’s the story a person tells themselves about your company.
Your job is to identify the story you want to tell and craft a narrative that supports your vision and connects with your target audience. Then analyze the results as you begin to unveil your new company story to the world and adjust accordingly.
With a solid strategy in place and a strong dedication to implementing your plan consistency, we’re confident you’ll be able to rebrand your company successfully!– Jacob Thomas