Thinking of Rebranding: First, Ask Yourself “Why?”

At Strategic Communications, we have worked with companies, large and small, in a variety of industries on branding and rebranding initiatives. One of the biggest areas of misunderstanding that we encounter is that a rebranding initiative means updating the company logo and marketing materials. That’s potentially part of the process, certainly, but rebranding involves a lot more than that. Rebranding is a significant undertaking and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. As we note in a related blog post, “Exercise caution before you attempt to rebrand,” a brand takes a great deal of time to develop, and businesses should think twice before throwing that effort away.

Having gotten that disclaimer out of the way, there are some legitimate reasons companies may need to overhaul their image. So how do you know when it’s time to rebrand? There are a few things that might justifiably point to the need:

Real Change in Your Business

Your business or product is changing in some meaningful way and the current brand is no longer reflective of that new status. For instance, during a merger, acquisition or divestiture, your corporate identity may very well change drastically. Maybe your value proposition shifts or you add, alter or discontinue a product or service line. If there’s such a large change in the fundamentals of who you are as a business, rebranding may be appropriate.

Real Change Outside of Your Business

If the competitive landscape or market needs have changed in some way that requires your company to change in some significant way, rebranding may again be appropriate. As noted by Kim LaChance Shandrow in an article for Entrepreneur, “If your target audience is changing with the times (and chances are it is), it’s a smart move to change along with them. Not just to maintain their interest, but, more importantly, their business.”

 

The bottom line when it comes to rebranding: There must be alignment between brand identity and brand reality. The key thing is that any rebranding initiative really needs to correspond with, and reflect, an actual change in the company or product.

Companies can’t simply decide to create a new look and think that this will result in a new brand. The brand is a reflection of all aspects of the company: product, price, place and promotion. There must be alignment between what the company actually is, how it actually operates and the brand image it is attempting to convey. And it bears repeating: rebranding shouldn’t be taken lightly. It takes a long time to develop a brand, and there are many examples of companies that have taken big risks on rebranding. Some have been done well, and some not so well.

 

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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