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Updated Apr 01, 2024

Time for Change: When to Rebrand and How to Begin the Process

Thinking of rebranding your business? Learn when it's time to rebrand and how to get started.

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Julie Thompson, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
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Business branding communicates a clear, consistent identity to consumers, employees, stakeholders and others. However, a company may decide its current brand identity no longer fits, prompting the decision to rebrand. 

Rebranding is a strategy for creating a new identity. It may include overhauling a company name, logo, symbols, associated images and product packaging to reposition the organization in the marketplace and the public’s eyes.

We’ll explore five primary reasons businesses rebrand and share how to start the process of creating a new brand identity. 

Did You Know?Did you know
Some companies rebrand after tracking industry trends and identifying a new position in the marketplace, allowing them to expand their target audience and stand out from the crowd.

When is it time for a business to rebrand?

The choice to rebrand is different for every company. A business might have an expanded product line, a leadership change or a need to protect its brand reputation. Here are five typical reasons businesses decide to rebrand. 

1. Loss of relevancy can spark a rebrand.

Consumer behavior constantly evolves, and businesses that fail to adapt may discover their brand relevance has slipped away. As a result, a company may find itself no longer the topic of conversation it once was or struggle to retain its prominent brand position over its competitors.

If your brand isn’t sparking interest with consumers the way it used to, and you feel you may be losing your position in the marketplace, it may perhaps be time to consider a change. A rebrand can boost online awareness of your brand and garner renewed interest.

2. Leadership changes may lead to a rebrand. 

With a change in company leadership often comes a shift in philosophy and approach. This shift may warrant the need for an image overhaul that best aligns with those new values. 

A thorough rebrand – from corporate name and logo changes to employee training and focus adjustments – is often an integral part of a leadership shift. If your business has recently changed hands, rebranding is likely to follow.

3. A rebrand can follow business expansion or growth.

A rebranding strategy may be part of your business growth plan. A company that initially planned to do “A” but is now doing “A and B” is probably due for a rebrand. 

Business growth and expansion often result from – or create the need to – focus on something other than the original concept, necessitating a change in outreach that best reflects the business’s evolution. If you find your company performing a bit beyond your original intent or scope, a rebranding strategy may be in order.

4. New market outreach can necessitate a rebrand.

If you’ve decided to test your product in a new market, such as a new client base or even a new country, you’ll probably find the need to reshape your image to something that can best connect with that new audience. Each new consumer base has a unique set of desires, needs, and behaviors, and a rebrand can help ignite the appeal your company needs to extend its reach.

5. Rebranding can be part of reputation management.

Rebranding is used in online reputation management as a last measure to repair a business or brand’s online reputation. It may seem like a drastic measure to change the brand name and company look, but it’s an effective strategy for online reputation damage control.

TipBottom line
If your business's online reputation is at risk, consider hiring one of the best online reputation management (ORM) services. Your ORM partner can perform a reputation analysis and guide content creation, SEO and more.

Notable company rebrands

Companies large and small use rebranding as a strategy to overhaul their images. A study by Landor & Fitch found that over 70% of S&P 500 companies completed a rebrand within the first seven years of business.

Apple, for instance, has undergone three significant branding changes during its existence, while Starbucks has gone through four rebranding efforts. Pepsi has reinvented its brand an incredible 11 times. Other notable image tweaks over the past half-century include Harley-Davidson, Target, McDonald’s, Walmart, Pabst Blue Ribbon and Old Spice.

How do you begin the rebranding process? 

Successful rebranding involves more than designing a new logo. You’ll need to overhaul visuals and copy while raising the bar in your niche and improving the customer experience. Deciding to rebrand your business is a serious decision that should be heavily weighed, studied and vetted beforehand. 

Here’s how to get started with the rebranding process: 

  1. Map out your new image. Start by identifying your company values. Consult with employees on ways to best deliver on your new brand’s values and expectations. Finally, build a set of promises you can stick to consistently.
  2. Research your customers. Use customer interaction records to determine customer expectations and feelings toward your brand, products and industry. Detailed data will inform decisions about the rebrand and identify challenges the new brand may create.
  3. Identify what’s broken. Rebranding requires a hard look at how and why your original brand failed or isn’t impactful. You can’t fix your brand and create a new brand image without identifying what went wrong – and correcting those mistakes.
  4. Build your rebrand’s narrative. Develop a compelling, memorable brand story to support your organization’s rebrand. Create a story your customers and employees can believe in and get behind.
  5. Maintain consistency and tenacity. Be confident in what you’ve chosen as the new face of your brand. Once you’re sure your new image is what you need and something you can be proud of, keep your message consistent in all outreach efforts. Be tenacious with your idea, and resist the urge to revert to the old.
FYIDid you know
o build brand advocacy to promote your rebrand, reach out to customers with whom you've developed personal relationships. Share your new ideas, and get them on board with the new brand identity.

What are rebranding mistakes to avoid?

When your business stalls in sales or interest, it’s natural to rebrand. Your rebranding should be well received by your target audience and generate new sales leads who were previously uninterested in your products or services. 

While rebranding pays off in many ways, it can also cause your company to spiral. Anticipating typical rebranding mistakes reduces your business’s risks and helps you gain confidence in your decisions. 

Here are the top 10 rebranding mistakes to avoid:

1. Not having a rebranding strategy can cause the rebrand to fail.

Before you roll out a rebrand, you must understand more about your brand than just your mission and future vision for the company. You will also need to consider your industry and current competitors.

Create a framework that is direct and to the point. A consistent brand message will help current and future customers understand your brand’s value and follow its social media presence. Don’t just rebrand a logo. Instead, consider your website design, social media channels, business SEO strategy and overall brand positioning.

Marrying your brand’s future with a positive customer experience is wise. You must be aware of industry trends, your target market, competitors’ branding and your business goals.

2. Not being unique will derail your rebranding efforts. 

Are you distinguishing your brand from your competitors? Your unique selling proposition (USP) should be visible in your rebrand. 

Your USP should be a part of your website, social media and offline advertising. Take a look at your current marketing and lead pages. If you have fluff, remove it and create more calls to action (CTAs).

Your brand must be memorable to have value, especially if you have a product or service in a competitive niche. If your brand looks the same as everyone else, customers will shop until they find the lowest price.

Use professionally designed visuals and powerful words to stand out from the crowd. Stay true to who you are so you don’t lose your current customer base.

3. Not targeting the right audience will create an ineffective rebrand.

The more customers you have, the better, right? In fact, you may have low interest and sales if you target everyone to purchase your product or service. 

You can’t have a generic brand message and generate buzz or go viral. Being safe won’t get you seen, even if your product is the best innovation on the market.

You must segment your audience and build customer personas to appeal to the right buyers. There are several ways to segment your audience, but starting with the below data can help you get a jump-start on leads:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Income level
  • Problems or pain points
  • Hobbies
  • Purchase patterns

The customer experience is becoming increasingly important as consumers order groceries, complete online banking transactions and binge-watch their favorite TV shows from their phones. In addition, younger generations are used to a “now culture,” where they can receive their products and services almost instantly.

Personalizing the rebrand makes you more likely to keep your emotional bond with your audience. The rebranding process should include research from customers, general consumers and your industry. Taking the time to ease your audience into your rebrand can help the process go smoothly.

4. Not sticking to a timeline can hurt the rebrand.

A rebrand can throw a wrench in your day-to-day business tasks. Stay organized. A timeline is essential for not disrupting your business goals. Spend too little time, and your rebrand could flop; too much, and your business could suffer financially.

Depending on your rebrand elements, set a strict timeline for completing each step. For example, you could begin by allowing six weeks to finalize a new logo, then immediately start on the website, social media and marketing materials. Don’t get stuck on one task that can derail the whole process.

5. Not hiring consultants can make the rebrand overwhelming.

A rebranding is no small task. Sometimes, reaching out for help can be the most cost-effective solution. Hiring consultants who have been through the rebranding process can be beneficial in the following ways:

  • Streamlined organization process
  • Deadline accountability
  • Market research
  • Neutral decision-making
  • Honest feedback and constructive criticism 

BDC Did you Know

Did You Know?Did you know
Need professional guidance with your rebranding? The best brand-building marketing agencies can guide your rebranding decisions and ensure consistency across all marketing channels and materials.

6. Inconsistencies can stall your rebrand. 

A brand with inconsistent logos, colors, fonts or messaging confuses consumers. In addition, discord within your brand sends a message of distrust. 

Style guides can offer design, content, sales and marketing rules for interacting with your brand. Details such as logo colors, fonts and illustration style are vital in print and digital media.

7. Dishonesty can cause a rebrand to fail.

Breaking a brand promise can set your company back days, weeks, months or even years once you lose your brand reputation. It’s tough to recover, especially with the fury of social media.

Use personalized content, including email personalization, to effectively state your brand’s mission or message. For example, if you’re rebranding your company as a sustainable fashion brand, be prepared to prove you are purchasing fair-trade materials and complying with eco-friendly business practices. 

8. Not improving the customer experience is a missed opportunity.

While hiring a professional logo designer and a rebranding consultant is straightforward, don’t forget about your customers. Customers may appreciate a new color scheme and an updated website, but not improving the customer experience during the process can make the rebrand seem shallow.

Keep your customers updated about the rebranding process through email newsletters, your website and social media. In addition, consider sending out polls, gathering survey data or conducting interviews about the rebranding process with your target audience.

Continue to provide timely customer service during the rebranding process. Just because you added rebranding to your plate doesn’t mean your customer should have to wait more than 24 hours for a product or service issue.

FYIDid you know
Customer service is part of your marketing strategy, so don't ignore it during rebranding. A study by Emplifi found that it takes only two poor customer experiences for 86% of consumers to leave a brand.

9. Not proofreading can make your rebranding efforts look unprofessional.

Proofreading may be the most underrated task when rebranding. No matter what copy you write and convey, use a second set of eyes to ensure the grammar, language and humor are consistent with your rebranding.

Consider using spell-check or an online tool like Grammarly, or hiring a professional editor familiar with your industry. The last thing you want to do is harm your brand image through your content.

10. Not communicating effectively can hurt rebranding efforts.

Rebranding is a chance for companies to revisit their vision, mission, values and brand voice. While a rebranding might be noticed more for its visual changes, effectively communicating what’s different about your company can gain a significantly greater audience.

Once you’ve updated your core statements, communicate your new brand identity to your company. Then, once your team is on the same page, you can begin informing clients and stakeholders. Once the message has been tweaked and finalized through constructive feedback, relay the announcement via press releases, blog posts, social media and newsletters.

Rebranding gives your brand a second chance

A comprehensive rebranding strategy can help breathe new life into your brand, affording your business the chance to regain the market relevance, customer connections and competitiveness needed to remain successful for years to come.

Use the advice offered above to ensure that when you decide your organization is ready for a rebranding initiative, it’s done at the right time and for the right reasons.

Joe Chierotti contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.

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Julie Thompson, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Operations
With nearly two decades of experience under her belt, Julie Thompson is a seasoned B2B professional dedicated to enhancing business performance through strategic sales, marketing and operational initiatives. Her extensive portfolio boasts achievements in crafting brand standards, devising innovative marketing strategies, driving successful email campaigns and orchestrating impactful media outreach. Thompson's proficiency extends to Salesforce administration, database management and lead generation, reflecting her versatile skill set and hands-on approach to business enhancement. Through easily digestible guides, she demystifies complex topics such as SaaS technology, finance trends, HR practices and effective marketing and branding strategies. Moreover, Thompson's commitment to fostering global entrepreneurship is evident through her contributions to Kiva, an organization dedicated to supporting small businesses in underserved communities worldwide.
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