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

By Joseph Chierotti
Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Thinking of rebranding your business? Here's how to know when it's time to rebrand and an intro on how to start.

Change, some say, is the one constant in the universe.

While this may or may not be true, it would be hard to argue the opposite when speaking of the business community; an area where constant fluctuation is an important, if not essential component, of building a compelling brand identity, keeping oneself relevant to the consumer and maintaining long-term success.

A New Look...

At the heart of this idea is rebranding, a marketing strategy even the most successful of companies must consider from time to time if they hope to remain competitive.

A strategy designed to create a new identity in the minds of one’s customers, competitors, investors and others, rebranding generally includes an overhaul of such things as the organization’s name, logo, symbol, associated images and more; an effort to reposition oneself in the marketplace and in the eyes of the public.

No matter what connections your customers may make when thinking about your brand, or how well-established your brand may be, the chances are good you’ll need to rethink your brand’s identity, image and approach at some point in the life of your company.

Related Article:The Name Game: Strategies for Naming a Company and Picking a Website

How Often Do Companies Rebrand?

Apple, for instance, has undergone three major 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, Old Spice and more.

As it turns out, even the most established and best known of brand names face the need for change from time to time. So why, exactly, would a company, even a household name, consider making such a large transformation to their image? 

Why Businesses Rebrand

Rebranding is an exhausting process; so why would a company want to rebrand itself? Below are a few common reasons why companies might choose to initiate a rebranding campaign.

1. Loss of Relevancy

Consumer behavior is always evolving, and those that fail to evolve with that behavior may one day discover their brand relevance has slipped away. A given company may find itself no longer the topic of conversation it once was, or struggling to retain the prominent brand position it once held 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.

2. Change in Leadership 

With a change in company leadership often comes a change in philosophy and approach, one that warrants the need for an image overhaul that best aligns with those new values. A thorough rebrand, from name and logo change to adjustments in employee training and focus, is often an integral part of a shift in leadership. If your business has recently changed hands, rebranding is likely to follow.

3. Expansion/Growth

A company that had originally planned to do “A,” but is now doing “A and B,” is probably due for a rebrand. Growth and expansion of one’s business often results from or creates the need for focus on something other than the original concept, necessitating a change in outreach that best reflects that evolution. Should you find your company performing a bit beyond your original intent or scope, a rebranding strategy may be in order.

4. New Market Outreach

If you’ve decided to test your product out in a new market, whether that be a new type of client base, a new country, and so on, 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 to ignite the appeal your company needs to extend its reach.

5. Reputation Management 

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

Other Reasons for Rebranding

What’s listed above are perhaps the more common reasons for company rebranding, though a fairly large variety of motivations can help to trigger the need for a new beginning. Maybe your current brand is a bit dated or amateurish; or perhaps you aren’t attracting the type of customer that you intended to target with your initial branding efforts.

Related Article:Logo Remixes: Are These Big Brand Logo Changes Hits or Misses?

I Think I’m Ready to Start Rebranding. What Do I Do First?

Making the decision to rebrand your company is serious business, something that should be heavily weighed, studied and vetted beforehand. If you’re looking to rejuvenate your image and pump new life into your brand, it’s important to be careful from the very beginning. Here’s what you’ll want to do to get started.

1. Map Out Your New Image

Start by determining the values you want your company to stand for. Consult with employees on ways they believe would best deliver on the values and expectations you want your new brand to strive towards. Build a set of promises you can build and deliver on a daily basis.

2. Research Your Customers

Use any record of customer interaction your company has to figure out what customers feel about and expect from your brand, your products and your industry. This will help you better determine how difficult it will be to meet the challenges your new brand will create.

3. Identify What’s Broken 

Setting your company down the rebranding path first requires a hard look at how exactly your brand has been failing. It’s hard to fix something if you don’t know what’s wrong with it.

Likewise, without the knowledge of what’s gone wrong or why the brand has failed to attract new customers, it will be difficult to create the new brand image that will actually address and corrects it.

4. Build Your Brand's Narrative

Set out to develop a compelling, memorable story to support your brand; a story both your customers and your employees can get believe in and get behind.

5. Maintain Consistency/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/can be proud of, keep that same message consistent in all outreach efforts. Be tenacious with your idea, and resist the urge to revert back to the old.

Related Article:The New You: 5 Golden Rules for Successfully Rebranding Your Business

Concluding Remarks

A comprehensive rebranding strategy can help breathe new life into your brand, affording your business the chance to regain the market relevance, connection with customers 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.

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