There are many reasons companies need to rebrand, and identifying when it’s time to change your image is vital to your long-term success
Is there a right time to rebrand? That depends on why you need to do it. Some organisations need a quick way to disconnect from bad publicity, while others just need to update their image. What matters most is not the reason, but the timing.
Your brand should communicate with your customers. They connect with your image, the colours you use, the logo, the font – but mostly they connect with the message you send. If you have developed strong brand awareness, you have understood how to use your brand to connect with your customers, invite them to be part of your brand and help you spread your message. It is seen as a token of trust and loyalty between you and your customers.
However, sometimes things change. Rebranding might be based on:
- Outdated values and the need to align with new attitudes.
- Expansion opportunities that require a more global brand
- The need to differentiate yourself from the competition.
- The need to disassociate your brand from bad press, bad partners or just bad sentiment.
Certain colors, fonts and images can date a brand. However, a quick update can give your company a makeover that doesn’t require an entire relaunch.
Simple makeovers, like a logo update, do need to be well considered. While some brands have managed to tweak their look at pulling it off, others have failed miserably!
In 2010, US apparel store Gap decided to change its logo as sales declined. Rather than addressing the reasons for sales declines, such as product lines people were not interested in and quality-to-cost ratios, they just changed the logo.
This change disconcerted customers who expected that the change would invite other updates, such as its tired clothing lines and poor-quality products sold over price. This did not happen, and customers were left confused and angry over the continued disappointment that the brand was not delivering on its long-held promises.
When you have the opportunity to expand or target a new market it’s important that your new prospect can connect with your brand too.
Guinness is sold around the world, however, it has a long history of rebranding.
The product has changed very little (in some countries a powdered product is shipped to a distillery for manufacture into the final product, so the water used affects the taste), and many travellers worldwide will enter a bar that displays the logo for that very reason – you know what you are getting, and that brings comfort.
The price of a pint varies around the world because of taxes that countries place on alcohol sales, but because the brand is associated with quality and consistency of product, people are willing to make the purchase regardless.
A generic logo will ensure that your brand is ignored. While you might want a minimalist style and simple two-color palette, sometimes you have to develop a reputation before you can own that simplicity.
The whole point of your brand is to communicate your identity- to tell people what is different about your brand, your business, your message. To do that, sometimes you have to be willing to dig deeper and allow your brand to speak for itself.
Gucci or Chanel
The two fashion houses have interlocking letters that form a circle as their staple logo. The Chanel logo was designed in 1925 by Gabrielle Channel, while the Gucci logo was not designed until 1933.
Both logos represent the prestige and luxury associated with the respective brands. However, both fashion houses use variations of their iconic monograms at different times. Perhaps the fact that the two fashion houses represent such extreme ends of luxury fashion and couture ensure that the two brands are not confused by consumers?
While Chanel stands for simplicity, elegance and timeless beauty, Gucci is bold, daring and artistic. Both fashion houses produce luxury of the highest quality but represent opposing ends of the spectrum.
A Bad Reputation
Sometimes a company is pulled into a mess that they had no intents of being part of, and other times they are willing participants in the destruction of their competitors, either way, bad press can follow, building resentment and tensions for potential customers.
One such company, Uber, was started with good intentions, then revealed itself as a toxic company, then managed to turn it all around to become a verb!
In 2017, Uber faced numerous international scandals including claims of sexual harassment, a toxic corporate culture, multiple senior executives resignations as well as pressure from local governments and authorities to answer questions over regulations.
So, in a campaign to keep the company alive, they hired a new CEO, turned a spotlight on passenger safety, and launched a new brand identity.
The new brand was selected to represent the businesses new core value of passenger safety and included a simplified logo, an updated color palette, new typeface, and an improved in-app experience.
6 Rebrand Tips
- Understanding your mission and values. You need to know what you want to say about your company, and who you want to share that with before you consider rebranding. A change of logo needs to be of value for you and the customers, such as a change of product, values or price point, otherwise, it is a confusing gesture.
- Develop a rebranding strategy that works with your existing branding. You need to work with the positive sentiment that you already have. Try not to change your values or core message too often. Customers like stability and consistency. However, you can tweak it to sound more modern and in line with current values and trends.
- Know your competition. You need to know where you stand before you rebrand. If yours is the most well-known brand in the marketplace, you should consider why you would want to change your image, what values would this have? If it is to distinguish yourself, you also need to consider its timeliness. Do not change simply because you are tired of the brand, make sure you understand the values it holds.
- Collaborate with your team. Your brand may be one of your most important company assets. The people who work for you often also identify with your brand as much as customers do. Ask them what they think of the brand, if it needs updating and why it is so important to them too.
- Manage the rebrand carefully. Your rebrand should follow a carefully crafted strategy that includes media releases, interviews, placement timelines and feedback responses. While you might have researched and invested to ensure that your rebrand is on point, it isn’t until it happens that you will know if it has been well received.
- Tell the world. You need to organise a launch for your rebrand. It cannot be successful if you don’t tell people and invite them to talk about it! Send press releases, build up the hype and do a dramatic launch to surprise your audience, just be sure to include the substance that underpins the reason for your rebrand, or you might flop.
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