Knowing when the time is right for a rebrand
By Dominic Cooper On March 2, 2017 - Branding & Graphic Design
When is it time for a rebrand? Every business and marketplace is different so there is no simple answer. However, rebranding is a common strategy used by companies of all sizes to effect some kind of a change, whether that is to revitalise sales, realign company values or relocate to a different part of the country – or a different country altogether.
We look at some of the common reasons why businesses rebrand, the difference between a partial rebrand and a full one and how to go about rebranding so that you and your customers enjoy a smooth transition.
Did you make a mistake with your original brand?
Many startups make mistakes with branding in the set up stage and this can haunt them further down the line if they don’t nip the problem in the bud and rebrand early on. Some of the most glaring branding mistakes come about through sheer lack of experience. Like choosing a logo with 16 different colours, a brand name that has nothing to do with your business (unless you founded Carphone Warehouse of course) or a tagline that turned into an unintended pun (‘Nothing Sucks Like an Electrolux,’ etc.)
“Many startups make mistakes with branding in the set up stage and this can haunt them further down the line… Some of the most glaring branding mistakes come about through sheer lack of experience.”
Some businesses start up with a certain ethos (e.g. locally-sourced ingredients or high quality production) and then realise that they can’t actually fulfil their brand promises. A quick, early rebrand can solve these problems before they become crises.
Has your old brand has gone stale?
Every brand has a shelf-life and though some brands seem to just surge on indefinitely, others are more quickly outgrown. A more careful look at the more established brands (Coca-Cola, Ford, Vu Online, etc.) will usually highlight numerous partial rebrands over time (we will look at partial rebrands later on in this article).
Symptoms of a stale brand may be a lack of vitality amongst employees and a corresponding dwindling of interest from customers. The steadfast support from loyal customers may remain but there is a dearth of fresh ideas and new customers seem to be attracted elsewhere. Injecting new life into a fading brand can create a whole new lease of life for a struggling business.
Are you are targeting a different demographic?
There are many reasons why you might decide to target a new demographic. Perhaps you have spotted an opportunity to make more profit by selling less units to a more discerning client or, conversely, to target bulk sales by appealing to anybody with a wallet. Another common reason to rebrand is when a business is looking at overseas markets. Rebranding also enables a business to break negative associations with certain controversial social groups. Burberry are an excellent example of how that strategy can work in reality.
Has your business changed or grown substantially?
A brand encompasses a business’s values and unique character but what happens when values are updated or a more sophisticated character emerges. Here at Vu Online, we experienced that shift in brand identity. We felt that our brand was no longer representing the new direction in which we were evolving in the conversations we were having with our clients. As a result, we decided to rebrand our website and other visual aspects of our brand to more accurately reflect our current values.
When a business reaches a certain size, it is often necessary to take some hard decisions about goals, values and mission statement. This is often the catalyst for a complete rebrand.
Is your market evolving rapidly?
Markets are evolving constantly so the potential for a rebrand should be reviewed periodically (just not every third Tuesday). Being aware of what’s on the horizon for a business sector is important because it makes it easier to proactively rebrand so that a company can be perceived as being ‘ahead of the curve’ when the anticipated changes occur. It also minimises the risk of multiple short-term rebranding exercises, particularly in a rapidly changing marketplace like the IT industry.
Has a new competitor stolen market share?
There are two main ways in which a the arrival of a new competitor can make rebranding a good idea. Firstly, if the new business is very similar to yours, it can dilute your brand identity and, with the benefit of novelty, can sway customers to give them a try. Rebranding in this instance will give you the opportunity to revitalise your image while creating some clear points of distinction. This list, from Bethany Sheppard on Hubspot, details 12 companies who took differentiation to another level.
The second situation is when a new business comes in with a whole new approach to serving your industry (don’t you just love that?). For example, many new businesses are now making full use of social media and mobile technology to provide customers with a more flexible, convenient service. Rebranding in this case will enable you to cherry pick the best new features and processes and integrate them into your existing brand.
Two types of rebranding
There are two main types of rebranding and each will have a very different impact on your business. A partial rebrand can be thought of as pruning a plant or giving a house a lick of paint. The main purpose of a partial rebrand is to update your image to ensure it remains relevant and might include changes in logo colour, layout and typeface and replacing signage, vehicle liveries, uniforms and web design and functionality (e.g. making your website mobile friendly and responsive). A partial rebrand is unlikely to turn existing customers away and should give your company image a boost providing the changes are promoted successfully.
A full rebrand, on the other hand, will be necessary if you want to target a new demographic or if your business or the marketplace have experienced significant changes. Using the previous analogy, a full rebrand is similar to transplanting a plant or renovating a house. In fact, it is often best to think of it as starting a whole new business. As such, a full rebrand is something that should be considered very carefully since it will undoubtedly disrupt your business operations and it may take some time to regain any lost momentum built up by the pre-existing brand. Even a partial rebrand requires careful thought and planning though due to the costs involved and the potential for minor disruption. Never rebrand on a whim.
The rebranding process
If you have decided that a rebrand may be the best way forward for your business at this time then it is time to set the wheels in motion:
Set up a series of planning meetings with the purpose of precisely defining why you are rebranding, whether you need a partial or a full rebrand and which people and departments need to be involved in implementing the changes.
Draw up a detailed rebranding schedule with specific timeframes and action points. Take as much time as you can over this stage and anticipate any challenges you will need to overcome. For example, if you run a business providing summer holiday activities don’t plan your mammoth website update right in the last week of term!
Communicate your brand rollout to your existing and future customers. To minimise disruption and build excitement for your rebrand, create a brand launch strategy. Consider including some launch day promotional offers to make your business extra appealing.
Rebranding is such an important part of your business success that it should never be left to chance. Vu Online can give you professional assistance with all aspects of your rebrand so you, like us, can stay relevant in a fast-changing marketplace.