Issue 53

Rebranding: Knowing When It’s Time

When you consider all the points of engagement that carry your brand identity, and the cost associated with redesigning all of them, the idea of making the investment to redesign everything from your brand’s logo and visual identity to creating the necessary brand guidelines to enable consistent expression may seem like a monumental task. Additionally, you may suspect that a new brand name would serve you better, but you aren’t sure. Will it help you stand apart from the competition and help increase brand recognition? These are big, important questions that can affect the trajectory of your business — positively or negatively. To help you decide whether now is the right time to rebrand, or if it would be better to wait, we‘re sharing a few learnings from our consulting gigs over the years.

Creating a new brand image or updating an aging brand identity is often just the right move that helps improve the perception of your brand and increase relevance and brand recognition with your target audience. It helps you stand apart, positions you as a leader and can even open doors to new markets and new business opportunities.

So, how do you know when it’s time? While there are no guarantees in life, here are six solid reasons to move ahead with a rebrand:

1) You want to signal change.

If you have a new CEO or other new leader that’s reshaping the organization and company‘s mission, there is no bigger way to communicate change than to rebrand your organization. Perhaps you still have the same leadership team, but the company’s capabilities have expanded. Or, maybe you’ve made a strategic change in how you do business. These are all reasons to signal change — and the degree of change within the organization can be reflected in the magnitude of your rebranding strategy. Will you undertake a repositioning effort, incorporating a new logo and brand identity, or simply create a new visual identity using your existing logo and a new font and refreshed color palette?

2) Your brand identity no longer reflects your product offerings or value proposition

A series of seismic shifts or incremental changes over the years may have made your current brand identity outdated — you may have thought it was just the color palette, or the logo design that felt dated. Perhaps a recent acquisition is complicating your brand architecture or your company culture is in flux making your current brand values and existing brand identity feel a bit off. Maybe you’ve reached “adult” status in your organization’s lifecycle; you’re no longer the new kid on the block. Any of these scenarios can happen at one time or another over the life of a brand, prompting the need to assess how well your current brand identity is serving the organization. If it isn’t working hard for you, it’s a good time to consider a rebrand.

3) You want to revitalize your brand image.

You may be successful, yet you feel your brand identity could say or do more to differentiate you and increase brand awareness. Maybe your brand is so well known that it’s reached iconic status. Apple, Nike, Target and Starbucks use only a symbol, no words. Your identity may have been designed before you realized how large your business would be, which markets you might enter, or what products or services you could offer. If this is the case, a thorough brand audit and strategic planning initiative will help you envision the best evolution of your brand.

On the flip side, you may already know that you need a name change and/or a complete overhaul of your brand, including everything from an updated company mission, new brand strategy, new name, new logo, and brand identity to a tagline, key message platform and website.

4) Your competitors are repositioning their brands, making yours appear dated, or worse…forgotten.

If everyone else has donned a new suit to land the job, you may look a bit dated in yesterday’s threads. If the competition is speaking loudly and you aren’t, you might appear to be hiding in the wings. Audit the competitive landscape and don’t be afraid to rebrand your business and develop a new brand identity to increase relevance and differentiation.

5) You are expanding geographically.

Companies expanding their markets on a national or global scale usually need to adapt their messaging and brand identity to address a multicultural customer base and appeal to new demographics. As mentioned in previous identityWise® issues, it is critical to be culturally astute and giving your brand a makeover is one way to encourage that.

6) New media channels are forcing you to play in spaces where your current brand identity is too complex or appears weak.

Expressing your brand in the ever-expanding spaces of social media, VR and other digital platforms requires flexibility and elasticity that your current brand identity may not have. Yesterday’s marketing materials are largely digital today, and your marketing strategy has no doubt adapted. You may need to use more relevant imagery, a color palette that enables ADA compliance, more visual elements, or even sound and animation to add personality and aid in brand recognition. Any one of these may be the catalyst to rebrand your business.

Beyond the six reasons above, In our many years of experience working with Fortune 1000s as well as smaller organizations, we’ve learned that you will be most successful at redesigning your brand identity if:

  • Senior leadership is engaged in the rebranding process and committed to making it a strategic priority.
  • A brand audit validates the need and you obtain stakeholder feedback along the way.
  • Appropriate funding has been secured for the rebranding project and resources are dedicated to it.
  • You ensure that a clearly defined brand strategy and a well-articulated brand story are part of your rebranding initiative.

Also, you will gain buy-in from senior management — and boost their confidence in the investment — if you involve them initially in the examination of where you are, and throughout the entire rebranding process. Then celebrate the publicly refreshed identity and make the leadership team your greatest group of brand ambassadors!

Revitalizing your brand identity can be just the jolt of creativity and inspiration needed to take your organization to the next level. One thing we can say for certain, is that when a rebrand is well-executed, those who forge ahead are glad they did when they have a successful rebrand returning big dividends after it’s launched.

About the author

Deb Fiorella is Principal & Strategy Director at Franke+Fiorella

Contact Deb

About identityWise

Strategic and discerning, identityWise® shares our perspectives on branding. We explore the brand issues that matter to you. From positioning and brand management to identity design. Actionable insight awaits.

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About the author

Deb Fiorella is Principal & Strategy Director at Franke+Fiorella

Contact Deb