Have you started this year thinking about how you’ll revitalise your corporate brand?
Perhaps you have in your sights some brand housekeeping that you didn’t attend to last year. It’s a good idea to sort out those top brand priorities and set your direction for the year ahead. It’s also wise to sweep out the brand inconsistencies that will only cause you grief. They’re a distraction you don’t need.
Or are you contemplating a full blown rebrand to address some larger brand issue? A rebrand is more than brand evolution and refinement. It’s a concerted effort to introduce or signal a significant business change and is usually triggered by a major event.
This article is Part One of a why a rebrand makes sense and Part Two next week will cover the implementation hurdles and considerations.
Compelling Triggers for a Rebrand
- A merger and acquisition. Your company amalgamates with another company and the new brand needs to reflect the merged entity as well as achieve cultural alignment.
- The existing brand vision, mission and values are no longer relevant. You need to rethink your brand strategy to better reflect your current business direction.
- Company positioning is out of step with your market. Your business is no longer relevant to the market you serve. There might be a mismatch between your offer and your customer’s wants.
- Maintain competitiveness. You haven’t given your brand serious attention for many years and now you need to take the reins to revitalise your business before you lose your competitive position.
- Out of alignment. Your brand identity doesn’t align with your brand strategy. A closer investigation is needed to uncover which one needs to change or whether they both need to be updated.
- Change in business direction. Your business needs to pivot in response to modifications to your service or product offering. A rebrand is the best way to signal a shift in focus to your market or appeal to a new market.
- New leadership team. The company has a new top team with new ideas and a new direction to implement and impart. Their strategic intent will influence the brand strategy.
- New market entry. The existing brand could be too narrow to appeal to a wider audience so changes are needed to show the company’s expansion.
In all cases the catalyst is a change of some kind. It can be internal or external. If it impacts the message and purpose of your business that’s a signal the brand needs a correction of some kind. For example, a brand strategy update doesn’t necessarily have to bring design changes to collateral but it might necessitate changes to operations, service offering and the language of the business.
Reasons Not to Rebrand
Before you think a rebrand makes sense, work through the reasons why you shouldn’t do it to make sure you’re not in danger of committing any of them.
- Mistaking a brand refresh for a rebrand – be clear on the distinction as it’s much easier to position brand evolution inside your business and get your ideas endorsed. The investment from a time, budget and effort angle will be less too. You can tweak your brand’s look and feel if you intend to keep it consistent with your existing brand strategy. Window dressing is not a wholesale rebrand effort.
- Lack of brand management – no rebrand is going to save you from having to manage the brand. This is an ongoing effort, new or old brand alike.
- Need to make a personal impact - you’re new to the business and see rebranding as a means to gain visibility and create something to show for your presence, even though the brand meaning and identity still make sense and work.
- Have budget to spend – seems like a good idea and the funds are available for spending. The real cost is your personal reputation and your budget won’t necessarily cover that.
- The business has change fatigue - this can happen due to stretched resources, disappointing sales, retrenchments, low morale or a lack of energy due to all of the above. If the business isn’t ready to embrace change it might be time to evaluate the brand’s internal and external relevance instead.
- No CEO support - proceed at your own risk. You must have the CEO’s endorsement for the exercise to be a success. When the implementation gets rough you need to know someone has your back.
- No idea how to measure the result - this is a big deal. How will you know if the rebrand was successful and be able to communicate that back to your business? The right metric will be the one that relates to what you need to do. For example, a change to your corporate values can be tested by producing examples of how this is being lived in your business and customer surveys can reveal the customer’s experience with your company.
More Rebrand Considerations
Don’t jump off the brand ledge until you know where you want to land. Strap on a hypothetical parachute and work through the considerations below. Treat them as a brand risk assessment before you’re ready to take action. The final destination could change on the way down but you need to set off with an idea in mind of where you want your brand to land.
a) Understand your current position.
Understand how your brand is positioned in the market and internally across these areas:
- Competitive picture
- Customer expectations
- Employee sentiment
- Management view
b) Keep what’s good about your current brand.
If something works, keep it. Change is only effective if it serves some purpose. Align any change with your brand focus. If it doesn’t align, the change you’re making isn’t right or not needed. This will also help you determine the scope of your rebrand and focus your investment on what matters most.
c) Determine what roadblocks exist.
The better you anticipate the roadblocks, the better you’ll prepare to face these challenges when they arise. They might also reveal how a rebrand would work in practice, be used to test your business’ readiness for it as well as the extent of change required by each business unit. Don’t underestimate the internal challenges if existing beliefs and behaviours are fixed.
d) Expected outcome.
Don’t take the brand trip without a destination in mind. Focus on the desired outcome before you start the process.
If you can successfully address each of the areas above you’ll have a clear answer to the ‘why is it needed?’ question when someone asks.
Successful Rebranding is a Team Effort
As you can see rebranding isn't for the fainthearted. It takes a commitment from the top to endorse the rebrand and then the commitment of everyone involved once you get started on the process. It's like starting a new relationship. It not only impacts your life but also the lives of your closest family and friends. In the corporate context, your family and friends are your customers, employees, management and stakeholders. Your rebrand success depends on how well you involve your corporate ‘family and friends’. Everyone has to go for the ride so it’s best if they’re prepared and active participants in the process.
The second part of this rebrand topic article will cover the implementation hurdles and considerations.