To Rebrand, or not to Rebrand? That is the question.

WITH so many avenues for stakeholders to engage with companies these days, it has never been more important to have a strong and consistent brand. Your brand is your company’s character or personality and how you communicate your brand persona to the world is of vital importance. Just like presenting yourself to someone for the first time, you always want to put your best foot forward and give people an insight into who you are and how you operate.

A brand also needs to to reflect the company’s values and mission, it will carry a promise that articulates what it can offer and how it will go about adding value to the relationship. A brands corporate identity is the visual face of the brand carrying the company logo, colours and specific visual assets that encapsulate the brand and provide its tangible representation to the public. Brands are recognised and remembered by their identities.

Every now and then, a business comes to the cross roads of deciding whether to rebrand in some form or another. Whether it be a complete brand overhaul or just an identity refresh, there are a number of reasons why you should rebrand and also some reasons why you shouldn’t. Either way, the decision is not something to be taken lightly. Whether it be evolution or revolution, the decision has a significant impact on not only your stakeholders perceptions, it also has a direct impact on your bottom line.

 

LG rebranded from ‘Lucky Goldstar’ in 1995 with a fresh new identity to better compete with western markets

 

Here are a few reasons you should look into rebranding your business:

(1) Your business has out grown your current brand and the identity is dated
Congratulations, things are going so well that you’re playing with the big boys now. To be taken seriously and stay competitive, you need a well thought out single-minded proposition, set of values, mission statement and a professionally designed identity that makes a clear and relevant link to your brand and represents it to a level that is authentic.

(2) Your market has changed and you need to reposition yourself
For whatever reason, your target audience may have shifted. It could be unforeseen circumstances like the GFC or a major innovative breakthrough that has given birth to new technology which has forced your hand to take on a new direction. You must stay relevant and must stay accessible to your market. This may mean signalling that change with a new identity.

(3) Mergers or acquisitions with other businesses
Taking on an equity partner or acquiring another business that brings a new/different product or service to the table. Your company structure and size may now be very different. How you communicate this new offering or change in structure is very important. You can’t shove everything under the same umbrella – it may not fit.

(4) Geographic changes or global expansion
Expanding into a new country or territory is daunting, exciting and generally means massive growth for your business. Moving into areas with different cultures and customs though has certain considerations. You need to research and understand if your brand is relevant or acceptable operating within these new cultures. For example; your brand name may mean something profound and important in one culture, but it may mean something totally different and potentially negative in another. Adjustments will need to be made.

(5) Negative publicity leading to impact on reputation
A project may have fallen through or mismanagement has deteriorated the brand name and identity. Once negative publicity takes off, it sticks like mud and more often than not, proves too hard to come back from. Significant damage to your identity through bad reputation forces brand change. Things need to change from the inside out. Good parts of the brand that still remain need to be carried forward and the damaged bits need to be identified, removed and replaced. In most cases, an identity refresh or some public gesture to signal change, improvement and regrowth is important.

(6) Your brand either never did, or now doesn’t accurately reflect your values and mission
You’ve got by on good service and good will. This will only get you so far as you’re probably finding that you’ve hit a brick wall with acquisition. This is because target markets don’t know who you really are, what you stand for and how to place you in the consideration mix. Your identity and brand doesn’t fit with the message you’re sending. Align your values, mission and message with a sharp and relevant identity, promote consistently, then watch those walls fall down.

Here are a some reasons to seriously think about NOT rebranding your business:

(1) Ignoring strong brand equity and making a change because you’re bored
If your identity is well recognised within your market, your customers/stakeholder feel an affinity towards it and your business is successful and growing, there really is no need to change and if you do, you risk alienating your customers and hurting your bottom line. You know the saying; “If it ain’t broke……”

(2) Changing the look to try and promote yourself as a ‘New Business’ if your core business is still the same
Changing your identity under the pretence that it makes you a new and improved company, without changing any internal operational aspects or culture will soon be revealed as superficial, superfluous and down-right shallow. Once recognised, this will negatively impact your brand.

(3) There’s no real problem to solve
The all-important design aspect to implement a change of brand and identity to help move a company forward and reconnect with stakeholders is built around problem solving. If there isn’t a problem to be solved, don’t waste your time and money.

(4) It won’t increase sales, awareness or loyalty
When contemplating a rebrand, if your forecast or approach does not reveal improvement in product or service sales, brand awareness or existing customer loyalty, you would then need to question the need for a rebrand.

(5) If you’ve made a mistake by your stakeholders and you’re trying to cover it up
Everybody stuffs up. Strong, successful brands are honest with their stakeholders and don’t cover up mistakes. Trying to gloss over issues that affect your stakeholders by making yourself look different to what you are will soon unravel big time. Once you lose the trust of your own stakeholder base, you might as well close the doors and go to the pub.

(6) The company’s inner culture is suffering through poor management
A company may have a good brand reputation but if the culture drops due to low morale, performance will almost surely drop. Customers will feel this pain and if these issues were born through mismanagement, the last thing you want to do is throw away good brand equity because of something that can be fixed internally. Both the staff collective and the Board have the power to make management changes that clean up poor performance, streamline processes, lift staff morale and can help get things back on track quickly if dealt with right away.

Whether the answer is to rebrand or to not rebrand, if you’re even contemplating the process it’s best to engage a corporate communications, brand strategy and design firm to go through your options. Most offer at least a cost-effective, no-obligation discussion to help understand where your company stands. The design firm will identify a path that acknowledges the problem and designs the solution tailor made for your company’s situation. Engaging them early in the process is key to creating strong, cohesive and consistent brand communications going forward.

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