I’ve talked about what branding is and why it is so important, but what happens when your brand starts showing its age?
If your logo was developed in the infancy of the digital age or if your offerings have changed, it may be time for a rebrand. There are many reasons to consider rebranding, but before you decide to scrap everything and start from scratch, there are several questions you should ask yourself.
What story does your brand tell?
Will your brand equity be compromised?
Have you recently merged with another company?
Is there a known issue with your current brand?
Is your brand story still relevant?
1. What story does your brand tell?
Psychologically speaking, our brains are hardwired to connect in more meaningful ways when stories are told. These stories lead to understanding, trust, and even emotional investment. For example, consider this:
Stories are 22 times more memorable than facts & figures alone
Our neural activity increases 5X when listening to a story
Storytelling lights up the sensory cortex in the brain, allowing the listener to feel, hear, taste, and even smell the story
2. Will your brand equity be compromised?
You’ve spent years building a name for yourself. If done incorrectly, rebranding can cause confusion and lead to a decline in your brand equity. To avoid this, try putting a new, modern twist on your existing brand instead of going in a completely different direction.
Dunkin’ Donuts is a perfect example. Their established brand was already synonymous with donuts (with help from their well-known tagline “America Runs on Dunkin”). They also had tremendous brand equity built on quality, variety, and freshness – some of you may even remember these iconic commercials: https://youtu.be/BwSdXbkflV0. Instead of reinventing the wheel, they decided to simplify their name to Dunkin’. And they not only modernized their logo but also their packaging, store decor, and messaging across all advertising and marketing channels. The brand was still recognizable while staying true to its heritage and brand equity was kept intact.
3. Have you recently merged with another company?
As companies grow, so do their offerings, especially if you have acquired another business. If this is the case, a rebrand can help bring focus and continuity to new and old customers alike. In “Merging the Brands and Branding the Merger,” authors Richard Ettenson and Jonathan Knowles found that branding strategy was a low priority for the majority of organizations during M&A acquisitions. However, they also noted that “Failure to establish a new brand and to communicate its worth to internal and external audiences could have massive repercussions on the organization as a whole.” Based on their research, Ettenson and Knowles found four main strategies and the percentage in which they were used:
Backing the Stronger Horse (55%) – one organization adopts the visual identity of the other based on who has the stronger brand (Example: DHL with Airborne Express)
Business as Usual (24%) – both brands continue to exist independently (Proctor & Gamble is the best example)
Best of Both (13%) – the new organization combines the visual identity of both companies (Examples include Exxon with Mobil, United (with Continental Airlines), and Gannet with careerbuilder)
Different in Kind (8%) – an entirely new identity is created for the organization (Example: Charter and Time Warner Cable = Spectrum OR Bell Atlantic and GTE = Verizon)
It is important to decide during the merger which strategy will work best for both organizations involved. It is equally important not to put branding on the back burner due to a merger or acquisition.
4. Is there a known issue with your current brand?
Before jumping into the fray of rebranding, consider whether it’s really necessary. If you’re looking to change things up because sales have slowed or your marketing efforts don’t seem to be paying off, you may be in need of a new marketing strategy instead of a rebrand. However, if your brand is tarnished with a bad reputation, a refresh may be a step in the right direction. McDonald’s was in this predicament. Known as a cheap and unhealthy option already, the documentary “Super Size Me” was almost the proverbial nail in the coffin. Sales began to decline and the company had important decisions to make. They decide to put a sizeable amount of money towards rebranding; resulting in a more natural feel with earthy brand colors and the introduction of healthier options on their menu.
5. Is your brand story still relevant?
As your brand ages and evolves, your target audience can too. Your consumer’s lifestyle, values, and needs should all be revisited to see if your brand still aligns with them. A great example is Old Spice. Before their rebrand, their name evoked memories of what your grandfather might have worn in his younger years.
Wanting to break out of that mold and expand their demographic, Old Spice decided to shift focus and developed a series of commercials targeted at women, using NFL player Isaiah Mustafa, aka “the Old Spice Guy.” The brand presented itself as something modern, seductive, and alluring.
They continue to evolve their ‘Old Spice Guy’ storyline today, delivering messages that set themselves apart from every other antiperspirant in the market. Interestingly enough, they didn’t have to change their logo – this simple shift in brand story was enough to re-energize and expand their customer base.
6. Have your services or offerings changed?
Maybe you started out offering one service. Over time, your business evolved and you expanded. Or, the opposite could be true – you started off offering many services and are now specializing in one thing. Either way, this could signal the need for revisiting your brand. Let’s consider Uber. In 2016, they realized their market was growing globally. The resulting expansion of not only serving a taxi service but also delivering food and goods resulted in outgrowing their original purpose and brand.
Realizing this, Uber decided to diversify and created two different apps; one for riders and one for drivers. As such, the logos got updated fonts, patterns, and colors in order to represent the diversity of the market and countries where they operate. While the rebrand got mixed reviews, the new designs will allow for diverse yet consistent campaigns globally.
7. Are your brand assets outdated?
There is an element of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ when it comes to branding. How does your brand compare to those of your competitors? Does your creative effectively convey the right message by today’s standards? If your design assets are looking a bit ancient, it may be time for a make-over to communicate with your audience that you are, in fact, up-to-date and current.There are so many great examples of this… here are a few of my favorites:
8. Is your brand memorable in the marketplace?
On average, a consumer needs to see your brand five to seven times to remember you. If your brand isn’t conveying a stellar first impression and standing out from your competitors, you may need a rebrand. Let’s look at Apple for this one. Yes, THAT Apple. At one point, Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy, losing in its battle for market share against leading IT companies like IBM, HP, and Dell.
Steve Jobs decided to go for broke and rebrand. Instead of focusing on the quality of their products (like their competitors were already doing), he instead focused on their customers’ personality and individuality – making Apple more of a ‘consumer lifestyle’ product in the IT market. This rebrand and change in messaging and positioning saved the company and made it the multi-million dollar company it is today.
Is It Time for Your Rebrand?
Take the time to sit with these questions. Ask your colleagues. Consult with business peers.
Rebranding is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Doing it right can require a significant investment in time and resources. But don’t be scared, we’re here to help.
We’re not promising an Apple-like turnaround…but we’ll strive for it.
Part 2 of our rebranding blog outlines our process and strategy for rebranding.