Ready to rebrand? Discover what it entails, whether it’s time for a change and which steps to follow
Small and medium-sized businesses often have differing opinions on the importance of branding.
Considering the times we are currently living through, the increasingly fierce competition and the added value a brand personality provides [link to web article on brand personality], it seems a no-brainer to invest in a brand strategy, both for the present and, most importantly, so you can look to the future with clarity.
Often, however, it is easy for companies to fall into the vicious circle of ‘we’ve always done it like this’ and so struggle to find the motivation to change direction. Other businesses, meanwhile, consider branding to be a luxury reserved solely to large companies with a lot of resources to play with.
As a result, firms often fail to invest sufficiently in shaping and then strengthening their brand, which is a real pity, as SMEs have the greatest need for good brand awareness if they are to stand out from the crowd and remain competitive. After all, your brand is what gives your business purpose and direction and clearly displays your positioning to clients, so they understand who they are dealing with and whether they can trust you (and so become loyal customers).
All businesses of any size should therefore take some time to reflect on how they are performing and take charge of their destiny. This means going on an introspective, self-critical journey to work out if, when and how a rebrand is required, so as not to be left behind in the race to win the customer relations battle.
What does rebranding mean and what is its purpose?
Basically, rebranding is a form of marketing that aims to redefine a brand’s identity.
It can involve various elements, including the logo, slogan, company values, naming, visual identity, mission, vision, target audience and the market the firm serves.
This long list of factors serves to highlight something crucial: rebranding is not just about changing your logo.
A brand actually comprises all the emotional aspects, experiences and values that make up a company, going far beyond the artwork used on the business’ communication materials.
Major brands often try to reposition themselves in consumers’ minds without changing their logo or slogan, for example by launching a new storytelling strategy or overhauling their internal structure to specialise in different areas. The fact that many small businesses mistakenly think they can solve all their problems by changing the logo is purely down to laziness: changing a logo is much simpler than rethinking the whole identity of the business.
It is important that you have a clear idea of the purpose of rebranding if you are to get the process right. The ultimate aim is to consolidate or alter the brand’s perception in the eyes of consumers. According to data gathered by the business magazine Forbes, your business has all of seven (!) seconds to make a good impression when someone encounters you. This moment marks the beginning of the customer/business relationship, and so your brand identity, in other words whatever it is that makes you unique, must be instantly apparent. Rebranding should therefore aim to change the emotional and mental associations people make when they come into contact with your brand. Only then will you have a solid base on which to forge long-term relationships and stand out from the competition.
‘How do I know when it’s time to rebrand?’
The first, by no means straightforward, step is to know when the time has come to begin the rebranding process. A company might have the best products on the market or provide an exceptional service, but it will never reach its maximum potential without a suitable branding strategy. However, the opposite is also true: rebranding when it isn’t needed will only squander resources and trigger a whole chain of problems. To decide whether or not to rebrand, you first need to analyse your current situation in depth and ask yourself a few key questions:
- Can your customers differentiate your business from your competitors? To be successful, it is important that people can distinguish your brand from all the others. An effective rebrand improves brand awareness by helping the company stand out, clarifying its positioning and building customer loyalty.
- Are you preparing for a major change in strategy? After some in-depth analysis you’ve realised that your business requires a bold change of direction, but you know your brand identity won’t provide sufficient support in this new venture. This is the ideal time to rebrand, allowing you to redefine the brand’s distinctive factors and ensure the business can communicate its new direction properly. One of the characteristics of effective rebranding is providing clarity both within and outside the business.
- Is your brand gradually losing relevance? The data you analysed highlighted that your brand’s growth has been slowing or even going backwards for some time. This could be a sign that your brand identity is not managing to engage people, and you urgently need to define a strategy to ensure you’re going in the right direction and to help you maintain relationships with your clients.
Rethinking my brand – where to start?
Once you are sure it’s time to change, the journey to a new brand identity involves five key steps:
- Who are you and where do you want to get to? Understanding your brand identity before you rejig it is extremely important for two reasons: you need to know what works and what doesn’t. Go back through the concepts set out in your mission and vision, look at your business culture, and analyse your product and all parts of your production chain, all the way through to your distribution processes. You need to analyse every single aspect, so you don’t end up changing something that already works effectively. As well as a quantitative data analysis, you should also carry out a qualitative analysis of the people involved. One of the best ways of deciding which rebranding route to take is to speak to your most loyal customers and your employees to gauge their opinions and point of view. You should also look at your market segment: how has it changed over time? What new needs does your audience have? And which are the most effective products in the sector?
- Make a checklist of the parts that need updating. After your general analysis, it’s now time to put your planned operations down on paper and to decide on your strategy. Your plan should include the things that don’t work at your business, how to solve each point and a timeline, so you have an idea of how long it will all take.
- Analyse your target market in depth. A business’ relationships with its customers are its lifeblood. Figuring out the purchasing behaviour of the people you’re targeting is important both to understand who you’re talking to and to decide whether the rebranding should include changing your target market. This doesn’t necessarily mean revolutionising your business processes to meet new needs: rebranding can also involve targeting a wider group of people.
- Turn employees into brand ambassadors. You might not think it, but employees have a crucial role to play in any rebranding strategy. Involving the people working for you in this change of direction will help enormously when it comes to promoting your updated brand, and at the same time will improve the working environment and employee satisfaction rates.
- Announce your new identity. Once you’ve ticked all of these points off, get ready to tell the world! Your social media channels, website, physical store and employees must all be ready for the changes before you set a launch date for your new identity. At this point, you may find it useful to prepare a brand storytelling strategy describing the change and explaining how the customer experience will differ from before.
Examples of rebranding: it’s not about the logo
Now let’s analyse a few real-life examples that showcase the concepts and steps described above. As well as the brands we’ll highlight here, it’s worth constantly monitoring trends in your sector and analysing your competitors, as this will give you further information to draw on when setting your strategy.
- Tupperware: before its rebranding operation, the name Tupperware only evoked the 1970s image of mothers wanting to store their food or reorganise their kitchen. The company realised that this positioning by no means fully reflected the brand’s potential, so it decided first of all to change its mission (which later became the slogan), aiming to move beyond a simple association with the containers it sold. The original brand identity, which celebrated women’s value in the world, was therefore expanded with the slogan ‘Confidence becomes you‘, a cry for freedom that guided the rest of the rebranding, first strategically and then in its graphic design. The updated and revised set of values allowed the brand to start building authentic relationships with people and partners again. Take, for example, the ‘Book of Confidence’ created to inspire, educate and empower Tupperware retailers.
- DXC Technology: in this case, the rebranding stemmed from the merger of two companies, the Computer Science Corporation and Enterprise Services. This forced them to come up with a new brand identity that could support the firm’s new aims and the new customer experience. In particular, the new business wanted to position itself as a leader in helping organisations all over the world deal with the digital transformation. The guiding slogan they adopted was ‘Thrive on Change‘, a promise the company immediately communicated through simple yet authoritative and self-confident marketing.
- 1-800-Flowers: this company began life as a small florist, but its constant, forward-thinking investments in e-commerce turned it into one of the biggest brands in the sector. The turning point, however, came when its founder, Jim McCann, dreamed up an ingenious rebranding idea to support the business’ growth. When the company added a freephone number to improve its customer service, the founder decided to change the firm’s name to make it easier for people to remember, an extremely useful strategy for a local shop. This brainwave helped McCann lay the foundations of his empire, and shows that often rebranding does not require major investment, but simply an excellent understanding of the context and an idea that supports the business’ growth.