In this article, we’ll talk about what rebranding entails and share our tips for a successful rebranding strategy.
What is rebranding?
Rebranding is the strategic process of updating your current brand so that it better serves your organizational objectives. It's more than just a logo redesign or a new name for your company. It's part of your marketing strategy and helps position your business for greater success in its market.
A business might choose to rebrand to appeal to a new audience segment, enter a new market, successfully merge businesses, change public perception, modernize its brand image, or align its look and feel to a new direction of travel.
And it might do this through a light brand refresh - such as updating the existing logo and modernizing the color palette - or through an extensive rebranding process that touches on every element of the organization.
What does rebranding involve?
This depends on the level of rebranding you want to undertake - a brand refresh or a full rebranding exercise.
What’s a brand refresh?
A brand refresh might be a fairly superficial exercise. We don’t mean that disrespectfully! It’s just that a brand refresh tends to be skin-deep. It typically involves just updating the visual identity of a brand - such as the logo, color palette, choice of photography, etc.
What’s a full rebrand?
A full rebranding exercise dives much deeper into your brand. And your corporate visual identity. It looks at your company’s mission and vision, values, tone of voice... possibly even your product offering, and how it aligns with your new position in the market.
Brand elements involved in rebranding
Here’s what might be in scope for a rebranding project. Note this is illustrative rather than exhaustive.
- Company name
- Brand logo design/sub-brand logos
- Color palette
- Photo/video style
- Graphic design
- Slogan/tag lines
- Vision and mission statement
- Brand positioning/positioning statement
- Brand messages
- Tone of voice
- Brand personality
- Sales and marketing materials
- Digital real estate/website etc
- Physical premises
Why rebrand your business?
There are lots of reasons a business might undertake a rebranding process - from gaining a competitive advantage to consolidating after a merger. Given the financial cost of rebranding - and potential risks - make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons!
Right reasons for rebranding
- Become more distinctive in a competitive market
- Modernize/refresh an older brand
- Better appeal to your current target audience
- Appeal to new market segments/demographics
- Following the acquisition of other brands (merger)
- Because it is part of a well-thought-out brand strategy
Wrong reasons for rebranding
- To copy a more successful competitor
- Because you’re losing money and feeling desperate
- Because your new marketing director wants to make their mark
What are the benefits of rebranding?
Rebranding can be highly beneficial to a business, especially when it is closely aligned with your overarching business strategy. To achieve the biggest benefits, remember that rebranding is a strategic process to meet specific commercial goals - more on this later!
External benefits of rebranding
A new brand can help you stand out in a competitive market by creating a brand identity that is more distinct and memorable. It can also help you align better with your audiences' interests and values - inspiring higher awareness, engagement, and brand loyalty. This all translates to bottom-line benefits in terms of customer acquisition, retention, and revenue.
Internal benefits of rebranding
However, rebranding isn't just about what your external stakeholders think about your business. A strong brand can drive change internally too. Rebranding can help your business focus on what it is ACTUALLY all about. This can lead to greater clarity over your purpose, innovation around products and service delivery, and higher job satisfaction for employees.
Tips for a successful rebrand
1. Bring in a branding consultant
Branding is a specialist area of expertise. So bringing in a brand consultant can help you successfully rebrand.
A branding consultant provides a valuable outside opinion. They're not connected to your business, they're not emotionally attached to your current brand, and they don't care about your internal politics.
As such, they can move your brand forward more easily than if you try to manage the process internally.
The consultant should drive forward the process, conducting workshops with stakeholders to understand your objectives, develop your new brand, and provide new brand guidelines at the end of the project.
2. Assess the risks of rebranding
When you rebrand your business, you do it to gain some form of commercial advantage. Whether that's distinguishing your brand from competitors or appealing to new audiences.
But there's always a risk that rebranding will have the opposite effect. You might alienate your existing audience, fail to appeal to your new target market, or lose what already makes you distinctive in the marketplace.
Is rebranding really the right thing for you, right now? Make sure you're clear on why you're doing it and that you're sure it's the best strategy for whatever business challenges you're hoping to overcome.
3. Know your rebranding goals
It's important to establish the goals of your rebranding strategy. Your goals should tie directly into your overarching business strategy. This will influence the direction and depth of your rebrand activities. Here are a couple of examples.
Rebranding example 1: Merger
Imagine you are a business that has recently acquired two other companies.
Your goals may be to:
- successfully consolidate all of the businesses into a single brand
- retain individual brand equity when you the new businesses into your parent brand
- communicate this to the market in a way that improves brand awareness and sentiment
- unify employees around a new shared identity
This is likely to require a complete brand overhaul, from vision and values, to visual identity and messaging.
Rebranding example 2: Modernization
Now imagine you're a long-established family brand that's losing market share. Your research has shown customers think your brand is old-fashioned and unappealing.
In this situation, your goals may be to:
- modernize the brand
- increase brand appeal
- regain market share
This could be achieved through a brand refresh that mostly addresses visual elements of the brand, like a new logo and packaging. You may also need to reimagine your brand values and communicate those to the market, such as a commitment to sustainability.
As you can see, these different goals will influence how you plan your rebrand, what's in scope, and how you'll measure success.
4. Conduct market research
Equipped with your strategic goals, you should conduct appropriate research to inform your rebranding strategy. Two important forms of research for rebranding are market research and competitor research.
Market research uncovers how your brand is currently perceived in the market - by existing clients and customers who use your services, people who use competitors, and people who've never even heard of you!
You can use market research to understand what people do and don't like about your brand's identity. And use it to benchmark brand awareness, so you can check again after your rebrand, to see if it has improved.
Focus groups, on-site surveys (for example, in supermarkets), and online surveys are good ways to collect audience insights.
Competitor research is helpful because it shows what others in the market are doing. Not so you can copy them. There's no point in rebranding just to be like someone else - that won't differentiate you! The purpose is to see what other brands your audience is exposed to. Understand how they position their business. Be inspired by what you like and don't like about your competitors' branding. And find your unique place and brand personality among them.
5. Consult internal stakeholders on rebranding
A rebranding process looks at your organization's past, present, and future. So it's important to engage with a wide range of stakeholders in your business - not just customers. You need to consult your internal stakeholders like staff and shareholders as well. This will help you build a 360 understanding of how your brand is perceived - the good and the bad.
- What do they think about your brand currently?
- What words do they associate with it?
- How does it make them feel?
- What do they consider the strengths and weaknesses of the business?
- What makes them proud to work there?
- What do they wish they could change?
- Who do they think is doing a great job of branding?
6. Don't lose your identity
With a rebrand, it can be very easy to completely overwrite your existing brand with your new one. While that might be desirable in some cases (for example, if you're rebranding after a PR disaster!), in other cases, it's a risky strategy.
If customers can't recognize your brand anymore, you could easily lose their custom. Imagine a biscuit brand. If you change your logo, name, and packaging design, customers won't be able to spot you on the shelves anymore. You've lost brand recognition and custom.
Fortunately, armed with market research and stakeholder insights, you'll be well-equipped to create a new brand that keeps in touch with your existing one. This way, your new brand can be an evolution rather than a revolution, maintaining consistency with your heritage and keeping customers on board.
7. Communicate the rebrand
Communication is an essential part of your rebranding strategy. For a larger enterprise, this might involve telling the press and taking out ads. For smaller businesses, it might be as simple as alerting customers via email or social media. Whatever your scale, ensure you plan a rebrand launch campaign.
Communicating the 'why' behind your rebrand can be as important as the 'what'. If you're modernizing in response to feedback, if you've realigned your values to better reflect the market, if you're rebranding because of a merger, tell people!
Get your communication team involved early so they can plan how to do this for maximum impact. And don't forget that you need to communicate the rebrand internally too...
8. Implement your new brand consistently
Once refreshed, your brand needs to be implemented consistently across every customer touchpoint, as soon as possible. Otherwise, you risk confusing the public and undermining brand recognition with inconsistencies - for example, different logos on different packaging, different look and feel between your website and your app, etc.
There are several ways to achieve this.
If possible, aim to rebrand all physical and digital assets simultaneously, before launch Create and circulate brand guidelines so all staff are aware of the updated brand and how to implement it Provide easy access to all new brand assets - such as new logos, marketing materials, imagery, fonts, etc.
How to launch and manage your new brand identity
One of the ways to ensure a successful rebrand is to give all of your stakeholders access to your new brand assets, so they can use them quickly and consistently across every touchpoint.
- Providing your sales team with an easy way to download rebranded brochures and pitch decks
- Ensuring your marketing colleagues can share and access newly commissioned brand imagery, video, and templates
- Supplying freelance designers or writers with access to your brand guidelines and tone of voice documents
You'll need to keep your new identity and brand assets embargoed until you officially launch it, and control who can access what.
A brand portal is a great way to enable this - especially in the new world of remote and hybrid work.
What is a brand portal?
A brand portal is a secure online site that provides instant access to your brand assets for approved users.
Some organizations use a Brand Asset Management platform for this (BAM). Others use a Digital Asset Management system (DAM). Whichever you choose, you'll be able to
- provide online access to new brand materials
- manage permissions, so the right people see the right
- things protect and embargo brand assets until the launch
Which is better - BAM or DAM?
The benefit of a Digital Asset Management system over a Brand Asset Management system is that DAM has more functionality than BAM.
For example, a DAM system can integrate with a Product Information Management system, Adobe design tools, publishing software, website CMS, etc, to streamline the entire marketing and content creation process.
Whilst a BAM is concerned just with access to - and use of - brand assets. [Check out our article on BAM, DAM and MAM to learn more.]