Time for Rebranding or a Brand Refresh? Follow This Process for Success

What Is Rebranding?Before diving into the how-to discussion, we need to establish what rebranding actually is. How does a company’s goals or the level of comprehensiveness affect the brand refresh? The Oxford English Dictionary defines rebrand as a “change to the corporate image of a company or organization”. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as, “the act of changing the way that an organization, business company, or product appears to the public”.

In practice, rebranding can be as simple as refreshing a company’s logo or an adjustment to a firm’s marketing strategy, or as comprehensive as a ground-up overhaul of the corporate mission and identity.

When Rebranding a Company Is Necessary

When is rebranding a company necessary? Actually, there are quite a few situations in which some degree of rebranding may be necessary.

–New Competition

When new brands enter the industry or niche, or when existing brands expand into that space, it may be necessary to rebrand a company in order to stand out. There is also the possibility that one or more of your company’s existing competitors will fail and leave a vacuum. There is even the chance that brands in seemingly unrelated sectors may prove a concept or strategy that you must integrate before someone else does.

The point here is this – the competitive field is in a state of constant evolution. New firms open their doors. Existing ones close. Advancements and changes occur. Things are in a constant state of flux, and it is vital that your company is able to remain relevant and ahead of the curve. Otherwise, you risk falling behind. Rebranding can be an important strategy in that regard.

–New Target Audience

While you might assume that your target audience is strongly defined and pretty permanent, that’s not really the case. Consumer tastes, preferences and trends change, and they can do so seemingly overnight. You must be prepared to market to a new target audience.

A great example is the rise of Millennials and the fall of Baby Boomers. As Boomers leave the workforce through retirement, they have less of an impact on businesses. Millennials, on the other hand, are becoming more and more important for businesses in all sectors.

You could even find that you have a new target audience because consumer expectations have been shifted by competitors. When this happens, it demands at least a soft refresh of your marketing strategy in order to ensure that you are accurately targeting your new audience and that you are delivering the optimum customer experience.

–New Industry Standards

In all industries, constant innovation and evolution are natural, necessary elements of staying in business. New standards are set all the time. Think of how Apple completely changed the game for the cellular phone industry when they introduced the first iPhone. Think of how touchscreen technology has become so commonplace, or how smart devices are playing a larger and larger role in our lives.

These innovations and new standards set the pace and this also applies to your branding efforts. You must remain abreast of current best practices and marketing techniques in order to reach your audience. Any marketing or branding strategy must include video in order to stay competitive, or even relevant.

How To Rebrand Effectively and Strategically

With a better understanding of why rebranding a company is sometimes necessary, now we need to turn our attention to doing so effectively and in accordance with a larger, over-arching strategy. What should the rebranding process be based on?  Ideally, data insights which come from both quantitate and qualitative sources.  Our own agency uses the Data Matrix Appraisal to help all sizes of brands clarity for their next steps.  We have helped Fortune 500s as well as small-funded startups with this same flexible, powerful too.

–Define Your Goals: Why Do You Need a Rebrand?

The first step in a brand refresh is to define your goals. Why do you need to rebrand? What is the purpose? What are the drivers affecting your existing branding? Remember that success is defined by goals, so this always comes first. Define your goals, but also the KPIs you will use for measuring success and developing the strategy that you’ll follow.

Based on the reasons for your rebrand, like those we explored previously, determine what it is that you hope to accomplish through the rebranding. Do you want to be more relevant to your current audience? Do you need to find a way to resonate with a new audience? Are new standards affecting the landscape in your industry? How will you measure progress toward those goals and track ROI?

It’s also important to take a close look at your entire marketing strategy. Your company’s marketing efforts may be ignoring an important source of visibility and customer engagement by focusing exclusively on outbound marketing without inbound strategies.

–Determine What Elements of the Brand Need a Refresh

As mentioned, the rebranding process can vary significantly from one company to another depending on what’s driving the rebranding. The next step is to determine what elements of your brand actually need a refresh. Is it something relatively superficial, like revamping and rolling out a new logo? Or is there a more comprehensive need? Not entirely sure about your rebranding needs? Follow this checklist:

  • Determine the problems or challenges you are attempting to solve.
  • Determine if competitive changes are involved.
  • Determine if there are changes to your customer profile.
  • Determine if you have outgrown your current niche.
  • Determine if you have a compelling story for your brand.
  • Determine if you are compromising brand equity with the rebranding.
  • Determine if there is an actual need for rebranding – change for the sake of change rarely leads to positive results.
  • Determine if your rebranding coincides with other changing business principles.
  • Determine how your rebranding will affect the company in 5, 10, and 15 years.
  • Determine if your rebranding would be the direction the company would take if it was just being founded today.

–Gather and Analyze Data

Related to the previous step, but even more critical in building your strategy is this: knowing that you need to change may be obvious, but you must still conduct market research, competitive research, and marketing research, prior to deciding how to create that change.

Your rebranding decisions should be based on accurate, actionable data. You will need the right tools, resources, and methods for assessing current brand performance, and knowledge of what metrics will be employed to measure the efficacy of the rebrand. That data will also need to be shared with others and contextualized in order to be fully leveraged, as well.

–Build Your Rebranding Strategy Around Creative Collaboration

Your rebranding strategy must be built around creative collaboration. In fact, a strategy that does not employ creativity while interpreting and contextualizing data is doomed from the outset. It also defeats the purpose of the rebrand in the first place.

Understand that a rebrand is an opportunity to move focus or to integrate more focus on the customer journey. It must integrate both internal messaging and company values with your marketing message and strategy. Whether internal or outsourced, knowing how to build a marketing team that values collaboration and coordination is critical to success in both the short and long term.

–Think and Plan for the Long Term

As a final note, make sure that you’re planning for the future. Don’t shortchange yourself with limited vision and planning. Set both short- and long-term goals before launching. Revise and upgrade your strategy accordingly. You don’t want to be Radio Shack with the company’s 2009 failed rebrand to The Shack, and you don’t want to be GAP with their short-lived, six-day long logo change. Even after launch, a good brand strategy is an iterative, ongoing process.

Noble Digital Founder, Allen Martinez has created successful campaigns for some of the largest brands on the planet, including: Coca-Cola, In-Bev, Subway, Nestle, AT&T, Quest, Hilton Hotels, Burger King, Univision, Yamaha, Miller Lite, Proctor & Gamble, Heineken, Orbitz, Wrigley’s and he has applied those same principals to help growth companies like: Telesign, Plated and Fundrise, and BiohmHealth to scale and hit business goals and exit goals as well as helping mid-tiers and Fortune 500s optimize their outward facing communications for maximum performance around business goals.