rebranding time

Why and How to Rebrand Your Business – Or Not

July 15, 2015 Stacy Adams

– So you’re wondering how to go about rebranding your business?

– Are you feeling a little apprehensive about whether or not you should go ahead with it?

Well, it is definitely a tricky decision, possibly trickier than the first time you went about branding your business.

The first time, you have the horizon to yourself because you are starting from scratch. But when you’re rebranding, it’s a lot more complicated and there’s a lot more involved than your personal aesthetics or wishes. Nevertheless, the decision to rebrand is a strategically important one that’ll define the future of your business. You surely don’t want to take a chance with that, do you?

There have been some spectacular rebranding failures in the past. The most prominent one was that of Gap Inc., one of the most famous American clothing brands.

rebranding GAP

Gap’s previous brand mark had served them for over 20 years and had an intense sentimental value for their customers. The company decided to let it go overnight. The change was sudden and unexpected – and unwelcomed. They had to revert to their original logo within one week due to the amount of public criticism they received.

Needless to say, if you’re rebranding your business for the wrong reasons or you’re not doing it the right way, you’re more likely to face what Gap did. Like the wise people say, “The customer is always right”.

It is usually those who have spent considerable time trusting and purchasing from your brand who’ll be most affected by your decision. They’re loyal to you because you’re providing value consistently. It’s natural for them to react negatively to change, particularly if it is thrust upon them suddenly and for no good reason. It violates the brand promise and hence breaks their trust.

So if you’re trying to decide whether to rebrand your business or not, be smart about it. Here’s what you should ask yourself before you move ahead with your decision to rebrand. Answering these questions will help you calm those nerves and make a logical and factual decision.
 

3 Important Things to Ask Before Rebranding

 
Don’t forget to ask yourself:
 
1. Do You Really Need It?
 
Are you sure you absolutely need it? Or is it simply because you’re tired of looking at the same logo everywhere you look?

It can be a little overwhelming to see the company logo on the office doors, welcome desk, stationery items, business cards, t-shirts, and even on your coffee cup. It might push you to think your brand mark has aged quickly and hence needs a change. But is it really so?
 
rebranding process
 
Make sure you have a really good reason to rebrand your business. It takes a lot of investment in terms of time, effort and resources to get through with it. If you’re doing it simply to kill time or because it has been so and so years since the last rebranding routine, stop for a moment and think again. You probably don’t need it.

Save yourself the time and trial of taking your business through a rebranding routine for no reason. Because when you get to the other side, you’ll realize you’ve spent millions and it does nothing to boost your bottom line.

On the other hand, if you do have a viable reason to rebrand and you really think you should go ahead with it, by all means you should. Draft out your plan and smooth out the wrinkles. It won’t be easy but it will be totally worth it.
 
2. Does It Increase Value?
 
Rebranding efforts that aim to increase the value being offered to customers are better received than the ones which simply make the change. When you change, people expect you to get better. Under delivering on these expectations can damage your brand severely.

Radio Shack provides a classic example of how this happens.
 
rebranding radio shack

They rebranded back in 2009 in order to become more relevant and “hip” so they could attract the younger audience. However, they did nothing to upsize other brand offerings. Their product ranges and customer services remained a source of discontent. The result; it failed. And there’s news that they are pursuing another rebranding routine to rectify the errors with the previous one.

This says a lot about balancing your value proposition, particularly when you rebrand. Your loyal customers consider your brand great as it is. If you’re going to take that away from them, make sure you give them something better instead. They won’t settle for anything less in any case.
 
3. Do You Have the Budget?
 
Rebrand costs a lot. And when I say a lot, I really mean it. It is not just about hiring a graphic design agency and tweaking your logo; it is about communicating the change far and wide so that your customers know it is still you.

Briefly put, you’ll need to get a new set of marketing materials (stationery items, business cards etc), build advertisement campaigns, invest in public relations, reinvent your space (where you interact with your customers), and be loud about the change.

Just to give you an idea; Gap’s rebranding effort cost them $100 million (which was eventually wasted), Pepsi spent $1.2 billion on rebranding its logo (which in itself cost them about $1 million), and RadioShack shut about 1,100 stores across the region in 2014 to rebrand again.

Admittedly these are large companies with nation-wide and/or global operations and revenues that allow them to invest such a hefty sum in rebranding. SMEs are no exception to it though. Even if you’re running a small or medium sized business, you’ll need to spend considerably on communicating the change. So if you’re struggling to make ends meet, rebranding should probably not be your number one concern (unless it is proven essential).

So what do you think now? Still planning to rebrand your business? If you are, the next section till tell you how to minimize the consequences and maximize the gains along the way.

Deciding whether to rebrand or not is a big business decision which should not be taken in isolation. In addition to this, you need to take into account several factors and possibilities in order to execute a successful rebranding routine.

Primarily, there are two parts to it; doing it for the right reasons and doing it the right way. If you’ve already identified your right reasons, here’s what you need to do.
 

8 Steps to Successful Rebranding

 
These eight steps may not be the secret potion of sure rebranding success but they’ll get you started on the right note. And when it comes to rebranding, making the right start goes a long way in making the process truly rewarding.
 
1. Determine What You Have
 
rebranding what you have
 
In other words, conduct a brand audit.

It is important to know what you have before you try to change (or fix) anything. Understand your market outreach, your customers, your competitors, your unique selling proposition, your potential target audience, demographic changes, the evolution of your industry and everything else that defines your business. A complete understanding of the environment and your business is essential to rebrand successfully.

Also, understand your financial and human resource limitations. “There’s no such thing as free lunch” and “you can’t be the master of all”. An understanding of these limitations will help you plan the rebranding process constructively.
 
2. Determine What You Can Have
 
rebranding success

If you have apples, you can possibly make an apple pie or squeeze some apple juice. But you can’t use it to make an orange cake!

While rebranding may feel like establishing a new brand altogether, it is actually more about reinventing the old one. There’s a limit to what you can extend it into or how you can evolve your brand identity to be relevant to your existing and potential target market at the same time. If you’re moving too far away from your roots, you might end up losing your old identity (and hence your loyal customers) altogether.

You can’t be everything to everyone. That’s the perfect recipe of disaster for your business. Once you’ve identified what you have, figure out how far you can move without damaging your existing brand equity. The best way is to ask your customers how they’d like to see the brand evolve.

Ask them to use nouns and adjectives to describe your brand’s personality and characteristics. Try to incorporate these into your rebranded message. It pays to have consumers’ contributions in the rebranding process; they’re the ones who will make it a success in the end.
 
3. Get People On Board
 
rebranding for whom
 
I think I’ve already covered this a little with the last point but I feel it is important to reiterate – the more people you have on board while rebranding your business, the lesser the chances for a massive upheaval.

This includes your employees, the management (or the C-suite) of your organization, your customers, any intermediaries involved in transferring value from your office to the final consumer (like retailers, agencies etc), your stakeholders and everyone else who is directly or indirectly involved with your business.

Discuss your plans to rebrand and get them on board. Even if they are unable to provide any constructive input for your rebranding project, they will still feel valued and hence spread a positive word of mouth about your brand. How bad could positive marketing be for your rebranding process?
 
4. Test and Research
 
rebranding test
 
One can never truly encompass the value of market research. It gives you a factual impression about your customers, what they like, what they don’t like, and what is the best possible way to reach out to them. It’ll help you make safer choices while rebranding your business.

There is no one way to go about rebranding your business. You have a wide array of options about what your new identity can be. Testing and research will help you pick the most appealing one which will instantly resonate with your audience.

While you go about rebranding your business, you need to make sure there’s little, if any, discomfort to your customers. It helps you silence upheaval before it rises.
 
5. Craft a Unique Identity
 
craft a identity
 
This is the part where you head out to hire a graphic design agency, tell them your motives, and let them craft a unique brand identity for your business. A professional graphic design agency will be keen to hear before proposing solutions. Let them understand the scope of your business so your new identity does justice to everything you do.

Designing a new logo for your business may seem like a trivial task but it takes more than just design aesthetics to craft the right identity. Your logo represents you, your business, your mission, and everything that it stands for in just a glimpse. If you’re not using the design psychology correctly, you might end up with a design that somehow turns your customers away. It is therefore a better idea to invest in a professional design agency to get the right design for your brand identity.

And while you’re at it, make sure you get your marketing materials and advertising content designed by the professionals as well. It’ll save you time and money to get it done from one agency. You wouldn’t have to explain your business to several people – one design agency should be able to handle it all.
 
6. Communicate, Communicate and Communicate Some More
 
rebranding research
 
Communication is the key to successful rebranding and it forms a major part of the whole process. You will need to invest heavily in announcing the change to make sure each and every customer knows about it. It’ll not only help you retain your existing set of customers but also enable you to attract new ones.

If you own an online business, it might be simpler and easier (and cheaper) to get the change registered. But if you operate out of a brick-and-mortar office and serve masses (as in the case of shopping stores), you might need to turn towards traditional forms of advertising to publicize the deal.

When you are done with the first round of informative advertising, indulge in reminder advertising to let the message sink in. People these days have extremely short attention spans and brief memories. You need to remind them about your presence and services time and again to help them remember it.
 
7. Handle Grievances Proactively
 
rebranding measures
 
You can’t please everybody.

Even if you take maximum people on board and use the most recent research results to rebrand your identity, there will still be a few who would love to complain about each and every minute problem most others would gratefully overlook because these simply don’t matter. They’re the people who feel wronged because their opinion wasn’t asked for.

And while there’s little you can do to eliminate that feeling, you need to set up a customer facilitation system that enables them to vent out their anger and be comforted by your company representatives. Handling grievances proactively limits negative talk and helps you regain your customers’ trust. This will make sure your rebranding routine stays on track and that your customers will eventually be able to accept it.
 
8. Stay Committed
 
rebranding yourself
 
It gets bitter before it gets better. During the first few days of your rebranding routine, you might come across endless criticism and unexpected problems. It is perfectly alright. It was never meant to be a smooth road. Be prepared for a bumpy ride well in advance so you have fewer things that discourage your progress.

Stay committed to your goals. Keep an eye on your milestones. Measure progress and make sure it is in line with your projected targets. Make the best use of your time and resources to get through with the rebranding phase. Success is just around the corner!
 

To Sum It All

 
It isn’t easy and success isn’t guaranteed, but when you head out to rebrand your business, make sure you’re not alone. It is a big decision – one that has a far-reaching impact on the future of your business. Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and in the right manner. The rest will automatically fall into place.

Good luck!

Photo Credits: Flickr, Wikimedia, Marketplace, and Deviantart

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