What happens when you love your branding but it’s passing your audience by? Maybe you’ve been successful for a long time and times have changed. You need a new approach and it’s time to rebrand your business to show the world that you’re still up-to-date with the times.
There are lots of reasons why companies rebrand, but not all of them are good. Rebranding has benefits and pitfalls. CONCURED is undergoing a rebranding effort at the time this piece is published, so we thought it would be good to talk about some of the benefits and pitfalls to rebranding your business.
Before we can talk about the pros and cons of rebranding, we need to answer the question of why a brand might need to rebrand in the first place. Several reasons could signal it’s time to think about rebranding. Here are the major ones.
Over time, the people in a market change. That’s just part of life. But each new generation brings in a new set of perceptions towards your brand. This change can make your current brand seem outdated to new eyes. You can start losing market share because your old messaging, though good, doesn’t connect with the newer audience.
These shifts don’t have to be generational either. Anything that causes a big shift in the market’s perception of your brand can be a signal to start rebranding. For instance, you might have had something negative happen that affected the reputation of your brand. A rebranding campaign can show to the public that there’s “new management”, so to speak, and to give you another chance.
Your competition can be another reason to change your branding. If a new brand comes in and starts drawing off a lot of your market share, it could be because their marketing connects more powerfully with the audience.
There could also be a major shift in your industry. Your branding might promote one way of doing things, but then a new technology comes along and makes your methods seem old hat. A rebranding effort can show that you’re working to stay relevant.
The third reason is that your company has changed so much that its current branding no longer describes what you do. For instance, you may have grown or shrunk significantly. You might have pivoted on your USP or developed a new flagship product. Or it could simply be that you’ve decided to run your company differently. If your branding doesn’t reflect your new direction, that’s also a sign of the need for a rebranding effort.
How does rebranding fix these problems? Here are some benefits that can come from a rebranding effort.
When you get to the heart of the matter, a brand is a story that you tell others about your company through words and pictures. Branding creates a feeling in the viewer that, done well, identifies you as a unique business and adds a set of connotations about your business.
The popularity of a story rises and falls as the audience changes. Rebranding gives your business the chance to tell a new story to your audience. Done well, it shows you’ve changed for the better and that the audience should come and see what has changed. Thus, rebranding can make you relevant again to the market.
A rebrand can also send a signal to your competition that you’re not going to take their presence in the market lying down. It’s doubtful that a rebranding will knock them out, but it does tell them that you’re working to stay relevant.
Rebranding efforts don’t have to target your current audience. If you find that there is a hidden audience interested in your product or service, a rebranding effort can be done to pull this audience out into the open.
Old Spice is a good example. For decades the brand targeted older men, but market research discovered that 60% of the people buying their product were women. So, in 2010, they came up with the “Smell Like A Man, Man” set of commercials and did a partial rebrand to target this demographic. They quadrupled their sales without changing a thing about their product.
Sometimes a company gets so big or has so many product offerings that they need a rebranding to reduce confusion in the marketplace. Google is a good example of this.
Google rebranded itself as Alphabet in 2015. Why would a brand with such name recognition need a rebranding? Google wanted to expand beyond search and advertising into new areas. Doing that under the Google brand would have diluted the brand. So they made Alphabet as an overarching entity and put Google underneath it. That kept Google’s brand intact while the rest of Alphabet could investigate new ventures.
A rebrand should be done with the intent of growing the success of your company. A rebranding is like an evolution of your company. It reveals the next stage of your growth to the world and your ideas of how you’ll move forward into the future. You can free yourself from the shackles of your past branding if you feel it’s holding you back.
Rebranding does have its downsides. Done incorrectly, a rebranding effort can leave your company worse off than before. It must be done intelligently and with due diligence. Here are some pitfalls that can happen to a company after a rebranding.
Loyal followers of your brand have invested their time and attention in your business. This is called brand equity. If your rebranding shifts things too dramatically or in a way that displeases the audience, you can destroy what you’ve built up rather than building on past success.
One of the most well-known examples of this is New Coke. In 1985, Coca-Cola decided they wanted to completely change their product and replace it with a new formula. They wanted to differentiate themselves from Pepsi after they reoriented themselves to target young people and had people perform blind taste-tests of the two products to prove that Pepsi was superior. Pepsi was rapidly clawing at Coca-Cola’s market share.
Coca-Cola did a drastic rebranding by pulling all their old formula from the shelves and released a new one, along with a rebranding campaign to promote the new product. They underestimated just how much people were attached to the old brand and the old flavor. The product was universally panned. Within a few months, the original flavor was back on the shelves as “Classic Coke” and New Coke became a memory.
Be wary of changing things so far that you scare the customer or remove something they love about your brand. Remember when Windows tried to change up the Start button in Windows 8 by introducing a new UI? Now we’re at Windows 10 and there’s still a Start button.
Beware the brand marketer who wants to shake things up for the sake of shaking things up. Rebranding needs to be a response to a need or opportunity, not just to make an excuse to order new marketing collateral. Remember, when you rebrand you’re signalling the market that something is different about you. If people get interested and find out that nothing has changed it will make your brand look phony.
Radio Shack made this mistake in 2009 after rebranding themselves as “The Shack”. By this point, they had long drifted away from the electronics components supply shop they started as and focused on high-end electronics. They wanted to target younger people but the name immediately fell flat. The hobbyists that had supported the company found nothing had changed. It was only a few years later when the venerable company filed for bankruptcy.
On the other hand, FedEx did this right because they had a reason. In the 1990s, the CEO of Federal Express wanted someone standing 200 feet away from one of their trucks to know it was a Federal Express truck. After a year of research, they came up with the familiar FedEx logo with its hidden arrow and contrasting color scheme. The rebranding also came with a major restructuring of the brand’s then-confusing product names. It was a total brand shift that paid off very well.
Sometimes a brand will use a rebranding effort to hide a new arrangement that’s unfavorable to its customers. Remember Qwikster?
Qwikster was an attempt by Netflix to spin off its old DVD shipping business in 2011. Netflix was facing licensing and release window problems from studios and wanted each business to have its own set of negotiations. However, customers hated the move. People were using both services and suddenly they had to juggle between companies with separate accounts, policies, and more. On top of that, they raised their rates by 60%, probably so they’d have the money to handle the new deals.
Needless to say, it flopped hard. Customers didn’t see the split coming at all and all they saw was more expensive services and more confusion. They lost hundreds of thousands of customers before they fixed the problem.
Rebranding is a powerful tool that can both help and harm your brand if you do it incorrectly. Any business that lasts long enough will face the need to rebrand at some point. Knowing why to rebrand and what to look out for will help you turn rebranding into something that boosts your company to the next level.
Take your time with it! It took the marketing company that FedEx hired a year of testing before they rolled out the new logo.
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