This month as a change from the normal finance article the editor asked me to voice my views on rebranding as this is something the magazine is undergoing as I write.
Rebranding is for businesses looking to revamp their image, customer base, or offerings. When done correctly, it offers a multitude of benefi ts ranging from rejuvenating identity to boosting actual sales. When taken on with little strategic logic or planning, a rebrand can spell catastrophe for an otherwise healthy business.
Truthfully, it can all be boiled down to motivations. Some motivations are your own, but the most important ones are those which belong to your customers. Before we discuss potential scenarios for rebranding, let’s take a look at some of the possible goals and positive outcomes of a successful rebranding strategy:
1. Redirecting public attention away from a negative perception or event related with your business
2. Shifting public associations related to who uses your product and why it’s relevant
3. Potential to grow into new markets and expand customer base
4. Improved offering and messaging to better relate to audience
5. Standing out from competition when parity leads to market saturation
Sounds pretty good, right? With these concepts in mind, it’s no surprise we see so many companies attempting rebranding at all levels of their organisation. But before scrapping your logo and rewriting all of your content, it’s important to pause and ask yourself whether or not a rebrand is actually viable. Let’s break it down:
When to Consider a Rebrand
- If your customer profi le has changed, or you’re looking to target a new consumer group. Old Spice pretty much fl awlessly took on this hefty task in 2008, when their sales had been suffering steadily for years on account of outdated messaging which spoke to a stagnant segment (read: old men). Old Spice designed a new logo and completely revamped their promotional strategy to speak to younger men in overtly humorous formats. The result? Sales were up 40% by 2010.
- When brand credibility is tarnished, actively developing a new identity can be viable. A great example of this is McDonald’s, which earned a (perhaps deserved) reputation as unhealthy and undesirable to be seen eating. In turn, and smartly understanding the societal shift towards healthier lifestyles, McDonald’s introduced salads to their menu in 1987. Since then, they’ve continued to update their menu with healthier options to counteract the negative perception many have of the chain, and reposition the brand in the minds of consumers. McDonald’s now boasts an array of smoothies, gourmet salads, and healthy breakfast options to effectively target health-conscious eaters.
When to Hold Out
- If your brand has a loyal following of enthusiasts who are emotionally tied to it, don’t dissuade their advocacy by attempting a face lift. Gap made this mistake by attempting to rejuvenate a historical logo for no apparent reason, and they suffered the wrath of disheartened traditionalists. Among a storm of media criticism, threats from customers, and an incredibly poor reception, Gap’s new logo was retired after only a week. But Gap is not alone in the growing pool of brands who have upset customers with unsavoury and unjustifi ed new designs Tropicana made the same mistake in 2009. Just like Gap, PepsiCo (Tropicana’s parent) eventually succumbed to the vocal criticism of customers and returned to the original logo after only one month.
- If you’re changing just for the sake of change, hit the brakes and ask yourself if rebranding is truly a valuable process for you at this time. Simply assuming it’s time for a change because others are doing so, or measuring the value of your branding based on its shelf life, are not realistic ways to conceptualize a company. Pepsi has been heavily criticized for making such a misstep, as they have redone their logo over ten times since their inception. This strategy is questionable at best in terms of building loyalty and identity, especially when you consider that Coca-Cola, Pepsi’s number one rival, has undergone absolutely minimal adjustments. This scenario calls to mind “If it’s not broke, don’t fi x “
- A rebrand should be a strategic shift within your organization, not just an update to your logo. In 2004, GE adjusted their messaging from “We bring good things to life” to “Imagination at work”, accompanied by a new logo. This change was congruous with their continued corporate focus on innovation and progress, and has been regarded as an effective change. Use this success story as a guideline for evoking change in your organisation. If you’re planning on rebranding for aesthetics and have no intention of shifting your business to align with that new identity, reassess the actual necessity and intention of the change.
An effective rebranding initiative requires thorough research into competition, customer goals, brand perceptions, and product capabilities. Before making the decision to alter a major component of your company (whether it’s the name, logo, product, or messaging) take care to ensure the shift will actually provide value and an improved experience for customers.
A recent example in the TV world can be seen at ITV, who have undergone a complete revamp of their brand with mixed reception. I personally think it works and has refreshed their image in a saturated market but the channel has not changed its message so was it all worth it. More 4 I think has had a more powerful change in its look with refreshingly new idents built off the back of the traditional Channel 4 logo.
Last but not least I think if you get your branding right no matter how obscure it works. Take for instance DAVE. Can you imagine the look on faces at the original channel marketing strategy meeting when some bright spark came up with the name, but then if you dig deeper and look at target market etc. etc. it ends up almost perfectly positioned. Which fi nally brings me around to calling a fi nance company Azule. Well that’s all another story for another time.
If you would like to know more about Azule and or other recent articles visit www.azule.co.uk