To Rebrand or Not to Rebrand—That is the Question

To rebrand or not to rebrand—that is the question.

We are in the business of figuring out how to competitively position and communicate brands. You might think that when you ask us to help you “rebrand,” we would leap at the chance to do so. Not necessarily. We don’t want to waste your time and money if you don’t need to. So, there are a number of questions we ask first:

What do you mean by “brand?”

If your answer is your name, logo or identity, we want to make sure that you understand that your brand is not just your logo; changing it may not do a darn bit of good for your business.

A brand is indeed a way to identify your company, product or person. But it is much more than your logo or graphic standards. It is shorthand for your mission, vision, values and personality. It should make it easy for customers to recognize you and for prospects to pick you out of a crowded marketplace.

Your brand (hopefully) is a reflection of who you are, what you do and why you’re better or different than your competitors. It is also how you look, speak and act. It establishes the standards by which you will provide a consistent customer experience and the tone and manner in which you will do it.

On the other hand, if you define brand as your competitive position in the marketplace and have a solid business reason for a rebrand, we have a lot more questions for you.

Photo of a butterfly by Flickr's mk*

What business problem are you trying to solve by rebranding?

Has your competitive environment changed so that you are no longer distinct in the market? Have you added “branded” products or services without a naming strategy? Have you acquired companies and now need to figure out how they relate to the parent and each other? Is there brand confusion in the market, causing you to be mistaken for someone else? Do you want to expand beyond your current geography and your name limits your ability to do so?

All these can be valid reasons to consider a rebrand. However, it still may not require a change of your primary identity. You may first want to determine the strategy for your brand architecture—are you monolithic, endorsed or a family of brands? And, you may need a product naming protocol so new services fit into your desired plan. If you think you need to “rebrand” because of sluggish sales or low awareness, you may not need to change your position or identity, but just do a better job communicating who you are.

Do you have a marketing communications plan in place?

Speaking of planning, have you identified who your target audiences are? Do you know what they currently think of you, how they interact with you and how best to reach and influence them? Have you established goals that you want to achieve and metrics by which to measure your progress?

Before you invest money in changing your brand, it helps to have a good handle on how you are currently perceived. The fact is, you already have a brand—it is what your customers think of you. Or don’t think of you. Sometimes having no particular point of differentiation with your target audience gives you the opportunity to choose what position you want to own. At least in that case, there are no negative perceptions to overcome.

Do you truly understand what is holding you back? Are there traditional or digital marketing strategies and tactics that could move you forward without a total rebrand? Could improving your awareness or digital presence help? Or perhaps it’s simply improving your sales and lead management process. It is really important to take a close look at your sales process and customer journey, particularly for business-to-business and service clients. Driving more prospects into a sales funnel that isn’t converting the leads you’ve got could be pointless.

Do you have sufficient marketing budget to communicate your new brand position and look and feel?

Rebranding is not cheap. If it involves developing a new name, identity or graphic standards, not only do you pay the design fees to develop the concept, you also will have the expense of implementing the solution. When that includes applications to signage, store graphics and marketing materials, it can become a huge expense and take years to implement if you have a large system.

We recently had a client prospect ask us for help. They were considering going through a renaming and rebranding process. As we asked them questions, we learned they had hired someone to do the same project eight years ago but it was never implemented, in part due to lack of sufficient funds. We cautioned them that they should be careful not to do the same thing again and recommended an approach that started with defining their business strategy and brand architecture.

How will you measure the effect on your business?

Your brand and brand equity is an asset that you invest in and grow. It factors into the valuation of your business. A strong brand name and brand mark can actually be worth far more than the physical plant required to produce the products or services it represents. If you invest $100,000 (or more) on a rebrand, what level of incremental sales will be required to recover that investment? If you are a franchise or multi-until system, the costs can be higher and the ROI can take longer to achieve.

That said, many brands are refined and evolved over time in order to appeal to a younger audience and to stay fresh and current with their customers. So it is not that we don’t want to help you transform your brand and grow your business, after all that is our brand position. We just want to make sure that it is the right thing for your brand and your business to do right now. The good news is, we can help you figure it out and will never ever sell you services that you don’t get any value from.

Photo Credit: Flickr’s mk*