In today’s fast consumer markets, a business has to constantly evolve and innovate to meet customers’ needs in order to survive. Usually, a big part of evolving a business includes rebranding. Your brand should continually tell a story that is in line with current consumer trends and the latest technological developments, which may prompt you to update your brand messaging from time to time.
This does not mean a complete brand overhaul is necessary every time there is a slight change in the market. Consistency is an important part of brand image, and if you must rebrand, make sure it is for the right reason, at the right moment, and done the right way.
Should You Rebrand?
Brands eventually go through a slump in corporate identity. When your brand image starts losing connection with your customers, which is usually after several years, rebranding is what you need to reconnect with them. On average, companies will rebrand once every seven to ten years.
There are usually a combination of reasons a business needs to rebrand, including innovation, growth stimulation, market expansion, and competition.
A company’s new brand image could reflect an advancement in technology. Customers want to be a part of current trends, and when your brand image fails to reflect technological advancements, customers might feel like the brand is stagnant or behind the times, and move on to more technologically progressive brands. For example, mobile devices are an integral part of ecommerce at the moment, accounting for 60 percent of time spent shopping online, and customers are getting dissatisfied with brand websites that are not optimized for mobile.
2. Growth Stimulation
Rebranding can help small businesses stimulate new growth, especially when the launch did not give the business the expected recognition.
It can give a company a chance to evaluate and understand their customer base better, then create a company image and messaging that is in line with the customers’ expectations. A Dixon-James study of companies across all industries found that 75 percent of companies who rebranded experienced improved visibility and recognition, and another 75 percent experienced a moderate improvement in sales.
3. Market Expansion
As a company grows and claims new and bigger markets, a rebrand is necessary to express the company’s larger, more sophisticated market position. This raises consumer expectations and curiosity about the new and improved brand, which gives the company a new opportunity to win more of their business.
When Should You Rebrand?
Even with good reasons to rebrand, you should consider the right moment. Deciding to rebrand during unstable times, when a company is in or fresh out of a crisis, is not ideal as customers may interpret it as a cover up.
Here are five situations where you should consider rebranding:
1. Outdated Messaging
If your brand message no longer works for the current time, it needs to change. Retro colors and a bohemian theme could have worked for logos, packaging, and other visual messages in the 1970’s, but they might not work so well now.
2. Updated Products and Services
As your company grows, it might change, drop, or create new products and services. If your message no longer reflects what your company is currently about, you need to update it to a more accurate message. For example, when Starbucks started, it was a local coffee retailer, but over the years it has added a lot more products including food and teas, prompting them to drop the word ‘coffee’ from their logo.
3. Message Inconsistency
Your message might work well for your current audience, but when you enter a new market, you may realize a different approach is needed for that market, so you change your message, ending up with multiple brand messages. Inconsistent messages for each market makes your company look amateur and that can be very confusing to customers. This will affect a company’s bottom-line, as you will lose customers due to the inconsistency. Research shows that consistent brands are worth 20 percent more than those who aren’t.
4. Not Connecting with Your Target Audience
You might have misread the expectation of your target audience, so your message is not connecting with them as anticipated. Your target audience may have evolved from the initial one, and your current message is no longer connecting with the new target. Whatever the reason, when there is a rift between your target audience and your brand message, it is time to rebrand.
5. Preparing for Growth
As discussed earlier, rebranding can stimulate growth. If you are thinking of growing your business, whether it’s by adding new product lines or entering new markets, you should evaluate whether a rebranding is necessary.
How Should You Rebrand?
Once you have assessed your company and are certain rebranding is necessary, you have to follow a solid, step-by-step rebranding structure to avoid mistakes.
1. Tell a Story
Storytelling is the best way to connect with customers. Find out what it is about your brand that resonates well with your audience, and tell it in a story. Your story should be something people can relate to and feel strongly about. For example, TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie created the brand out of empathy for children growing up without shoes.
The brand mandate was to donate one pair of shoes for every pair bought. This is a touching, feel good story that has spawned campaigns like ‘One Day Without Shoes,’ which spiked traffic to the company website by 300 percent, garnered 500 million media impressions, and won the 2012 Silver Anvil Award of Excellence from the Public Relations Society of America.
2. Think Long Term
Customers usually view a consistent brand as a reliable one. Changing your brand image every five years looks unstable and unreliable, and customers wouldn’t want to associate with such a brand. A B2B design agency found out that 60 percent of surveyed U.S. Millennials expect consistency for them to continue a good relationship with a brand. When planning your brand image, keep up with current trends, but anticipate how you will adopt it to market trends and new technologies in the years to come.
3. Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken
Sometimes customers really just like your brand image as it is, even if it is several decades old; perhaps it is special because of its longevity so customers stay loyal to it. If that is the case, and there is no negative impact from your brand image staying the same, then you do not have to change it.
Before you set a rebranding plan in motion, evaluate your current brand image, and have solid reasons to change it. If it is not working, find out what went wrong so that you can avoid the same mistakes when you rebrand. Always start with the core message and build your visuals, slogans, and colors to complement and bring harmony to the brand and its message.