A strong, recognisable brand is vital for any business, no matter how big or small. Strong brands stand out in the market, attract more customers, and keep more of those they already have.
However, times change and with it so do customers, trends and technology. What was once a strong brand identity 10 years ago, doesn’t necessarily translate in to one now.
Change for the sake of change is never a good idea, so how do you know when it is time for a rebrand?
Good reasons for a rebrand include:
- Growth is too small, flat or even negative
- Your customer base is changing – or you want it to change
- Your business linked to something you don’t want to be e.g. bad customer service
- Your company – logo, service, pricing – simply feels out of date
Just changing your name isn’t a rebrand. Rebranding is about changing the way your business operates, and how it addresses your customers.
Without that depth of change, customers will see through the superficiality of the process and you will see no positive return or uplift.
In fact, you will probably end up losing the brand equity you currently have.
You must be able to deliver on any brand promise.
Have a clear mission
Make sure you know what are you looking to achieve as part of the rebrand, and then do everything you can to ensure your stakeholders understand it as well.
Are you rebranding to stay in touch with your evolving target audience, are you facing increased competition and you want to stand out in a crowded market place, have you started to look old-fashioned in an industry where image matters, are you consolidating multiple sub-brands into a simpler structure..?
Create a mission statement supported by SMART objectives to gauge success, and keep everyone focused on what you want to achieve. For example:
Mission: To always put our customers first.
Objective one: “Reduce telephone support response times to 30 seconds, within 3 months of the brand re-launch”
Objective two: “Upgrade our customer support database content and navigation reducing our phone support calls by 30%”
Research and customer insight
You can’t know where you need to go, without understanding where you are and what the road ahead looks like.
The first step is to gather feedback from your customers and employees about what they think about you, what they like and what they dislike.
Look at key areas such as customer support, product quality, pricing, positioning, and your competition (direct and indirect).
By combining both qualitative (e.g. focus group, interview…) and quantitative (e.g. survey) methodologies you will build a picture of your current strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities to move your brand towards.
Define your marketplace
As well as looking internally, you should map what your marketplace looks like. This includes both the market’s customer segments, and where you and your competitors fit on a perception map (with each axis representing two key factors that matter to your customers).
With this data you can identify the segments you want to appeal to, as well as how successfully you are currently doing this.
Research what matters to these customers? Is it value for money, reliability, security, personal service…? You can these align your new brand around these principles.
Unless you work in an industry that is already extensively covered by industry reports (Mintel is a good source of those), this is very difficult to do yourself.
For something this important, I would strongly recommend using a professional market research company.
They will be able to:
- Segment the market
- Give a value to each of the segments – Which segments to target
- Identify the characteristics of the segments – How to position brand
Support the change with a story
People are traditionally averse to change and customers often equate a steady brand with reliability.
The best and most successful rebranding projects are usually wrapped in a positive story for customers and staff to get behind.
A fresh new look isn’t a story to lead with. The story should be one that benefits your customers, and runs deeper than a new graphic.
Here are some examples I have created to illustrate my point:
- Responding to customer feedback to improve your customer service = “You spoke, we listened, we changed”
- Upgrading your technology/platform = “Become a faster, more agile business”
- A new control panel = “Everything you need to manage your business online”
- Repositioning your business to a younger audience = “Now with added awesome”
Testing and feedback
I would strongly recommend using a professional designer to update your brand’s look and feel. Marketplaces such as 99Designs will connect you with professional designers who can create collateral, including a new logo, for as little as £189.
Test your new brand proposal and the basic design aesthetics before you commit to a new brand. Get feedback from a focus group that represents your target audience.
Do they express what your brand stands for accurately unprompted?
Don’t be afraid to take a step back and make changes based on this information. These are your customers after all, and the purpose of this rebrand is to attract more of them
How to communicate the change
Your most important asset are your customers. You must be clear why these changes are happening, and why it benefits them.
Give them the chance to ask you questions and get involved.
There are three general approaches to rebranding your business.
- Launch your new brand in parallel with the old
- Do it in stages
- The big reveal
There are pro’s and con’s to doing any of these:
Launch your new brand in parallel with the old
Orange and T-Mobile’s launch of EE (Have a look here)
- Lower risk of disrupting your existing customer relationships
- More expensive to support two brands
- Run the risk of competing with yourself
- Can confuse the marketplace
Do it in stages
Norwich Union’s evolution into Aviva (Have a read of this)
- Less risk of anything going wrong
- Customers see an evolution over time
- Increased cost to support each iteration of the brand
- Loses PR impact potential
The big reveal
- Create excitement within the market = huge PR opportunities
- A higher chance for something to go wrong
- Can confuse your customers is it is too abrupt
- Requires communication spend to make sure everyone knows your new brand
- Ideally needs a strong story to back up the change
Whichever approach you decide to take, a good rebrand will tick four boxes.
- The new brand message is clear and easy to understand
- You differentiate yourself from the competition
- The process respects the emotional attachment your employees and customers have to your existing brand
- You deliver on your new brand promises