Five Fundamentals of Business and Product Branding: Part 5 – Rebranding

Creating and launching a brand is a huge investment. It takes time, commitment, and dedication. Whether it’s a company or product, the equity and integrity of the brand can determine its overall success and making changes to what is already established can be risky. There are many reasons for rebranding and it’s important to be sure you are making the right choice.

What is Rebranding?

The basic definition of rebranding is rethinking a company or product’s marketing strategy and developing a new identity by changing the name, logo, or overall design. This provides an opportunity to be seen differently and create a new image that best reflects what is on offer. Even a small change can make a big impression, therefore the decision to rebrand should be carefully considered to ensure the outcome has the desired impact.

Rebranding should not be seen as a driver for change, it’s required because changes have already occurred. A prerequisite for any decision to rebrand is whether your company or product has evolved, but the brand hasn’t. It’s a chicken and egg scenario, which comes first? Ultimately, the brand has to reflect what a company stands for, or what a product can provide.

Rebranding Rationale

There are many reasons why a rebrand might be on the cards. Your company’s external image may no longer reflect its vision, mission, and values. Or, having a better understanding of the customer demographic for your product may be the push for a full branding overhaul. Re-establishing your target market and focusing on your brand vision, mission, and values are a good starting point. Are these still aligned with where you are now?

The decision to rebrand may result from a company merger or expansion into the international sales market. Ultimately, if the current branding doesn’t reflect your business ethos or product identity, it could be time for a change.

However, it’s important not to be hasty when contemplating a redesign. How much brand value is there in the existing logo? If you alter something, your customers will want to know why. Rebranding out of boredom could cause confusion and have a negative effect on business. A rebrand to shake off a bad image or cover up a crisis won’t fix the problem alone. Deciding to rebrand to make an impact, or because of new management, could also be ill-advised if there isn’t a planned marketing strategy to back it up.   

If the reasons are justified, the decision to rebrand provides an opportunity to look at your product or business from a fresh perspective. The name and logo are usually created in a project’s infancy, so having the chance to reimagine these when a brand is established can be both exciting and daunting. You may already have a new design ready to go, or still be working on an idea. Either way, take advantage of input from focus groups, or external media platforms, to gauge opinion regarding what is and isn’t popular about your current image. 

How to Rebrand

So, you have made the decision that your brand needs revamping. But how will this look? Consider whether a full overhaul is needed in order to best represent and refresh your brand, or whether some small tweaks will make the sufficient changes needed. Before spending time planning an entire rebrand, begin by securing your brand’s vision and values. This will enable you to gain clarity on the most appropriate route to take.

Redesigning the logo, or colour palette, and a fresh marketing strategy may be the only alterations needed. But this still needs careful consideration. A logo is the most visual aspect of your brand and holds a lot of leverage for how it is represented. Changing this can be the catalyst for increased interest, but it can also be detrimental if it loses sight of what your product or business is about.

How far away is the current brand from where it began? Minor design changes could be enough to bring your brand’s image in line with where it is now, but to have the desired success it also requires a rethink of your marketing strategy. Ensure this conveys the appropriate tone and reflects the changes positively.

Deciding to completely rebrand means anything and everything is open to change, even the name. If you are considering a total rebrand, then you are in the unique position of redefining how an existing product, or established company, is presented. This may be by steering its overall image a particular way, or by an honest reflection of where the business is now.

A rebranding strategy needs to go back to basics to gauge what needs to change and why. Who do you want to appeal to? What image do you want to display? How do you want your brand to come across and how will the changes enable this? Be wary of making too drastic changes which could push your brand further away from its customers. It’s important to remember, the ultimate goal is realigning your brand’s image with where it should be to best reflect your vision, mission, and values.

Rethinking the name, changing the logo and colour scheme, and reconsidering the brand position and voice are all important factors in the rebranding process. A new name might be exciting and appealing, but will it leave customers unnecessarily confused about why. Refreshing the logo may be enough. In contrast, a name change may be an essential aspect of what you are aiming to achieve by rebranding. It’s important to take time to get it right. Consider each stage and gauge feedback to understand if the changes are achieving the intended outcome.

A robust and thorough marketing strategy is crucial to ensure your rebranding efforts don’t end up being a fiasco. Does your advertising style need to change? How should your website be updated to represent your brand’s evolution? Do you need more, or less, presence on social media to be in line with your brand’s mission and values, and appeal to your target market.

Finally, plan how the rebrand will be revealed. Is the intention to ignite fresh interest, or are the adjustments in line with a new addition to the business? If so an immediate ‘hard launch’ may be required to ensure it has the desired effect. Alternatively, the marketing strategy may lean more towards a ‘soft launch’, where the changes are subtly revealed to your customers to build interest in anticipation of the full reveal. Importantly, don’t forget to remove traces of your old image which may clash with and contradict the new look.

One last critical component is ensuring any alterations to the brand’s overall image are shared with the whole team. Understanding the methodology behind the changes and why they are important will help to reinforce the mission, vision, and values of the brand throughout company culture. The justification and strength of a rebrand relies on its ethos being embraced by everyone who represents the business, or product.

Some Helpful Terminology

  • Brand – The name, image, and identity of a company or product.
  • Logo – A symbol, made up of images and/or words, which identifies and represents a brand.
  • Brand Identity – The visible aspects of a brand, e.g. logo, colour, design.
  • Brand Mission – A statement defining a brand’s purpose.
  • Brand Vision – A brand’s intentions and goals for the future.
  • Brand Values – The beliefs that a brand stands for.
  • Brand Equity – The importance, and therefore value, of a brand to its customers.
  • Brand Integrity – The authenticity, consistency, and honesty of a brand.
  • Brand Ethos – The character and personality of a brand. This encapsulates everything a brand stands for.
  • Brand Voice – The style in which a brand communicates with its audience, e.g. formal or casual.
  • Brand Marketing Strategy – A long-term plan for promoting a brand across a range of platforms (advertising, social media, email campaigns, etc.) to increase sales.
  • Target Demographic – Specific characteristic markers used to identify a brand’s target market, e.g. gender, age, income.
  • Target Market – The people most likely to use a brand, based on shared characteristics.
  • Brand Positioning – The strategic placement of a brand against its competition.
  • Brand Awareness – The familiarity of a brand in the public domain.
  • Brand Leverage – Using a brand’s equity and success to expand or release additional products.
  • Rebrand – The process of changing the image of an established brand.
  • Hard Launch – The full release of a new brand or rebrand to the public.
  • Soft Launch – The release of a brand to a restricted audience or market in advance of a full launch.