When It's Time to Rebrand
7 situations when companies find rebranding is worth the investment
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A critical part of any new business launch is spending time, money, and research refining the company’s messaging and carving out a unique identity. That initial hard work usually pays off with years of success and satisfied customers. But as time goes on, industry and marketplace changes may make the original branding strategy less effective. Or the marketplace hasn’t changed, but the business has. Here are seven situations that can help business leaders know when rebranding makes sense.

A startup has outgrown its brand
An established business needs clarification
Changes in culture and audience values
Mergers and acquisitions
The business mission and vision has changed
A brand isn’t connecting worldwide
A new website is needed

1. A Startup Has Outgrown Its Brand

Brands, just like people, need to evolve. Startups begin with an ambitious plan and a vision for the business, but new opportunities can move it in a different, more profitable direction. The focus of the organization’s products or services may have shifted. To continue moving forward, the branding process can help you clarify focus and re-evaluate priorities which is then reflected in updated positioning, promise, message, look and feel – and that more accurately conveys the size, trustworthiness, and gravitas of the company today and its vision for the future.

2. An Established Business Needs Clarification and Focus

Times change, people change, and competitors change. When the macro-environment changes – such as your strengths relative to key competitors strengths or customers’ need for the products you produce – changes in the priorities of products and messaging are necessary to help the company stay competitive. For companies that have been around for a long time, rebranding often includes paring down and/or consolidating product lines or initiatives. The branding process can help you revisit the organization’s competitive strengths and potentially streamline, consolidate and refocus sub-brands that might have been added over the long history of a legacy brand. Time also can take a toll on consistent implementation of brand messaging, look and feel. A rebranding effort can help you relaunch and communicate in a compelling and consistent way across all communications. Read our case study on rebranding the legacy Kiefer brand.

3. Changes in Culture and Audience Values

Is the business still resonating with its audience? Even companies producing quality products or services may find that popular trends or societal changes are drawing their customers and potential customers to other options. The company itself may not need to change substantially, but messaging may need to be overhauled to resonate with an evolved target market. For example, the weight loss industry has a long history of focusing on counting calories and modifying habits. However, messaging from traditional companies like Weight Watchers and newcomers such as Noom centers on health and wellness over the scale to appeal to a new generation more interested in clean, healthy living.

4. Mergers and Acquisitions

An acquisition or merger is one of the most common reasons for a company to implement a rebranding initiative. When a business or divisions of a business merge or are acquired, rebranding provides clarity about the newly formed organization.

In the case of mergers, rebranding involves the consolidation of the two companies. This can happen even on a small scale when brands consolidate within the same company. For example, Tyndale House Publishers, a book publisher, consolidated two non-fiction brands from different publishing divisions. Tyndale Momentum, the name of one of the existing imprints, was carried on for the newly combined business unit. But to signal a fresh new start, the team agreed to a completely new logo and visual identity for the brand.

In the case of acquisitions, rebranding can help reflect the relationship between the two companies. Is the purchased company fully incorporated into the buying company to the point of losing its name and previous identity all together? Does messaging and visual identity need to reflect a balance of the two organizations? There may be times when a recent acquisition can be a branding asset that the buyer wants to use to diversify and expand its offerings and audience. Holding companies may keep the purchased company’s logo intact while also using using the parent company logo secondarily to add credibility. The rebranding process can provide direction on the relative priority of entities and how that is best communicated.

5. The Business Mission and Vision Changes

An organization’s vision and mission help communicate its purpose, fuel employee motivation, and provide direction for organizational priorities and decision-making. Over time, businesses may choose to shift focus, enter new markets, or reposition for the future. A new brand identity can be an effective way to signal a change in direction or realignment of product and service priorities. Clarification of messaging and visual look and feel can help businesses communicate these changes to their customers and other stakeholders, creating a sense of momentum and excitement around the company and buy-in for the new direction.

6. The Brand Isn’t Connecting Worldwide

It may be time for a rebrand when a business identifies a gap in how the brand appeals to customers from different cultures and countries outside its dominant country customer base. While customers and competitive situations differ across countries, having a global, consistent brand promise and visual identity is essential. Global branding may sometimes be an exercise of helping to consolidate and bring consistency created through a slow erosion in the implementation of the worldwide brand by local country offices. Conversely, a global brand may never have been intentionally developed beyond a rudimentary stage such as name and logo.

7. A New Website is Needed

Sometimes, rebranding is simply about refreshing a company’s brand messaging, look and feel. A new website always leads to a rebrand. The process of website design and development necessarily means evaluating the priority of products and services and analyzing the audience and the actions desired on the site. When a website is old enough to prompt the investment in a new site, in our agency’s experience, it 100% of the time leads to an updated visual brand identity that is  unique, memorable, and that communicates the organizational strengths that set it apart in a crowded market.

Rebranding is more than changing a logo or colors – it’s about redefining and repositioning the business in the market to help achieve accelerated growth and success. It takes time, effort, and resources but is worth the investment bringing clarity in business priorities and consistency in messaging, look and feel that creates efficiency. Learn more about Verve Marketing Group’s branding services.

By Joan Begitschke, Chief Brand and Marketing Officer.

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