How do I know it’s time for a rebrand?
If sales have plateaued (or worse), competitors have gained ground, or you’ve lost touch with your target audience – it may be a good time to revisit your brand strategy and consider a rebrand.
First thing first – when we discuss brand, we’re not talking about logos, fonts, colors, or taglines. Those are aesthetics used for recognition. Brand is much more than that, and that strategy starts earlier than the creative* execution phase.
A vital part of clearly communicating your value proposition to your target audience is aligning your business with brand. Think of brand and business as two sides of a double helix: balance is critical to the health of your company’s DNA. When your messaging and deliverables are misaligned, your audience can tell, and they communicate with their wallets.
*The term ”creative” is typically reserved for art and copy. This thinking is wrong but passionately guarded by those who sell art and copy. Creativity is part of strategic thinking, where observing and creating things that others don’t is vital for success.
What is rebranding?
Rebranding is a process of changing an organization’s corporate image and messaging with the goal of improving the business – redeveloping the old brand into a new form that can stand out from competitors in the market.
A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization. – Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap
Brand may be an export of your company, but it belongs to your audience.
Without a buyer, you don’t have a brand. The ultimate goal of the rebrand should be to refocus existing messaging to better connect with the target audience. This is your chance to truly understand what your audience needs and confirm your brand is the solution that provides for that need.
A rebrand may include creating a new product, shifting a service, or an even larger corporate pivot to find success. If you understand the end user and how your company can uniquely solve its problems, you have the keys to a successful brand positioning.
What makes for a successful rebranding?
Without diving too deep into defining brand strategy, a successful rebrand should position your company to sell more product, at higher prices, to the right target audience, with less consideration from the competition.
That’s it. That’s the measurement of success: profitability.
10 common reasons it’s time to revisit your business strategy and consider a rebrand.
There are many unique reasons why you should consider a rebrand. Ultimately you and your leadership team should know your organization’s needs. Exploring a rebrand may require research, like behavioral segmentation, to understand the market before investing in a new direction. More on that later.
Regardless of your industry, product or service, data-driven updates to your presence and messaging can breathe new life into a company that is stagnating. Here are 10 common reasons it may be time for a rebrand.
- Your internal and external brand perceptions aren’t aligned
- Your target market is not well defined, or it’s time to reach a new audience
- You’re losing relevance, and you need brand revitalization
- Your product or service mix has changed
- Your market position isn’t unique, or your service mix has changed
- Your visual brand is outdated
- You realize you have the wrong brand image
- You’ve experienced a change in leadership
- You’ve undergone a merger
- Your company’s mission has changed
1. Your internal and external brand perceptions aren’t aligned.
This happens quite often, especially in the startup jungle of VC and ecommerce products. A company launches a product or service without a strong brand strategy or truly understanding the target audience.
Sales happen, but over time the brand (remember, brand is owned by the target audience) becomes something different based on the brand experience. No matter how you designed your corporate image on the drawing board, your brand isn’t up to you. It is shaped by the consumer’s brand experience.
Failure to carefully understand those needs and craft a brand strategy to guide expectations means you may be missing out on profits and competing on price.
Take a look at your company holistically. Do your employees feel the same way about your brand that your target audience does? Your employees should be your #1 brand ambassadors and are a valuable measure of how your messaging matches up with your business model. It doesn’t matter how many posters you hang on the wall in your office – if your target audience doesn’t share the brand perception you have within the company, you have work to do.
2. Your target market is not well defined, or it’s time to reach a new audience.
“Our target market is everyone.”
“Ubiquity is our strategy.”
“We sell to men and women between the ages of 24-38.”
These are real comments by real CEOs, leading real companies with real brand problems. It sounds silly to read them this way, but we’ve all seen these strategy briefs. They are intended to be too inclusive to fail, but in the end, they do. If your target market isn’t clearly defined, how can you know what they really need from your brand?
Get comfortable with sacrifice. Sacrifice trying to please everyone and truly serve your target audience. Sacrifice ubiquity for success.
Demographics are constantly changing. Know your audience well enough to recognize a shift in the market and stay agile when it’s time to revisit messaging, brand touchpoints and even your products.
Maybe ecommerce success has driven you to serve a national or global market. You may need to segment audiences based on geography, language, or cultural differences.
Be fastidious about every brand touchpoint – from your social media to your brand packaging. Many times, a brand message, lexicon or the actual packaging doesn’t communicate the same way in new markets.
It’s simple: Know the consumer. Know the brand.
3. You’re losing relevance, and you need brand revitalization.
Take Tiffany’s as an example: not only did their target audience need to shift, but the brand itself no longer resonated with consumers the way it once had. For such a culturally visible brand that thrived for decades, conjuring images of the late Audrey Hepburn and the iconic “Tiffany blue box,” the company was struggling to get in the eyeline of younger buyers.
Rather than digging in and clinging to its existing identity, Tiffany’s saved their company from decline with a bold brand revitalization.
How did it make the change? It sacrificed some of the adoration of its longest-standing audience. “Not Your Mother’s Tiffany” became more than just an ad headline. It became a relevant attitude woven into the fabric of all brand touchpoints.
However, Tiffany’s didn’t change everything for the sake of change. Even an April Fool’s joke that introduced yellow as the new house color couldn’t kill one of its most recognizable brand assets – Tiffany Blue.
In 2021 Tiffany's rebranded to shift focus to a younger buying audience.
4. Your product or service mix has changed
You’ve dialed into your audience enough to realize they are craving something new or that technology has finally opened the doors to meet those needs with a new experience.
Don’t be afraid to create new products. If you define a product or service that meets its needs that your competitors don’t offer, guess who wins?
You’ve now become #1 in your space, and your competitors have become reactors.
A strong brand strategy to define and protect that new space is vital. Help the target audience fall in love with your brand and build trust. Otherwise, you’ve simply cracked the doors for others to kick open.
5. Your market position isn’t unique, or your service mix has changed
Why should your audience care about your product?
If you haven’t clearly defined what’s in it for them, or what sets you apart from the competition? Why should they buy from you? They need a reason to align, trust, and buy your brand besides the price point. Competing on price is a race to the bottom.
Don’t make them guess what you do or beat them over the head with tons of boring messages about products and features. Define a brand voice with the tribal knowledge of your audience.
Carry that voice over into your brand identity and at every retail touchpoint – from brick and mortar to social media to ecommerce. Align with your audience to the point where you speak their language, and you become a symbol for the tribe.
6. Your visual brand is outdated.
We’ve established that brand is bigger than logos and colors. But let’s be honest – people do judge a book by its cover. Your visual branding not only helps you stand out in the market but helps communicate relevancy to the target audience.
An outdated visual brand doesn’t always refer to the logo or colors. Maybe your competitors have outmaneuvered you at the store level, and your packaging is missing the mark. This may be design, physical structure, placement or the hierarchy of your value proposition in a sea of competitor products.
When was the last time you actually walked a store, or multiple stores, where your product exists? Understanding how your brand stands out and stands up to the competition is vital information for a product line review with your merchant.
In-store, you may find other brands copy the category leader, and the space becomes blurry. This is a great time to become radically different in the space and become a symbol of re-evaluation for the consumer.
A visual refresh that’s very different from the competition can get the attention of new buyers long enough to understand your value proposition.
7. You realize you have the wrong brand image
Brand image is more than visual identity. Your brand image is your customer’s perception of your brand. This is where the general audience can influence your primary audience if the brand image is negative.
One of the tried-and-true rules of branding is – whether you develop it or not, your company has a brand. That brand can shift based on a number of factors out of your control. Sometimes your marketing or business decisions don’t align with the brand strategy, diluting or even destroying the brand image for your target market.
Sometimes there’s a scandal. Sometimes society decides that part of your brand image is no longer acceptable, and it’s time to make a shift.
No matter how it happens, when you realize the brand in the heart of consumers doesn’t fit your strategy, it’s time to rebrand.
With social justice and racial equality conversations coming to the forefront of society in 2021, brands like Aunt Jemima needed a rebrand to survive a negative backlash of cultural appropriation.
8. You’ve experienced a change in leadership
This one is a Catch-22. This could be a great reason to rebrand or a great reason to stand your ground. Ultimately the perception of your target audience is what should drive the decision.
If leadership has changed based on new company direction, especially following a PR gaffe or huge misstep that costs the company market share, you can signal change at the helm with a rebrand that reintroduces a company’s values and mission that align with the target audience.
Focus on the target audience and why they should care. Don’t make it about egos or the leadership itself, but why the change should intrigue buyers.
If the company is healthy and consumers are spending money, let the transition be about consistency in brand. The opposite and a bad example of when you should rebrand is to feed the ego of a new leader and make the rebrand about them.
9. You’ve undergone a merger
When two companies merge, there can be a major impact on brand perception. Do you want to keep both companies’ audiences? Will products change? Is one company on the manufacturing side and relatively invisible? Do you have a new geographic footprint? It’s easy to get lost in the excitement of an acquisition or equal merger.
Don’t forget to keep the focus on your new target audience. The decision to rebrand or not should come from how it affects the brand in the hearts and minds of the buyer.
You may need a larger, differentiated identity that fits your new capabilities or market. That may require a new name that fits the new brand strategy.
Don’t forget your employees as a target audience for the rebranding announcement. They’re also vital stakeholders. Employees, executive teams and board members need to believe in the new corporate branding.
You need to communicate company values and mission, so your staff becomes brand evangelists for your new external marketing strategies.
10. Your company’s mission has changed
Many companies begin as small businesses. They’re focused on the product or service that was a passion project of the founders. Over time they grow and must accept larger challenges, define new markets, create new products and please new customers. During this time, the company mission may shift, giving a new vision for leadership and employees.
Sometimes the brand moves beyond commerce and finds purpose. Purpose that creates loyalty among staff and consumers alike. If you’ve found your new “Why,” make sure it’s woven into the fabric of your new brand.
Whatever the reason to rebrand, do it with purpose.
No matter why your company is considering a rebrand, it’s important to do it correctly. Brand is the most important investment you can make for the long-term strategy of your business, and it can pay the most long-term dividends.
Don’t miss the opportunity to take a deep dive into understanding your target audience and step back to take a purposeful look at your company’s goals and mission.
Take the time to do it right, so you can start building a strategy that all your stakeholders can understand and believe in.
Still not sure how to get started on your rebrand?
If you’re missing insights vital for a successful rebrand, not sure it’s the right time, or not sure how to communicate the need for a rebrand to company leadership – let’s discuss how Sales Factory can guide you to make the right decision.