A rebrand is a transformational exercise that can activate growth, revitalize a company, inspire consumers, and alleviate disasters. According to Entreprenuer.com “Rebranding is a perfectly common business move for major companies, and has been for many years.” But don’t think of a rebrand in simple terms. While a rebrand can be a simple refresh of a logo, the rebrand’s real power doesn’t come from a new identity. The power of a rebrand comes from the brand strategy. This begins with a deep dive into the company and fuels a concise brand strategy that will unleash your brand’s potential. When the plan is authentic and practical, design, marketing, advertising, business development, and sales all become integrated, as they should be. Below, we address two types of rebranding: reactive and proactive, along with reasons for each.
Congratulations, you played yourself.
When your company’s reputation gets wrecked, a rebrand may be the best solution.
Example: Comcast became synonymous with horrible customer service. So, Comcast’s execs decided to rebrand as Xfinity (instead of fixing their shitty service). This change in name and visual identity allowed them to offload the lousy rep in consumer’s eyes (for now).
Recommendation: If a rebrand is the best solution to address a crisis, make sure fixing the issues which caused the situation is part of the effort.
Consider a rebrand when companies merge, are acquired, or are broken up. The new entity is now greater than the sum of its parts.
Example: After the merger of auto brands Fiat and Peugeot, a rebrand merged into the company ‘Stellantis.’
Recommendation: Carefully gauge the loss of name recognition when rebranding due to an M&A or corporate breakup. Also, avoid obvious solutions like mashing up the two (or more) brand names into something new. Chances are, it’s going to be super lame.
There can be only one!
Best to avoid this very avoidable situation. Always start with trademark research to ensure your brand name isn’t creeping in on another trademark. Do the same with the copyright of your brand identity.
Example: In the early 2000s, the WWF grappled and bodyslammed the WWF for the title. From then on and forevermore, WWF stands for the World Wildlife Fund, and the latter WWF is the WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment. Source
Recommendation: Speak with a trademark attorney to prevent expensive, embarrassing, and avoidable trademark issues.
Don’t sleep on the competition.
Business is going well, then out of nowhere, new competition blows up and shakes your brand to its foundation. Don’t get rattled like a two-bit boxer. Instead, take a step back, regroup, and leverage powerful strategic rebranding haymakers to get back on your feet and into the game.
Example: Lite Beer by Miller to Miller Lite, and back again.
Recommendation: When your brand position is exact, and your core values and brand message are rock solid, you won’t have this problem.
The wind is on your side, the seas are calm, and your ship is ready for launch—time to up anchor and crank the engine with a rebrand to build momentum and unleash your growth potential.
Example: A successful rebrand consists of revamping a company’s goals, message, and culture, not just the logo. I look to Steve Jobs rejoining Apple in 1997 as one of the top rebrands in history. Jobs focused and clarified Apple’s positioning, message, and purpose and then updated the aesthetic of the identity, interfaces, and products to match the brand vision.
Recommendation: A rebrand starts with a brand strategy. Please don’t update the logo and put out a press release on your rebrand. Subtle changes should remain non-news. And never change things just to change them without a clear purpose of making things better; you’ll piss off your customers or worse.
She ain’t what she used to be.
With an entrepreneurial CEO at the helm, new ventures, markets, and opportunities arise often. Please don’t force your current brand into a place it doesn’t belong.
Example: Harry’s, the digital native men’s shaving company, pivoted to expand beyond D2C (direct to consumer) and moved into broader retail and offline sales model, featuring a subtle rebrand to create application-specific on-shelf and in-store packaging, merchandising, and point of sale assets.
Recommendation: Your company’s change in direction should include a change in identity. Remember your brand is your reputation, so your assets, messaging, tone, and customer touchpoints should all support your desired rep.
Don’t call it a comeback/I’ve been here for years.
Markets and audiences shift like plate tectonics. Sometimes it’s small and subtle, sometimes the house falls on top of you.
Example: Cadillac almost marketed itself to extinction. How? They focused on a segment of stodgy old white dudes, who just got older (and deader). Dangerously close to an extinction event, the Caddy leadership avoided catastrophe with a critical rebrand aimed at a younger, cooler audience, which saved the brand (and produced some really cool cars, excluding the Escalade, which is obnoxious).
Recommendation: Lead with empathy and vision by keeping an eye on your “brand seismometer” to stay prepared to shift, pivot, or rebrand to say relevant to your audiences.
Wu-Tang is forever.
If you ain’t the Wu-Tang Clan, then your brand ain’t forever. So it’s up to you to make sure you protect your neck and never let your brand become stale, old, wack, lame, lousy, and passé. By recognizing the symptoms of failing popularity, you’ll be ready to pull out your ace in the hole with a strategic rebrand to keep your special sauce fresh.
Example: Old Spice went from your dad’s boring aftershave to viral sensation. Terry Crews FTW.
Recommendation: Here’s the danger; don’t push a meaningless rebrand if your brand is killing it. Look at the carnage of rebrand major rebrand fails as lessons on what not to do. (Remember the $100m GAP rebrand that lasted 7 days?)
Whether its damage control, revitalization, an overhaul, or a whole new gameplan, start with a deep dive and develop a holistic brand strategy to properly allocate your resources and get the most out of your rebrand efforts. The Propr approach to branding invigorates companies, empowers leadership, and builds an excellent culture that brings you unmatched results. Recognized as one of the top branding agencies in the US, we blur the lines between brand, design, marketing, advertising, business dev, and sales. Because when your brand has a soul, the rest comes naturally.
Learn more about our deep diving Brand Workshops & strategy rebrand services