A company rebrand sounds like an exciting project to be part of, but it is not as straightforward as it may seem. The stakes are undoubtedly high and there is potential for it to go wrong if it is not accompanied by a clear strategy and roadmap. Inexperienced marketers might think that designing a new logo and updating the brand’s colour scheme is enough to successfully rebrand a company. However, even an organisation as large as BP proved this to be the wrong approach in a well-documented rebranding disaster. They seem to have lost almost $211 million which is an enormous amount for any business. In replacing a logo which had been in place for over 70 years, the new BP logo was suddenly no longer identifiable with the brand.
On the other hand, when a rebranding campaign is successful, companies can experience an increase not only in traction and positive brand awareness, but also increased sales and conversions. Here’s an example of how Ulterior Events managed to successfully launch a global rebrand with the help of a creative agency.
So, what can your business do to ensure that your rebranding strategy is a success? In this article we’ll explore the different aspects of rebranding and its benefits, discuss some of the different strategies that businesses can implement, and offer some do’s and don’ts from well known brands and organisations.
What is rebranding?
First, it’s critical to understand what rebranding is, and what it isn’t. To rebrand is to recreate the look and the “feel” of an established product, service, or company with the intention of developing a new, differentiated identity in the minds of customers and other stakeholders. Usually, the goal of a rebrand is to influence consumer perception and to make the company, product or service seem more relevant to the consumer’s needs.
A successful rebrand will change the majority of the brand identity elements, which would typically include the following items as a starting point:
- A new company name (in some cases)
- Icons or logos
- Colour schemes
- Type, fonts and taglines
- Company mission, vision and values
More often than not, a company that is rebranding may also undertake a brand repositioning exercise at the same time, but it is critical to understand how “rebranding” differs from “repositioning”.
Repositioning, in contrast, doesn’t include changes to the brand’s core identity but instead focuses on changing what customers and other key stakeholders associate with the brand (and often the competition). Repositioning entails a rethink of the company’s brand personality and brand promise and will quite often lead to a change in the overall tagline to communicate the new proposition.
Why would a company want to rebrand?
There can be many reasons why a business may want to freshen up its look and feel with a rebrand. Here’s a list of possible reasons:
- Further differentiate your brand from the competition
- Appeal to a different demographic
- The brand is no longer relevant in a changing market
- The brand is looking tired or outdated
- Further expand your company’s scope into new territories
- Rebrand to reflect a merger or acquisition
- Present a rebranded image for reputation management
- Exploit a popular new trend
What are the potential risks and rewards with a rebrand?
If the rebranding efforts are a success, a company can reap numerous rewards such as penetrating new markets, increasing brand awareness and acquiring a larger customer base. If a rebrand is done poorly, a company can seriously risk its reputation and lose loyal customers. Negative PR coverage can quickly escalate, so consider implementing a tool to help with social media monitoring to track mentions and reactions from the press and public in general.
To minimise these risks, it is crucial that employees with relevant knowledge are looking after the project, alongside working with a creative agency which has extensive experience of brand identity and rebranding projects.
Successful rebrand strategies and campaigns…
Strategy #1: Incorporate a compelling narrative for your brand relaunch
In the late 1990s, UPS (United Parcel Service) was looking for a way to gain an edge over their top competitor, FedEx. At the time, UPS had a reputation as being “boring,” and were looking to freshen up the company’s image and be more relevant to their target audience.
The previous slogan “Moving at the speed of business” was replaced with the tagline “What can brown do for you?” as part of the rebrand. This tongue-in-cheek narrative introduced relatable characters such as “the mailroom guy” through to the CEO in the company’s advertisements. The result was that instead of UPS being a company with a reputation of only serving senior business executives, its rebranded image appealed to regular “Joe and Jane” citizens with its dependable, reliable service.
The campaign was a huge success and UPS subsequently increased their profit margins to nearly double that of their nearest competitor, FedEx.
Strategy #2: Remain reliable in the customer’s eyes to maintain and protect your brand equity.
Subway’s rebrand was another success story, but Tropicana’s? Not so much. In 2009, the company rebranded their iconic juice cartons with a new packaging redesign. The new look did not go down well with the brand’s customer base and it made Tropicana appear untrustworthy. Soon after unveiling the new look, sales took a downturn and after a few weeks Tropicana reverted to the previous carton design. Unfortunately, the customer’s perception of the company was damaged and sales fell over 20%, which brings us to strategy #3.
Strategy #3: Don’t mess with a good thing.
The Gap has been a household name since the late 1970s. But in 2010, they decided to change their iconic logo, unveiling a design with an immature font and poor gradient. Customers were not pleased which generated an enormous amount of bad press. Fortunately, the company back-tracked within less than a week and reinstated their old logo before too much damage was done. However, this costly exercise demonstrates the importance of the research process before deciding whether to rebrand.
Key considerations for rebranding:
- Do your due diligence by undertaking research and listening to customer feedback before embarking on a new brand positioning or re-brand.
- Use narratives which will resonate with your customer base on an emotional, human level to help them rediscover the benefits of the brand.
- Do not attempt to fix something that isn’t broken – a brand refresh could be a better solution that an entire rebrand.
Your reputation is on the line when it comes to rebranding your company’s image so don’t be tempted to do it alone. Partnering with an experienced creative agency will deliver both a holistic approach and a resulting creative strategy which will give your rebranding campaign the greatest chance of success.