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9 min read Rebranding Strategies: When, Why, and How to Refresh Your Brand Identity

Rebranding Strategies: When, Why, and How to Refresh Your Brand Identity

Key Takeaways

  • Businesses will undertake a rebranding strategy due to things like PR crises, changes in consumer behaviour, outdated designs, and declining popularity.
  • Brands shouldn’t reinvent themselves unless there’s a strategic reason to.
  • Even companies like Burberry and Domino’s have had to rebrand due to poor public perception, but they’ve managed to come out stronger.

In the ever-evolv­ing land­scape of the dig­i­tal world, busi­ness­es face the con­stant chal­lenge of stay­ing rel­e­vant and cap­tur­ing the atten­tion of their tar­get audi­ence. In this quest for longevi­ty and growth, many com­pa­nies turn to rebrand­ing as a strate­gic tool to revi­talise their image, con­nect with cus­tomers on a deep­er lev­el, and solid­i­fy their posi­tion in the market.

What’s rebranding?

Rebrand­ing, the process of refresh­ing a com­pa­ny’s visu­al iden­ti­ty, mes­sag­ing, and over­all brand expe­ri­ence, holds immense pow­er to breathe new life into an organ­i­sa­tion. It goes beyond a mere logo redesign or a change in colour palette; it encom­pass­es a com­pre­hen­sive trans­for­ma­tion that aligns with evolv­ing mar­ket trends, con­sumer pref­er­ences, and tech­no­log­i­cal advancements.

But when is the best time to embark on a rebrand­ing jour­ney? The answer lies in the under­stand­ing that rebrand­ing is not mere­ly a reac­tionary mea­sure to address decline or stag­na­tion. Rather, it should be a proac­tive step tak­en with care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion and a clear strate­gic vision.

In this dig­i­tal era, where trends shift rapid­ly, and cus­tomer expec­ta­tions con­tin­ue to evolve, busi­ness­es must seize the oppor­tu­ni­ty to rein­vent them­selves and embrace change.

This arti­cle aims to shed light on why busi­ness­es should con­sid­er a rebrand, when the ide­al time to embark on such an endeav­our is, and how to nav­i­gate the intri­ca­cies of the rebrand­ing process successfully.

So, whether you’re a start-up look­ing to make your mark or an estab­lished enter­prise seek­ing reju­ve­na­tion, join us as we explore the trans­for­ma­tive pow­er of rebrand­ing and unlock the door to greater suc­cess in the dig­i­tal age.

Why do businesses undergo rebranding?

Rebrand­ing is a pow­er­ful strat­e­gy for busi­ness­es seek­ing to thrive and stand out from the crowd, espe­cial­ly in com­pet­i­tive mar­kets. Let’s delve into some key rea­sons why rebrand­ing mat­ters, includ­ing five exam­ples of suc­cess­ful strategies:

Staying relevant and competitive

Since con­sumer pref­er­ences and mar­ket trends evolve at a rapid pace, busi­ness­es need to con­stant­ly adapt. These trends may be dri­ven by tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ments, chang­ing demo­graph­ics, or cul­tur­al shifts. Regard­less, com­pa­nies should stay atop of these devel­op­ments and respond accordingly.

When they do so, com­pa­nies can revi­talise their brand to bet­ter align with cur­rent trends, main­tain a com­pet­i­tive edge, and cap­ture new mar­ket opportunities.

Exam­ple: 10 years ago, Greg­gs was strug­gling with its prof­its and pub­lic rep­u­ta­tion, say­ing cus­tomers would rather spend their mon­ey at cof­fee shops like Star­bucks and Cos­ta, brands that man­aged to grow dur­ing the recession.

In response, Greg­gs over­hauled its prod­uct ranges, changed its slo­gan, and rebrand­ed itself as an afford­able on-the-go option for busy work­ing peo­ple. It also began post­ing engag­ing social media con­tent that aligned with the pub­lic’s view of the brand as a British insti­tu­tion and became one of the first UK brands to launch a loy­al­ty rewards app.

Greg­gs’ new £2 break­fast deal now makes up 13% of its total sales, and com­mut­ing Brits have made the morn­ing their fastest-grow­ing peri­od of the day. Last year, the num­ber of cus­tomers on its loy­al­ty app increased by 225% year on year. It’s safe to say Greg­gs’ rebrand helped it step up to its com­pe­ti­tion and reach tar­get cus­tomers that need­ed con­ve­nient and afford­able bites on their way to work.

Standing out from competition

In crowd­ed mar­kets, dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion is essen­tial for busi­ness­es to carve out their unique space and attract cus­tomers. Rebrand­ing pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty to dif­fer­en­ti­ate brands from com­peti­tors, both visu­al­ly and conceptually.

Through a strate­gic repo­si­tion­ing of your brand, you can show­case your dis­tinct val­ue propo­si­tion, com­mu­ni­cate your brand’s unique sto­ry, and high­light the qual­i­ties that set you apart.

Plus, a well-exe­cut­ed rebrand­ing effort can help you cre­ate mem­o­rable and com­pelling brand expe­ri­ences that cap­ti­vate cus­tomers and fos­ter loy­al­ty, as well as mere­ly stand­ing out from competition.

Exam­ple: Domi­no’s only held 9% of the piz­za restau­rant mar­ket in 2009. It was crit­i­cised for being the “worst piz­za ever” and com­mon­ly laughed at. Domi­no’s did­n’t shy away from the feed­back. They wore it like a badge of pride and set to work refor­mu­lat­ing all their recipes. They doc­u­ment­ed this process in “The Piz­za Turn­around” Doc­u­men­tary and, by 2016, held a 15% share of the market.

By com­mit­ting itself to trans­paren­cy and piz­za excel­lence, Domi­no’s were able to respond to its crit­ics and rise above its old rep­u­ta­tion, estab­lish­ing itself as a key play­er in the piz­za restau­rant game that was­n’t going anywhere.

Reaching a broader target audience

As busi­ness­es grow, their tar­get audi­ence may expand or shift. Rebrand­ing allows com­pa­nies to extend their reach and appeal to new cus­tomer segments.

By reassess­ing and refin­ing your brand’s mes­sag­ing, visu­als, and posi­tion­ing, you can attract a wider audi­ence and tap into new mar­kets. Whether it’s reach­ing a younger demo­graph­ic, tar­get­ing inter­na­tion­al mar­kets, or appeal­ing to a niche mar­ket, a rebrand can pro­vide the nec­es­sary tools to con­nect with diverse audi­ences effectively.

Exam­ple: In 2018, Dunkin’ Donuts want­ed to expand its poten­tial and be known for more than just dough­nuts. So, it changed its name to Dunkin’. Though they still offer more than 50 vari­eties of dough­nuts on its menu, its rebrand aimed to reach a broad­er tar­get mar­ket with its oth­er prod­uct offer­ings (cof­fee, soft drinks, sand­wich­es, bagels, muffins, and more).

Reinforcing brand values and purpose

A strong brand is built on a foun­da­tion of val­ues and pur­pose (or mis­sion), and this is often what attracts cus­tomers to shop with cer­tain businesses.

As brands evolve, their val­ues may evolve as well. Rebrand­ing offers an oppor­tu­ni­ty to realign brands with their core val­ues and artic­u­late a clear pur­pose that res­onates with audiences.

In this way, rebrands help build authen­tic­i­ty, trust, and emo­tion­al con­nec­tions with cus­tomers who align with a brand’s beliefs and aspi­ra­tions, as well as clar­i­fy­ing any changes that may have occurred with­in the com­pa­ny’s ethos over time.

Exam­ple: In 2020, GoDad­dy changed its visu­al brand­ing from an out­dat­ed design to a con­tem­po­rary and joy­ful one. They say their users (every­day entre­pre­neurs) inspired the change.

Indeed, the design is bold and mod­ern and reflects the pref­er­ences of today’s users, assim­i­lat­ing well into the range of tools and ser­vices used by those dig­i­tal-savvy con­sumers of today’s world.

Overcoming negative perceptions or reputational challenges

Rebrand­ing can serve as a pow­er­ful tool for over­com­ing neg­a­tive per­cep­tions or chal­lenges faced by a busi­ness. Whether it’s a tar­nished rep­u­ta­tion, out­dat­ed brand image, or past mis­takes, rebrand­ing allows com­pa­nies to shed neg­a­tive asso­ci­a­tions and present a fresh narrative.

Rebrand­ing helps busi­ness­es con­vey their com­mit­ment to improve­ment, inno­va­tion, and cus­tomer-cen­tric­i­ty. And a suc­cess­ful rebrand­ing effort should effec­tive­ly rebuild trust, repair rela­tion­ships, and regain mar­ket shares.

Exam­ple: In the ear­ly 2000s, depart­ment stores all over the UK stopped stock­ing Burber­ry items due to the pub­lic’s per­cep­tion of it as a “brand for gangsters.”

In response, Burber­ry signed a con­tract with Kate Moss and launched a rebrand that assim­i­lat­ed itself with her sex appeal and noto­ri­ety as a fash­ion icon. They man­aged to pull off one of the most suc­cess­ful cri­sis man­age­ment rebrands and remain a British cul­tur­al sta­ple to this day.

When should I rebrand my business?

Rebrand­ing isn’t a deci­sion to be tak­en light­ly. It requires care­ful analy­sis, strate­gic plan­ning, and a clear under­stand­ing of when the tim­ing is opti­mal for such a trans­for­ma­tive endeavour.

So, when should busi­ness­es con­sid­er embark­ing on a rebrand­ing jour­ney? Here are a few key indi­ca­tors that sig­nal the right moment for a rebrand:

The market’s dynamics have evolved

The con­stant evo­lu­tion of indus­tries and mar­kets is an unavoid­able fact for many busi­ness­es. Whether they’re dri­ven by new tech­nolo­gies, con­sumer behav­iour, or ris­ing com­peti­tors, devel­op­ments in mar­ket dynam­ics affect everyone.

If your busi­ness finds itself strug­gling to adapt to these shifts or los­ing its rel­e­vance in the mar­ket­place, it may be a sign that a rebrand is in order.

Your brand image feels outdated

Over time, a com­pa­ny’s brand iden­ti­ty may start to feel out­dat­ed or dis­con­nect­ed from its desired perception.

If your brand no longer aligns with your val­ues, vision, or tar­get mar­ket, it’s time to con­sid­er a rebrand. A refreshed brand image can help you attract new cus­tomers, re-engage exist­ing ones, and show­case your com­pa­ny’s evo­lu­tion and com­mit­ment to meet­ing con­tem­po­rary expectations.

Your business has undergone a merger or acquisition

When com­pa­nies merge or under­go sig­nif­i­cant acqui­si­tions, rebrand­ing often becomes nec­es­sary to uni­fy the new­ly formed enti­ty. A cohe­sive and con­sis­tent brand pres­ence is cru­cial for com­mu­ni­cat­ing the com­bined strengths, val­ues, and offer­ings of the con­sol­i­dat­ed organisation.

A rebrand­ing effort can help stream­line oper­a­tions, elim­i­nate con­fu­sion, and estab­lish a pow­er­ful new brand iden­ti­ty that reflects the shared vision and objec­tives of the merged entities.

Your target audience is expanding

As busi­ness­es evolve, their tar­get audi­ence and mar­ket posi­tion­ing may shift. If you’re expand­ing into new mar­kets, tar­get­ing dif­fer­ent cus­tomer seg­ments, or repo­si­tion­ing your brand to appeal to a broad­er audi­ence, a rebrand can help sig­nal this strate­gic change. By effec­tive­ly com­mu­ni­cat­ing your new val­ue propo­si­tion and res­onat­ing with the desired cus­tomer base, you can increase your brand’s rel­e­vance and dri­ve growth in new directions.

There’s been a brand reputation crisis

Some­times, a busi­ness may find itself fac­ing a rep­u­ta­tion cri­sis or neg­a­tive asso­ci­a­tions due to past events or pub­lic perception.

In such cas­es, a rebrand can serve as a pow­er­ful tool for cri­sis man­age­ment by rebuild­ing trust, dis­tanc­ing the com­pa­ny from past con­tro­ver­sies, and pre­sent­ing a fresh nar­ra­tive that focus­es on a renewed com­mit­ment to excel­lence, trans­paren­cy, and integrity.

How to undertake a successful rebranding strategy

Embark­ing on a rebrand­ing jour­ney can be both excit­ing and chal­leng­ing. To ensure your strat­e­gy can pro­duce a suc­cess­ful trans­for­ma­tion, you should inte­grate the fol­low­ing steps:

1. Define your objectives

Per­haps your rebrand­ing goals are like GoDad­dy’s in that your cur­rent image does­n’t align with your com­pa­ny’s per­son­al­i­ty or tar­get audi­ence’s pref­er­ences. Or maybe, like Burber­ry, your brand has suf­fered an injury to its pub­lic image.

What­ev­er your brand’s prob­lem may be, it should be cen­tral to your rebrand­ing efforts. Can you boil it down to one sen­tence? E.g., GoDad­dy’s might have been, “our image does­n’t rep­re­sent the con­tem­po­rary styl­is­tic pref­er­ences of our tar­get mar­ket”, and Burber­ry’s might have been “our brand and its val­ues are being misrepresented”.

Keep­ing things sim­ple in this way is cru­cial for the suc­cess of your rebrand­ing efforts, as the first step is to clear­ly define your objec­tives. Once estab­lished, your goal forms the back­bone of every deci­sion to ensure the project stays on track and deliv­ers the desired outcome.

Hav­ing clear objec­tives will also help when it comes to mea­sur­ing the suc­cess of your rebrand­ing strat­e­gy, so don’t skip this step.

2. Conduct market research

Once you know what your busi­ness needs to get out of a rebrand­ing strat­e­gy, it’s time to unite your ideas with those of poten­tial cus­tomers, i.e., your tar­get audience.

At this stage, you’ll need to gath­er insights on cur­rent con­sumer habits and pref­er­ences, emerg­ing or pop­u­lar indus­try trends, and any gaps and oppor­tu­ni­ties in the mar­ket. Gain­ing a deep­er under­stand­ing of the land­scape in this way will help to inform the direc­tion of your strat­e­gy and ensure it’s not head­ing down the com­plete­ly wrong road.

3. Commit to your values

A brand’s val­ues are cen­tral to its mes­sag­ing, imagery, and actions. Don’t for­get to include these in your plan­ning stage and keep them in mind when mak­ing decisions.

Of course, you’ll need to find out with your mar­ket research whether there’s con­sumer demand for your brand val­ues and use what you dis­cov­er to inform your strategy.

4. Refine your brand identity

A rebrand often involves updat­ing visu­al ele­ments, such as logos, colour schemes, typog­ra­phy, and imagery.

Make sure you work with pro­fes­sion­al design­ers or agen­cies to cre­ate a fresh, mod­ern visu­al iden­ti­ty that reflects your brand’s val­ues, per­son­al­i­ty, and posi­tion­ing. Ensure con­sis­ten­cy across all brand touch­points, from your web­site and social media pro­files to pack­ag­ing and mar­ket­ing materials.

5. Craft compelling messaging

Your online con­tent, sales com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and ad copy will need to be updat­ed too.

Devel­op mes­sag­ing that is not only com­pelling but com­mu­ni­cates your brand’s essence, val­ue propo­si­tion, and unique sell­ing points. This will include refin­ing your brand voice, brand sto­ry, and tagline. It’s a good idea to cre­ate mes­sag­ing guide­lines that dif­fer­ent teams and staff mem­bers can refer to to ensure con­sis­ten­cy in all com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels and deliv­er a uni­fied message.

6. Engage employees

Speak­ing of staff mem­bers, every­one in your organ­i­sa­tion will need to be includ­ed in the new brand vision. Let every­one know that things will change and why, and even that it will ben­e­fit the whole com­pa­ny positively.

You may need to pro­vide train­ing and resources to help them embody the new brand iden­ti­ty in their inter­ac­tions with cus­tomers and stake­hold­ers. Plus, they’ll need to under­stand the brand’s val­ues if they are to be its ambassadors.

7. Implement your changes across channels

When the time comes to launch your rebrand­ing efforts, you’ll need to roll them out across all rel­e­vant touch­points and chan­nels. This will include updat­ing your web­site, social media pro­files, mar­ket­ing mate­ri­als, sig­nage, and any oth­er cus­tomer-fac­ing assets.

Make sure to do all this in one go so the tran­si­tion is as smooth as pos­si­ble for customers.

8. Announce your rebrand

It’s com­mon­place for busi­ness­es to announce their rebrands to mark the occa­sion, get ahead of pub­lic nar­ra­tive, and gen­er­ate excite­ment. For instance, when Dunkin’ Donuts changed to Dunkin’, they released mar­ket­ing mate­ri­als announc­ing the shift, stat­ing, “our friends call us Dunkin’.”

Stake­hold­ers and investors should be spo­ken to before­hand and told the rea­sons for the rebrand, the ben­e­fits it brings, and how it aligns with your long-term vision.

To gen­er­ate excite­ment and dis­cus­sion among con­sumers, you can lever­age com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels such as email newslet­ters, press releas­es, social media announce­ments, and ded­i­cat­ed land­ing pages.

9. Monitor the response

Once a rebrand has been launched, busi­ness­es should mon­i­tor the impact of their efforts and eval­u­ate their effec­tive­ness, con­sid­er­ing their orig­i­nal objec­tives. This can be mea­sured by track­ing KPIs and col­lect­ing feed­back from customers.

If adjust­ments are need­ed, don’t hes­i­tate to refine any changes to fur­ther enhance your brand’s impact.

10 “don’ts” for rebranding

  1. Don’t for­get to reg­is­ter any new trade­marks if you need to.
  2. Don’t only insti­gate a rebrand because you “feel” it’s time for a change.
  3. Don’t for­get to revise your designs and test them with focus groups.
  4. Don’t over­com­pli­cate your plans and con­cepts – brand­ing should be simple.
  5. Don’t just focus on chang­ing your colours, logo, and font.
  6. Don’t try to rein­vent the com­pa­ny into some­thing it isn’t.
  7. Don’t just do what your com­peti­tors are doing.
  8. Don’t for­get to tell your cus­tomers about the change.
  9. Don’t lose touch with what your com­pa­ny is at its heart.
  10. Don’t for­get to dis­cuss cre­ative own­er­ship over any designs cre­at­ed by freelancers.

Final thoughts

Rebrand­ing is a jour­ney that requires care­ful plan­ning, strate­gic exe­cu­tion, and ongo­ing eval­u­a­tion. By fol­low­ing these tips, busi­ness­es can nav­i­gate the rebrand­ing process suc­cess­ful­ly and unlock new oppor­tu­ni­ties for growth, dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion, and mar­ket success.

If you want some help in your rebrand­ing efforts, our team would love to help. Get in touch via the but­ton below.

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