Rebranding Strategies: When, Why, and How to Refresh Your Brand Identity
- Businesses will undertake a rebranding strategy due to things like PR crises, changes in consumer behaviour, outdated designs, and declining popularity.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.
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
- Don’t forget to register any new trademarks if you need to.
- Don’t only instigate a rebrand because you “feel” it’s time for a change.
- Don’t forget to revise your designs and test them with focus groups.
- Don’t overcomplicate your plans and concepts – branding should be simple.
- Don’t just focus on changing your colours, logo, and font.
- Don’t try to reinvent the company into something it isn’t.
- Don’t just do what your competitors are doing.
- Don’t forget to tell your customers about the change.
- Don’t lose touch with what your company is at its heart.
- Don’t forget to discuss creative ownership over any designs created by freelancers.
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.