Every single business or organization needs a brand identity that tells their story. Branding consists of a lot of different elements — tangible things like your logo, color scheme, and tagline, as well as intangible things like your values and unique selling proposition. You want your customers to recognize your brand, feel something when they see or think of it, and become loyal to it. Companies can put a lot of money and effort into building a successful brand. Eventually, though, even the most tried-and-true brands need a touch-up — or a complete overhaul. Here’s how to know if it’s time for you to rebrand.
Brand vs. Reputation
Although they have a lot in common, your brand is different from your company’s reputation. According to the experts at MITSloan Management, “brand is about relevancy and differentiation (with respect to the customer), and reputation is about legitimacy (of the organization with respect to a wide range of stakeholder groups, including but not limited to customers).”
If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve probably become known among your customers and community for something. Hopefully it’s something you want to be known for. It might be your interesting product or eclectic selection, being high-end or affordable, or your top-notch team. Maybe it’s as simple as being the oldest family-owned company in your area. Whatever it is that makes you you is a big part — perhaps the most important part — of your brand.
Your reputation among your larger stakeholder groups, though, is also important. No matter how long you’ve worked to build your reputation as an upstanding, trustworthy, eco-friendly, or financially sound company, one infraction that catches the attention of news outlets or a series of bad experiences posted to social media can tear that all down.
Rebuilding your reputation could (and perhaps should) include a rebranding project. That’s the route cable behemoth Comcast took in 2010. In a supposed effort to shed its reputation as the company with the absolute worst customer service, Comcast’s cable division was renamed Xfinity. The rebrand not only included a name and logo change, but also renewed efforts to better manage customer concerns. Both seem to have made a positive difference in the company’s perception among consumers.
Nostalgic or Just Outdated?
In a lot of ways, a company resembles a living, breathing thing. It’s constantly evolving, and its personality is likely to change as it grows. What your business was known for when it was founded in the 1970s might not be what it wants to be recognized for in 2021. Likewise, the branding your predecessors developed way back then — or even within the last 10 years or so — is most likely past its prime.
Here are a few clues that your brand might be outdated and in need of a refresh:
- Your graphics reflect the budget and/or expertise of your early days in business, either low-quality, simplistic, or just down-right bad.
- An element of your brand, such as your price point, size, or method of delivery (analog to digital or going green, for example), has fundamentally changed.
- Your brand portrays something that could now be considered offensive or politically incorrect.
- The look and feel of your brand feels like it comes from another era — and not in an intentional, retro kind of way.
- Customers no longer recognize your brand (and therefore your products or services) as unique or outstanding among your competitors.
There’s something to be said for nostalgia. Companies, sports teams, and other organizations often harken back to the logos, uniforms, or taglines of old for a “throwback” campaign or special anniversary to show how much they’ve evolved and improved. If you never change your brand, or your logo or tagline, you’ll have nothing to throw back to — nothing to really represent how far you’ve come. To consumers, an outdated brand is a reflection of a lazy, stagnant, or behind-the-times company.
Other Reasons to Rebrand, and Where to Start
There are plenty of other reasons leaders decide the time is right for a rebrand. Some are driven by necessity, like a company name change or a merger or acquisition. Other times, it’s an internal shift, such a new CEO or a refocused corporate vision that sparks a need for an external update.
Your customers — current and potential alike — can be tremendously helpful when you’re considering a rebranding project. They have a unique perspective of your business, and one that is fundamentally different from yours and those of the folks who work in your company. Asking them to help describe and refine what your company stands for through focus groups and surveys can provide a more well-rounded view of what your company, your team, and your products and services are really like.
Taking your current branding and customer perception into account, next consider what direction your new branding should take. What do you want people to know or feel when they hear your company’s name or see your new logo? What do you want to be known for? This isn’t usually a quick exercise that results in a one-sentence statement. Rebranding is a process that should be taken seriously by your leadership team and handled professionally.
Ad4! Group has developed a winning process for helping companies rebrand — from helping you evaluate your current standing to rolling out your new brand to your employees and constituents. We work hand-in-hand with you, every step of the way. If you’re considering a rebrand, reach out to Ad4! today!