In order to successfully rebrand your business, you need to understand both the market as well as your brand. A brand is anything that gives a product traits, values, and personality.
Products are decided by the same factors humans use to identify themselves, such as their names and ancestry. In this instance, the heritage is their ‘brand.’
A ‘brand’ can be a single product or an umbrella word for multiple products; in either case, its primary objective remains to differentiate the product/services from others in the market and attempt to build an ‘image’ in the minds of consumers. Regardless of how hard the company tries, the ultimate ‘brand’ image is determined by the consumer’s experience, a phenomenon known as ‘brand perception.’
However, there are moments in a company’s life cycle where they believe there needs to be a change. In the past few years, we have seen many brands undergoing makeovers to remain relevant in the market or step out of the past.
In this article, we will look at how companies can successfully rebrand their business. Before then, let us go in-depth about what rebranding is and what makes companies choose to do so.
What is rebranding?
Rebranding is the process of assigning new traits and properties within and outside an already established organization. Alternatively, it’s the process of giving that current brand a unique identity to help it be recognized differently. Finally, it can be used to generate a completely new brand image in the market.
What are the most immediate outcomes of rebranding? Brand qualities of an already existing company or offer, such as name, design, logo, and so on, are updated or amended. In effect, you change the existing brand image or make it more easily recognizable than it previously was.
To reiterate, the goal of rebranding is not to create a new brand but to revitalize an existing brand so it can compete in an ever-changing market. It focuses not only on the appearance of the brand but also on the internal processes that manage the business.
There are two levels of rebranding. Either the product or service being promoted is rebranded, or the entire company is rebranded, known as a corporate rebrand.
The reasons why businesses rebrand can either be proactive or reactive. When a corporation rebrands its existing products or services for future events, this is known as proactive rebranding (for long-term benefits). Examples of these benefits can include future growth, access to a new line of business, or leveaging trends or relevancy. Reactive rebranding, on the other hand, is when a corporation “reacts” to a circumstance by issuing a rebrand. Examples of these circumstances that call for reactive branding can include legal issues, mergers or takeovers, or negative publicity.
Why should companies rebrand?
Large corporations such as Coca-Cola, Shell, and PepsiCo have traditionally dominated global markets. However, the internet has also enabled small and medium-sized businesses to reach out to worldwide customers. This means that companies must re-examine their brand or product names when entering new worldwide markets.
Product names must be understandable to international customers, and companies should not solely rely on computer translations. Instead, they should hire a local specialist to help them communicate effectively. Lay’s, for example, utilizes several brand names in different markets, such as Walkers in the United Kingdom and Smith’s in Australia. LG Electronics is another company that changed its name to expand into new markets. The Korean brand was known as Luck and GoldStar and began using the moniker LG in 1995 to appeal to western clients. Businesses must remember that if they employ a new logo, they must ensure that it is neither offensive nor culturally insensitive.
2) Acquisitions & mergers
Branding is frequently associated with a merger or acquisition as businesses assess any market, geography, or product line overlaps. If a company is a part of a merger, it must examine old brands and choose which branding components to maintain. Similarly, organizations involved in an acquisition must select a visual identity that reflects company changes. Mergers have given rise to influential brand names such as PricewaterhouseCooper and Verizon, which arose from the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE.
3) Changing Markets
Customers are increasingly going digital, prompting businesses that rely solely on physical stores to reconsider their business models. Fashion retailers have been impacted the most by this trend, with several thousands of outlets across the country closing. For example, despite being an online department store, Amazon.com has benefitted from skyrocketing sales.
Companies must rebrand if they wish to showcase their flexibility. Online customers expect simplicity, and businesses can demonstrate their dedication to digital solutions by rebranding.
4) Change of leadership
CEOs contribute to the image of a company. A new CEO gives a company new life and reflects a new identity. For example, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, one of the first things he did was update the logo. The corporation was no longer represented by a rainbow-colored logo but by a metallic form that is now one of the most famous logos in the world.
When leadership passes from one person to another, an evident shift is visible at all levels of an organization. Rebranding allows businesses to demonstrate this transformation and eliminate any uncertainty among customers and stakeholders. Companies may need to rebrand if a founder passes away. By rebranding in this situation, they can reassert their dedication to the fundamental ideals.
Businesses must have innovative and engaging branding to remain relevant. Repositioning will help a company demonstrate its evolution and acceptance of the change. In the event where a company hasn’t evolved from when it first started, then eventually it will be time to adopt a new corporate identity.
Weight Watchers, for example, rebranded to WW to represent a shift from dieting towards wellness. While the company was previously focused on healthy food for weight loss, it is now shifting its focus to general health and wellness.
Target is another company that specializes in rebranding. The company’s repositioning efforts include store remodels, improved online assets, and a focus on core products. The retail industry is competitive, and Target has relied significantly on distinctiveness to stand apart.
Rebranding can help businesses present themselves in a new way. Furthermore, they can make apparent changes to their company’s mission, HR policy, products or services, or brand promise to customers.
6) Outdated image
Businesses must refresh their brand image to stand out among professionally designed business images. Companies that have been operating for an extended period frequently need to rebrand to keep up with changing aesthetics. For example, if they continue to use a palette from the 1990s, they may be setting up their business to appear dated and dull. IT businesses such as IBM and Google have redesigned their logos over time to represent their identity.
They should also assess whether their brand image represents any changes that have occurred in the company during the rebranding process. They should also evaluate whether their brand’s logo, brand name, typography, and other features support their brand identity. If not, the business may need a brand refresh.
7) Separate from the competition
Companies that operate in a saturated market will require a solid brand to stand out. Slack, for example, dropped its hashtag logo to differentiate itself from other social media businesses such as Facebook. Another example is Twitch’s purple palette, which distinguishes it from YouTube’s red, black, and white colors.
Today’s customers are concerned with the items they purchase and the companies with whom they interact. Companies can influence customer impression by telling a story about their company’s identity, values, and mission.
8) Disassociate from a bad reputation
If a brand develops a bad reputation for any reason, the impact on business operations can be catastrophic. In this instance, rebranding is the only way to reduce and hopefully eliminate people’s bad associations with the brand.
It is critical, however, that companies go beyond making exterior modifications (to a logo, for example). The changes also need to be effected throughout all elements of the company. Remember that a brand is more than simply a name or a logo; it reflects all the values, standards, and principles for which an organization stands.
In 1996, for example, a ValuJet plane crashed in the Everglades National Park, killing 110 people. The airline’s reputation was severely harmed, forcing a rebranding in 1997. As a result, it purchased AirTran Airways and assumed its name. After being purchased by Southwest, the corporation distanced itself from the ValuJet tragedy. In this kind of scenario, rebranding might help an organization in separate itself from a tragic situation.
After unwanted exposure, even a simple name change can help a business rebrand. As another example, with a history of environmental disasters, BP has constantly rebranded its image to reinforce its commitment to sustainable energy. Similarly, once its founder was discovered to have taken performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career, the Lance Armstrong Foundation was renamed the Livestrong Foundation.
9) Target new markets
Rebranding can help a company appeal to new demographics and increase commercial growth. First, they must conduct market research to find gaps and opportunities. Second, they should concentrate on improving their messaging to attract new clients.
A one-of-a-kind rebranding initiative can help a company redefine its market position and improve its bottom line. For example, Michael Kors has long been associated with affordable yet luxury handbags, but the company also aims to enter the high-end market. The company rebranded itself as Capri Holdings as it continues to acquire luxury brands such as Jimmy Choo and Gianni Versace Fashion House.
The role of PR in rebranding
Rebranding is a serious undertaking. The better a company’s interactions with its consumers are, the better its bottom line will be.
As mentioned, a successful rebranding campaign requires a vision that inspires consumers, investors, and others to see the brand differently. In summary, it is more than just a new logo. At the same time, rebranding a company’s aims, message, and culture can be problematic. Many people have tried and failed.
‘Rebranding’ is a marketing approach with a defined goal: to create a new, distinct identity in the minds of consumers, investors, competitors, investors, and other stakeholders. A rebranding effort is essentially a PR campaign. After all, rebranding involves a company recreating its image or message to gain public trust. Businesses must develop a communications strategy since rebranding should successfully rework a company’s aims, message, and culture. For this reason, public relations must be included in essential rebranding choices for the brand’s success because public relations experts have the most direct contact with a company’s target audiences or the public.
PR’s insights regarding prospective public reactions are critical to the rebranding process. When a rebrand occurs, public relations should be in charge of crucial critical phases, which include:
Communicating the change to multiple audiences
The role of public relations is to make the ‘new’ brand known to various stakeholders, such as employees, consumers, shareholders, the media, and so on. Each of these audiences requires a separate message, which PR can handle. Communicating the change to staff could be as simple as sending out an internal newsletter or spreading the message to other stakeholders, such as investors, partners, and the government. It could also include personalized announcements that address possible or identified problems. Public relations can and should use all relevant communication channels to reach customers. A well-thought-out public relations strategy would generate targeted messages aimed at reaching audiences via social media, email, blogs, and so on.
Managing audience expectations
A crisis communications strategy is a vital PR tactic for rebranding. Once the rebranding is made public, public relations specialists should monitor any situations or reactions. It’s also critical to reassure and inform all key audiences related to the company about the changes. By the time the new logo is unveiled, they should comprehend the more delicate nuances of the rebrand.
Phasing out the rebrand launch
PR must guarantee that the rebranding process is well planned and phased out. First off, internal communications should be prioritized. Internal employees are the company’s most vocal rebranding advocates. For this reason, all critical questions must be addressed with them in mind. Before going public, companies must also ensure that all internal stakeholders understand the changes to the name, logo, services, and features.
How to successfully communicate a rebrand
Before the rebrand
1) Understand the business drivers behind the rebranding
A CEO may have decided at the highest level that it is time to rebrand and reposition their company, and they may have already made some preliminary decisions. However, before they begin, it is crucial that the senior team fully understands the commercial justification for the choice; thus, taking the time to sit down and discuss this is an obvious but critical step.
They should also not be scared to involve their communications staff at this early stage. They have a fundamental awareness of how the company is viewed in the market and are well-positioned to advise on the potential impact of a rebrand on the company’s image and reputation, as well as how to implement it in practice. They may recommend undertaking early research, enlisting essential employees within and outside the organization to help analyze current brand perception, and testing the waters with fresh ideas.
2) Develop a new messaging framework
While companies may consider a simple update to the company name and logo, a rebrand is a significant change that frequently indicates that their organization’s core values are also changing.
This type of reinvention calls for strong brand messaging that sets the tone for where the organization is headed in the following years. Even if the message is “everything will remain the same,” businesses should take the time to sit down and think about precisely what they want to say about their business and how they can back up those words with concrete data.
Companies should prioritize this so that their messaging accurately reflects where they have been and are heading. This will be a solid foundation for all subsequent communication, not just during the rebrand but for years to come.
3) Identify the amount and time of work required
This is a critical phase in determining how far the branding will go and how long it will take to complete the marketing effort. Businesses realize how much marketing collateral they currently have and assess what has to be updated, changed, or eliminated.
Companies typically use this period to update or relaunch their website in accordance with new brand rules and messages. This can add six months or more to the campaign timetable, depending on the scope of work. Product sheets and brochures (which may need to be reprinted), all social media platforms, and any other marketing assets, from office signs to stationery, may require similar revisions.
Naturally, not everything has to be doneat once, and a transition time is to be expected – but defining priorities early on with the marketing team will assist in avoiding delays later on.
The right sequence of communication
4) Inform internal teams of the rebrand
Once you’ve gotten the ball rolling at the board level and with the marketing and communications teams, organizations must ensure that their employees are informed well in advance of any public announcements to keep them on board with the changes. The internal ‘all employees’ mailer is equally vital as any external communication in that it must contextualize the decision and welcome questions and discussion.
In addition to the first internal announcement, a thorough briefing for all client-facing staff on how the rebrand would affect their day-to-day contacts will ensure everyone is ‘on message.’ A centralized FAQ document, for example, can be an incredibly beneficial tool at this stage.
5) Inform clients and stakeholders
Just like employees, investors and clients must be kept informed. They will be upset if they think they are the last to learn about the change. Communicating with these groups requires a delicate balance of presenting what’s fresh and exciting while assuring them of what will remain constant.
It makes sense to contact significant clients and stakeholders before the more prominent industry announcement so companies can fine-tune their messaging internally. However, they should not let the news leak out on its own accord before going public.
6) Inform the broader market
While a well-placed press release distributed widely (and pitched in advance under embargo to several friendly journalists) can do a lot of the legwork for a company in disseminating news of an upcoming rebrand, they will also need to have the right amount of supporting collateral in place to ensure synchrony.
The difficulty is in determining how much. It may be a little too ambitious to have a new website developed, tested, and ready to go online in time for the market announcement.
While writing a press release and other supporting content may appear simple, it can be challenging to gather all the necessary information and format it to entice readers. As a result, hiring professionals can sometimes make the process easier.
PR agencies such as Pressfarm assist clients to create newsworthy and engaging content such as email pitches, press releases, guest posts, and press kits distributed to relevant media professionals and influencers. Furthermore, their Account Executive will create a custom media list by drawing from their database of over 1 million media contacts. With these media contacts, clients can partner with relevant and respected media professionals to promote their brand story.
After the announcement
7) Stop referencing the old brand
Depending on how powerful a company’s market influence is and the heritage of the former brand, it may still be required to refer to its old name for some time following the rebrand. However, the longer this goes on, the more likely the company will be forever remembered as “the company formerly known X.”
That is why it is critical to set a date from which the company will no longer refer to the former name. If they publicized the rebrand far in advance and gave the market plenty of time to prepare for the transition, this date could coincide with the rebrand’s effective date. If, for whatever reason, the change was made more quickly, they may want to wait a month or so before removing all traces of their last name.
8) Keep talking
Don’t make a big statement and then disappear. Instead, businesses must capitalize on the media momentum generated by the rebrand. Planning ahead of time by creating a carefully curated pipeline of transaction stories to highlight their ongoing market activity following the rebrand is important. This is because it will help the company substantiate the primary themes and assertions they have made. Since actions speak louder than words, businesses must communicate their efforts.
There are many reasons why a company should rebrand, but it is vital to have a well-thought-out plan beforehand. Whether it is to step away from negative press, stay relevant in their industry, or merge with another company, rebranding must be done at any stage of a company’s lifecycle. The important thing is that the process is communicated both internally and externally so that team members, stakeholders, customers (both current and potential) are all aware. With the help of the tips above and by partnering with PR professionals, companies will be able to create content that is informative and draws people in.