Why & When Should You Consider Rebranding
Branding can be defined as the efforts taken to influence the perception of people. With that said, rebranding comes into the picture when an enterprise has a dire need to revamp its ‘image’, literally and figuratively.
What may seem exciting on the surface, rebranding can often be a complicated undertaking. If not executed with astute professionalism, wit, and experience, the rebranding process can backfire, diluting the brand image further.
The intricacies of rebranding beg to be studied in-depth, so the following writeup will classify the nuances of this wonderful exercise into bite-size pieces of information, for everyone’s understanding.
Establishing Brand Identity
Be it a small business or a well-funded startup that has the potential to be a unicorn company, brand identity must be built from the ground up, intentionally.
Business owners cannot afford to leave branding or brand identity to chance as crafting a persona for your dream enterprise is imperative. More imperative than just naming your business or designing a logo.
It is practically manifesting an identity that will potentially(in the best case scenario) live on forever.
For instance, there was a very slim chance that an odd-tasting drink named Karting Daeng would have any chance of mass adoption. But when packaged as RedBull, an energy drink that gives you wings(which interestingly limits its consumption to not more than 2 cans a day), was able to surprise everyone & compete with giants like Coca-Cola.
There are many brand identity tales to learn from. Big and small companies often make headlines with these tales. However, to avoid blunders and sticking out like sore thumbs, the following brand identity rules must be adhered to:
Determine/brainstorm how your brand must be perceived by the consumer.
Uncover the brand's authentic story that is relevant as well as attracts your target audience.
Cover all grounds while naming your brand like domain name availability, registration, and caveats concerning legalities.
Scrutinize the logo as many times as required, until a strong & unique one emerges that works on a variety of scales and sizes.
Ensure the brand identity is investor-friendly. Investors tend to back a venture that has a branding that looks more professional, resonating, and global. Simple knock-offs tell a bad brand story and as brand designers, we need to be mindful of the same.
Why & When Must You Rebrand
A rebrand is more than just a cosmetic renovation of a company.
There are times when a brand needs a simple image change and sometimes, inevitability catches up like bad karma. Regardless of the reason, the below pointers are sure to guide anyone on ‘why and when must you rebrand’.
Out with the old, in with the new
As times change and industry standards shift, the design for your brand could quickly look outdated. Three dimensional logos used to be huge two decades back, but most brands have shifted away from that to adopt a much more minimal 2 dimensional flat look in the current times. This is because the 2D logo is easy to scale, recall & be used consistently. A 3D logo, while giving a snazzy look, is inflexible, complicated, and produces inconsistencies on printed mediums (such as embossing & laser cutting) & smaller applications.
Inevitable brand expansion
As the famous saying goes “if you’re not growing, you’re dying”, and it is an open secret that the key to consistent growth is expansion. Trying not to plateau or evolve at a linear trajectory, brands often expand, offering new products, services, and others, venturing into uncharted waters.
As often as impending failure leads to expansion, success does the same, and the urge to expand remains a common denominator.
Regardless of the motivation to expand, rebranding is a great idea at this juncture and Dunkin’ Donuts’ masterstroke cannot be overstated.
Profitable in some parts of the world and running at a loss in others, Dunkin’ Donuts’ rebranded significantly as Dunkin’, not only changing its name but also the logo. Observing a marginal increase in revenue, Dunkin’ undertook this challenge to take on Starbucks like fast coffee brands and to steer away from being synonymous with selling doughnuts.
Realignment in values & vision
The brand ‘Uber’, under Dara Khosrowshahi decided to repair it's brand image, he promised to ‘Do the right thing’. However, as they started battling with negative press, their all-capital UBER logo, written in bold alphabets cueing a hyper-masculine outlook didn't help. They decided to rebrand (twice!) to create positive associations.
While working with the design studio ‘Wolff-Olins’, they created a brand new logo that stood for nothing but simplicity, global usage, and the fresh look translated well across all locales.
The aftermath of a bad PR
Remember the infamous YouTube ‘adpocalypse’ of 2017? Yes, the adpocalypse is a classic example of a PR nightmare when YouTube displayed advertisements from Pepsico, Nestle, Audi, AT&T, and other big brands before inappropriate videos. Calling them inappropriate is stating it mildly as some of these videos were racist, condoning terrorism or worse.
Losing over $750 million in a day, Google sprung into action to modulate ads to show before apt video content, enforced robust new algorithms, and of course, rebranded YouTube. Removing the red color that highlighted ‘tube’, separating it from ‘you’, and adding a red play button before ‘YouTube’, Google managed to salvage your favorite video hosting site from a certain disaster.
The logo rebranding was necessary not just to create a new impression in the user's mind. It was also to deny & disassociate itself from any rumored connection with an adult website that had a similar black & red logo, and the word ‘tube’ in it.
Needless to say, you don’t have a choice but to rebrand after a PR nightmare.
If you’ve merged or acquired with another brand
The brands that were performing relatively well, Vodafone and Idea, had to succumb to the mind-boggling tariffs and offerings launched by Jio.
The bold rebranding of Vodafone & Idea would set a lasting example in the branding industry.
Ogilvy group, the agency behind this genius, took the ‘V’ from Vodafone and ‘i’ from Idea and called it ‘Vi’, pronounced as ‘we’. The genius doesn’t end here as the inverted ‘i’ was retained which can also be seen as an explanation sign or, you guessed it, an “idea”.
This was a step towards establishing a magnanimous name in the industry by two mega stakeholders who, interestingly, had very different approaches to their customers. The big splash was also a strategic move towards building a formidable position, especially when the company was facing a financial crunch and planned on raising ₹25,000 crores to meet government dues, pay interest, and invest in operations.
The power of branding was again banked upon to create a positive and strong approach to address the challenge change brings in, in this case, a merger.
The Last Strand
The 1997 rebranding of Apple’s ad campaign and the ‘Think Different’ slogan is a classic case study in the branding world. A tumultuous time for Steve Jobs, Apple was witnessing a decline in market share, and the brand needed to convey a short and simple story to its customers.
Jobs invited ‘Lee Clow’ among other ad agency representatives to rebrand Apple to convey the best-suited message, and Lee Clow pitched the slogan ‘Think different. What is still known as one the most successful rebranding stories, ‘Think different’ not only changed the world view of Apple but also restructured the lackluster image that plagued the company.
Apple backed up the slogan by launching industry-defining products one after the other, and today is the pioneer in the product manufacturing market.
The Perks of Rebranding
Acquire a new audience
Brands must be on the lookout for new demographics, age groups, or audiences based on certain geography and rebranding works wonders in attracting a new audience if executed correctly.
Differentiating from the competition
Sooner or later, brands find themselves crowded in an industry niche that was earlier vacant for solid growth in business, and rebranding can be a strong differentiating factor from the competition.
Finding a fresh outlook & staying relevant
Smart businesses thrive with time as they constantly indulge in renovation and ideas to stay relevant. A good rebranding strategy can portray these efforts clearly to the audience, giving the brand a fresh outlook at the right time.
Strengthen & retain the core consumer
Consumer retention is a tricky business and when a loyal consumer looks elsewhere for a better product/service, you have potentially lost them. Rebranding can help reposition the perception of the said consumer by showcasing the offering transparently and attracting them with newer ones.
How to Rebrand Your Business?
Audit your brand
The first step to a rebrand is understanding what needs to be fixed. A deep dive into all the current touchpoints of the brand across the customer's path to purchase is a crucial step to determine the areas of improvement & scope of the rebrand itself.
This step will also allow you to brainstorm additional customer touchpoints that can be added to improve the experience someone has with your brand, increasing the brand's value.
Reiterate your business values, mission, and vision
Revisit the initial days of incepting your business and chart out what makes it special. The core values your business was built upon will be essential for rebranding.
Figure out what your consumers loved about you, and bringing some of that magic back can help build a stronger brand.
As much as the visual appearances coax the perception of your consumer, the tone, words, and voice you use in your messaging sets wonderful precedence for rebranding.
A strong vision is equally important as it is the foundation your business stands on and make sure to include necessary changes to your vision before rebranding.
Research the market, the competition, and your audience
It is imperative to grasp the changes that have taken place since the founding of your brand.
This study will immediately help you in catering to your older & newer audience alike whilst formulating a new robust rebranding strategy.
In the same process, thoroughly research your competition, and how to stand apart from them.
Put forth a focus group of your target audience and collect valuable data which will future-proof your brand.
Provide core offerings but learn to ride the trend that makes sense to your brand. This swift adaptation will help you stay relevant and fresh in the minds of your audience.
Study the needs, wants, and desires of your audience
As mentioned numerous times, audience perception, their needs, wants, and desires are a priority.
Establish a platform where your audience could participate in providing feedback that is invaluable for the longevity of your brand.
If your brand sells clothing and you have an audience for this, selling footwear makes a little less sense. So figure out what your audience really wants from you and reconsider drastic changes during the rebranding process.
Precisely how Tiktok capitalized on the small gap left by Instagram and Snapseed, look for gaps in the market constantly, and knowing your audience’s desires helps in this process.
Collaborate with your most valuable asset, your team
Consistency is key, so carefully audit all your brand touchpoints, ensuring it stays consistent across all platforms and mediums.
Your team is responsible for the content you create so it pays to produce quality content that sets itself apart even on a store shelf of a thousand similar products.
Include your entire team in the rebranding process and make sure that everyone is heard. The best of ideas often originate from the most unlikely source and this could be a potential marketing strategy.
Rebuilding the aesthetics
Designing visual collaterals for social media, websites, mobile phones, and print must be cohesive as every platform displays color value differently.
A logo is how a brand identifies itself to the world so make it simplistic, two-dimensional (if possible), eliminate negative space, make it memorable, and use it consistently on all platforms.
Unless your logo needs a desperate change, don’t steer too far from the initial logo. If your logo has sustained a large audience already, be cautious while changing it, and if you wish to attract more or larger audience, feel free to go drastic.
Certain colors are set in the marketing stone for certain industries which simply work. For example, yellows and reds are said to incite hunger so brands like KFC and McDonald’s capitalize on it.
Having said that, the right strategy can turn any hue to a brand’s favor and even set it apart from its sea of competitors. For instance, Dominoes is all Blue but is still strong a competitor.
Slogans, headers, copy, quotes, and all the fine prints need to be well designed and documented font, color, sizing, style, as the human eye is quick to notice inconsistencies in typographies.
Undertake predictive analytics and plug the gaps
You don’t need an astrologer as long as you run a little predictive analytics. Used to determine future performance, decision making, and widely across marketing, predictive analytics give you a glimpse of what’s to come so that you’re not only prepared for it but make money from it.
The same analytics can efficiently plug the gaps in the market that may have been overseen by the competition.
Your rebranded business is ready to launch
Set a date for the relaunch of the rebrand and answer the question ‘why did you rebrand’ before you’re asked.
Pick up where you previously left off with your audience and narrate the story behind the rebrand, slowly.
Provide rebrand offers to loyal customers to retain and attract potential customers close by.
Do’s & Don'ts of Rebranding
Although the success stories of rebranding outshine the failures, these Do’s and Don’ts will come in handy in time of need:
Spend time researching and unearthing your brand truths.
Indulge in open dialogue with your employees, stakeholders, and customers to understand what makes your brand unique.
Understand what people would miss if your brand didn’t exist and how easy it is for them to jump ship.
Audit all touchpoints before starting a redesign. The last thing you want is the new rebrand to be less efficient than your existing identity.
Involve people from your brand who might have opinions on the rebranding. One representative from each department is usually a good idea.
Align all your PR and marketing activities with the rebranding, and invest in videography that will summarise the rebranding perfectly. (eg. yulu brand story video)
Hire a quality control team that ensures all the new materials are in line with the new brand language.
Allow senior graphic designers, copywriters, and visual experts to monitor the new materials and collaterals until the trajectory of the rebranding is understood.
Don’t take the leap of rebranding without clear goals, expectations, or necessities.
Rebranding is an expensive undertaking that can last for months even after the launch. So don’t indulge in the process if you lack the time or the money.
Don’t assume rebranding will show results immediately. It may take months of monitoring and tweaking to attain the desired RoI.
Don’t assume all rebrands are successful. Research on the failures of rebranding teaches you valuable lessons of what not to do.