If your business or organization is stuck in a rut, it may be time to rebrand. This process can be relatively simple and when implemented correctly it can breathe new life and new business into your organization. Yet sometimes even large corporations experience rebranding difficulties and disasters. What can you do to ensure your rebranding effort is successful?
My Company’s Image Is Tired, Unfashionable And/Or Lackluster
For businesses and organizations of all shapes and sizes, there inevitably comes a time when rebranding is necessary. For some, rebranding is an exciting process – they may view it as a fresh start or a fashionable makeover, similar to the effects of a new hairstyle, wardrobe and attitude may have on an individual. Others view it with trepidation – why should a business or organization change its image, especially if consumers are familiar and comfortable with the existing branding?
Excitement Vs. Recklessness
If a rebranding effort is successful, your customers and employees may feel a renewed sense of excitement and pride in your business or organization, while potential customers and the public at large may view you in a new light and with a “fresh set of eyes”. However, if a rebranding effort is unsuccessful, your company may appear reckless, impulsive and even frivolous, inauthentic or even unprofessional to your employees, customers and the public at large. Moral could be hurt among your employees while both new and existing customers could turn to your competitors.
Some businesses and organizations choose to rebrand relatively early after the founding or incorporation of a company, while other businesses and organizations rebrand after many decades or even a century of doing business. Businesses and organizations that rebrand early may do so because the original branding failed in some way, or the original branding was amateurish or ill-fitting in some way. When a business or organization rebrands early, there is less risk involved due to the original branding being unknown to the public at large.
Larger Risks Later
Established businesses and organizations that decide to rebrand usually take a much larger risk in alienating customers, employees and the public at large since the original brand is well-known to all. Often these rebranding efforts incorporate more of a gradual rebranding, in which the new logo and design elements borrow heavily from the original and legacy branding. In these cases, the rebranding can be subtle, such as the use of a similar but more modern font or illustration in a logo and a tweaked color scheme. The use of this refined or gradual rebranding can be seen in recent campaigns by Wendy’s, Pepsi, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, which famously and officially changed the name of the restaurant chain to the initials KFC. All of these rebranding efforts utilized legacy branding elements, including color schemes, logos and mascots.
Another distinct form of rebranding is forced rebranding. This rebranding of a product or company is almost always the result of legal action, usually a dispute over trademarks. In this instance the normal rebranding process can apply, but the timetable to complete the process is usually much shorter and the incorporation of legacy branding elements is strictly curtailed. Forced rebranding can happen to businesses of all sizes, although it occurs less often with larger corporations and organizations that have the resources at their disposal to thoroughly vet trademark registrations before introducing a newly-branded subsidiary, product or service. This is not always true, especially among multinational corporations who do not properly vet international trademark registrations when their products are launched in multiple countries under the same branding.
Planning Is Huge
With so much riding on the successful implementation of a rebranding effort, it should come as no surprise that all businesses and organizations who rebrand should do so only after many hours of planning and preparation. Large businesses and organizations often hire design firms and consultants to handle a rebranding effort, while smaller businesses and organizations may depend on smaller design firms and less prominent or experienced designers. However, successful branding does not depend on the qualifications or renown of a designer or design firm or a massive budget. For instance, the world-famous Nike “Swoosh” logo was created in 1971 by a graphic design student for $35, while a new logo for clothing retailer The Gap was developed in 2010 with the full backing and resources of Gap Incorporated, only to be universally panned and discontinued after less than a week.
No matter the reason for rebranding, marketing and design experts have identified a few universal guidelines for all projects. First, it is imperative that a rebranding effort have the full support of ownership and/or management. Next, it is important to solicit feedback from employees, customers and the public, usually through the use of internal and external focus groups. Finally, and some believe most importantly, a rebranding effort should be fully implemented throughout a business or organization. This includes the immediate and official retirement of legacy branding and a full roll out of the rebranding. This may require a substantial investment of funding and resources.