Time for a rebrand? Well. Maybe.
Rebranding is a powerful strategic tool to reposition a firm, or manifest a new direction. This is a perspective on the do’s and dont’s, and what to consider before you inform your board.
First things first…

We want more people to buy more of our stuff over a longer period of time at a higher price. And we want talent to break down our doors.

Yes. This essential sentence describes what we as business leaders want our brand to do for us. We expect it to drive loyalty, help increase sales, develop our products. And of course, acquire and retain the right talent to join us on our growth journey.
There are two overarching scenarios that usually lead to a rebrand:
  1. An acquisition, merger or integration, or change of business focus – meaning a major change of the business practice.
  2. Declining business performance on all levels – resulting in talent drain, stagnation, negative growth numbers, and customer churn. As a result, needing to change the business to meet these challenges.

Sometimes, despite our trying efforts, our brand may not deliver on all those targets at the same time. We may even find ourselves making short-term, rushed changes to address failing sales, employee churn and lagging product development. None of which (and we know) help us in the long run.

So. Here is a short overview to check if a rebrand is the solution for you. Why you should consider it, and why not.

First, a disclaimer: No, a rebrand will not solve your overarching business challenges. It might, however, increase the likelihood of success and enable new growth a lot faster – if implemented properly.

What is a rebrand – really?

A rebrand is meant to change the way that an organization, company, or product is perceived and understood by the public, their stakeholders and their customers. And is done to increase business performance and growth opportunities.

This can be, for example, by changing the way the company looks and feels, how they manage their customer journey, what products they offer, or how they communicate.

When to consider a rebrand. The seven most common reasons:

Consider a rebrand if your business finds itself in one of the following situations, and if that situation has or will have a strategic impact on your business performance. Before you enter this process, you must ensure you base your decisions on proper intelligence and analytics – not on gut feelings.

1.Competition is changing and winning
Your firm finds itself in a situation where competition is more visible than before. They may use a different gotomarket approach and start winning clients or projects, or simply grow faster by means of market share and visibility.

2. Merger / Acquisition
The most obvious reason to rebrand is when you enter a merger or acquisition scenario. This usually is a matter-of-fact activity for the acquired brand, but can also be a strategic opportunity for the acquiring firm to revamp their brand, show the market a new direction and develop their offering to become a more focused, relevant player in their field. You should review our M&A article next to learn more about the mechanics behind it.

3. Entering a new market
Entering a new market can be a new region, a new set of customers, or simply changing your target audience because of changes in the decisionmaker arena. Some new markets require you to understand and review cultural and behavioral differences to your current market.

They may also require different communication, different sales processes, and possibly a complete overhaul of your brand appearance. A rebrand may not always be the solution as a new brand perception may negatively influence your original position. In that case, consider creating a new vertical for that market, or launch a flanker brand to take market share without directly influencing your current business.

4. Launching a new product/ vertical
A new product or vertical often demands you to rethink how your firm is perceived in the market, and how that new vertical can help develop your firms position without harming the existing products and offerings. This is not a problem if you keep the new products within your overarching brand strategy. For example,

Nike launching a set of tennis rackets – it is still sports, apparel and equipment. However, if you are General Motors and are launching a tech-based private ride-sharing service, you may want to consider updating your brand to match this vertical and show a new direction. New products may also be a powerful strategic tool to move a company into new markets and new business models. And possibly completely new customers.

5. Identified need for new, possibly different, talent
Your employer brand does not have enough pull. Your ads don’t attract the right talent and your recruitment agency struggles to provide you with stellar candidates your firm wants to build its future on. If this sounds familiar your brand is probably not doing you any favors, and both your business, your perception, and your position may be off.

Attracting and retaining the right talent is one of the eight winning core strategies of successful brands. If you are not perceived as a career accelerant, you will always be the second (or third, fourth or hundredth) choice for top talent.

6. Proven misalignment between your customers and the product you are offering
When electrical cars became a thing again about 20 years ago, customers wanted the comfort and ease of their ICE powered cars transferred to electrical drivetrains. However, early adopters of the electrical wave were stuck with small cars that could not achieve any kind of range, and more often than not, lacked basic functions. Customers and products were clearly not aligned.

Along comes Tesla and offers both range, speed and comfort – and tech that exceeds anything on the road. Tesla could have been a development of any electric car company. It was not, but still provides an example of how misalignment can be overcome by developing products, and branding them to achieve a new position in the customers mind. Porsche managed to both convince buyers that they can make SUVs as well as electrical cars, but it is doubtful that Skoda can suddenly sell high-end sports cars.

7. Your firm is moving from scale-up to grownup
Lastly. You startup is succeeding, you have surpassed the scale-up stage and are now growing at a fast, yet controllable rate. This stage usually requires a close look at structures, focus, communication and – brand.

Once you manage a company with more than a certain amount of people (in Europe, we can see a clear change when you surpass 100) you may want to manifest your brand strategy, define your vision, and make sure your brand represents the archetype (yep we have an article on this too) you aspire to be.

Process of rebranding

The process of rebranding can be long, and sometimes requires a lot of research and competitive analysis. Regardless of the different sub-elements, the process lives along these fours simple lines and ends up in an activation and experience circle of continuous movement:

 

 

We will give you a stepbystep guide on rebranding soon, for now, you can look at the following simple headlines:
  1. Understand your strategic reason for your rebrand.
  2. Ensure you have a brand team ready to move ahead – define the governance.
  3. Begin your analytics phase, and start with a competitive analysis.
  4. Execute a brand audit and include your stakeholders and employees.
  5. Define who you are, why you exist, what you want to achieve, how you are going to do it and who you are doing it for.
  6. Articulate your aspired position.
  7. Create your rebranding strategy and roadmap (and a comprehensive budget).
  8. Define your core brand elements and articulate these in the rebranding strategy.
  9. Develop your brand identity.
  10. Clarify and adjust your messaging.
  11. Articulate your brand experience rules.
  12. Create comprehensive and holistic brand guidelines (no, not only how to use the logo).
  13. Begin the roll-out based on your business.
When not to rebrand
This article would not be complete without a quick overview of when you should not consider a complete rebrand (and you will see that it still happens – a lot):
  1. The firm appoints a new CEO/CMO.
  2. The management team is tired of the firms identity and likes the competition better.
  3. The firm is facing a PR nightmare
  4. Business performance is not reaching its targets.
  5. Products are failing or are not gaining the traction you expected.
  6. Management “feels” it is time to modernize the brand.
  7. The firm has unhappy customers.
  8. Corporate structures do not work as designed.
  9. Culture is not aligned with the ambitions of the firm.
  10. Customer journeys are not aligned with customer expectations.

Good luck.


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Published
20.03.2022

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