Brands can and should evolve as the market changes. To rebrand or not to rebrand, that is the question. But how do they know when it’s time to rebrand? Visually: How the business looks. Rebranding can mean overhauling the organization’s visual look and feel, or simply updating verbal messaging to adapt to different competitors, a new market or customer feedback. The company may be able to shift the messaging and core value proposition, for example, without changing its design. Understanding the reason for wanting to rebrand will help a business settle on strategic timing. The target audience has changed (or expanded). The offerings or price points have changed. The times have changed.
Brands can and should evolve as the market changes. But be sure you are rebranding for the right reasons.
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To rebrand or not to rebrand, that is the question. With all apologies to Hamlet, brand strategists like myself hear this question quite often from entrepreneurs and marketing leaders.
The most efficient way to make lean, mean and smart marketing moves is to first articulate a strong brand strategy, then use it to inform the messaging, visual identity and offering mix. When organizations work backwards — crafting marketing, messages and visuals before hashing out brand strategy — this often results in wasted time, money and energy.
Savvy entrepreneurs diligently craft a strong brand strategy to build a firm foundation before they embark on marketing and other customer-acquisition tactics. And, as the company grows, equally savvy marketing executives evolve that brand. But how do they know when it’s time to rebrand?
To get to the right answer, we must understand that brand is more than just colors and logos. Brand is the core and essence of the business and is conveyed in three essential ways.
- Visually: How the business looks. Logo, colors, fonts, design, imagery.
- Verbally: How the business sounds. Company name, messaging, website copy, voice.
- Experientially: How the business acts. Policies, customer service, hiring.
Rebranding can mean overhauling the organization’s visual look and feel, or simply updating verbal messaging to adapt to different competitors, a new market or customer feedback. It means making a new promise to the target audience and repositioning that promise in every customer touch point. Attention is often given only to logo redesign because it is the most apparent, but rebranding can touch any of the visual, verbal or experiential brand aspects.
To make an informed decision about rebranding, we must consider that a business can rebrand in one area without tackling a massive overhaul of the others. The company may be able to shift the messaging and core value proposition, for example, without changing its design. Or it may be able to put better policies and practices in place to walk its current talk without changing its logo. Understanding the reason for wanting to rebrand will help a business settle on strategic timing.
Here are six good reasons to rebrand a business:
1. The target audience has changed (or expanded).
Your existing brand messaging, design and packaging may have been perfect for small business owners, but they’re less relevant to the large enterprises that now comprise your ideal clientele. Or, perhaps you have expanded your offerings to include different genders, age groups or affinities. The NFL has attempted to rebrand itself and appeal to more women as 46 percent of its audience is female, up 18.7 percent over the last decade. This has led to targeted messaging, advertising and PR/community outreach (due to negative scandals, such as domestic violence) to appeal to this new, important audience.
2. The main benefits or value proposition has changed.
You may have launched your business to initially provide A, B and C for people, but over the years, the business shifted to provide different benefits based on market trends or customer feedback. eBay initially started out offering online auctions for previously-owned goods but has refined its brand look and advertising messaging to focus on offering new unique items or designer merchandise. Salesforce.com built its brand solely around customer relationship management (CRM) but now offers a broad ecosystem of strategic business products and services. The brand messaging has evolved to support that new promise. Amazon’s brand started out as an online bookseller; now, the company’s messaging and advertising promotes more than just books, and its expanded offerings make the brand synonymous with speed and convenience for your life.
3. The offerings or price points have changed.
This is not about expanding…