So, rebranding – should you do it? Is it a complete nightmare? Do you feel like you’re standing at the foot of a huge mountain when you think about it? Well, like it or not, rebranding is essential, at some point in time, for every business. We rebranded ourselves in June 2019 at the Lets Do Business expo. But how do you know when the time is right? This article highlights six key signs to show when your business needs a rebrand.
The most effective and efficient way to make smart marketing moves is to first establish a strong brand strategy and then use this strategy to communicate the messaging, visual identity and the offerings of your company as a mix. Mistakes are made when companies work backwards, marketing, messages and visual design before formulating and creating a brand strategy. This can often result in wasted time, money and energy.
Wise business owners and marketers will work out a strong brand strategy first, creating a firm foundation before tackling the marketing and other sales activities. You have to know why you’re doing something before trying to tell others about it.
A brand is more than just a logo
It’s important to read the heading above and understand that a brand is far more than just a set of colours, fonts and a logo. A brand is a core and the essence of a business and it can be conveyed in three ways:
- Visually – this is how your business looks via their logo, colours, fonts and imagery used
- Verbally – how your business sounds, the language and tone that you use in your emails, website, brochures and other promotional material. It is essentially your voice.
- Experientially – how your business conducts itself, your policies, your customer service and your recruitment methods,
A rebrand may mean changing the look of a business, or it may be updating your messaging and the way you communicate to adapt to different competitors, a new market you’re entering into or in reaction to customer feedback. It means communicating with a new target audience and repositioning your company with every customer touchpoint. Often, when people think of a rebrand, they’re only thinking about the logo redesign, as its the most visually obvious element, from the business owner’s point of view, but rebranding can be related to 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.
We are now going to highlight 6 reasons you should consider a rebrand.
1. Your target audience has changed or grown
Your existing messaging, design and packaging may have been suitable when you started your business and your customer base only consisted of small businesses, but as you begin to win bigger contracts and more prestigious contracts it may become less relevant because your customer base has changed. You need to update your brand to talk to those new, bigger players in the marketplace that you are now doing business with, otherwise, your message does not convey the level at which your business is operating.
We ourselves have undergone this change a few times over the years. When we first started out, we only offered brochure style websites. As time progressed and the business grew, we were approached by customers asking us to undertake more complex work, including e-commerce and content managed websites. We had to rethink and recommunicate our message to ensure that it was understood that we now offered a wider range of sites.
2. The main benefits you offer or your value proposition has changed
Initially, when you launched your business, it may have been providing A, B and C for your customers, but now, as the years have passed your business has evolved to provide different benefits, perhaps based on market trend or feedback from your customers. We see this every day with brands we all know. Amazon started out as an online bookseller, eBay initially only offered online auctions for second-hand goods and even our own brand; Yellow Circle used to only provide website design.
Brand messaging has to evolve. Amazon’s message changed and people no longer only think of them as selling books. eBay started to sell new products, refining its brand and repositioning the company to focus on unique or designer merchandise. Yellow Circle rebranded in 2019 with a clear message that we are no longer only provide web design, but we are now a full-service design agency.
3. What you are offering, or your price points have changed
This isn’t about expanding the products or services under a consistent brand umbrella (the same market, the same benefits, the same promise to customers). This more like when a business selling computers, decides to also start offering technical consultancy services, or when a retailer decides to sell more upmarket products.
When there’s a shift in what you’re selling, there’s a shift in the value you offer and also, very likely, the customers you’re offering your products or services to. There are two ways to proceed here
- Rebrand your company
- Create a completely new spin-off brand
Talking to a branding agency can help you to plan and decide which strategy is best for you.
4. There are now competitors changing the landscape
When your business launched, you may have been offering a unique product that wasn’t available elsewhere, or it may not have been available for the market you operated in. But as competition changes, your brand must adapt. Look at your competitors. Are they providing something different, or telling a different story? Has the industry you work in become very samey, with everyone looking, sounding, acting and talking the same? Maybe you need to buck the trend, stand out and go on your own path?
Success will always attract competition. The trick is to lead, not follow. Your brand and messaging are key to help you do this.
Let’s look at Apple. Their products are positioned at a premium price. Nothing they sell can be considered low-cost. However, whenever a new iPhone launches, it sells tremendously. This is because Apple recognises what the competition does, and instead of copying, they change their message to make their technology products, which are essentially (very nicely designed) computers, about the people using that use them first and the technology second. Whilst Samsung will tell you their latest phone has a 4K display and a 40-megapixel camera, Apple will show you pictures taken on their phones of nature, spaces and families together. That’s the message that Apple puts forward and that’s why they’re so successful.
5. The needs of behaviours of customers have changed
Have the core needs of your customer base shifted? Are they looking for different things as times goes on? You may stay in the same market, but you must evolve your brand to keep up with it.
I’m a big fan of pro-wrestling. I’m sure you’ve heard of WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), they’re the biggest wrestling company in the world. In the mid-90s, they were losing out to their competition, because they were still offering ‘cartoon characters’ as wrestlers. They weren’t adapting to the needs of their customers. Meanwhile, their main competitors evolved their product to appeal to the 18-49 demographic, with a more edgy feel to it. WWE recognised this, and they too adapted to their customer needs, they even publicly announced ‘No more cartoon characters’ one week on their show. The end result of it all, WWE actually ended up buying their competition for a very low sum of money and went on to become a global brand in sports and entertainment. If they had continued to ignore the needs of their customers, they would have gone out of business themselves
6. The times have changed
Ask yourself, does your logo and the design style created years ago look dated now? Does it look behind the times? Is the language you use in your marketing materials and on your website outdated terminology? If you’re still touting HD ready TVs as something innovative, its time to change your brand messaging.
Even if your company adopts a timeless look and feel, everything, at some point, needs to be refreshed and updated. The top brands will do this regularly, every few years. They don’t fundamentally change their design, they evolve it, so it retains the essence of the logo, and can still be recognised as their brand, but looks nicer and lets their customers know that how they are perceived, as a business is important to them.
If your brand was initially designed to be ‘cutting edge’ then you definitely need to rebrand because trends change and styles change. What was new 5 years ago is now not.
Brands should evolve. A refresh in the design, or a messaging update, sometimes even a name change, can be a great way to generate excitement and interest in your company. It’s important not to do this too often. You want your customers to become familiar with your brand and embrace it. Rebranding too often will give the impression that your company seems confused and doesn’t really know what it wants to say, or how you want it to be perceived.
Rebranding in any form requires an investment, and not just of the monetary kind. It also requires an investment of time, thought and planning. A rebrand should come from a place of strength, your business is doing well and you want customers to know that. Effective branding must start at the inside of a company and work its way out.