How to Know When Rebranding is Right

Office workers paint a cutout letter "A" representing a rebranding campaign.

When a company is formed and throughout its entire lifecycle, its brand is pivotal to success. Sometimes, a brand doesn’t resonate with the target market or becomes stale and a company must consider a rebrand. This can consist of changing or updating the brand’s name, logo or entire identity. Rebranding is a significant undertaking that should be given intense planning and thought.

Companies big and small use rebranding strategies as a way to keep up or stay ahead in their industry. Rebranding can save a company in decline and maintain a company at the top. However, not all rebrands are a resounding success, and rebranding should never be considered on a whim.

When is the Right Time for a Rebranding Strategy?

Rebranding is not just a way to help a failing company. It can revitalize even those businesses that are doing well. Major brands, such as Google, have undergone logo updates and facelifts to help them stay ahead in their industry. Rebranding can keep identities fresh and create industry buzz.

Rebranding strategies can also help you get to where you need to be if you aren’t meeting goals. Here are some reasons why you could consider a rebranding strategy for your organization.

Not Standing Out

Whatever industry your organization is in, there will be competitors in the marketplace. Those competitors may affect your company’s ability to effectively stand out in the marketplace. According to Blue Frog, a digital marketing agency, “Rebranding your company to have its own voice, look and feel will help establish your business as an industry leader with a personality that appeals to your audience.”

Merging

When two companies merge, or one acquires another, there are many important decisions to make, including on potentially rebranding. The new merged company or acquired company needs to assess both previous brands’ value to determine which branding options they could take. If both brands are strong, it may be wise to capitalize on one or both existing brands. If neither has made a huge splash in their industry, rebranding is a great way to start fresh with the merger.

Distancing Itself from Negative History

A common reason to pursue a rebranding strategy is if your organization’s brand evokes negative responses among consumers. By rebranding, you can create a new brand identity that’s free of any dark mark from a previous executive or company decision. Back in 2009 and on the brink of collapse before being rescued by the U.S. federal government, American International Group Inc. (AIG) rebranded to Chartis Inc., to distinguish itself from the bad reputation it had in the past, according to Business Insurance. AIG has since returned to using its former name, but it has updated its logo and further rebranded to separate itself from previous mistakes.

Modern Trends

Sometimes, your organization’s brand is performing well, but it needs a facelift. All companies must keep fresh and relevant to stay on top of their game, no matter how successful. If you feel your company is in this situation, it could be a sign that it’s time for a brand rejuvenation. According to Mightily chief growth officer Kelli Corney in an article from Forbes, a brand refresh can “develop and refine” your company’s brand voice and communication to consumers.

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Examples of Successful Rebrands

Knowing when to rebrand is the first step. Knowing how to successfully strategize a major rebrand is the next challenge. Most rebranding successes have a few factors in common:

  • They create an iconic and memorable brand.
  • They focus on providing their audience with what the audience wants.
  • They have a successful brand launch.

Here are some examples of successful rebranding efforts.

Burberry

In 2006, when then-CEO Angela Ahrendts took over the company, she worked to rebrand the luxury fashion company and move it in a new direction. In previous years, Burberry had been adopted by British soccer hooligans, and the brand had moved away from its high-fashion status.

According to a case study of the rebrand in Echo Stories, Ahrendts rebranding strategy had Burberry focus on telling its brand story with a new twist: innovation. The company focused on its online platforms to serve customers abroad while still embracing its roots as a classic British brand. Burberry also gave their logo a facelift. These moves helped to transform the brand’s identity from that of a local British company to a sought-after international luxury brand.

During her seven-year tenure, Ahrendts helped the company’s revenue double and stock market shares rise by 250 percent. Since then, Burberry has continued to grow both in terms of brand reputation and revenue. In its latest public financial filing for the years 2017/2018, Burberry’s revenue have grown from £2.3 billion ($3.07 billion) to £2.7 billion ($3.6 billion) between 2014 and 2018.

Old Spice

Facing competition from Axe, Gillette and other men’s hygiene brands, Old Spice struggled to hold onto its place atop the men’s personal care industry. That was until a clever rebrand in 2010 sent the company’s fortunes sky high.

Old Spice’s parent company Proctor and Gamble (P&G) contracted brand management firm Landor to refresh the Old Spice brand. A case study from Landor shows how the company refocused the brand’s identity. Landor created marketing campaigns with the goal of promoting products that appealed to men’s visceral feelings of hygiene. Also, Landor attempted to redefine masculinity or manliness.

A new marketing campaign went viral, speaking directly to men and their spouses about ensuring that their man would “smell like a man.” Old Spice labels were also updated with a sleeker look, and the ship in the Old Spice logo was made smaller and given a more classic feel.

By focusing on what Old Spice did best, as well as some creative marketing, it again emerged as a leader in its industry. According to P&G, the “smell like a man, man” campaign recorded more than 105 million views on YouTube, an 800 percent increase in traffic on Facebook and 1.2 billion media impressions.

Apple

It’s hard to imagine today, but more than two decades ago, Apple was on the brink of collapse. Shares for the computer and technology giant were trading on public stock exchanges for less than a dollar and the company was losing billions in revenue. In 1997, Steve Jobs made a triumphant return to the company and flipped its fortunes, in part with a classic rebrand.

With the company in need of a fresh look for consumers, Jobs approved a new, sleek version of the famous Apple logo. He ditched the multi-colored logo in favor of a glass or chrome look that fit better with the company’s new iMac designs. Along with updating the logo, Jobs focused on providing customers with new product innovations.

At the 1997 MacWorld Expo in Boston, Oracle CEO and a member of Apple’s Board of Directors, Larry Ellison, called Apple the only “lifestyle” brand of all the tech giants of the late 1990s. The rebranding paid off, as Apple’s stock soared 211 percent in 1998 after the rebrand.

When it Goes Wrong

When companies ignore the lessons of successful rebrands, they can end up with an embarrassing situation of reverting to an old brand or declining sales figures.

Gap

One of the best examples of a rebranding failure is that of Gap. In 2010, the company unveiled a new logo, featuring a dull typeface and a strange gradient box in the background. The logo was immediately panned by customers and professional designers, and within a week, Gap had reverted to its original logo.

Gap didn’t realize the strong brand association that consumers had with its existing logo. By changing it, it severed some of those ties and upset customers who didn’t feel the new branding aligned with their perception of the brand. Gap announced in a public filing that sales fell eight percent in North America three months after the rebranding mess compared with the year prior.

Tropicana

In another instance of rebranding failure, Tropicana announced in 2009 that it was updating the packaging for its orange juice cartons. Instead of cartons with easy-to-read type and a candy-stripe straw poking into an orange, the new cartons were designed to have a glass full of orange juice. The updated logo was displayed vertically, and it was less clear to consumers which Tropicana product you were buying as the products weren’t color coded anymore.

Like Gap, Tropicana did not realize the attachment customers had to their products, including the labeling on the cartons. While Tropicana tried to play up its mission to provide 100 percent juice, it sacrificed the clean, fun look consumers enjoyed before. In response to the new branding, sales fell a reported 20 percent, costing Tropicana millions.

A way to avoid an unsuccessful rebranding is to ensure that you understand the relationship consumers have with your brand, what they want from your brand, and to successfully communicate changes with a good launch strategy.

How Can My Organization Rebrand?

If you’ve determined rebranding is right for your company, here are some helpful steps to follow:

Build a Strong Brand Identity: This is arguably the most important step, but also the most foundational. Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos is quoted as saying “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” This drives home the idea that a brand is much more than a logo or packaging. Like the successful examples above, when your company truly focuses on what makes them unique and special, it can lead to positive business outcomes. With a strong, unique and clear brand identity, your company’s brand can become a household name and evoke positive emotions when people think about it.

Develop an Implementation Strategy: Deciding that you want to rebrand is easy. Executing that strategy is much more difficult. It’s up to your company team to create a comprehensive and clear strategy from the start so that your company can accomplish the myriad tasks needed and ensure that the rebrand stays true to what customer research calls for. To implement a rebrand, everything from logo design to the look of business cards needs to be carefully considered and rolled out.

Effectively Market the Rebrand: You may have a great idea for a potential company rebrand, but without an efficient and optimal marketing strategy, the rebrand could fail. Per Hinge Marketing, knowing your place in your industry is one aspect of your branding and marketing strategy. This can include whether you’re an industry giant, or you’re an innovative newcomer offering different products. Keeping the company’s business goals and how customers perceive the brand in mind will help you successfully communicate and market your rebranding efforts.

Developing a rebranding strategy will help you successfully recreate the way customers view your brand without damaging existing relationships. One way you can lead your company into the future is with an online MBA from Point Park University. In Point Park’s MBA program, you’ll learn the foundational aspects of marketing, business strategy and organizational management. All these aspects are crucial during the development and roll out of a rebranding strategy. Our program can be completed in as little as 18 months, and thanks to our online format, you can balance your education with your busy life.