/ Marketing Best Practices

Rebranding Basics: Avoid a Branding Flop with These Tips

Ben Lee

Designer sketching
Could your brand use a refresh? The answer is—it depends. There are a number of reasons businesses big and small decide to take on a rebranding. Sometimes it’s because their business has evolved and the branding no longer serves as an accurate reflection of what the company represents. Other times it’s because sales are stagnant or slowing and there’s a belief that it could be due to a stale look or feel with the brand.

But rebranding is not something that should be considered lightly. It is a major undertaking that can take up a lot of time and money—and without the right strategy in place, all that time and money could be for nothing.

So what should you do before you decide to rebrand?

Ask the Right Questions

The beginning of any rebranding strategy starts by asking the right questions, including, why are we doing a rebrand? Consider the end mission or goal behind the rebranding project and what issue or problem you’re attempting to solve.

Other questions to ask before you even begin to strategize include:

  • Does our current branding tell an outdated story?
  • Has our customer base changed, and if so, in what way?
  • Has our competitive landscaped changed?
  • What’s our current customer base’s relationship to our current brand?
  • Will a new brand turn people away?
  • Why does anyone care about our brand in the first place?

The answers to these questions will not only help you feel confident in the choice to rebrand (or not to rebrand, for that matter), while also helping to lead the initial strategy phases.

Elements to Consider in a Rebranding Strategy

A true rebrand goes well beyond just updating your logo and your color scheme. You also need to consider things like tone, story, and overall brand experience, as these elements will effect everything from your business cards to your website.

Your Audience

Who are you speaking to? Has your audience changed as your business has evolved? Or has your audience evolved while your business has remained the same?

Knowing whom you are speaking to is the first step in any rebrand. You need to think about your audience’s likes and dislikes. Consider their favorite brands and what it is about those brand stories that appeals to them. Think about how they talk and how they want to be spoken to and then ask if your brand is meeting them where they are.

During a rebranding, you should dive so deep into your audience that you’re able to talk about them as if they are close friends you’ve known for years. And keep in mind, your audience is not just one personality type. You likely have three or four main buyer personas that you need to consider.

What’s the best way to get to know your audience? You can start by simply listening to them, whether that’s in person, on social media, or through ratings and reviews.

The Brand Story

Many consumers, particularly millennials, are most loyal to the brands they connect with. And that connection is generally gained by the story the brand tells.

What do you want your brand to represent? And can you build a story around it?

Start by revisiting your mission and value statements. Are they still accurate? If not, update accordingly. Does the style and tone of the mission and value statements fit your audience? If not, be sure to make those changes as well.

Even if your mission and value statements are never seen verbatim by your audience, they do serve as a guide for how your brand will express itself. By setting these in the story and tone of the new branding, you’ll lay a foundation that you can build upon moving forward.

Longevity

How will this new branding look a year from now? Three years from now? A decade from now? Your business will continue to evolve, and your branding should be able to evolve with it. When planning for a rebrand, think about how it represents where your brand is now, and where it will be in the future.

Introducing Your New Branding

Once you know what your branding will be, put a plan of action in place as to how you’ll present it to the world. Announce your new look via a press release, an email campaign, on social media, and your company blog.

And make sure this announcement comes a few weeks before any rebranded items go live. This will not only add some hype to your new branding, but can also make your current consumers feel like they are a part of it. It can also help avoid any of the confusion or frustrations that come with customers encountering a change from a brand they enjoy.

Remember, clear communication isn’t just for your customers. You also need to keep your employees internally aware of what’s going on and when they can expect to see changes on their end.

Mistakes to Avoid

Not all rebrands go as well as we plan. Take for instance, Gap who in late 2010 changed their iconic logo by giving it a new typeface with a gradient blue box in the corner. The new logo got such a negative reaction from customers on social media that 6 days later, the brand went back to their previous logo.

And while there’s no way to guarantee your rebrand will be a hit, there are a number of mistakes you can avoid to give yourself a fighting chance:

Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken. If customers like your current brand, and there’s not a clear, business impacting reason to change your branding, the choice is easy—don’t change it.

Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse. Make sure you establish the need for a rebrand, as well as the overall goal and story you want your new brand to tell before you start pulling in graphic designers or web developers. While their job is to help you bring that vision to life, it’s best to come to them with your background research first, and not work based off what they think your brand should be. And remember, working with a design firm in any capacity should function as an on-going collaboration.

Don’t Forget the Small Stuff. When people think of rebranding, they put a lot of attention on their website. You’ll be amazed by the amount of stuff your branding is on. Do an inventory of everything you currently have, including letterhead templates, presentation templates, business cards, billing or invoicing sheets, conference banners, brochures, case studies, signage, swag (such as shirts, pens, mugs, etc.), company vehicles or company uniforms, online directories, and social media icons/headers.

Don’t Use Rebranding as a Bandage. For some brands, rebranding can bring a much needed revival to their business. But changing your logo or website is not a quick fix for all the issues in the company. There’s a wide range of reasons that company sales could be poor or stagnant, such as quality of products, lack of interest, or poor customer experience. Before a rebrand, make sure to look at what’s currently working for you, what’s working against you, and identify and remedy any core problem areas before moving forward.

Rebranding takes strategizing and planning, but if done well, can pay off big for brands. It’s important to remember that your logo, color scheme, tone, font, and style doesn’t just represent your brand. It represents a story that you want your customers to have a connection to and give them a reason to keep coming back.