When Is The Right Time to Rebrand Your Business?
When it comes to political views, our country is more divided than ever. Talking about your favorite candidate is sure to start an online war. However, another hot topic is no stranger to the heated online discussion – corporate rebrands.
If you’re a subscriber of Brand New or just on Twitter, you more than likely have witnessed this strange phenomenon. Politics is one thing, but have you ever seen grown adults virtually duke it out over a company’s new logo?
Without failure, religion and politics inevitably lead to spitfire, but so do brand refreshes. Brands are an essential part of our lives, especially when those beloved brands bring positive change or align with our values.
Another phenomenon is how often major corporations refresh their brands. These highly recognized brands update their language, and visual identity regularly should be a clear sign of the importance of branding on a company’s success.
It also signals that no business, regardless of company size, recognition, or profitability, is immune to change. Before I get into the telltale rebrand signs, let’s take a close look at what drives these brand changes.
Drivers of Brand Change
Two types of change fundamentally prompt nearly every rebrand – internal and external.
Internal change is often driven by a company’s growth goals, which include increasing market share, entering new markets, or trying to attract more/better talent. None of which can be effectively done without a proper brand strategy and visual identity.
External change refers to changes outside a company’s control. These changes include shifts in trends, culture, economy, ecology, or technology. COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example of external change.
A Change Reaction
External change is far more damaging to an organization because it is often not foreseen or planned. A savvy organization understands that change is inevitable, and if they want to continue to succeed, they must be ready and willing to adapt before a significant market change occurs.
Mitigating the risks of change requires a company to be proactive with its brand. An intelligent organization understands that change is the only concept and is constantly pivoting and adapting for what the future holds. This is especially true anytime technology is involved.
An exemplary proactive brand in this category is Netflix who leads the industry in streaming video – the technology that has made DVD rental nearly obsolete.
Not too long ago, Netflix used to be just another DVD rental service. Their value proposition at the time was direct to your door service that eliminated the need to pick up your movies physically. No stranger to industry disruption, Netflix recognized that there was yet another technology paradigm shift on the horizon, and unlike their competitors, they took swift action.
Netflix decided to drastically pivot their entire brand strategy, messaging, visual identity, and even their pricing to prep for digital-only services. Remember when that happened? People nearly lost their minds!
Contrarily Blockbuster, the country’s largest rental service at the time, chose to ignore the impending change. We all know how that turned out. When companies can’t anticipate change, it often results in a reactive rebrand.
This process is very similar to a proactive rebrand, except that it needs to happen more quickly to avoid quickly meeting the new demand and minimize the financial damage.
This may sound terrifying, but I have good news to share. These paradigm shifts rarely happen overnight. Many times the writing’s on the wall long before these external changes occur.
Let’s come back to the most prominent external disturbance of the century. Before coronavirus ravaged our economy in 2020, market trends gave us a long head start to prepare; 29 years to be precise. The internet came into popularity in 1991. Companies like Amazon have demonstrated their power by showing that an online-only retailer can become the first trillion-dollar brand in America and eat the lunch of so many brick and mortar retailers.
Daily we hear news of another retailer being forced into bankruptcy by competing online shops. People have demanded a more convenient and digital shopping experience by voting with their wallets for many years now.
Most of the businesses that are currently struggling today have failed to adapt to market demands effectively. They chose to remain illiterate to the writing that has been on the wall for nearly three decades. So what does a changing business model have to do with branding? Everything!
A change in how a company does business requires that brand to update its language and user experience. People are not mind readers, so the company also needs to guide them with clear communication. This communication should be both verbal and visual. That’s where brand identity comes in.
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5 Signs That it’s Time for a Rebrand
You may be wondering why the heck doesn’t a company just rebrand and avoid all the pain I just detailed. That’s because rebranding is easier said than done. A strategic rebrand is more than a fresh paint job or a tweak to a logo. It takes a significant investment of time, resources, and testing to ensure the new brand is met with excitement. One wrong decision and chaos ensues. The only thing worse than making the wrong decision is choosing to do nothing at all.
Knowing when it’s time to rebrand isn’t hard. You just have to know where to look. Rebranding red flags are like termites in their early stages. They’re just a nuisance at first, but if you ignore them for long enough, they can destroy the entire foundation. Here are the most common signs that it’s time to rebrand your company.
Your audience is changing
Companies who have been in business for more than a decade often find themselves seeking new audiences to fill the void of those who have abandoned the brand. Seeking a new demographic without updating your brand identity will lead to frustration because you’ll continue spinning your weeks with minimal results.
An evolution of your audience is not always a bad thing. Uber first launched as an alternate mode of transportation for the affluent demographic of San Francisco. It was such a great business model that it quickly took over the U.S. cab industry. Fast forward to 2019. Uber had become the most highly adopted form of transportation for most of the world. Uber’s offering had expanded to become more affordable and accessible for anyone to use, but their image still felt very exclusive and opulent therefore requiring a rebrand.
Word on the streets
We all make mistakes, and sometimes the people who use our brand can even be the ones to put that company in the hot seat. When this happens, it’s best to take swift action to avoid consequences before they become permanent.
For many years, the Burberry brand was the standard-issue dress that many viewed as a status symbol for gang members across England. The association became such a problem that many pubs banned Burberry and other brands from being sported on their premises. Burberry put all their weight behind aggressively rebranding themselves as a high-end luxury clothing brand, even sponsoring notable celebrities in their ads. Burberry focused its efforts on artistry and high fashion in its presentation. This commitment to their brand is why Burberry is still a leader in the fashion industry today.
Growing quickly sounds more like a blessing than a burden but not all companies know how to handle it properly. If your brand has become known for its quality by your early adopters, but your image looks amateur and outdated, this will set your company back a great deal. People judge a book by its cover and make decisions about your brand in four-tenths of a second. Visuals significantly impact first impressions.
When Airbnb first took off in 2008, their logo was created cheaply for temporary use. Their product and business model become so widely known for quality and ease of service. Yet, their user experience and identity still had that bro-tech feel that no longer represented their brand. To reflect the excellence of their product, Airbnb ventured a rebrand in 2014 to realign their image with their product to help them grow globally.
A lack of consistency
Rapid growth can also lead to an inconsistency in your brand and marketing. Your product may have been so great that it’s in high demand. Unfortunately, supplying this demand has left you with very little time to focus on your business. You made marketing materials and brand assets on the fly, and now nothing matches and is starting to look like Frankenstein’s monster. There are a million versions of everything, and it’s starting to cause a ton of confusion for your growing team. Most of your customers wouldn’t know they’re looking at something from your company unless you put your logo on it.
Inconsistency doesn’t always mean it’s ugly. Before their rebrand in 2018, MailChimp had some pretty fantastic imagery. The most popular email marketing tool for small businesses had added services to help their customers beyond email. With so many varying graphics, Mailchimp found it challenging to build awareness of the brand. Without that adorable little primary, the brand wasn’t recognizable. MailChimp’s new brand used color, a unique illustration style, and a custom type kit to unify the brand and create a framework for all their sub-products. This updated identity came with an irreverent visual system that any MailChimp user recognizes.
There is no shortage of competition in this digital global economy, and consumer loyalty is in flux. If your service is in high demand, chances are competitors are trying to get in on the feeding frenzy. The only way to avoid your customers jumping ship is to create a strong brand with a truly unique positioning strategy.
Everyone is looking for better, faster, and cheaper ways to satisfy their needs unless, of course, you’re an Apple user. That’s because Apple has a customer loyalty that some even label cult-like. Their brand’s successes go way beyond that beloved apple graphic. Some of their products and ads don’t even have a logo on them. Apple owes a lot of this success to the marketing genius of the late Steve Jobs, who had a keen understanding of the particular needs of Apple’s niche and creating a brand strategy around it.
Don’t get lost in the shuffle. Take action!
Did any of those signs sound like your brand? If so, then it is probably a good idea to explore what a rebrand can accomplish for your company. Getting started can be intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. If you’re ready to take your brand to the next level but not sure where to start, then I recommend partnering with a seasoned branding agency.
The boutique but mighty team at AtticSalt has led hundreds of brands into the promised land. Their clients come in all sizes, from rising stars like Red Rover to global giants like Google. And since they’re all about disruptive branding, they can help any brand stand out in their industry.
Understandably, you have other expenses to cover and times may be challenging. Going through a rebrand takes time and money. However, history has taught us that declining to take action may just cost you the whole business. Just ask Blockbuster, Borders, and Oldsmobile.
Still on a shoestring budget? No problem. Download AtticSalt’s signature Brand Thinkbook to get a head start on improving your brand without dishing out any dollars.