Category: Marketing and Brand Development
When you rebrand companies for a living, you learn to ask questions. I ask, "Why do you want to rebrand?" I've seen companies young and old, big and small, change their brands for a variety of reasons. Frankly, it's sometimes hard to pinpoint the exact reason that an organization has chosen to update their identity.
Whether it's for good business (like a change in product, audience, or competition) or for pure aesthetics (when the company's visual language is tired), rebranding is a lever to push organizational change. It's a tangible way to signal a positive change to customers, employees, and other stakeholders.
With such an important decision, it's critical to ask some key questions before you get started. After all, the most expensive rebranding project is the one you have to do twice. Before implementing a new logo or fresh identity, here are five questions to ask within your organization:
1. What "problem" does our current brand fail to solve?
Any seasoned branding firm will tell you that a brand is more than a logo. It's the collection of experiences, perceptions, and interactions that make or break a brand. With that in mind, it's common to place a disproportionate amount of weight on the look and feel of a company. Don't get me wrong, there's a clear advantage in having a visual system that works in harmony. However, if you don't isolate what is currently "broken" with your brand, a new color and typeface are unlikely to advance the business. Addressing the underlying problem is the foundation for building brand value.
2. Are we in a race for second place?
If you've been in business long enough, you've witnessed the dreaded day when your competition launches a new website or advertising campaign. It's natural to feel like you've fallen behind, yet following suit may not be the answer. A knee-jerk reaction can cause you to rush and dilute an otherwise strategic process. Instead, use the time as an opportunity to identify key changes in your category. Isolating why your competition chose to rebrand (and what's different about them now) can be valuable. And remember, if you rebrand in the wake of your competitor, keep your eyes on the prize: your customers. Your brand must be an authentic reflection of you, not of your competitors.
3. Is there a "language" barrier?
With changes in external factors (such as economic pressure or buyer behavior), it's possible that your key audience is using a new set of language. They might describe their core needs differently. Or, perhaps there's new industry nomenclature that is associated with your products or services. Why is this important? For starters, the language spoken by your audience impacts how they search for and select you. A brand's job is to communicate and connect. Just as the visual elements of your brand is an important identifier, so is the message that surrounds who you are, what you do, and how you’re different.
4. If we entered the market today, how would our brand be different?
Times change. So can your customers, product, and market. It's easy to view your current brand through the historic eyes of the company. There are likely good reasons for the branding decisions you've made along the way, but if a clean slate were an option, what would a new company look like? What value would you deliver? Would you operate differently? What key message and differentiation would you stand behind? You may not have these "luxuries" of a start-up, but there's no reason you can't think like one. Often times, a legacy brand must address their relevance: you've adapted to stay meaningful, or you've become irrelevant.
5. Do we really know what our customers think?
Established brands have customers that are ripe with valuable market intelligence. Through a targeted research effort, you can gain actionable findings about how customers find you, why they choose you, and what else is competing for their attention. Your brand is too important to manage by the gut. You're better served to support your decisions with quantitative data. At the very least, you can measure your brand attributes against current behavior and expectations. Even if you affirm your brand beliefs through research, you've gained insight.
Like many assets in business, a brand can be re-tooled to meet market demands. This change should be viewed with optimism and opportunity. However, before investing the time and resources, it's worth asking some key questions to identify "why" you're rebranding.
Phil Daniels is President of Tactic, an Indianapolis branding firm. With a background in change management and corporate rebranding, Phil has consulted on a variety of brands that include JP Morgan, ExactTarget and McLaren Automotive, and has been recognized as one of Indy's Best and Brightest. For more information, follow Phil on twitter @phidaniels, visit www.TacticMarketing.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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