Changing the name of your organization is a big step, though it’s a marketing decision you need to consider if your name is working against you. Names say a lot, and we base our assumptions on them, but the reality might be very different. That’s not the point, however. If potential customers are switched off by the name, and it happens in sufficient numbers, you should be concerned. People might be supporting you in spite of the name You might find yourself with a brand image that you no longer want.
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Third World charities used to promote themselves as aid agencies, fundraising to relieve the symptoms of poverty and disaster. This came to be seen as paternalistic. Many decided to reposition and repackage themselves. Instead of images of starving children with swollen bellies, they used positive pictures. Africans were presented as people who could take control of their own destiny, with assistance in the form of money or expertise. Such charities found that their donor profile changed. Instead of attracting older and more affluent supporters, they now appealed more to younger people with an interest in politics and economics, not because of it.
How to rebrand your business
If customers aren’t buying your products or your logo is looking a bit tired, it might be time for a company rebrand. Anita Brightly-Hodges, founder of design consultancy Still Waters Run Deep, advice on how to reinvigorate your business.
For all business owners, there comes a time when it is necessary to step back and look at the wider picture. All companies at one time or another need an injection of something new and this can be brought about in the form of a rebrand.
Anita Brightly-Hodges, founder of design consultancy Still Waters Run Deep, has taken hundreds of companies through the rebranding process and is well placed to offer advice.
“It might be that the market is changing and your products or services just aren’t making it,” she says. “It might be because an acquisition has been made or the owners are a little bit tired. A rebranding may also be necessary because you’ve simply seen a new opportunity.”
The key to rebranding, Brightly-Hodges advises, is getting personal. Don’t hold back. Many entrepreneurs may find it hard to take criticism of their company but it’s necessary to ensure future success.
And remember it is not just about your logo. That is just the beginning. “Branding’s all about the experience,” Brightly-Hodges continues. “When people walk through the door of your business they should be able to feel it. Very often branding is just left to letterheads but I encourage clients to think beyond that and look holistically. The minute they step into their office or factory they should be able to feel it like they expect their customers to.”
One way of creating a strong brand is owning colors. “You can only do that by looking at the competition”, Brightly-Hodges says. “Own the colors so everyone in your market would be a fool to take them up.”
You should also make sure everyone within your organization gets it. Having the chief executive understand it is all very well and good but if the entire workforce doesn’t get what you’re trying to achieve, it is unlikely to be successful.
The 10 stages of rebranding
Undertake a perception study
Speak to your staff, customers, family members, and the board about what they think about the company. Also, if you are using an independent consultant, ask your competitors. Competitors are often quite happy to comment.
Business owners should have really broad shoulders because they sometimes won’t like what they hear. People will expect things to happen as soon as a perception study is completed so don’t carry one out if you’re not prepared for that.
Undertake a visionary exercise
Where do you see your business in the future? Everyone involved should be able to share their aspirations.
Develop a tailored brief for communications
From all the collated information, a design consultant will develop a brief. Every business is different so ensure the brief is tailored to your particular needs and make-up.
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Create distinctive design concepts to reflect the company ethos
Create a distinctive design that sets you apart from your competition and reflects your company ethos. If everyone in your market is doing blue, grey, and red, do purple, orange, and green. Visually you can show yourself as different instantly which saves a lot of time and energy.
Produce a bespoke brand storybook with guidelines to inform and protect your new identity
Tell a story. If you were to close your eyes and someone said ‘The Body Shop’, you’ll likely instantly have an understanding of the business. Similarly, say ‘Nike’ and you understand the brand because it has got such a strong story.
The same is true with Innocent Drinks. Although the firm’s products are smoothies very much like others on supermarket shelves, customers are willing to pay top dollar because they want to be associated with something that’s fun, ethical, and healthy.
Excite your staff and customers with a communications program
People love things that are new, fresh and successful. Get people excited and talking about your rebrand. Although the products or services will be pretty much the same, by rebranding and adding new things you’ve got a different reason to talk about your business.
Stage a launch event
Loyal customers like seeing you as successful so invite them to an event that demonstrates that you’re moving ahead in a soft, exciting, and fun atmosphere.
Evaluate brand success around key performance indicators
Most businesses will have KPIs to track each person or team’s success so monitor the success the re-brand has had on them.
Monitor brand to ensure relevance
Rebranding is not an excuse to sit back for 10 years. It should be constantly re-evaluated for relevance. Ask yourself whether it needs to be adjusted or whether the market requires different things? Maybe you’ve got new people with new ideas joining the board.
A brand is nothing if it doesn’t stand for why you started it in the first place. It’s all about passion and experience. When deciding which business to buy from, customers are only going to pick the one which they think mirrors them and looks the strongest, most confident, most successful, and with maximum integrity. You can only do that through things like a company logo, presentation, effective reading material, and how your receptionist answers the phone.
Revel in new opportunities
If you get the process right, celebrate the new opportunities that rebranding will afford you
There are some cases in which corporate rebranding is the primary initiative needed to successfully reposition a company or brand. Rebranding strategies and rebranding initiatives are appropriate and needed when the company or brand already has strong, relevant underlying differentiation is currently doing everything right, and the sole purpose of rebranding is to reflect what the company is already doing in a much more compelling, persuasive manner. In short, corporate rebranding is about strategically polishing the apple with sharper, more differentiating positioning.
Most companies in need of rebranding suffer from generalized positioning. Usually, a company doesn’t want to narrow its message too much for fear of missing opportunities. Therefore, the company doesn’t strongly position itself as an expert in its sweet spot. As a result, people searching for what the company does best don’t recognize the company as an expert, and the company needs to fight harder to win the business it is really good at, business it should win easily every time.
On the other hand, conventional wisdom is that more generalized positioning gives a company more opportunities. The reality is this generalized corporate positioning positions a company as you guessed it, a generalist. To win business, generalists have to not only win over other generalists, but they have to also beat out specialists.
If your company really is an expert in a focused area, does your positioning reflect it? If not, you should consider corporate rebranding.
We often work with B2B companies to hone their positioning through corporate rebranding, sharpening the message to make it more compelling. During rebranding, we look for those factors that can most tangibly and credibly differentiate the company in its optimal market.
There is no cookie-cutter approach to B2B corporate rebranding. Each situation is different. Corporate rebranding, however, almost certainly includes changes to your marketing messages, i.e., the words used to persuasively position your company. In addition, rebranding may include changes in the design and delivery of key communications vehicles.
Words of Caution
Unfortunately, many marketers and ad agencies view corporate rebranding as a change in corporate identity. This alone rarely yields significant results. Sure, occasionally a corporate logo may need an update, but that typically isn’t going to solve much unless another change occurs. Our experience in the B2B marketplace has been those design-driven rebranding initiatives almost never achieve the desired business results. Beware of internal and external voices that promote the need for a new corporate identity as a panacea for the company’s problems.
Also, be sure to assess whether it’s rebranding or repositioning that you need. While corporate rebranding can make a significant difference in attracting and securing new business, its benefits will be short-lived if you don’t deliver on your brand promises or if the more significant change was really needed. If you’re not sure whether it is corporate rebranding or repositioning that you need, talk to us. We’ll give you an honest, candid assessment.
Why Rebranding Often Fails
As competition heats up and sales start to stagnate, companies often seek to breathe new life into the brand through rebranding. In all too many cases, however, those expensive rebranding efforts fail to yield the desired business results. Here are some of the key reasons why rebranding often fails. More than execution mistakes that blunt the effectiveness of rebranding efforts, these are critical errors that almost always lead to failure.
Lack of True Change
Sure, sometimes rebranding is done solely to sharpen the image of a company or brand; periodically things need to be freshened up. However, unless you operate in the world of packaged goods, don’t expect great things from launching some new designs and fresh copies.
Rebranding signals change. A new image will cause people to take a fresh look at you—and people’s primary motivation in taking a new look is to see what’s changed. If you’re in the same old place dressed up in new wrapping and ribbons, you’ll merely confirm the existing position you own in their minds. You’ll have wasted a valuable opportunity to change their perceptions. There are only so many times your prospects are going to reconsider you. Use them wisely.
Making Too Big A Leap
Rebranding should be about truly changing perceptions in the marketplace, changing the position you own in people’s minds. That position, however, isn’t dictated by you. It’s based on what others believe about your company; it’s something granted by those in the marketplace.
Corporate insiders often lose touch with reality and begin to believe their visions of market dominance. Marketers and corporate executives get consumed with what they would ultimately like the company to be versus the position it can reasonably attain in the marketplace at the present time, i.e., the next permissible step in the company’s evolution. When rebranding, keep your primary focus on the achievable, not the aspiration. If you make too big a leap, your market won’t believe you.
Lack of Internal Alignment
If rebranding is an initiative implemented solely by the marketing department, it’s likely to fail. As noted above, rebranding should signal change—and that change should be evidenced throughout the organization and conveyed through every brand touchpoint. That includes sales, finance, engineering, customer service, manufacturing…basically everyone.
A brand is the sum of perceptions people have about your company and its products and services. Ultimately, a brand isn’t something you have; it’s something you do. Actions change perceptions. Words and images rarely do—unless they’re backed up by actions that support them. Unless everyone throughout the organization understands and delivers on the promises implied by your rebranding, not much will change. In fact, you’ll probably do more damage than good. Better to do nothing than imply a promise and not deliver.
Failure of the CEO to Champion Rebranding
While rebranding may be born in the marketing department, unless the CEO is the champion of that effort, it will likely die there, too. It is not enough for the CEO to “support” the effort from the corner office. The CEO is the only one that can drive change in all functional areas of the enterprise. As the chief branding officer, the CEO needs to set the vision and lead the charge, ensuring that products, services, people, and resources are aligned to deliver on the promises implied in the rebranding.
Failure to Clarify Positioning
Rebranding should always clarify and refine your positioning. Your goal in rebranding should be to make it easier for customers and prospects to understand exactly why your company should be one of their top choices, why there are few credible substitutes for your company in the market. This isn’t the place for puffery. Merely claiming to be the best is meaningless—and using empty words like “best value” and “exceptional customer service” do nothing but create more skepticism.
Use rebranding as an initiative to force you to focus, to better define and support your expertise in a clear and compelling manner. Doing so will require you to draw tighter boundaries around your stated expertise—and that’s likely to scare you. Conventional wisdom is that more generalized positioning gives a company more opportunities. The reality is generalized positioning positions a company as you guessed it, a generalist. To win business, generalists have to not only win over other generalists, but they have to also beat out specialists. When rebranding, if it doesn’t scare you, it probably won’t create meaningful change in your organization or in the marketplace.
Rebranding versus Repositioning
Many companies (and ad agencies, for that matter) confuse rebranding with repositioning, using the terms “rebranding” and “repositioning” interchangeably. Knowing the difference between rebranding and repositioning and which one you need is often the difference between success and failure.
While rebranding—the development of a new brand image—is often an important part of the successful repositioning, by itself, rebranding generally represents cosmetic changes.
And while rebranding often works in the world of packaged goods, without underlying change, rebranding alone rarely works in business-to-business marketing. That’s because business-to-business marketing isn’t driven by 30-second commercials, merchandising, and package design. Business-to-business marketing is driven by relationships and actions.
If you’re a business-to-business company and you engage an ad agency for rebranding, they’ll probably do great work, and you’ll feel really good about your new image. Unfortunately, many people get lulled into thinking rebranding is going to solve their problems and make prospects want to buy their stuff. It rarely turns out that way; putting fancier wrapping and ribbons on the same gift doesn’t change the way people perceive the gift itself.
There are some cases in which rebranding is the only thing needed to reposition a business-to-business company or brand, however, these cases are rare. They happen when the company or brand already has strong, relevant differentiation, is currently doing everything right, and the sole purpose of rebranding is to more persuasively reflect what it is already doing.
Rebranding often plays a role in repositioning, but it’s later in the repositioning process—and never before clearly identifying the optimal positioning and determining the brand strategy.
Repositioning goes deeper than re_branding. Repositioning involves identifying the right markets and the right positioning. Determining the right moves to establish the company or brand as a market leader. Aligning staff members. Refining and aligning product and service offerings. Identifying, introducing, and integrating new practices that deliver the brand and drive differentiation. And lastly, making sure that marketing communications vehicles support the desired position in the marketplace.
While re_branding is often a valid and valuable part of repositioning, re_branding is most often about wrapping. Repositioning is about making sure the gift is as good as the wrapping and ribbons. So before you spend a bunch of money on wrapping and ribbons, think about whether that’s really where the problem really lies.
Coca-Cola to re-brand ‘diet’ fizzy drinks
Coca-Cola in the UK is poised to change the brand names of Diet Fanta and Diet Dr. Pepper to Fanta Light and Dr. Pepper Light.
The company is also launching a Fanta Icy Lemon Light variant in the UK before the end of the year, which observers believe could be the springboard for the change.
The re-branding is designed to bring Coca-Cola’s UK product range in line with branding across the rest of Europe. However, Diet Coke is expected to retain its name as significant money has been invested in establishing the brand since its UK launch in 1983.
Coca-Cola spent more than £4m on Diet Coke in the year to June 2002 (Source: Nielsen Media Research). The brand is called Coca-Cola Light in France, Belgium, and other European countries. Coca-Cola brands Lilt and Sprite already have “light”-branded variants in the UK.
A sales promotion was launched for the Diet Coke brand in August featuring an instant-win, top prize of £100,000. All Diet Coke bottles are colored silver for the campaign and it has been supported with outdoor and press advertising
AA re-brands to emphasize the width of its product range
The AA (formerly the Automobile Association) has announced that it intends to spend £22million on re-branding aimed at emphasizing the width of its product range.
In an effort to be seen as more than just an emergency breakdown service, the AA wants to re-position itself as a multi-product business.
As part of the re-launch, a £12m advertising campaign will be using the strapline” Just ask”. The advertising campaign will explain to consumers that the AA provides 160 different products and services, including insurance, car servicing, maps, and travel books.
The new “Just Ask” strapline will be carried on all the AA’s communication, including its website, membership cards, and direct mail.
The positioning will encourage the cross-selling of AA products, and the company’s call centers have been given technology to enable them to sell and answer customer queries on all AA products.
The AA’s previous strapline was “To our members, we’re the fourth emergency service.”
Lego axes sub-brands by re-branding its entire product range
Lego is re-branding its entire product range and introducing a new slogan to simplify what the Lego brand stands for. Lego says that in the past, consumers have been confused by the different sub-brands, such as Lego Technic, Duple, and Primo, and have not realized that they were all part of the Lego group.
From the start of 2003 all products will be grouped under four new categories:
- Make & Create
- Stories & Action
Each of these new categories will be represented by its own set of colors.
The new product structure replaces the previous branding structure which largely categorized Lego products by target age range.
At the same time, a new slogan called “Play on”, will come into effect, replacing “Just Imagine”. It is meant to represent the five values behind Lego: creativity, imagination, learning, fun, and quality.
Lego also plans to open a chain of branded retail stores, beginning with one in Cologne and a second in Milton Keynes.