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What is Rebranding, Brand Refreshing and Relaunching

Rebranding and relaunching can take many guises from the complete wholesale change of a company or product, inside and out, including name, culture, values, behaviours, tone, visual collateral and all that entails with no connections to the legacy entity, to something less dramatic and of a more evolutionary nature in the form of a brand refresh.

In each instance though, the change to whatever degree, affects a change in the minds of the target market in terms of their perceptions of the brand. That change is a process of giving a company, product or service a new image in order to make it more successful. 

 

Positioned and developed correctly brands offer a means of generating sustained growth, enabling companies to charge a premium. Equally they also assist a company to resist or bounce back from competitor attack.

Brands are key to a company’s long-term survival and market leadership. Accountants and auditors the world over calculate the value of brands when determining book values on the company balance sheets. In the case of strong brands, the brand can be 70% – 90% of the stock market value (intangible assets).

Rebranding is a complex process and should not be engaged lightly. You should most definitely conduct a brand audit to evaluate your brand’s weak spots and identify new areas for innovation and growth. Handled badly, rebranding can be damaging to business. Equally in the words of a Chinese proverb “if you do not plan for the future, you will get the one that shows up” and successful rebranding, relaunching and revitalisation adds significantly to a company’s long term success.

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Why Rebrand or Relaunch?

The reasons for rebranding and or relaunching a company, product or service are numerous and should not be taken on lightly without sound strategic reasons for engaging in the process. 

Brands are constantly evolving to ensure they keep abreast of changing needs in the market place. It’s the level of change required that is the critical issue. A brand audit and market research will help assess the rate of change required amongst other things.

Even some of the greatest brands in the world need rejuvenation. Brands like Guinness, Coca-Cola and Kellogg’s are iconic, global in their status. Yet when you look at their market leadership over the decades, they have all changed even if it has been in a more evolutionary sense over time, rather then radical overhauls. However some branding does require an extensive change in order for the business to achieve the required regeneration for growth and profitable returns.

Revitalisation maintains and celebrates the history and heritage of the brand but shows its target audience (current and future) that you are adaptive to change. Change is necessary to stay relevant to the times in which a brand exists and to ensure its future success.

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Some of the reasons for rebranding, relaunching and revitalising a brand include the following: 

 

1. Relevance

Brands need to stay relevant to their target market, to keep up with the times and keep pace with changing customer needs (e.g. services, accessibility, convenience, choice, changing trends, technology). A brand that has become old-fashioned in the eyes of its audience is in danger of stagnation if not already in a state of erosion and loss of market share.

 

2. Competition

In a fast moving environment with aggressive competition, rebranding may be required to change the offering to the market in order to create a more compelling reason to buy in the minds of the target audience. Rebranding can be used as a means of blocking or outmanoeuvring competitors or a way of handling increased price competitiveness.

 

3. Globalisation

Sometimes rebranding is required because of globalisation where the same product sold across multiple markets is inconsistent or different e.g. Marathon’s change to Snickers, Opal Fruits change to Starburst, Jif’s change to Cif. 

 

4. Mergers & Acquisitions

When two entities combine there are typically two unique audiences left to communicate with. Sometimes this can require a rebrand or relaunch in a way that will appeal to both. In other cases one of the brands may be more dominant requiring more of a revitalisation or refresh with it becoming the sole dominant player. 

 

5. Innovation

Technology is constantly evolving and the rate of change often exponential. If a brand is technology related e.g. internet, software, hardware and the product offering constantly innovating then a rebrand frequently follows the natural and fast rate of change. Rebranding or revitalisation becomes an outward expression of the companies evolution and ensures the brand’s change hungry customers keep coming back to see “what’s new”.

 

6. Repositioning

Taking a brand to a new position is an involved process e.g. from an economy price fighter to premium position, and invariably requires a rebrand to signal a change in direction, focus, attitude or strategy to its target market. Also again rebranding used as a means of blocking or outmanoeuvring competitors or a way of handling increased price competitiveness.

 

7. Rationalisation

Rebranding can be used to decrease business development and operational costs, or a way of countering declining profitability or consumer confidence. It can also be used where there are complex and sometimes confusing mixes of product portfolios which frequently undermine the brands impact, (along with considerable advertising, branding clutter and media proliferation) all of which causes brand incongruence and audience fragmentation and consequently badly needs consolidation through rebranding to achieve brand impact and strong growth again.

 

8. Outgrowth

When small companies grow into bigger entities they and/or their products frequently require a rebrand or revitalisation to meet the needs of the bigger business. Typically smaller companies start with more modest brand offering, due to budget restrictions, which are inadequate to meet the needs of a bigger more sophisticated business and a rebrand is required.

 

9. Legal Requirements

Occasionally legal issues may arise that require a company to make changes to their branding such as copyright issues or bankruptcy e.g. similarities between naming and designs. For example The Jelly Bean Factory became The Jelly Bean Planet in Ireland to ensure differentiation from the USA brand Jelly Belly.

 

10. Morale & Reputation

If a company brand has demoralised employees or confused customers then a rebrand may required. A thorough rebrand process will work to unearth the issues that need addressing and could be solved through key changes, including a completely new look and feel to the organisation. A rebrand in this instance can improve a brand’s competitiveness by creating a common sense of purpose and unified identity, building staff morale and pride, as well as a way of attracting new customers, enhancing relationships with existing customers and attracting the best talent to the business.

 

 

Different Aspects of Rebranding

Rebranding and brand revitalisation can be as small scale as some subtle changes to the company or product graphics e.g. brand identity, packaging tweaks, sales literature updates, vehicle livery, staff uniforms and website refresh or as major as a full blown name and culture change affecting both the intangible and tangible aspects of the brand.

 

Rebranding can be categorised to include one or a combination of all the items listed:

a) new brand name

b) brand identity, brand logo, trademark, tagline or slogans 

c) graphics, brand imagery, online presence i.e. website, Facebook pages etc.

d) company or product livery, uniforms, stationery, digital presentations

e) packaging

f) product displays, exhibition stands, signage & wayfinding systems

g) exterior and interior design

h) advertising, on and offline

i) movies, video and show reels

j) new product launches, differentiations, extensions or enhancements

k) a change in brand profile, values, mission, goals, story, message, promise, offerings, personality, emotion, behaviours, tone of voice, culture, brand experience, customer care and so forth

l) potential change in target market, brand positioning, brand architecture

…and more

 

What’s Involved in the Rebrand Process?

When considering a rebrand you typically need to include:

1. Rebrand planning, a brand audit, research and recommendations

2. Application design for all touch points

3. Brand implementation, launch and rollout

4. External communications of rebrand to all relevant stakeholders; customers, media and shareholders

5. Measure of impact and commercial return

  

 

   

Reasons Not to Rebrand

While the debate, in term of pros and cons, on whether to rebrand or not can be as complex as the process itself, the following reasons not to are largely worth reflection too.

 

1. A young brand

If a brand has only been on the market a short time e.g. 3 years, bearing in mind time can be measured differently depending on your market/industry, then it’s probably premature to rebrand. It takes time to build a brand and evolve it into something authentic and meaningful to its target audience. Rebranding to “sell” more in such instances might be better served by a different approach to marketing or a new campaign unless the existing brand solution is very flawed.

 

2. Change for the sake of change

It’s not a good idea to rebrand just because “you want to” or because somebody wants to stake their next career move on a rebrand. If there is no compelling commercial reason e.g. new innovation, behaviours, culture and all the other reasons mentioned above, then the target audience will be left with an empty experience. On top of that you’ve wasted a lot of money !

 

Top Rebranding Mistakes to Avoid

1. Do not think branding or a rebrand for that matter is just the logo, stationery or corporate colours in isolation.

Effective branding encompasses both tangible and intangible elements, a large part of what have been listed previously e.g. target audience, customer experience and perception, product quality, look, feel, online and offline environments, customer facing staff, the tone of all communications both visual, auditory and written etc.

 

2. Don’t cling to the old unless it has key brand provenance that is still relevant to the current target market.

Powerful rebranding means being connected to what really matters to your bulls eye customer. Don’t assume because it worked in the past it’s still relevant now. Research, review and analyse changes in your target market when investigating new opportunities for repositioning, expansion or revitalisation.

 

3. Don’t overlook existing brand equity and goodwill.

Ignoring brand equity when rebranding can alienate existing customers and potentially damage a brand’s perception. A massive overhaul may be excessive when a smaller evolution would be more appropriate. Ensure you are fully up-to-date on the mindset and needs of your target market before engaging in the process.

 

4. Don’t forget to step into your customer’s shoes.

Hire a secret shopper with a profile that matches your target market and have them engage with your brand at all relevant touch points e.g. ring your receptionist with an enquiry, navigate your website, buy your products, make a customer complaint to see how its handled or not as the case may be. Have them record their experiences in detail and report back. Perceptions internally are often a mismatch to reality on the ground. It can be very revealing and is an essential aspect of your rebrand research and brand audit health check.

 

5. Don’t rebrand without research.

How much do you know about your current and prospective customers (needs, wants, loves, hates, behaviours etc.). What is their compelling reason to buy ? Do you need to re-evaluate your purchaser personas as part of your brand audit health check? They should be front of mind when creating new solutions and revitalising old ones too. They are your ultimate litmus test.

 

6. Don’t treat your rebrand superficially.

A rebrand must be authentic and believable throughout, internally and externally. It must be a liveable story that meets and exceeds customer perceptions and experiences. It must hold credibility and deliver down to the last detail both amongst your day-to-day staff and target audience or it’s largely tokenism, a waste of time and money.

 

7. Don’t rebrand without a well thought out plan.

Rebranding requires clearly defined briefs to keep everyone on track as the project evolves. Your plan should include every aspect of the rebrand e.g. situation analysis, objectives, target markets, budget, resources, time frames, appointed project leader, known parameters, approval structures, stakeholders and metrics for assessing results.

 

8. Don’t overlook the basics.

Having a stunning website, market materials, physical environment or amazing product solution is wasted if the fundamentals of your customer services sucks. Equally if your brand purchasing or processing experience falls short, the brand becomes undermined. Keep all your customer touch points and basic interactions in mind as much as the more glamorous aspects when rebranding. Review, fine tune and improve and don’t underestimate the ordinary essentials, they are just as important.

 

9. Don’t overlook feedback from customer facing staff.

The staff who interact with your customers on a daily basis can yield valuable information and insights into your target market. This is where customers are typically at their most candid and the information garnered from the real world is just as valuable if not more in some cases, then other forms of research.

 

10. Don’t think you’re too small to rebrand.

Every brand needs revitalising to stay relevant as markets evolve whether the brand is a global multinational or smaller national brand, even non-profits and artisan brands are not immune. Like larger brands, smaller brands have target markets, positions etc. that need to be kept relevant and enhanced. They too have to move with the changes of their market and customer preferences or disappear into the mists of time.

 

 

If you’re considering a rebrand or brand revitalization and would like to know more, give us a call.

We’d love to talk T: +353 1 8322724

   

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