Rebranding: Crisis Recovery and Brand Rebuild

In the first quarter of 2015, SDL conducted a survey of almost 3,000 customers and found four out of five would walk away from a brand and never give it another chance after experiencing a major issue.

 

That statistic explains why some brands have no choice but to rebrand in an attempt to resolve crises. Furthermore, of the people who return to a brand after being let down, 59 percent of them show less loyalty than before. [1]

 

Have you given some thought to how to mitigate potential risks to your brand? Do you have an appropriate brand crises management strategy in place in the event of the untoward happening?

 

Here we’ll share with you some of the critical issues you need to consider both in terms of how to rebrand and rebuild customer brand trust after a crisis.

 

Reasons to Rebrand

 

This article will focus on the need to rebrand in order to make a strong comeback after a crisis. However, there are other reasons to tackle rebranding, including: [2]

 

  • Your audience is changing, and rebranding is necessary to maintain brand relevance
  • Desire to move into an international market
  • Outgrowth: You’ve outgrown your brand in its earlier context and need to align more closely to current, larger needs
  • Customers aren’t sure what you do or what you offer. Your brand lacks distinction or difference
  • Competitors are eating into your market and enticing customers away
  • Name change
  • Brand is outdated and lacks relevance
  • Innovation: New technology has changed your market and your brand needs to change with it

 

 

Preparatory and Recovery Measures to Minimize Crises

 

Although you can’t ascertain definitively when problems might occur and what they will entail, it’s important to be aware of the potential threats your brand might face. Those can be identified through a brand audit and SWOT analysis, plus customer feedback. Sometimes, potential threats become apparent because of mass cultural feedback.

 

 

CASE STUDY 1: Page 1 Solutions

 

In July 2015, a dentist sparked worldwide outrage when he went on a game-hunting trip in Zimbabwe and killed Cecil, a beloved lion. Although officials have concluded the dentist’s actions were legal and he cannot be charged [3], people immediately took to the internet to vent their extreme displeasure over Cecil’s death.  

 

 

 Shouting Man 600px

 

 

Page 1 Solutions, a marketing firm that had once represented Palmer, was caught in the fray. Even though the firm had not been associated with Palmer since 2013, the public accused Page 1 Solutions of trying to defend the dentist. [4]

 

The marketing firm’s president clarified Palmer had not been on the client roster for a couple of years. However, public outrage continued to affect the small business.

 

Page 1 Solutions released several subsequent statements, and members of the company’s social media team responded to messages personally.  Other employees reached out to current clients and corrected misunderstandings. Local news branches were also contacted, and the CEO gave several interviews. Although company representatives say the unexpected catastrophe made their establishment stronger, they also recognized the need to develop a crisis plan for future issues.

 

Once you have identified potential threats to your brand, it’s critical to develop and document your brand strategy [5] to deal with them. Your crisis plan should include things such as:

 

  • A defined team to handle crises
  • A media coverage policy
  • Contact information and a contact log
  • Boilerplate information for press releases, plus fact sheets
  • A social media strategy

 

During the recovery process, the crisis plan should keep your actions purposeful and targeted, reducing the chances you’ll forget to attend to the needs and worries of stakeholders.

 

  

Focusing on the Desired Outcomes of Rebranding

 

If you’ve experienced a brand crisis, and post-event analyses indicates too much reputation damage has occurred to fully recover from, then it may be necessary to consider rebranding. However before you launch into a full-scale rebrand you need to determine what your desired outcomes are from rebranding your product, service or company. [6] Typically these might include:

 

  • Solve a problem that has tarnished the brand
  • Correct a damaging story that’s surrounding the brand
  • Disconnect from an association that is harmful or no longer meaningful or relevant from a customer perspective
  • Keep pace with competitors that are outperforming the brand

 

 

Actionable Strategies for Rebranding After a Crisis

 

Unintentional blunders are always possible during a rebrand if it’s not carefully planned, developed, managed and executed. You can minimize these oversights by integrating some of the steps mentioned below.

 

 

Decide if a Complete Rebrand is Truly Necessary

 

Depending on the severity of a crisis, it can sometimes be difficult to fully determine whether it’s better to fix the factors that have caused the brand to falter, or wipe the slate clean and start from scratch.

 

Making the choice can become even more difficult if a crisis has attracted a great deal of media attention. Independent external analysis can be useful to help put things into perspective so informed and unprejudiced decisions can be made.

 

 

CASE STUDY 2: Malaysia Airlines

 

2014 was a difficult time for Malaysia Airlines, as it was the year one of its flights went missing, and another was reportedly downed by a Russian missile. For weeks, the brand received constant negative media exposure, making people wonder if it would ever recover.

 

Although a complete rebranding is in the works, there are few details about it.[7]  Therefore, some industry analysts suggest it would be better to refresh the brand so as to not lose certain favorable associations or the perceived value of the brand’s equity. [8].

 

  

  

  

The airline was established in 1937. With that long history comes an undeniable amount of brand equity and awareness. Malaysia Airlines already had declining profits before the disasters of 2014, and it would be very expensive, indeed required considerable investment, to create a similar level of awareness after a rebrand. Although it remains to be seen what Malaysia Airlines will do in an attempt to recover, it’s clear the brand has a tough road ahead.

 

 

Rebranding and Crises Recovery Tips

 

1. Maintain Ongoing Communications: A rebrand risks alienating your audience. Avoid that possibility by keeping in touch through open, transparent dialogue.

 

2. Involve Skilled People: Rebranding will likely require a specialized team. As you give feedback during a rebrand, remember the people you’ve hired have gone through rebrand and crises challenges before and should be best positioned to provide expert direction on how to best handle yours.

 

3. Make All-Encompassing Changes During the Rebrand: Some companies make the costly mistake of thinking it’s sufficient to merely create a new company logo, change the brand collateral or switch employee uniforms to make people forget about a crisis. Instead, understand that major changes will have to be instigated across your entire organization, which will also typically require brand cultural changes together with both management and general staff brand induction and re-training, if you want to ensure your rebrand is a success.

 

 

CASE STUDY 3: LIVESTRONG Foundation

 

When it was discovered that cyclist Lance Armstrong had been taking performance-enhancing drugs for over a decade, yet had reportedly denied doing so, LIVESTRONG realized it needed to cut ties with the athlete. Meanwhile, Armstrong went on an “apology tour” and visited media outlets.

 

It began by changing its name from LIVESTRONG to the LIVESTRONG Foundation, launching a new identity, and reminding the public of the brand’s fundamental values and focus on helping people affected by cancer, not the actions of one person who’s a cancer survivor. [9]

  

  

  

  

The brand tapped into the public recognition of the foundation’s bright yellow hue and kicked off a campaign about cancer’s impact and what’s needed to address it. [10] The teams handling the rebranding deemed the project successful, and subsequent media coverage was positive.

 

 

Livestrong 600px 

Image via blog.livestrong.org

 

 

Rebranding and Crises Recovery Tip 4

 

Influence the Conversation: During a rebrand, it may be necessary to bring a new voice to the conversation. That’s especially likely if your brand has gone through a crisis that has caused people to speak badly about your products or services.

 

 

Case Study 4: Maggi Noodles

 

In June 2014, Maggi, a leading Indian noodle brand, marketed by Nestlé, was removed from the market when tests reportedly revealed lead content and found the product was mislabeled regarding monosodium glutamate (MSG). A Global Chief Executive from Nestlé stated the noodles were safe, but shortly afterwards, the company was unable to confirm when the noodles would be available to purchase again. [11]

 

By September, Maggi decided it would go against a characteristic aversion to publicity. Part of that initiative involved encouraging people to recall fond memories of eating Maggi noodles, complete with nostalgic media spots and the #WeMissYouToo hashtag.

 

Nestlé believed by changing and moving the conversation towards something emotionally more positive, people would begin to trust the brand again. [12] When Maggi noodles were offered for sale, the brand capitalized on a “Welcome Back” theme.

 

 

 Maggi Noodles 600px

Image via http://www.maggi.in

 

 

Rebranding and Crises Recovery Tip 5

 

Measure the Worth of the Rebrand: There are several metrics that can be examined to evaluate whether your rebrand was a success. Some forms of measurement include customer engagement levels, quarterly profits, and feedback surveys about perceptions.

  

  

  

  

  

The exact elements of a rebranding campaign will vary depending on the crisis a brand has dealt with, but whatever the circumstances rebranding is far more than just changing a logo and colour scheme. Rather, it often entails fundamentally changing or evolving what the brand ‘stands for’ through brand profiling; values, mission, vision, promise, personality, culture and goals, not to mention ensuring the rebrand is well positioned in the marketplace and fully understood by its target audience.

 

 

Key Takeaways

 

  • A crisis plan will help your brand respond strategically to mishaps without losing focus
  • Desired outcomes and key objectives should be fully established before proceeding with a rebrand
  • If issues can be remedied, a complete rebrand may not be necessary
  • A successful rebranding requires being transparent and fully engaged with your customers, stakeholders and the public at large

 

 

Questions to Consider

  

  • Does your brand have a crisis plan, or are you working to develop one?

   

  • How would you evaluate your company’s brand strategy and performance the last time it had to deal with something unexpected?

  

  

  • Has your brand had to disconnect from a harmful association, as the LIVESTRONG Foundation did?

  

  • Do you think nostalgia will be powerful enough to restore the Maggi Noodles brand?

 

 

You may also like:

 

• What Customers Want: Top 16 Branding Trends in 2016

 

• Rebranding Strategy: Why Your Rebrand Must Embrace Storytelling

 

• Brand Profiling: Top 6 Components to Creating a Strong Brand Personality

   

• Brand Audits: Why You Need Them and How to Perform One

 

• Creating New Brands: Top 10 Tips for Brand Success  

  

• Colour Psychology: Cracking the Colour Code for Profitable Branding

  

• Brand Personality: Is Your Brand’s Character Big Enough to Compete?

  

• Luxury Branding: How to Establish or Re-Position Your High-End Brand

 

  

[1] http://www.sdl.com “Avoiding CX Failure Fallout,” May 2015.

[2] Wendy Bolhuis, http://www.vim-group.com/, “The Top 10 Reasons for Rebranding,” June 2014.

[3] Reuters in Harare, http://www.theguardian.com, “Cecil the Lion: Zimbabwe Will Not Charge U.S. Dentist Over Killing,” October 2015.

[4] Adam Rowan, http://www.prdily.com, “What a Marketing Firm Did When a Former Client Killed Cecil the Lion,” December 2015.

[5] Jonathan Bernstein, “The 10 Steps of Crisis Communications,” 2013.

[6] David Brier,  http://www.risingabovethenoise.com, “How to Rebrand: 19 Questions to Ask Before You Start”

[7] Marcus Osborne, http://www.brandinginasia,.com, “Malaysia Airlines Rebrand is Coming: How Big Will it Be?,” December 2015.

[8] Mark Ritson, http://www.marketingweek.com, “Malaysia Airlines: Fix, Don’t Nix the Brand,”July 2014.

[9] http://www.corporate-eye, “Livestrong Rebrands as Livestrong Foundation Without Lance Armstrong, March 2013.

[10] Rigsby Hull, http://www.aiga.org, Case Study: LIVESTRONG Branding, November 2013.

[11] Ratna Bhushan, http://articles.economictimes.india.com/, “Maggi Noodle Fiasco: Nestle Works On Alternative Snack to Reposition Brand,” June 2015.

[12] Jacob Schindler, http://www.worldtrademarkreview.com, “Nestlé Taps into Nostalgia in Bid to Re-Launch Maggi Brand in India.” September 2015.

 

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