Rebranding : How To Do It Successfully and Avoid Pitfalls
One of the world’s biggest brands – Coca Cola – has done it eleven times, albeit in a largely evolutionary manner, since selling their first sugar-laden fizzy drink in its now-iconic bottle. Thousands of other very successful well knows brands have also done it over the decades. It’s a critical and strategic part of all successful businesses regardless of size, be they global giants or much loved more local national players. If a brand wants to stay relevant and connected then rebranding is an essential part of its continued success.
The degree of change in rebranding can take many forms from a gentle evolutionary update to a radical overhaul, the decisions for which are driven by strategic business objectives. Done correctly, whether evolutionary or radical in nature, rebranding can have a hugely positive impact on the bottom line, and be responsible for driving a significant increase in a business’s profitability.
Equally, a poorly thought out rebranding strategy can pose serious risks to your business resulting in loss of credibility, brand equity and the hard won brand asset value which you’ve painstakingly built up over the years. Successful rebranding must be given careful thought, research and planning to ensure the successful results desired.
To give you some further insights into both the ‘hows’, ‘dos’ and ‘donts’ of rebranding we’ve included some examples in this article, which will provide you with some direction, if considering rebranding in your business. Disasters and successes are both learning tools when analysed from an informed perspective, there are always invaluable lessons here for us all!
Top 3 Reasons to Rebrand
1. Brand Evolution : Over Time We’ve Changed…
Sometimes a company moves on but its brand doesn’t. In other words, it doesn’t represent what that business ‘stands for’ or does any more. This was the case with American Airlines when its executives felt they needed to rebrand earlier this year. The rebrand included a complete re-evaluation of what the brand stood for, and how it was perceived by stakeholders, both internally and externally in the market.
Image via Lost Press Marketing ©American Airlines
Part of the rebranding process included an update of its visual icon, the brand identity, which hadn’t seen much change since its introduction back in 1968. Its important to note that brand logos are a shorthand way to remind us of a brand’s relevance, associations and reputation in the market and are a by-product of all a company’s brand building efforts over time. They are the visual aid or trigger that reminds customers of all the emotional and rational reasons of why they love (or in some cases dislike) a brand but they are not the ‘brand’ in themselves, merely the visual identifier.
When American Airlines analysed its brand logo in the context of what the brand stood for now in the current market, the old symbol wasn’t seen to meet current needs or communicate the core brand message any longer. America’s number one airline needed a more streamlined and vibrant visual image to represent the brand in its full context. They also wanted to let go of what they termed the ‘bullying emphasis’ they believed old logo represented, according to one senior AA executive:
“The old identity was slightly skewed to a more powerful American image. We needed to move it to [what we call] ‘American spirit,’” he said. “That’s the side of America people really, really love. People have huge love for the eagle, but not necessarily the eagle in the downward position potentially attacking someone.”
2. Reputation Management : Negative Brand Sponsorships…
Brand sponsorship of significant high profile events, causes or people such as celebrities can reap immense rewards, through the association for the brand. Equally it can also cause reputation risks too, if for example the person concerned suddenly becomes embroiled in a publically unacceptable behaviour or expresses a controversial opinion or becomes aligned to something which is the opposite of what your brand stands for.
A simple example from the USA is a Missouri restaurant owner who’d named his restaurant after a Missouri basketball star (Albert Pujols). When Albert Pujols left the Missouri St. Louis Cardinals to play for the Los Angeles Angels suddenly ‘Pujols 5’ wasn’t the go-to restaurant in town anymore. In fact, it became the opposite, the owner received numerous cancellations, his premises were vandalized and a police cordon had to be set up to deter further damage. Sales dropped a whopping 75 per cent and it seemed as if the business was about to go bust. Indeed customers are filmed saying they doubted it would survive even a year.
A radical rebrand became critical to the fundamental survival of the business. In fact the rebrand required a complete name change to ‘Patrick’s Restaurant & Sports Bar’. The restaurant re-established itself successfully in the market with the rebrand and most importantly, in the minds of its target market, enabling the business to grow again profitably.
Unfortunately, in the case of US family-run firm ‘Ms & Mrs’ their brand wasn’t just broke but demolished – thanks to a much-anticipated promotion in a TV show which turned out to be a definite brand breaker as opposed to booster. The presenter on the ABC talk show, mispronounced the name of their company to Mr & Mrs.
Image via Audrey Lifestyle Magazine ©Mr & Mrs
As a result, all that much-looked forward to thousands of dollars worth of free publicity and increased sales for the firm (it provides a variety of ‘emergency personal care kits’ for for all sorts of occaions) never happened.
That wasn’t the only time the name had been mispronounced. Vloggers had accidentally altered it too or even had trouble saying it in the first place. Enough was enough. It was time to do something. So the family rebranded and changed their brand name. In order to avoid any confusion, they chose a new name completely different from the original and became ‘Pinch Provisions’.
Image via ©Pinch Provisions
They also did a brilliant pre-name change video – using humour to make fun of themselves (and no doubt endearing themselves to thousands more customers in the process).
3. Brand Name Translations : Bad Interpretations
One of the key guidelines to brand naming is ensuring the name and its tag line translates appropriately across different languages and cultural boundaries. Sometimes this consideration has been overlooked resulting in unfortunate connotations or interpretations when translated into foreign languages, such as the following examples:
A sports drink in Japan, produced by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co and aimed at replacing electrolytes lost in sweating is named Pocari Sweat (which we reckon wouldn’t go down well in English-speaking countries).
In Germany the computer Commodore VIC-20 had to be renamed to the VC-20. The reason for this is that VIC in German would be pronounced fick which means (well, in English you’d put a ‘u’ in place in the ‘i’).
The American SciFi channel wanted a new text friendly name. Unfortunately they choose SyFy which in many countries turned out to be slang for syphilis.
Online marketing company PinCrusher used to be known as PinBot – until they realised the word ‘Bot’ didn’t have particularly good connotations (being associated with as a web crawler). It could also be extremely confusing considering their business was internet based and involved the selling of a Pinterest app…
Rebranding isn’t something that can be taken lightly. It needs to be strategically driven and supported by considerable market research to find out what’s working, what isn’t. Most importantly new potential rebrand approaches should also be ‘tested’ and researched, before full development and launch to market, to get feedback and ensure target audience ‘buy in’. Make sure you find out and know where and why to keep the good stuff, and bin the out of date or compromised, to ensure your rebrand launch is successful and increases your profitability.
• If you’re considering rebranding do you really know what works well for your brand and what aspects of it could do with a revamp?
• Have you researched your target audience to test brand sentiment and get feedback both at the beginning of you rebranding project and again at an advanced stage of development to test your new positioning/concepts etc.?
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