Create new opportunities for growth by ensuring your brand has a competitive advantage.

As you prepare for all that’s to come in 2023, think about the message your brand is sending. Is your brand an accurate representation of who you are as a company today? Is it relevant to the people you want to reach? Does it reflect your values? Is it helping you stand out in the marketplace?

If your brand does not have a competitive advantage, it’s not helping your business grow and it may be time to rebrand. It’s a big decision that must be carefully considered.

Rebranding is costly and there is no guarantee the new brand will perform as well as the current brand. A survey of 2,000 people done after Uber changed its logo found 44 per cent didn’t know what company the new logo represented and nearly 20 per cent thought it was a logo for Lyft or Chase Bank.

Still, complacency is not an option in today’s digital world, where accelerating change and new entries to the market are the only constants. Taking a close look at your brand and identifying opportunities for improvement is essential to make sure your brand resonates with your target audience and sets the stage for growth.

Here Postmedia shares rebranding strategies and best practices.

What is rebranding?

Rebranding is the process of changing the public image of an organization. This can include rethinking your marketing strategy and coming up with a new name, logo, visual images and design to create a new identity. When done effectively, a rebrand can help ensure you stay current, evolve with your customers and provide an opportunity to grow.

Types of rebranding

There are essentially two types of rebranding strategies:

Partial Rebrand: This is for established companies whose branding hasn’t kept up with changes in its business, its customers, industry trends or the demands of the marketplace. In this situation, the rebrand is more of a refresh. Efforts are focused on updating visuals and messaging to reflect current products and meet the needs of existing and new target audiences.

In 2010, backed by extensive research, U.S. based men’s grooming brand Old Spice decided to reach a younger audience. The market had become increasingly competitive and Old Spice was viewed as a brand for older men. To set itself apart and tap into a new customer base, it tweaked its marketing and advertising campaigns using humour to engage and entertain. It worked. “The Man Your Man Can Smell Like” advertising campaign spoke not just to younger men but to women purchasing the products. It was an overwhelming hit online and off, re-energizing the company and its growth prospects.

Total Rebrand: This strategy applies to companies that need to reimagine their identity because of significant changes. This can include a merger or a shift out of one industry into another, for example. In this situation, the brand undertakes a total transformation with a new name, new visuals and messaging, and new vision for the future. 

When to consider a rebranding strategy

There are a range of reasons to suggest it may be time for a refresh or rebrand, such as:

  • slow or declining sales;
  • a loss in market share;
  • new customer demands;
  • new products and services;
  • shifts in the industry;
  • the need to differentiate from competitors;
  • growth into new geographic or product markets;
  • repositioning for the future;
  • a merger or acquisition; and
  • a change in mission, vision and values.

Whatever the reason, it’s critical to do the market research and analysis necessary to make sure this is the right decision. Will a rebrand help you attract new customers? Will it alienate existing customers? Will it improve how the brand is perceived in the world and increase engagement? Which parts of the current brand work and which would benefit most from a change? How expensive will it be and will the potential increase in revenues be worth it?

Tip: In all cases, a brand has to be clear about its values, mission, vision and purpose, and reflect these attributes to the world.

Seven steps to rebranding

1. Have a clear business case for rebranding

Knowing the business reason for the rebrand will help you understand if a partial or total rebrand makes the most sense. This will help ensure you are using resources effectively to achieve the outcome you want.

2. Know your customer base

Dig deep. Who is buying your products and who is buying your competitors’ products? Are you selling to the same demographic you’ve always sold to? Has there been a shift? Do you want a fresh audience? Understanding who your customers are will help you rebrand in a way that will be meaningful to them and build engagement.

3. Understand how your current brand is perceived

How do your customers, employees, competitors and the larger market view your brand? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Objectivity is critical. Independent research can help you identify blind spots, so you can enhance your existing brand or build a new one in a way that will tell the story you want to tell and create a positive impression.

4. Analyze your vision, mission and values

This is about understanding and clearly stating what you do, how you do it and why you do it. This is the foundation of your brand. Have any of these pillars changed? Do you need to redefine them? Is there a better way to state them that will build engagement and create an emotional connection with stakeholders?

Tip: Make sure your brand voice — what you say and how you say it — is consistent with your vision, mission and values.

5. Rethink your brand identity

These are the most visual aspects of your brand: your name, logo, tagline, colors, design, typography, graphics, imagery and overall style elements. Think of it as your visual introduction. It should quickly capture and relay who you are.  Consider what’s working and what’s not before you start making changes.

Tip: Create brand style guidelines to identify and explain how to use the key tangible elements of your brand.

6. Ask your customers for their input

As you revamp existing visual elements or create an entirely new visual representation of your brand, be sure to ask your customers for feedback. This will help you track what’s creating positive sentiment and what isn’t, so you can ultimately hit on the right design elements and messaging for the rebrand.

Tip: Conduct focus groups to test new brand elements.

7. Develop a launch plan

With all the pieces in place, it’s time to promote your rebrand and communicate your new look, mission, vision and values, as appropriate. It starts internally with your employees and then goes public on your social channels and website. If you have undertaken a total transformation, you may want to put out a press release. In that case, you’ll want to explain why you decided to rebrand and how you’re positioning yourself for the future. A rebrand – either partial or total – can help refocus your company, re-engage existing customers, attract new ones and build brand awareness. It will also help ensure your marketing strategies are consistent and establish the presence you want to have in the marketplace.