Rebranding is a perfectly common business move for major companies, and has been for many years. Think about Uber’s recent branding overhaul as just one contemporary example in a long tradition of rebranding.
Most of the time, we don’t typically notice branding changes as consumers, unless they’re serious makeovers. Most are subtle transformations — think of color changes to sports team’s logo or uniforms. It may seem like changing a logo or the font of your company’s name on business cards might not be a huge deal, but rebranding can be a very serious declaration of intent, a marker of your company’s commitment to evolution and upward growth.
Other times, however, rebranding can represent a more substantial effort, perhaps to shift the consumers’ perception of a brand or to show a company’s progression with an evolving market. Is it time for your company to consider a rebrand?
Here are five reasons it just might be.
1. When you want to shake off an old image.
This wasn’t quite as big of an issue in America, but for many years, the Burberry brand was the standard issue dress as a status symbol of thugs and gangs all across England. The association became such a problem that many pubs banned Burberry and other brands from being sported on their premises. Hard to believe that was ever the case, but it was certainly a huge issue for Burberry, as it drove away many potential customers due to negative association.
In order to solve the problem, Burberry put all their weight behind aggressively rebranding themselves as a high-end luxury clothing brand, even courting such noteworthy celebrities as Emma Watson for advertising campaigns. The amazing thing is, Burberry didn’t change their look or their prices, so the tradition of Burberry stood strong. Instead, they just focused their efforts on artistry and cutting edge fashion in their presentation. It may not happen as drastically as it did for Burberry, but it’s quite possible that your company will attract a different customer base than you originally planned. If the unintended audience latches onto your business, don’t scrap everything. Just rebrand, and do so very consciously, with an eye on every detail of the presentation.
2. When you want to tap into a new demographic.
Sometimes, for the sake of keeping your business moving forward, it’s an absolute necessity to reach out and tap into a new audience that might be interested in your product. Take the crowded market of alcohol sales, for example. In America, when you hear the brand name Pabst Blue Ribbon, a very specific image comes to mind — the cheap beer beloved by hipsters and frat guys.
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It may come as a surprise, then, to find out that China’s version of PBR, known as Pabst Blue Ribbon 1844, is a wildly popular luxury beer that sells for $44 a bottle. Pretty astounding, right? Well, the smart folks at Pabst took a good look at the rapidly growing Chinese craft beer market and realized they could easily capitalize on a demographic that was not familiar with their association in the United States. So when you look at Chinese PBR ads, you’ll see a fancy bottle next to a champagne flute, with stacks of barrels trailing off behind, as if a high-end scotch were being advertised. Taking the time to do your research, finding a new market and capitalizing on another demographic can be key for your company’s growth.
3. When you outgrow your original mission.
A rebranding effort can be crucial to making sure your company’s expert services are given maximum exposure by an increasingly demanding audience. “Key to a company’s relevance is the evolution of the brand,” writes Jim Freeze, CMO at Aspect. “A primary responsibility of any chief marketing officer is to know when it’s time to advance a company’s legacy by transforming its brand.”
Take the newly-rebranded Altify, for example. The company was a cloud-hosted sales transformation solution before “the cloud” even existed. The company was one of the first to build sales expertise into a software solution, combining customer insights and data with decades of tested sales knowledge, so salespeople can have intelligent business conversations with their customers.
But over time, the market changed. In the age of big data, Altify found its customers using the solution at every stage of the revenue process — not just the final sale. CEO Donal Daly explains, “As we now serve the whole revenue team, not just the sales team, we felt it appropriate and timely to change our name to reflect that. Altify is about altitude, and is our promise to elevate your revenue team to a better-equipped go-to-market approach by helping you put your customers at the center.”
4. When the market is evolving quickly.
Sometimes a rebrand is necessary just to keep your company competitive in an ever-changing and evolving market. It’s very often the case that companies whose services may be top notch simply get left behind because their brand is not associated with the cutting edge. Remember the Mac vs. PC ad campaigns? Companies like Microsoft have done well to keep up and perhaps even surpass the competition these days, but thanks to some brilliant branding on Apple’s part, there was a time when PCs were considered by many to be behind the curve.
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5. When all you’ve got is a name.
When someone asks you to picture a motorcycle, it’s quite possible you’ll immediately picture a Harley-Davidson. It’s an American classic, after all, an institution unto itself, symbolizing the open road and rugged self-reliance. What many people don’t realize, however, is that Harley-Davidson was in serious danger of going out of business in 1985, in spite of the fact that they were the most recognized brand in their market.
In order to salvage the business, Harley-Davidson hatched a simple but brilliant rebranding plan: keep the famous name, but give the product a quality facelift. Harley studied their competitors’ business models closely, picked up their strengths, cut dead business weight and designed smaller, more manageable and more affordable bikes to attract a new generation of riders to their timeless name. The strategy worked, and Harley has reclaimed its place among the leaders in motorcycle brands. If your company has done well in establishing familiarity, but has fallen behind in execution, follow this model.
In the end, there’s no such thing as a static market. Your competition will continue to change and your business’s position in the marketplace may need to shift. What’s critical in a rebrand, is that you don’t change the whole business. Rather, ensure your brand continues to evolve with the company.