A company’s brand gives voice and identity to the organization. It defines who they are, it creates a public perception of the business from advertising and logo to reputation and customer service. Branding helps consistently express the core values held by an organization and communicate the company’s promise to their consumers. That being said, brands aren’t always permanent. Rebranding is sometimes a reactive strategy necessitated by outside forces and other times it is a proactive measure. While consistency in a brand’s identity is important, there are a number of reasons companies choose to either modify or completely change their branding.
WHY ORGANIZATIONS REBRAND
Proactive Rebranding Examples
You want to create a new image for the company.
You want to re-engage your existing customer base.
You are launching a new service or product that will redefine your offerings.
Your organization wants to change direction and your name, logo, mission, etc. will no longer fit who you are.
Reactive Rebranding Examples
Your demographics have shifted and you need to change to meet the expectations of your new audience.
The market has changed significantly.
You’ve merged with another company.
A new competitor has surfaced and you need to differentiate your brand or take a more aggressive approach to the market.
WAYS TO DO IT
Rebranding doesn’t have to be dramatic. Sometimes, businesses change their branding in a way that is so subtle, the average person doesn’t even notice even though it influences their buying decisions. The goal, in this case, is usually to have a clearer, more refined message or image to present to consumers. As pointed out by Business Insider, Quora made slight changes to its name by spacing the letters out a bit more, adjusting the font of the “Q” and changing up the last to letters so they no longer look like they are trying to join together.
A more gradual strategy is used by some organizations to morph their branding over time. When George Williams College (GWC) merged with Aurora University, a very careful branding change for the historic college was planned. Step by step, over a number of years, design, font and color schemes were changed to slowly bring the GWC logo and colors in-line with the design of Aurora University’s logo and color palette. This allowed the University to create dual-usage marketing materials representing both locations without seeming to have two completely separate institutions represented on the materials.
Some organizations choose to undergo a complete overhaul. Consider the recent changes McDonald’s has made to its physical locations. Designers responded to the public perception that the restaurants were more a reflection of old-school cafeterias than comfortable restaurants. The newest generation of fast food consumers wanted more convenience, personalization, and choice out of their dining experience. McDonald’s delivered by remodeling all of their locations with a fresh, modern design with features that offer an enhanced customer experience.
Understand WHY you are rebranding. Set goals, know what you want to accomplish with the new brand. Identify who your new or adjusted target audience is. Define how the changes will set you apart from your competitors.
Update your company’s branding guidelines. Consistency is key to brand recognition and customer loyalty. Once changes have been established, document the new branding guidelines in a comprehensive manner. Share those guidelines organization throughout the organization. Set the expectation that all departments and brand efforts will follow the guidelines without exception.
Preserve some of your brand elements. You may want to maintain the tone or language of your brand or maybe some of the design components. Keep just enough of the old to ensure consumers that you are still you. Take, for example, the new design of the Mastercard logo. The iconic red and yellow circles were retained while the rest of the image was given a simplified look resulting in a sharper and cleaner presentation of the logo.
Notify business partners. Inform vendors and others you use to market and run your business of the changes you’ve made. Share new branding guidelines when appropriate and make sure that any products or marketing materials displaying old branding are collected and replaced with new materials.
Go public. Use an event, the media, or advertising to spread awareness of your changes. Your target audience will feel more connected when you share the vision and goals behind the changes.
Much more than a logo tweak, a name change, or a new tagline, rebranding is something that almost every organization will face at some time in its history. The process can be a catalyst for rejuvenation and offers a fabulous opportunity to bolster the company’s image and grow its presence.
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