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When a company is formed—and throughout its entire lifecycle—its brand is pivotal to success.
Sometimes, a brand doesn't resonate with the target market or becomes stale, a company must consider a rebrand. That can consist of changing or updating the brand's name, logo, or entire identity.
Companies big and small use rebranding strategies as a way to keep up or stay ahead in their industry. Rebranding can save a company in decline or maintain a company at the top. However, not all rebrands are a resounding success, and rebranding should never be undertaken on a whim.
Rebranding is a significant undertaking that should be given intense planning and thought.
When Is the Right Time for a Rebranding Strategy?
Major brands, such as Google, have undergone logo updates and facelifts to help them stay ahead in their industry. Rebranding can keep identities fresh and create industry buzz. Rebranding strategies can also help you get to where you need to be if you aren't meeting goals.
Here are some reasons you might consider a rebranding strategy for your organization.
Not Standing Out
Whatever industry your organization is in, there will be competitors that may affect your company's ability to effectively stand out in the marketplace. According to digital marketing agency Blue Frog, "Rebranding your company to have its own voice, look, and feel will help establish your business as an industry leader with a personality that appeals to your audience."
When two companies merge, or one acquires another, there are many important decisions to make, including rebranding. The newly merged company or acquired company needs to assess both previous brands' value to determine which branding options they could take. If both brands are strong, it may be wise to capitalize on one or both existing brands. If neither has made a huge splash in the industry, rebranding is a way to start fresh with the merger.
I your organization's brand evokes negative responses among consumers, by rebranding you can create a new brand identity that's free of any dark marks from a previous executive or company decision.
Back in 2009, on the brink of collapse before being rescued by the US federal government, American International Group Inc. (AIG) rebranded to Chartis Inc. to distance itself from the bad reputation, according to Business Insurance. AIG has since returned to using its former name, but it has updated its logo and further rebranded to separate itself from previous mistakes.
Sometimes, your organization's brand is performing well but it needs a facelift. All companies, no matter how successful, must keep fresh and relevant to stay on top of their game. If your company is in this situation, it might be time for a brand rejuvenation. A brand refresh can "develop and refine" your company's brand voice and communication to consumers, according to Mightily chief growth officer Kelli Corney.
Examples of Successful Rebrands
Knowing when to rebrand is the first step. Knowing how to successfully strategize a major rebrand is the next challenge. Most rebranding successes have a few factors in common:
- They create an iconic and memorable brand.
- They focus on providing their audience with what the audience wants.
- They have a successful brand launch.
Here are two examples of successful rebranding efforts.
Facing competition from Axe, Gillette, and other men's hygiene brands, Old Spice struggled to hold on to its place in the men's personal-care industry—until a clever rebrand in 2010 sent the company's fortunes sky high.
Old Spice's parent company, Proctor and Gamble (P&G), contracted brand management firm Landor to refresh the Old Spice brand. A case study from Landor shows how the company refocused the brand's identity. Landor created marketing campaigns with the goal of promoting products that appeal to men's visceral feelings of hygiene. Also, Landor attempted to redefine masculinity, or manliness.
A marketing campaign went viral, speaking directly to men and their spouses about ensuring that their man would "smell like a man." Old Spice labels were also updated with a sleeker look, and the ship in the Old Spice logo was made smaller and given a more classic feel.
By focusing on what Old Spice did best, as well as some creative marketing, it again emerged as a leader in its industry. According to P&G, the "smell like a man, man" campaign recorded more than 105 million views on YouTube, an 800% increase in traffic on Facebook, and 1.2 billion media impressions.
It's hard to imagine today, but more than two decades ago Apple was on the brink of collapse. Shares for the computer and technology giant were trading on public stock exchanges for less than a dollar, and the company was losing billions in revenue. In 1997, Steve Jobs made a triumphant return to the company and flipped its fortunes, in part with a classic rebrand.
With the company in need of a fresh look for consumers, Jobs approved a new, sleek version of the famous Apple logo. He ditched the multicolored logo in favor of a glass or chrome look that fit better with the company's new iMac designs. Along with updating the logo, Jobs focused on providing customers with product innovations.
At the 1997 MacWorld Expo in Boston, Oracle CEO and a member of Apple's Board of Directors, Larry Ellison, called Apple the only "lifestyle" brand of all the tech giants of the late 1990s. The rebranding paid off. Apple's stock soared 211% in 1998 after the rebrand.
When It Goes Wrong
When companies ignore the lessons of successful rebrands, however, they can end up with an embarrassing situation of having to revert to a previous brand or causing sales to decline. Here are two examples.
One of the best examples of a rebranding failure is that of Gap. In 2010, the company unveiled a new logo, featuring a dull typeface and a strange gradient box in the background. The logo was immediately panned by customers and professional designers. Within a week, Gap had reverted to its original logo.
Gap didn't realize the strong brand association that consumers had with its existing logo. By changing it, it severed some of those ties and upset customers who didn't feel the new branding aligned with their perception of the brand. Gap announced in a public filing that sales fell 8% in North America in the three months after the rebranding mess compared with the prior-year period.
In another instance of rebranding failure, Tropicana announced in 2009 that it was updating the packaging for its orange juice cartons. Instead of cartons with easy-to-read type and a candy-stripe straw poking into an orange, the new cartons were designed to show a glass full of orange juice. The updated logo was displayed vertically, and it was less clear to consumers which Tropicana product you were buying as the products weren't color-coded anymore.
Like Gap, Tropicana did not realize the attachment customers had to their products, including the labeling on the cartons. While Tropicana tried to play up its mission to provide 100% juice, it sacrificed the clean, fun look that consumers enjoyed before. In response to the new branding, sales fell a reported 20%, costing Tropicana millions.
How Can My Organization Rebrand?
To avoid an unsuccessful rebrand, ensure that you understand the relationship consumers have with your brand and what they want from it; and successfully communicate changes with a good launch strategy.
If you've determined rebranding is right for your company, here are some helpful steps to follow.
Build a strong brand identity
This is arguably the most important step—the most foundational. Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos has been quoted as saying, "Your brand is what other people say about you when you're not in the room," driving home the idea that a brand is much more than a logo or packaging.
Like the examples of successful branding noted earlier, when your company truly focuses on what makes them unique and special it can lead to positive business outcomes. With a strong, unique, and clear brand identity, your company's brand can become a household name and evoke positive emotions when people think about it.
Develop an implementation strategy
Deciding that you want to rebrand is easy. Executing that strategy is much more difficult. It's up to your company team to create a comprehensive and clear strategy from the start so your company can accomplish the myriad tasks that need to be completed, ensuring the rebrand stays true to what customer research calls for. To implement a rebrand, everything from logo design to the look of business cards needs to be carefully considered and rolled out.
Effectively market the rebrand
You may have a great idea for a potential company rebrand, but the rebrand could fail if you don't have an efficient and optimal marketing strategy. According to Hinge Marketing, knowing your place in your industry is part of your branding and marketing strategy—whether you're an industry giant or an innovative newcomer offering different products. Keeping in mind the company's business goals and customers' perceptions of the brand in mind will help you successfully communicate and market your rebranding efforts.
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Developing a rebranding strategy will help you successfully recreate the way customers view your brand without damaging existing relationships. One way to be in a position to can lead your company into the future is with an online MBA from Point Park University. In Point Park's MBA program, you'll learn the foundational aspects of marketing, business strategy, and organizational management. All are crucial during the development and rollout of a rebranding strategy. The program can be completed in as little as 18 months; and because of the online format, you can balance your education with your busy life.
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