Clients come to our agency with a specific problem: their sales are down, their creative feels dated, their customer numbers have plateaued. Many already have a fix in mind, believing that a new logo or a fresh ad campaign or a website redesign will get them back on track.
But these solutions don’t always address the root cause of the brand’s problem. A sharp sales downturn can’t be reversed with a new website alone. We encourage company leaders to take an honest, holistic look at the situation before taking any action. In some cases, we find that what the company really needs is a rebrand.
So, what are the signs that your company is due for a rebrand?
Secure the foundation first
We define a rebrand as shoring up your brand’s foundation, making sure your offering is:
• Clear and easily understood by everyone in your organization
• Authentic, reflecting who you are and what you stand for
• Relevant to your customer in the current cultural and competitive landscape
A rebrand is not usually a 180-degree change. It’s more often the adjustment between 12:00 and 2:00, clarifying what sets your brand apart.
When you rebrand, you must begin with the strategy work that will inform all of your other efforts. Strategy requires an upfront investment of time and resources, but its long-term ROI is invaluable. You wouldn’t build a house, let alone start planning its interior design, without securing a solid foundation first. It’s the same with a rebrand. Once you establish the structure, you can build everything else, from creative identity to organizational culture.
The rebrand checklist
It may be time for a rebrand if you recognize your company in one or more of these scenarios.
1. Your customer is changing.
Your brand’s audience is evolving and perhaps entering a new life stage, like aging or becoming parents. These major life shifts have a profound impact on your customers’ needs and values.
2. Cultural or competitive forces are influencing you.
The world has changed since your company was founded, but your brand hasn’t evolved along with it. Now you seem out of step with how people shop, how they live or what they believe, and you need to adapt. Your company’s legacy and heritage are important and can be an advantage, but not if they keep you stuck in the past.
3. The brand sits inside the heads of a few people.
Your company has relied heavily on the vision of your founder, or a small team of executives lead the direction of the company without input from other stakeholders. This approach may have worked up to a certain point, but it’s not codified or scalable, and now it’s preventing your growth.
4. Internal confusion is causing a disconnect.
Your employees can’t succinctly describe what your brand stands for. This confusion may derive from a recent leadership change, company expansion or point #3 above. Or it could be from a lack of purpose, vision or direction. If your internal team isn’t aligned with your brand, your customers won’t be either.
5. Leadership is ready for change.
Your company’s leaders recognize that you have a problem and are ready to do the hard work to make a change. Buy-in from top leadership is essential for a successful rebrand. You have to invest the time and discipline in the entire journey; otherwise, you won’t be able to galvanize the rest of your organization.
Any of these scenarios sound familiar? If so, you may be ready for a rebrand. Now what?
We recommend taking a step back and evaluating your business holistically:
• Listen. Gather frank feedback from your key stakeholders. Ask customers, key business partners and employees (across functional areas and levels of seniority) for their input. How do they define your brand? What is important to them? What changes do they want to see?
• Look around. Analyze your key competitors and what is going on in the current cultural landscape. What are other companies doing well? What makes you stand out? How is today’s culture different than the past?
• Look inside. Conduct a self-assessment, taking a hard look at your brand: the good, the bad and the ugly. What are you doing well? Where have you fallen short? What will your next steps be?
When we go through this process with clients, we collaborate with leadership teams and use these inputs to draw out essential brand truths. It’s like holding a mirror up to your brand to reveal who your customer is, what your long-term vision is, how you’re different and why your customer should care.
This brand strategy work provides a North Star for your company, focusing your team’s efforts and shaping all expressions of the brand. From here, you can start applying these insights to consumer-facing programs.
In today’s fast-moving world, your company must have a clear brand strategy to cut through the noise. If you intentionally establish this foundation, you can rebrand in a way that clearly resonates with your customers.