Let’s begin with the definition of a brand.
Before we ask why rebrand?—it is important to understand what a brand actually is.
We define it as:
“A collection of images and words that evoke an emotional response when people interact with a company.”
In other words, it’s a feeling. The experience people have when interacting with your company becomes your reputation.
How do you feel when you buy from Apple, Nike or Louis Vuitton? Cool? Hip? Fashionable? When you buy from Amazon, what comes to mind? Confident? Secure? Taken care of? How do you feel at a Springsteen concert? Or, about your sports favorite team? The word fanatical comes to mind!
What businessperson doesn’t want brand loyalty like that?!
How about United Airlines? Not so good, right? They are going to have a tough time recovering from their PR disaster. Same goes for Uber. Both are in process of rebranding, we’ll see how it goes. Trust is a hard thing to repair once it is broken.
Rebranding is an often-misunderstood term.
People often confuse it with creating a new logo. Redesigning a logo may be one piece of a new brand positioning, but it is not what rebranding is. It is so much more.
Creating the positioning in a rebrand
Your “position” is your brand. It is directly linked to loyalty, price and desire. People will, without doubt, pay more for a product if they perceive the brand as better.
Wikipedia defines it this way: “Positioning refers to the place that a brand occupies in the minds of customers and how it is distinguished from the products of competitors.”
In other words, perception and differentiation.
You cannot rebrand until you understand how to position your company. The first thing we ask is “Why rebrand now?”
No company should do this on a whim because it is usually a radical change to a company’s image. The bigger the company, the more complex and therefore expensive it will be to execute.
Business owners should never take a rebrand lightly.
It requires the full commitment of you, the decision maker, your entire leadership team and the enthusiastic cooperation of your support staff.
Competition is fierce in any business. Companies must be distinguishable and show the true value of their product or service. This one of the main reasons why a rebrand is needed.
More good reasons why a business should rebrand:
- Their brand position was never defined
- The current positioning does not represent the company effectively
- The business has changed its focus, direction or name
- Company mission/values have changed
- Their product line has changed
- Competition has moved in and the company no longer stands out
- Customer demographic has changed or grown and it is out of step with new customer needs
- Technology has shifted making products or systems obsolete
- A negative public image
- Mergers and acquisitions
Companies struggle with:
- Discovering the magic of their product or service
- Creating a design strategy around it
- Articulating that magic in words and images
- Executing the rebranding strategy across all verbal, physical and online assets
It amazes me how few companies have developed the language that motivates customers to buy. They may have a nice logo, but beyond that, their choice of words is generic and boring. A rebrand should always include a new tone of voice and more precise language to give a sense of what it will be like to work with you.
Headlines are a key element of a brand’s vocabulary and are what grabs attention immediately.
A headline like “New York’s Leading Legal Services” has no point of view and is instantly forgettable. It is also indistinguishable from a million other law firms.
Headline writing can only be done as part of a rebrand, as it expresses the core value of the product or service. To create a great headline, we dig deep into motivation, values and story. When I hear “We make ABC better, one XYZ at a time.”, I know they haven’t been using their shovels.
The most recent Mailchimp headline and sub-headline is:
“Your business was born for this!”
Much better than “Email Services for Businesses” right?
When rebranding, it is a perfect time to rethink:
- The life events got you here in the first place
- What does your company really do?
- How you solve a specific problem
- Your core values
- How are you different from competitors?
- What is your story and how does it motivate your company?
- How can you present your company as a high lever thinker?
We often get involved in rebranding while designing (or redesigning) a corporate website.
Once, when I was pitching a company to redesign their rather generic website, they showed me a series of lighthouse images in the first meeting, before I even got the job. They asked me what I thought of using them.
My answer was “We haven’t created the concept for your brand yet, so choosing images now is too early.”
People often put the image cart before the horse. How can a designer choose images unless they know what to look for? Turns out, that answer won me the business and opened the door for a much stronger brand position for the company. View the story of this project here
Brand Positioning for startups
Defining a position is essential for startups pitching an investor. They must be able to show the value of their product and why it is different. An investor may write a million dollar check depending on what you say. It better be good! Check out our article on Pitch Decks
How to rebrand a mature business
New positioning may also be necessary when a company has been in business for a long time. Customer needs, demographics, products and competition may change drastically over the years. The ones who evolve with their market survive.
“We’ve been practicing law for over 25 years” is a favorite line, especially for law firms.
They think it shows how much experience they have, but customers hear “you are old-fashioned.”
This is particularly true for younger audiences. They will be your new client base as older people phase out and they want fresh, new ideas.
Performing a professional Brand Audit can reveal a company’s weaknesses and opportunities. Read more about Brand Audits here.
Repositioning companies like this in a new way is crucial. Even though experience is a good thing, you must show you are staying current in your industry. When you write about how and what you learned, what it taught you and how you apply it to problem-solving today, now it has value.
It’s all about how you spin it.
I believe every company has a voice and a story to tell.
When told in an intentional way, it creates the likeability and trust that opens more wallets. Put simply, people buy from companies they know, like and trust.
Why rebrand is the right question to ask before you make the leap, then ask when and how.