What rebranding is and isn’t. 4 good reasons to rebrand your company.

Thinking
11.22.2017

There is a lot of misunderstanding about what rebranding is so to be clear: it is not a name change, a redesign, or a new logo; however, these services can be a part of a rebranding exercise.

To understand rebranding, we first need to know what branding is. Branding is developing distinctive signals that people associate with a brand. Think; purpose, personality, position, visual identity, etc. On the other hand, the term brand refers to what consumers think of and feel when they interact with a service or product. Put succinctly, Walter Landor writes, “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.”

To rebrand is to alter the image that consumers previously affiliated with the brand. Short of this, a rebrand has failed. Here are four reasons that mandate a rebrand.

1.

To gain a competitive edge in a saturated market.

There are over 28 million businesses in the US, and with this volume the competition is ferocious. For any given product or service category, you will find a massive influx of similar companies vying for the same audience with similar strategies.

When a brand's signals blend in with the crowd, they lose the leverage that commanded premium prices and distinguished their presence in the marketplace. Faced with debilitating rivals, most business will engage in price wars to survive but this move isn't sustainable in the long run for growth and profitability. A rebrand is necessary to stand out from the crowd.

2.

Unify Mergers and Acquisitions.

Along the road of ambitious and successful businesses come merging and acquisitions opportunities. These significantly enhance the visibility and positioning of the parties involved. When these take shape, organizations are guaranteed to face several challenges, but the pivotal ones arise from the absence of a mutual vision.

These companies fall into the trap of only focusing on cultivating the benefits and strengths acquired through an M&A like resources, capabilities, and talent, but neglect the glue that holds all this together: the vision.

In the absence of a clear understanding of the purpose and stance of a merged company, brands risk creating factions with different agendas. The result will be an inefficient business that will never reach its fullest potential.

For acquisitions, there needs to be a systematic and structural organization of brands under a single business umbrella that maximizes individual and collective equity. Brands should live and express themselves but still be on one platform and have shared values.
A rebranding exercise should develop a mutual strategy.

3.

Developing a new product or service category

When a company veers into new territory; products or services, a rebrand is necessary to reflect the new business objective. To give a glimpse into reinvention, let's consider two companies: IBM and American Express.

The story of IBM puts them as the leader in the PC division in 1984, but the market was getting very crowded, and in 1993, they then posted the most significant loss in the history of corporate America, $8 billion. IBM sold its' PC division and moved into the Information Technology and Software business where they are now the global leader.

American Express's genesis was working with banks to shuttle stock certificates, notes and currency between remote banks. In 1882, American Express starting offering it's financial products and in 1891 issued the world’s first travelers check. After WWI, they entered the luxury travel business and eventually in 1958, arrived at the Credit Card business which is their most significant impact to date.

These companies rebranded themselves to reflect the new direction.

4.

Culture relevance for globalized businesses.

Culture innately defines us and encompasses the knowledge, customs, food, arts, beliefs, and achievements of a particular social group. So, it essentially becomes the guide through which the bearer explores and experiences what the world has to offer.

The companies that seek to venture on the global stage must develop specific strategies for their exported businesses to appeal to the local cultures they are treading in. A good example is when Disney launched Euro Disney (now Disneyland Paris) and maintained it's original strategy and thought that customers would prefer the American Disney experience but failed mainly because they never appealed to the local culture.

When your brand sticks, and you have assimilated into the culture, only then can you evolve your brand strategy and introduce new habits cautiously to the local culture. At this point, you have earned the trust and are standing on common ground with your customers, and they are willing to adventure into new territory with you.

Just to note, some companies have entered into new markets with their original strategy and have been successful. Consider how the Japanese car-makers have changed the American car market from wasteful to fuel efficiency vehicles. Understanding that every business case is unique necessitates proper research to figure out if a rebrand is necessary.

Take note

If a company is struggling due to inferior products, services, disappointing customer service, poor culture or incompetent management, a rebrand will not fix the company problems. First, address the issues at hand before you proceed with a rebrand.

Whatever the reason, a rebrand should impact the heart and soul of your business. Get in touch for a consultation if you are thinking about a rebrand.

edKimbowa_Rephraze_portrait
Ed Kimbowa

As founder of Rephraze, As founder of Rephraze, Ed enjoys helping brands connect emotionally with their audiences through great experiences, beautiful stories, and brilliant design. Connect with him on Linkedin, Twitter and Instagram.

About Rephraze

We are strategists, designers, branding specialists, and visionaries who launch, activate and revive brands through strategic thinking, meaningful content, and first-class user experiences. We focus on simplifying brands to drive engagement, discovery, change, and relationships.