It’s a new year, and I’m sure for some in your company, that means they’re bandying about the ‘R’ word in your latest strategic planning meeting. You know the word: Rebrand.
But is this really the year for such an exhaustive (and perhaps exhausting) change to your company? Is this really what you need to move the needle this year? Can’t you just double-down and focus on the numbers? Or roll out a new behavioral assessment for all the teams? Or just put in a foosball table?
Do you really need to rebrand?
Well, perhaps you do. And here’s four reasons (or triggers) to look for to help you decide whether this is really the best course of action:
#1 Your vision has changed.
This is perhaps the clearest reason to initiate a rebrand. If your organization’s vision has recently taken a dramatic shift, a rebrand is the proper next step.
Great brands are built on a clear vision of the future—not just for the company’s values, purpose, and goals but also for the direction of your industry and perhaps for the world in general. And when that vision changes, the brand—or identity—you already have will certainly not reflect it well. It was originally built with on a different vision, probably created and led by a different CEO or owner.
This is typical in companies that have major leadership changes: CEOs, owners, and boards are the typical visionaries in a company. When the people in these positions change, there’s bound to be a shift in vision. Sometimes, even a change in marketing leadership will precipitate a change in vision that needs to be addressed by a rebrand.
Mergers can also be considered in this realm. Often mergers require one or both companies to change or shift their vision (including their leadership, values, culture, and purpose).
New visions can result in quite a few changes that directly impact the organizations’ identity:
- Core values
- Cultural practices and norms
- Long-term goals and objectives
- Major (and fast) geographic expansion
If you’re seeing these shift, that’s a good sign your vision has changed and that the brand needs to catch up too.
#2 You’re scaling (and your brand isn’t keeping up).
Okay, so your vision hasn’t changed but boy are you hustling and growing! You’re entering new markets, adding products and services, and hiring like crazy.
But time and again the current brand identity is not working with you. Perhaps it’s merely a nuisance (at this point) or maybe it’s a full-blown hindrance.
Don’t worry. You’re in the fine company of many a…company.
This is an all too common problem for organizations that are hitting their stride and scaling up. The challenge is that the original brand identity wasn’t built for this. Your brand assets aren’t communicating well your growing size and reach.
Perhaps you started the company with a single product or service and your name, logo, messaging, and visuals were originally built around that single focus. That was probably great for sales and marketing early on as you were able to quickly communicate that singular facet of your business. But now you’ve grown and you offer a lot more. But the brand identity hasn’t kept up. Time for some branding updates, for sure.
The same thing can happen if you had a single geographic or demographic focus when you were starting out. And if your brand assets were created with that tight focus in mind only then they probably aren’t working well now as you expand to new regions and get in front of more audiences.
To be brutally honest, if you’re finding yourself in this boat, it’s likely that original branding efforts may not have been executed with a long-term view in mind. Great branding should attempt to convey not just the “now” of your brand, but where you’re headed medium-term—and even long-term.
Harley Hits a Rough Patch
A great example of a brand that’s had to face this problem recently is Harley Davidson. They’ve hit a rough patch in the last few years because the style of their brand doesn’t resonate with modern, younger audiences. They positioned their brand personality around a visual style that worked for boomers and even gen X. But it hasn’t resonated with millennials—and probably won’t with gen Z either. We’ll see what they decide but I’m betting they’ll be facing the reality of a wholistic rebrand at some point…or the long-term alternative to rebranding: a fire sale.
Great names, great logos, great taglines, great visual identities, and personalities are almost always built on a long-term view of the brand. And that means finding the deeper truth of what you do beyond just a single product, service, geographic place, or audience segment. Go deep. Get beyond simple outward attributes of your business and uncover the real core purpose and values that run deep in your culture and vision.
Put Yourself First
If you want to be a leader, you need to lead with authenticity. Brand first on your own identity. Then worry about how to translate your identity to communicate well with your target audiences. NOT the other way around. We don’t really like hanging out with copycats in our personal lives. Neither do we as customers. We appreciate creativity and originality more than we might realize.
But if this is your reality – a brand that hasn’t kept up with your growing business, it really is okay. Rebrands are common. And they aren’t to be feared. It’s just time to catch your brand identity up with the reality of where your business is at. And believe me, you’ll be sleeping easier moving forward – because your brand will be working for you rather than against you.
Coming next: two more reasons you’ll have to rebrand this year
So there are the first two reasons you may find yourself rebranding this year. This first two focus on (typically) positive changes that your organization is going through that will require your brand to catch up: a change in vision and a change in growth.
In the second half of this 2-part series, we’ll dig into two big, negative challenges that will instigate a rebrand: the competition and poorly executed branding. But we’ll have to wait for the next post to dig into that!
Until then, consider your own brand. How’s it holding up? Is it standing the test of time and change? Or are the cracks beginning to show?
Rebranding can seem daunting, perhaps even scary. But it can also be a transformative and enlightening process. It will cause your whole team to step back from the day-to-day, take a breath, and look deep at your own vision, values, and culture. And through the process, everyone will gain clarity as to why they’re there and the reason to get up every morning and put in a good day’s work.
I find that one of the most rewarding moments of helping our clients rebrand is when the staff within the organization respond with, ‘Aha! Now I understand where we’re going and what we’re trying to do in the world.’
And when your teams are working with clarity and purpose, you’ll find that your customer relationships resonate at a deeper level too. It’ll be easier to communicate, easier to market, easier to sell, and easier to serve each customer because you’ve given them a clearer understanding of the why, what, how, and for whom of your business.
Ultimately, you’ll have a clearly remarkable identity. And who doesn’t want that? Embrace the rebrand with open arms.