In our first part of this series on rebranding, we covered the first two reasons you’ll need to rebrand your company:
- You have a new vision
- You’re scaling up
Both of these focused on the positive, internal changes that are causing your brand to need to change to keep up with your company, leadership, and growth.
But like any coin, there are always two sides. And the triggers for a rebrand are the same – there are negative reasons why your brand needs a rehaul. In this case, there are two big issues that you need to be on the lookout for…and honestly if you approached your branding right the first time around, these issues won’t come up.
So without further ado, two MORE reasons you’ll need to rebrand this year:
3. Your competition is catching on (and catching up).
Welcome to the new year! And lucky you, you’re in the enviable position of a market leader. You’ve set the standard. You are looked at as the frontrunner of revenue, technology, processes, thought leadership, or design amongst your peers. Congratulations! There are some serious kudos in order!
You are the roadmap.
But every market leader should be wary: you’ve drawn the roadmap all your competition will attempt to follow. And perhaps some of them are getting really good at the copy-cat game. The competitors’ marketing looks like yours, their brand voice is similar, heck, even their products are packaged similarly. And customers are getting confused and may even be dropping off the “brandwagon” you’ve worked so hard to build. You’re losing your differentiation edge in the market – it’s harder for customers to tell you apart or be as loyal or see you as the only option.
But not to fret, this is an all-too-common issue. Plenty of brands have positioned on size – ‘we’re the largest X in the X industry in X state’. Or they’ve positioned on a new design technique (case in point: Chobani’s recent rebrand). Or a new buzzword you coined that isn’t really trademarkable. Or a new logo design trend (cough, cough – luxury clothing brands – cough, cough.)
This really isn’t new territory for leading brands. And the right response is nearly always to rebrand. Change the look. Revamp the message. Find a new, unique position to focus all of your strategies.
In essence: create the new standard.
Create the new standard…right.
But I’d encourage you to dig deeper this time. Don’t stake your entire brand position on the superficial, like being the the largest or ‘best’ (whatever that means), or a new packaging technique, or even a new product (take a lesson from Taser / Axon, here). Instead, work hard to find the real unique ‘why’ of your company. Some might call this their ‘brand purpose’ (we’re partial to this one). Others might just call it a mission. Or maybe it’s a unique vision of the world and people and how your organization helps to change it (and them). But whatever you call it, find yours.
An identity without a lasting purpose is a façade. A mask. Dare we say even a con. We, as relational human beings, have an incredibly hard time trusting and having loyalty to false identities – especially the digitally information-rich world we live in that makes it incredibly hard to pull one over on people for very long.
Brands that last, that build long-term loyalty, and are deeply embedded in their customers’ lives are build on foundational purposes that resonate both with the company’s culture and outwards with the world. Nike helps people achieve more than they thought they could. Apple designs – not for the sake of pure tech but so that humans can connect and accomplish without worrying about the technology itself. Starbucks created a ‘3rd place’ in the world for people to connect and relate.
Having a foundational purpose on which to position, gives you an edge no competitor can duplicate.
4. Your current branding is, well, crap.
Okay, so this one probably hurts the most. And I never want to see anyone in this boat – because it’s completely avoidable. But unfortunately, it does happen. And maybe you’re in this boat right now. How do you know?
Here are a few key symptoms that reveal a poorly-executed brand:
Your team keeps tweaking the logo. Or just hates using it.
Poor logos are an all-too-common symptom of bad branding. Typically this happens when the original branding was created by a less-experienced designer or even someone untrained in design and brand strategy (like…a partner in a law firm).
This often results in a logo that doesn’t scale well for different sizes. Or a logo that quickly feels dated (usually because it was styled based on a design trend rather than being rooted in the truth of the brand). Or a logo that just doesn’t stand out.
And brands built on a bad logo will find themselves running up against a wall sooner or later.
No one writes the name of the brand, they just make it into an acronym.
Oh my, this one can hurt. Everyone loves a good acronym but only when it’s intentional. NASA being an obvious exception, brands that turn their name into an acronym often do so to cover up a name that was poor to begin with.
If your name is simply the last names of your partners, or super descriptive (think ‘The Best Barbershop’), or just hard to read or say, you’ll find your customers, vendors, and employees all ditching it in favor of something – or really anything – that makes it even slightly more unique.
A brand built on this kind of name won’t last.
You keep hearing about how your marketing doesn’t have any personality.
This one seems to happen a lot in service-based businesses or businesses that sell to other businesses. The fear of offending anyone causes many a company to just copy the competition or turn up a nose at even the slightest whiff of creativity (perceived as ‘risk’) that any attempt at a unique personality for the brand is snuffed out.
This often leads to content full of industry jargon, visuals that are bland and stale, and an overall sense of stasis within marketing and communications. And internally, there’s the kind of ‘professionalism’ that is less about executing well (in a suit) than it is about just not offending a customer.
Expression of a unique personality is a key ingredient for great brands. That doesn’t mean you have to be weird. Or let everyone wear sweat pants. Or have lots of colors.
Have a personality. Or be relegated to obscurity.
Having a personality means really knowing what you believe, your corporate values, and culture and letting those infuse everything you do. If you’re all about impeccable grooming and looking your best – because that’s rooted in your values – then, by all means, make sure every staff photo on the website showcases a suit and tie. And maybe take it a step further: what kind of suit-and-tie character best exemplifies your brand? Perhaps it’s more a daring but suave James Bond personality? Or is more the butler type, e.g. Alfred of Batman lore?
Then let your marketing, communications, even your interior design, cultural practices, and product design be inspired and create from this foundation of personality. You might be surprised how much traction your brand gains.
What now will you do?
How are you doing? Did you mentally run your brand through those four reasons to rebrand:
- Is your vision outpacing your brand?
- Is your company scaling beyond what your brand can handle?
- Is your competition catching up?
- Is your branding just, well, to be honest, crap?
Maybe pass these questions around the office and get some honest feedback from your teams. You might be surprised by what comes back.
If the answers coming back aren’t all that positive, it’s okay. Take a deep breath. You’re about to tackle one of the most transformative initiatives you can take your company through: The Rebrand.
And you won’t regret the rebrand if you do it right. You’ll come out the other side inspired, focused, and with a set of tools to help you and your teams communicate with clarity for years to come.
And there are tons of branding resources and tools to help you along the way, including a few we’ve created.
And, of course, if you want some help, don’t be afraid to ask.