People say – don’t judge a book by its cover, inner beauty matters more than the outer one.
Conceptually, it is all correct, but it does not work like this in business. Very often, consumers judge the company, its products or services firstly by its cover, i.e., brand. If you are choosing a service or product from several companies and you are unaware of their quality, have no recommendations, it may not feel comfortable to acknowledge it, but the company’s “clothing” – logo, website and so on also have an impact on you.
Sooner or later clothing wears out, is outgrown, or no longer fits with the company’s concept. In such a scenario, the executives of the company have to make a decision, roll up their sleeves and start the renewal. It is estimated, that on average companies are rebranding every 7–10 years.
There is nothing more permanent than a temporary situation. As the company modernizes, its employees change, thus, inevitably, its clothing must be modified too. If your company is successful, its spirit is modern, and the brand looks like from the gloomy ‘90s, there is a risk that you can send a wrong or incomprehensible message. Brand and its image should help you and not raise questions, why does the image not match the content.
Rebranding can be dictated by the corporate organisational changes – in the event of merging with other companies, becoming part of a group of companies, significantly expanding the range of services or entering new markets.
An example illustrating this – the reinforced concrete group of companies Markučiai, which has been operating in Lithuania for half a century, has rebranded last year and become INHUS. The company, implementing large projects in Sweden, Norway, and South Korea, was constantly facing the same problem – pronouncing their name for foreigners was almost mission impossible, and the visual identity itself was far from reality.
Rebranding alongside with the communication about changes, ambitions of the company and its new plans can also accompany expansion, the start of the new phase of operations. Rebranding is also a way to say that “life is changing, we are renewed because we want and can do more.”
It is true, that the big companies, which face reputational crises, often choose to rebrand as a strategic step. McDonald’s has successfully exploited this. The film Super Size Me and the growing movements towards a healthy lifestyle have provoked the company to review its menu, refresh the interior of its restaurants and the brand itself. A greener image has yielded results. When changes are complex, it is easier for the customers to believe the company’s determination to change and adapt to their needs.
You may also need to change your brand when you become too similar to your competitors. If there are several very similar direct competitors in the market, a renewed image can become an opportunity to show your uniqueness, draw attention to yourself.
Completely technical things can also become an incentive for rebranding, for example, when the old company logo or visual elements are difficult to adapt to different media, they do not look good in large or small format. In that case, updating your logo and style guidelines may be enough.
So, if rebranding is really needed and there is enough determination – what is important not to miss when planning it?
A brand and visual identity are primarily a part of the company’s strategy. Therefore, before inviting brand development strategists and designers, it is advised to sit down and review the vision, goals, competitive challenges of the company, clarify your target audience.
Once a brand has a valuable and strategic foundation, it can be moved on to the name (if there is a need to change it) and the visual part. The most important here is consistency. High-quality style guidelines will serve as a set of rules, that will help to maintain a neat style across all tools and build brand recognition.
Finally, when the new brand is ready to see the light of day, it is important to communicate it to the world (before, of course, having an appropriate presentation within the company) – and do it with courage. Quite often companies are frightened by the initial reaction of the consumers and start to draw hasty conclusions. After all, it is completely normal that users need some time to adapt to the new face of the company.
Rebranding is an important step and for this reason, it is usually desired to spend a sufficient amount of time discussing all stages of it internally with partners. However, sometimes the process gets stuck here – with many discussions but no solution.
This often happens when there are too many decision-makers. When too many opinions, personal associations, different tastes mix together, there is a risk that an agreement will not be reached and the invested time will be wasted. Therefore, it is the most effective to gather a small rebranding team, that will be entrusted with decision making, abiding the agreements and stopping the discussion, if it goes the wrong direction.
It is not easy to decide on rebranding. It will take time and financial investment. It is not a short task, you will have to get ready to face disputes, long discussions with colleagues. Although the good news is that most rebranded companies see a positive impact on sales, and if done properly, rebranding can inspire existing employees, make them proud, benefit in the battles for new employees.