Is It Time to Rebrand Your Company?

Even big name companies from McDonald’s and Burberry to Target and Disney will rebrand or make adjustments to their branding.

When many people think of a rebrand, they imagine a complete head-to-toe makeover. However, it doesn’t have to be a major overhaul. It is more common for companies to make slight adjustments to keep their business competitive and sustainable.

Sometimes, the changes are so subtle that the average consumer may not immediately notice, although it influences their purchasing decision. 

It is important to build a consistent brand, but there are times when companies should consider rebranding. The longest-running businesses have remained successful over several decades, because they knew when rebranding was appropriate.

To preserve your brand, you need to know when it is time to change it up. Rebranding is a serious undergoing that shouldn’t be taken lightly. How do you know if your company is overdue for a makeover?

Here are 6 signs that your business may need some rebranding:

1. You are launching a new product and/or targeting a different demographic.

When you first start your business, you may have a highly specific group of users or customers in mind. If you are a cosmetics company, your target may be women between the ages of 20 and 40. If you are a pet store, you may focus only on dog owners. As your business grows, you may attract customers that you didn’t expect or see the opportunity to launch into different verticals and reach new audiences.

The same types of marketing and branding that you used for your original set of customers will likely not be effective to reach your new target. In this case, you may not need to rebrand your entire business but part of it.

Birchbox, the subscription beauty sample service, started as a women-focused company. Since they launched, they have rebranded parts of their product offerings to include new demographics. For instance, BirchboxMan is obviously different from the Birchbox for women.

2. You are expanding globally.

There are countless considerations that businesses need to address when they decide to expand globally. Branding strategy is one of the most important. When you set up shop in another country, you need to account for cultural differences. People will identify and connect with your company in various ways.

Food companies often adjust their menus and other aspects to account for the surrounding culture. For example, the menu items that you’ll find in McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC in Japan is unlike anything that you’ll find on the menus in the United States.

Entire businesses can be viewed─and valued─differently in other cultures. In the United States, Pabst Blue Ribbon, aka PBR, is a beer associated with hipsters and super low prices. In China, it is practically a luxury item at $44 a bottle.

In the United States KitKat is a relatively popular candy bar, but in Japan it is on a whole other level. In Japan, KitKat is viewed as somewhat of a gourmet candy with hundreds of wacky flavors like Wasabi, Sake and Purple Potatoes.

3. The market changes.

There are some circumstances that companies can’t control. When the market changes, companies may be faced with an ultimatum─evolve or get left behind.

In recent years, consumers are putting more pressure on businesses to be eco-friendly. Millennials will even choose a product from an eco-conscious company over a less expensive one that does not appear environmentally friendly. (You may have noticed that many businesses have adjusted their packaging design and marketing to incorporate “recyclable”, “reusable”, “green”, and other environmental buzzwords.)

The growing demand for more organic and healthy food options also has many companies making changes to remain competitive. To appear healthier, CapriSun has slapped “organic” on its juice boxes, while Gatorade launched an organic line. (Both “organic” options are still packed with sugar.)

A careful study of the nutrition facts label can reveal how healthy it really is, but the new branding can still convince some that it is better than before. This is a case when rebranding can go very wrong. The key: it is better to be honest with customers than try to trick them into buying your product through misleading design.

4. A new competitor emerges.

If you have a thriving business and a great product, there will inevitably be copycats and competitors. It is important to maintain a competitive-edge and stay on top. Otherwise, your brand will age and become stale. For competitors, this is the perfect opportunity to steal your current and potential customers from under you.

In the past, Old Spice was the deodorant associated with mainly, old men. It wasn’t appealing to younger generations and losing out to newer alternatives like Axe. Then, they nailed their rebranding strategy. With a humorous series of commercials starring athlete Isaiah Mustafa and actor Terry Crews, Old Spice reinvented their brand image as sexy and young, while still preserving the core offerings.

As competition emerges, take note. If they are attracting a substantial percentage of your target audience, they could be doing something better than you. To survive, you need to step up your game and evolve.

5. Your original branding was poorly executed.

The startup world today is fast-paced. It is possible to launch a business in a fraction of the time that it would take 5 or 10 years ago. As a result, some may rush to get their idea or product out and they don’t take enough time to really develop a strong branding.

A poor branding strategy will catch up to you and hurt business, so rebranding is usually necessary to correct your error.

6. You’ve outgrown your original branding or changed direction.

Even if you thought you developed strong branding when your business launched, times change. You may have started out with the idea that you were going to focus in one industry or solve a specific problem, then find out that your company is headed in a completely different direction.

The startup WayUp began as Campus Jobs. When it was founded, it focused on matching college students with internships and part-time employment. As it grew, it became obvious that the original name was limiting and confusing. It sounded like it was only for on-site campus employment, so WayUp was born.

Apple is another example of a company that thankfully outgrew its original branding. Steve Jobs was perhaps the greatest master of rebranding. When Apple Inc. started it was called Apple Computers. At the time, it didn’t shine against competitors, but in 1997, it rebranded. With Jobs’ guidance the company became known for the modern, sleek, minimal and sophisticated qualities that we associate with it today. It also freed the company from being more than just computers, as the success of Apple watches, iTunes, iPads, and more prove.

One of the most difficult challenges of rebranding is evolving while maintaining the integrity of your business. Don’t forget what made you successful in the beginning. In particular, keep your core values at the heart of your rebranding strategy.

When you rebrand, also remember to update your branding guidelines to ensure that you are consistent. Your branding is at the center of your business, so it is important not to get it wrong. Consult with 10twelve and get professional advice on marketing, design and other elements of the rebranding process.