Is it time for a rebrand?

As we kick off the year, you might be considering a rebrand or you may simply want to know more about what a rebrand entails. Before delving into the mechanics of rebranding, I thought I would share a helpful explanation on what the term “rebranding” refers to. I think the following excerpt explains it well:

“Rebranding is the creation of a new look and feel for an established product in order to differentiate the product from its competitors. Rebranding efforts may include a name change, new logo or packaging and updated marketing materials that includes the latest industry buzzwords. The goal of rebranding is to influence a customer’s perception about a product or service by revitalizing the brand and making it seem more modern and relevant to the customer’s needs.” (techtarget.com)

From this explanation, we can deduce that the key reasons to rebrand are to remain relevant in the customers’ eyes and to create differentiation in the industry.

Cambridge Design Partnership Rebrand: Case Study

What I particularly like about this case study is that Moving Brands (the agency) interviews, Mike Cane, founder of the organisation. In the interview, he unpacks the brand and his experience of the branding process. In addition, the interview covers the strategic direction and thinking behind the rebrand and how it all came to fruition.

Key considerations in rebranding:

  • Research:

An area of branding that I tend to emphasise in my posts is research. In my experience working with clients, solid research is an essential (often overlooked) foundation of strategic direction and branded executions. In a rebrand context, research is an important component of the journey toward understanding what your rebrand should encompass. Research has the capacity to reveal the areas of necessary differentiation and consumer feelings toward your particular brand.

In order to complete research for a rebrand, it is suggested that you explore the landscape i.e. your customers, competitors, industry trends, and so forth. From a customer perspective, it is valuable to seek out and gather information around their perceptions of your brand. This includes asking questions relating to added value, the customer journey, whether they consider you to be engaging and meaningful, and whether the brand is seen to be delivering against its promise.

It is essential to always remember that a visual identity makeover will never compensate for a lack of delivery.

  • Develop SMART objectives:

It’s so important for brands to have clearly defined objectives. Using the acronym SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound), as criteria for objectives, can be invaluable in locking down exactly what you want to achieve in your strategy. Your research will help identify opportunities and areas for improvement.

  • Craft the brand strategy:

A rebranding, in my view, needs to fit in with the overarching brand strategy. Insights and strategic direction need to support why a rebrand is necessary.

  • Brand identity:

Having a formulated and well-articulated brand identity is one of the pillars of a strong brand. If you are considering a rebrand, it is important that you have defined your brand identity. Without this foundation, there is a tendency to pursue solutions that do not speak to the core or heart of your brand. Always consider components such as the brand personality, the key characteristics, the brand’s preferred approach to customer and business, and the ways in which it is differentiated from competitors.

  • Brand vision and direction:

Does your brand have a stipulated vision and desired direction? I believe that having a specific strategy in place is key to a brand’s success. If you do not have one, use your research and objectives to guide you. If you do have one, make sure that your rebrand embodies it.

  • Brand relevance:

A rebrand can only be successful if it is relevant to the target audience. This is reiterated in the techtarget.com excerpt shared at the beginning of this post. It is important for brands to consider how they will be contemporary and engaging in their approach, and how the rebrand will contribute to consumer interactions and perceptions.

  • Beyond window dressing:

Point 7, in my view, cannot be stressed enough! Too often a rebrand is a superficial coating to make a brand look updated. As I have highlighted in the previous 6 points, a rebrand needs to be built on a foundation of research and strategic direction in order to achieve marked impact. A rebrand needs to add weight and substance to avoid it being little more than window dressing. Identify your brand promise and deliver consistently.

  • Align brand touch points:

Every consumer-facing touch point is communicating something about your brand. If you undergo a rebrand, it will be worth your while to map out key touch points or ‘points of contact’ to ensure consistency in message and overall image. Tied to this, remember that presenting a unified and coherent brand presence creates impact. When undergoing a rebrand remember that key visual elements need to align. The new visual identity (VI) can extends across elements such a new logo, business cards, letterheads, website, social media pages, signage, vehicle branding, through to the physical office environment. It is important to think of the scale of the rebrand and the associated costs.

  • Differentiate:

Don’t rebrand for the sake of keeping up with competitors, a rebrand should be firmly rooted in a desire to be truly differentiated. When strategised and executed correctly, a rebrand has the power to create a meaningful and distinct place in the hearts and minds of customers.

Concluding thoughts:

A strong brand is reliant on engaging relationships with the customer. It is important that there are strong, significant perceptions in place, and that all branding activity strengthens the positive, differentiated associations. A rebrand is a great tool to improve engagement and perceptions, but must always be driven by a solid foundation of research and insight. My advice would be to weigh-up the costs and to reflect on where your brand’s current situation. From here, you can then determine whether a rebrand is the right approach for updating your brand.