Back in 2009, PepsiCo attempted to refresh the branding for Tropicana. Unfortunately consumers hated it and sales declined to the tune of 20 percent in two months. They were used to the iconic look of the bright orange and the striped straw poking out of it, and its removal from the design caused confusion. (Rather than looking like a carton of well-known Tropicana orange juice, it looked like an off-brand copycat.) Eventually, PepsiCo conceded and announced the original packaging would be reinstated.

The moral of the story? Your brand isn’t something that should be changing often or without much thought. Too much change can be a turn-off for your target audience and have a negative impact on your bottom line.

It’s important to know why and when to consider a rebrand. There is no magic number for how often you need to rebrand. Instead, you should know when it’s time, based on milestones and changes happening within your company. These can be summed up in the following five indicators.

Your Brand is Outdated

Let’s be honest here, no one wants to look unfashionable or unprofessional. It’s not good for business or for your reputation.

I know terms like “trendy” and “modern” probably leave a bad taste in your mouth, especially if your company has been around for a decade or more. You might not want to be “on-trend” like all the startups sprouting up around you. But “modern” doesn’t have to mean you throw your company history out the window. It only means that you take that history and show your audience how it fits their lives today.

Your brand is a reflection of who you are as an organization. More importantly, it’s how your audience understands and perceives you.

“How do you know when it’s time for a rebrand?”

Trends change, and if you aren’t willing to change with them, you’ll soon find yourself behind the times and looking outdated. This is especially true of the technology industry, where you must be able to convince prospects that you live and thrive in this ever-changing digital world.

If your logo and brand aren’t well-designed or current, how can prospects trust you to handle their own needs?

You Need a Brand Style Guide

Maybe you have a logo, but if you don’t have a defined brand style guide, you don’t have much.

A brand is more than a logo, some colors and a typeface. And you need a style guide that explains how these brand element should be used. What are your brand’s primary colors? Secondary colors? Do your employees know that you have an alternate logo for when it needs to be smaller than 100 pixels wide?

It’s important that you have this information written down and not just floating about in your head. That way anyone working in or with your company knows how to keep your content consistent across the board.

You’re Not Attracting the Right People

What if your brand has been developed, but it just isn’t resonating with your audience? There’s a disconnect between the needs of your prospects and how they perceive your ability to help them.

If you’re trying to reach recently-retired seniors, make sure you aren’t using photos of college students. And an overabundance of florals in your newsletter might keep the C-level sports fans from clicking your “read more” call-to-action.

It may seem like common sense, but there is no such thing. Make sure you and your employees are always on the same page when it comes to your company brand. Don’t let your audience be turned away by disjointed messaging and graphics that don’t speak to how you solve their problems.

And really, if you’re seeing that your prospects are turning to other companies and pulling their business away from you, you need to see what those other businesses are doing that’s working for them. There is no shame in scoping out the competition and learning from those who are finding success.

Your Business is Growing

Mergers, demergers, acquisitions and expansions! There are so many ways your company might grow and evolve into something new, and it’s important for your brand to change with you.

Combining the values and history of more than one organization is no simple task, and it must be done in a way that doesn’t leave current clients out in the cold. You want each of the original audiences to feel welcome in your new, unified organization.

Likewise, splitting off from another company is equally difficult since you’re essentially starting from scratch. Any past experiences and visions have to be carefully crafted into a new brand that can stand alone, without tying itself back to the original organization.

No matter how your business is changing, a well-crafted rebrand will allow you to comfort your audience by showing them how these changes will affect the work you are doing for them and the solutions you offer.

Your Business Has a Philosophy Change

As businesses grow and adapt to ever-changing technologies and trends, so too do their missions and visions.

This change in the core philosophies of a company may be slight and more internal — a refocusing of sorts to help employees do their best work for their clients. However, these changes are often much larger, and can even seem like 180-degree pivots, pointing the company in a completely new direction.

As I touched on before, this could happen as a result of a merger, or perhaps because you’ve reached a stage in your business where you would like to begin pursuing new goals. Organizations grow and values change for a lot of different reasons.

A rebrand, therefore, serves to announce and help your audience to understand the path you are taking. At that point, it’s up to them whether they are willing to follow you onward.

Press Pause

For those of you who skimmed this post, ready to email it over to your team as proof of why you’re right about getting a rebrand, take a few steps back first and take a breath.

Rebrands are not right for every business, and they deserve careful consideration and good planning, so tread wisely.

Do not rebrand:

  • Just because you’re bored
  • Just because you have new management
  • Without the right decision-makers
  • Without the right people to plan the change
  • If you can’t pay for it

A rebrand impacts your customers as much, if not more, than it impacts your business internally. It’s how you connect with your audience, showing them who you are as an organization and how you will solve their problems and answer their questions.

It takes time. A lot of hard work and planning must go into a good rebrand, and you need to be sure you have the resources to train your employees on how this rebrand will affect them. You must be prepared to make the brand transition slow and deliberate, so that workers, clients and stakeholders alike are all on the same page. The last thing you want to do is shock and overwhelm them all with a massive change.

Create alignment and understanding with your brand by providing your team with a style guide that outlines the details of your brand. Your audience, then, should be able to see your brand in everything that you do and every piece of content that you create, because your brand, ultimately, is who you are as a business.

And start with this question to determine if your brand is in a good spot: What does your most important persona think when they hear your organization’s name, and does this align with how you want them to see you?