I’ve been asked by a lot of our clients recently, “Will a rebrand hurt our corporate image?” It’s an interesting question. After all, it seems like for years, we as marketers had to convince the powers that be within our organizations to worry about things like website layouts, logos and company slogans. We finally won and, as a result, many of us vowed we would never go down that rocky path again. But now suddenly we are realizing that oftentimes as our brands pivot in terms of strategic direction and positioning, our branding efforts have to shift as well. And sometimes a corporate rebrand is necessary.
So my answer to you is, “No, a rebrand will not hurt your corporate image… so long as you do it right.”
I’ll never forget when Tropicana introduced new cartons in January of 2009. As an avid OJ drinker (how else will I get my Vitamin C?), I was confused at best when that visual of a juicy orange sporting a straw seemingly disappeared over night. Apparently I wasn’t alone.
The “New York Times” reported in February of 2009 that “some of those commenting described the new packaging as ‘ugly’ or ‘stupid,’ and resembling ‘a generic bargain brand’ or a ‘store brand.’”
What PespiCo, which owns Tropicana, failed to realize at the time was that its customers were incredibly attached to the orange and the straw. In this case, the brand’s visual identity was integral to consumer trust. But not all brands need that type of visual consistency.
The truth is rebranding can take on many forms. You can modify a logo; tweak a company tagline; change your corporate colors; amend a mission statement; or change your font palette. You don’t always have to perform a major marketing overhaul.
There are a number of indicators it may be time to revisit your brand strategy. Here are a few tell-tale signs:
- You’re Out of Startup Mode: Oftentimes when companies and brands first launch, they are so quick to check critical marketing items off a checklist (think logos, colors, taglines) that they go with the first suggestion. But if your company is out of stealth mode and poised for rapid growth, you may need to make some branding tweaks. You may realize, for instance, that your tagline only made sense when your brand was in startup mode. Today, you may offer considerably more than your tagline suggests.
- Your Branding is Inconsistent: Do all of your marketing assets have varying font types and colors? Does your sales team lead with different differentiators than your marketing team? If you’re experiencing branding inconsistency it could be an indicator that your overall messaging is not targeted or detailed enough. So spend some time looking inward to assess whether your messaging is crystal clear.
- Your Messaging Doesn’t Match Your Purpose: As your brands mature, your messaging often needs to change. Specifically, messaging that worked in your inception might not work five years into your business. If your messaging doesn’t clearly articulate your company’s value proposition as it exists today—and if the visual representation is mismatched as well—it may be time to give your branding efforts another thought.
As you start to do a deep dive into your existing branding efforts, keep in mind that rebranding has to be handled cautiously. You’ll need documentation of your branding strategy as it exists today; a documented roadmap of where you hope to head; and competitive analysis and customer feedback that prove your repositioning will be successful. Spontaneous brand changes that were seldom discussed are recipes for disaster.
So don’t shy away from the rebranding conversation if you feel it’s necessary. Assemble the troops, conduct ample of research beforehand and make sure you explore every corner—and potential speed bump—before you charge full steam ahead.