January 30, 2017
When is the right time to rebrand?
First off, a caveat: Rebranding is never an exercise to be entered into lightly. It is a big, bold step that can have major implications on the business. However, I often see brands stalled by fear of change. If you were brought to this article because you are asking yourself if you should rebrand, then there’s a good chance now is the time. Whether you know the reason why or are not sure, you’re probably asking yourself the question because your brand is no longer aligned with the goals of your business.
So when is the right time to rebrand?
Some of the reasons are obvious— you’re going through a leadership change, a new product or market opportunity takes the business in a new direction, or you’re moving into a new region where the brand is not translating. Sometimes, though, the reason is more subtle. Perhaps your brand has not kept up with its audience or the culture at large and, consequently, appears stale or fails to attract new customers. Or, if your company is headed down a road that is suddenly no longer sustainable, a rebrand can be the most effective way of making a necessary pivot.
Many companies find themselves in need of a rebrand because, at the outset, creative execution of the brand came before strategy. Many start-ups, for instance, don’t develop a clear brand strategy because they feel other areas of the business require the resources – in which case, the brand experience develops organically and not in a way that supports the business long-term. The brand may seem to work okay at first, but a few years in it may not reflect who you really are.
The number one fear cited by business owners who suspect they need a rebrand is that they’ll risk betraying their loyal customers and stakeholders. But in reality, we’ve found that an engaging communications strategy turns a company’s existing base into the rebrand’s greatest ally. Involving them in research, providing “sneak previews” and outlining the rationale behind the change are all ways that our clients have used the rebrand process to start new conversations with existing clients.
We once worked with a CEO who was extremely hesitant to rebrand, even though the brand was represented by an identity that had no relationship to the organization. After much discussion and prodding to explain his rationale, he hesitantly lifted up his shirt to reveal the logo tattooed on his back. The point is, we know that a brand can feel very personal, and changing it takes guts. (At the end of the day, our CEO was convinced he could always get another tattoo but the brand needed to evolve.) If done properly and at the right time, it can be invigorating and help a business stay aligned with its purpose and audience. It’s always the right time to reap the return on that investment.
Illustration: Sébastien Thibault
Do you want to read more articles like this?
Fill out a few details about yourself and we'll keep you updated with information and insights you can use.