One must contemplate the distinction between branding and rebranding. Rebranding is often miscast as an exercise in repairing one’s reputation. Some rebranding efforts focus on mitigating a negative image (such as Philip Morris’s name change to Altria or AIG’s move of their advisory business to Sagepoint). Yet rebranding may also represent subtle changes in positioning, or the recasting of visual identify, such as Starbucks recent move to a more contemporary look.
If you’re thinking about rebranding your company, bear in the mind the following considerations:
Seek out simplification-Today’s rebranding efforts are often a function of providing clarity to the marketplace and removing brand confusion. Citi’s recent rebranding removed a single word (if the word bank is in your name, it may not be a bad idea to remove it). Our cluttered market values simplicity.
Leverage Social Media from the ground up- Within our firm, we recently rebuilt our website, refreshed our brand, and printed new business cards (including a QR code). All of our marketing includes embedded social media components, with the intent of driving traffic to our website where prospects can experience various multimedia tools that are featured online.
Use emotional triggers-Google famous Parisian Love ad (when an American finds love in Paris) is a classic example of using emotional messaging to capture the imagination of your audience. All marketing should utilize emotional triggers.
Enter new markets- Pabst Blue Ribbon, perceived as an also-ran in the U.S. rebranded in China as an ultra-premium American lager (PBR) and is selling for upwards of $44 a bottle (the Chinese may not have everything figured out).
Reshape perceptions about quality-Rebranding should not appear cosmetic or contrived. Harley Davidson’s slide in perceived quality in the 80’s was magnified by stiff competition from Japanese competitors. The company’s drastic repositioning included a return to its core products and the formation of the Harley Owners Group (HOG’s), which reestablished Harley a bad boy brand.
Identify unmet needs- Your offer may need to change as the utility of your product or the benefits that differentiate it may shift over time. Marketers will often use a tag line when they wish to preserve their brand equity, and point out new features or benefits.
Use professionals- Rebranding can back fire when companies draw attention to their marketing. Many smaller companies try to utilize self service template web sites and similar home grown tools that come off as……home grown. Marketing requires constant investment. Hire people who can assist you with both messaging and technology.
Understand the hard and soft costs- Change can be expensive, given the need to reprint, re-sign, change email addresses, etc. Consider all your hard and soft costs (including management team band) with as you refresh your brand.
Organizations often under appreciate the importance of branding. In this world of hyper-competition, the way you communicate the nuances of your brand are more important than ever.