Your brand identity is arguably your company’s most valuable asset. Your brand encapsulates the trust you have with your customers, it communicates your identity and values, and with any luck, it’s recognizable and memorable to continue growing your audience. Perhaps you feel like your brand is in need of a face-lift, though. Is it time to go in a new direction with rebranding, or are there other branding updates you can make to achieve your goals?
Rebranding is a big lift, and companies that rebrand often fumble through the process and wind up with disjointed communications. There are a few circumstances that make rebranding worth the effort, and plenty more options that can help revitalize your brand without risking an identity crisis.
When Is the Right Time For Rebranding?
Rebranding is a big commitment and should only be done when the identity of the company demands it. You are not just changing the logo — plenty of companies do that every few years. You will start from the ground up with core values and mission statements, visual components and how they’re used in different media. Color palettes, voice and tone, product packaging, taglines, and more not only are up for grabs but demand reevaluation. Old blog content may need to be deleted or heavily revised, which could temporarily have adverse impacts on SEO. In addition to the branding changes, you’ll need simple and steady messaging that can hold customers’ attention through the transition to avoid confusion.
That said, companies don’t need to read that as an exclusionary statement. Plenty of companies can, in fact, benefit from rebranding. If done properly, rebranding can revitalize a company, connect with new audiences, and most importantly, better communicate the values that matter to the organization.
Here are the situations that make the effort of rebranding a worthwhile endeavor:
- Your Audience Has Changed — Perhaps your customers have grown up, and youthful branding seems outdated now. Perhaps successful marketing toward a certain demographic became a driving force for your company, and now you need to specifically build around the gender, age group, or other demographic that now drives your bottom line. If your branding is targeting the wrong market, it is worth a rebrand.
- Your Business Model or Core Offerings Have Changed — When Netflix went from primarily shipping DVDs to primarily streaming, their branding changed. When they became a massive production company and distributor, it changed again. Especially if you’re in tech, your brand can and likely should evolve. Certain mile markers are a good time to evaluate whether that evolution justifies rebranding.
- The Industry Is Rapidly Changing and You’re Out of Date — Again, this one is most likely to affect companies in the fast-moving world of technology, but no industry is immune. Whether or not your core product has had to change, data will reveal if your company is getting left behind.
- Your Brand Has Identity Problems — Can you succinctly describe your company’s values, products, and purpose? Can your customers? Perhaps an identity crisis comes in the form of too many products and services, competing visions, or ineffective marketing. No matter what, if customers can’t describe the purpose of your brand, rebranding may be necessary.
- You’ve Outgrown Your Brand — The simplest way to think of this situation is when The Facebook dropped the “the” or Uber Cab dropped the “Cab.” As your brand grows and becomes the industry leader, the time may come to synthesize and simplify it.
Alternatives to Rebranding
If you don’t find yourself in any of the circumstances we’ve listed, but you know your brand needs some help, there’s good news: There are tons of changes you can make for more effective branding and brand marketing without having to rebrand the entire company. As a matter of fact, you may already have been thinking of these more manageable steps and calling it a rebrand.
Many of these steps are still a lot of work and will require outside experts or a branding agency, but they are less intensive than a complete overhaul of the company. They just create a better customer experience.
Most brands need to update their logos periodically to avoid looking outdated. There are a lot of best practices to consider when updating such a major component of your visual identity. Odds are, you will want this to still closely reflect your existing logo, to prevent confusion. An entirely new, unrecognizable logo is more suitable for a complete rebrand, but updating the texture or sharpening the contrast of your existing logo are great ways to maintain a contemporary look without alienating customers. A lot of times, senior leadership will talk about rebranding when really all they want is a more modern logo.
Websites need to be consistently updated to ensure a positive user experience. Many companies spend years lining up everything to overhaul their site for an optimized experience, but by the time the site actually launches, they’re behind the industry standard again. Just like with logos, sometimes a brand should start from scratch with a new website, but the better solution is consistent, small-scale improvements. An internal UI/UX developer will go a long way, and then a design agency can come on board for short-term projects when there’s a larger lift at hand.
Change Marketing Direction
If you don’t feel like your brand is reaching the right audience, it doesn’t mean you inherently appeal to the wrong crowd. The most obvious solution is often the correct one: Redirect your marketing. With a variety of digital marketing services available to every team, you may be funneling your efforts in the wrong place. Social media marketing is important for everyone, but if you’re an established B2B SaaS brand, your Instagram presence isn’t as essential as other media, like LinkedIn. If you’re a start-up trying to get your name out, paid search and social media could be a lifesaver. Even without changing the services your brand uses to reach people, adjustments in targeting and segmentation could change how different demographics respond to your messaging, and ultimately get the people with deeper pockets and more enthusiasm to the checkout page.
Organic social media best practices used to be pretty consistent across all brands. You wanted a tone of voice that was professional and helpful. Some brands may adopt more personality than others, but it was clear that any company on social media was ultimately using the medium to promote their product and assist with customer service. Then the fast-food chain Wendy’s inexplicably decided to throw grammar and professionalism out the window, and began roasting their competitors and customers on Twitter. And you know what? It worked. The unique approach successfully built their brand and made them more fun and relevant to modern audiences. Now every fast-food restaurant talks on Twitter like they’re your best friend, and TikTok algorithms and audiences consistently reward brands with the most high-concept, unhinged videos. It’s OK to adjust the tone of voice or the purpose of a channel to keep up with the times. Especially when there’s not a full rebrand going on to muddle the message, customers can keep up with change.
Brand Updates: What’s Next?
Hopefully this can help guide executive decisions about what’s needed for your brand: a full rebranding or individual brand updates. No matter where you land, you may need support. For small-scale projects, bringing on a short-term or month-to-month branding and design marketing agency can set you up for success. If you’re taking your brand back to basics, an external voice will help make sure you don’t miss the mark in a way that requires immediate updates in the future. No matter what you’re looking for, Hawke Media will help your brand get there, for all branding and design needs.