In this episode we’re going to be answering one of the burning questions when it comes to branding and growth, and that is: “How do I know if it’s the right time to rebrand?”
Rebranding can be one of the most exciting or most terrifying decisions you make. It can also be instrumental for the future success of your business so it’s important to get this decision right. I’m here today to crash course you through some of the things you need to know about rebranding, when you should do it, when you shouldn’t do it, and important things to keep in mind.
I’m actually going through a rebrand myself at the moment with Ventur, my strategic branding agency, so I feel I’m in a good position to share my thoughts with you.
Let’s start by defining what a rebrand is. It’s the process of altering the perception of your business in the hearts and minds of your audience. In other words, it’s about changing the way people think about you and the products or services you offer. Contrary to popular belief, rebranding is not just about updating your visual identity (logo, colour palette, typography etc.) although sometimes this can be part of the process.
Look at it like this. Let’s say you take a promotion at work which requires you to manage colleagues who were previously of equal rank to you. Instead of being your normal casual self you decide you need to alter your behaviour and your attire in order to earn the respect needed to lead your team. This might involve using specific vocabulary, wearing smarter clothes or displaying more empathy towards your peers. Whatever it might be, you know that you need to change something about your approach to be better received in your new role.
Rebranding works exactly the same way. A rebrand is needed when a company needs to take on a new role in the market. The goal of doing this is usually to adopt the core values of its target audience and to display familiarity through its visual identity. When you do this potential customers start to relate with your brand on a deeper subconscious level, bypassing the logical decision-making part of the brain and jumping straight to the emotional part. This is where buying decisions are made and relationships are formed.
What I’m getting at here is that to connect with specific people you need to become a specific brand. As human beings we do this instinctively as we gravitate towards people that share our interests and our values, but in the world of branding we need to manufacture that authentic human persona in order to connect with people.
So, now you know what a rebrand is, how do you know when to do it?
This is a fantastic reason to rebrand. Pretty much every market is heavily saturated with businesses offering similar products and services so a powerful way to differentiate yourself is to provide a unique experience. This can come in the form of a brand identity that goes against industry norms, a tone of voice and behaviour that oozes personality, or a method for delivering your products or services that has never been seen before.
A great example is Southwest Airlines who, back in the 1970’s, made air travel appealing and accessible through a clever repositioning strategy. Unlike their competitors, Southwest Airlines were able to offer travel to the average person at an affordable price by reducing the time taken to change over between flights to just 10 minutes, making them incredibly efficient. As you can imagine, this changed the landscape of air travel forever. It’s not just that the price was astonishing but rather the way they were able to facilitate these prices, using an innovative approach for delivering their services. Their messaging was also second to none. They adopted the “Everyman" archetype to appeal to the common man whilst their competitors were busy talking mainly to the wealthy. I won’t go into too much detail here but I highly suggest picking up a copy of Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why” if you want to learn more.
There’s a commonly accepted idea in the world of brand strategy that your mission (what you want your business to do or become) and your vision (how you intend to achieve that) can evolve and change as your company grows. However, your purpose (why you do what you do) should always stay the same.
Having a strong purpose gives your team a reason to show up to work every day and feel a part of something bigger. It also gives your brand a sense of humanity which, when used correctly, is the secret sauce for connecting you with your customers on that deeper emotional level. If you don’t already have a purpose that clearly defines why your brand exists besides making money then you need to figure it out as soon as possible. A strong purpose will completely redefine a company’s trajectory, approach, and market position for the better.
On the other hand, if you already have a clearly defined purpose it may be that the way the brand looks, feels, behaves, operates or is received by customers doesn’t align with that purpose. This is called a “brand gap” and can become a huge problem when it comes to company growth because it breaks trust between you and your audience. If you’d like to learn more about brand gaps and how to solve them, check out our episode “3 Strategic Ways To Find GAPS In The Market.”
This is another great reason to rebrand your business. Niching down is a really powerful way to grow quickly. You never want to be the small fish in a big pond because you’ll always get outmuscled by the big players who have a lot more resources than you.
If you’re not seeing the growth you’d like and you’re constantly wondering why your competitors are so much further ahead of you, you’re probably putting yourself in front of unnecessary obstacles. When you niche down you establish yourself as an authority in a specific field and reduce the number of other businesses you need to compete with. Get really clear about who you serve and (more importantly) who you don’t serve, and you’ll see your brand grow much quicker. Despite how it may feel you’re actually not closing any doors or opportunities here. In fact, you’ll actually be able to charge higher prices for your expertise because you’ll be in more demand amongst a specific audience. Once you’ve spent some time claiming that authority position in the market, you can then look to expand into a new niche later down the line. Just be mindful not to alienate your existing audience.
We’ve looked at why rebranding is important and a few key reasons to go ahead with it, but when is it a bad time to rebrand? Let’s take a look.
I get it, after a while we get tired of seeing the same logo, the same colour palette, and we get this “itch” to want to change it up. Or we just decide that certain aspects of our visual identity isn’t to our personal taste. Believe me I understand but these are terrible reasons to rebrand.
Let’s say you have a partner who enjoys dressing smart, playing golf, and listening to jazz music. One day they decide to dye their hair jet black, wear ripped jeans, and get a neck tattoo. You can imagine that this would be pretty jarring, especially for you as their partner. Of course, someone’s appearance is purely external but it does tend to reflect their internal values, their interests, and the way they see the world. The same is true with brand identity. If your customers see you in a particular way, switching it up without a supporting strategy could cause a potentially irreparable disconnect and loss of trust.
Personal taste should never enter the equation either. Your brand should look and feel the way it needs to for your customers to connect with it. It’s not about how you want it to look. If you own a food brand and you love the colour blue. you might go ahead and brand everything that colour without thinking about its connotations. Blue is scarcely used in food branding because there aren’t many naturally blue foods. This makes it a subconsciously unappetising colour and could turn off potential customers. So, take your personal preferences out of the equation and make strategic decisions that will gain favour with your audience.
Strong brands are built over time through familiarity and repetition. Constantly changing your brand tells people that you don’t know who you are. If you don’t know who your brand is how do you expect your customers to know? Give it time to exist in the world, find its place, and cultivate relationships with people. Unless you release a marketing campaign that happens to go wildly viral, this is the only way to effectively and predictably build your brand.
There’s not too much else to say here other than to just be patient, trust the process, and don’t make any rash decisions.
If nothing major is changing in the company then you probably don’t need to rebrand. It’s as simple as that. Some of the things I would consider major are introducing completely new products and services, changing your internal brand or culture, adopting a new business model or strategy, targeting a new customer demographic, and exploring a new niche. There’s just no need to go through with the financial or time expense of a rebrand if it doesn’t align with a strategic shift in the business.
So to recap: rebranding is about changing the way people think about you and the products or services you offer. If you’re changing anything major within the business, exploring a new niche, differentiating yourself from competitors, or altering your company’s direction or culture, then go ahead and consider rebranding. If nothing major is changing, if your brand hasn’t been around long enough, or if you’re allowing personal preferences to skew what’s objectively right for your brand, then I would suggest that now might not be the right time.
Thanks for tuning in. If you learned something new this episode, subscribe to the show for more tips on helping your business stand out. Leave a review on Apple Podcasts and we’ll give you a shout out on the next episode. And if you’re hungry for more great resources or if you’d like to work with us on building your brand head over to venturagency.com - that’s Ventur without the “e”
Stay tuned for the next episode where we’ll be discussing the role of strategy in commercial video production and how you can use it to create successful ad campaigns.
Host: Kaine Levy
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