Refresh or Overhaul: When It’s Time for Rebranding
A brand refresh is like a new coat of paint. A complete rebranding is like razing a home and doing a complete rebuild. It requires careful planning and meticulous engineering.
A rebrand is necessary when the current brand is no longer current. It has been rendered ineffective by inadequate financial results, missing target audiences, outdated products or services, or has ceased engaging the intended audience. Existing brand position and promises are no longer being fulfilled and customers no longer understand what the company stands for, sells or delivers.
A rebrand is a hefty undertaking that is organization-wide. It involves lengthy, deep-dive analyses of business strategy, core values, relevancy and competition. Once those aspects are realigned, those properties then are applied to marketing strategy and identity.
‘What problem needs solving?’ is the critical starting question. If the answer isn’t a definitive objective or purpose, then a refresh may be the solution, and/or further organizational audit to identify key problems and refine products or services.
When a Rebrand is Needed
The following factors necessitate a rebrand:
- Mergers/acquisitions or new leadership: With a change of business ownership, rebranding has to move forward for legal compliance. A change in executive leadership is normally followed by organizational changes. A rebrand can be the only solution for this level of disruption.
- Repositioning: A change to an organization’s brand positioning and promise creates a domino effect. Everything must adapt to the new strategy, products or services and provide clarity for all stakeholders.
- Internationalization: If an organization’s products or services expand from local to national to international audiences, everything from business strategy, marketing, naming to visuals and messaging must be adapted accordingly. What proves effective on a local level is no guarantee that it will translate to an international-level roll out.
- Changes in markets: Market changes affect an organization's very foundation. The publishing industry, for example, has been greatly challenged by digitization. Newspapers and magazines have downsized significantly and innovation is critical for survival. Companies either create new business models and on-point branding or fade away. Rebranding is necessary when the business has fundamentally changed.
- Bad reputation: When organization-wide operations are affected, a complete rebranding is the best solution to remove negative associations and restore consumer confidence.
Selected case studies explain the whys and how of rebranding projects.
- Interbrand's Making the Business Case for a Brand Change is a worthy read.
- BrandingBusiness offers many case study briefs of B2B brands and is searchable by industry.
- Carbone Smolan detail the rebrand of Tapestry, parent company to modern luxury lifestyle brands.
- DesignStudio outlines its rebrand of Airbnb.
- Landor delivers a fresh rebrand for Djantoli, a West African nonprofit.
- Moving Brand explains the overhaul of Eircom, Ireland's largest telecommunications provider.
- Pentagram reexamines New York public libraries with The L!brary Initiative. Partner Michael Bierut discusses the project in depth in this TED talk.
- Siegal + Gale analyze the DXC Technology rebrand.
I’m always open to new finds on rebranding case studies. Feel free to share them of you have them.