If you’re considering a rebrand, you must have identified a problem with your current brand strategy. Maybe your current touchpoints aren’t conveying your mission, vision, and values accurately. Or maybe your branding is stale, off-trend, and doesn’t appeal to your ideal demographic. Whatever it is, a rebrand may—or may not—be the right answer.
Even if you know for sure that something is off, you might be clueless about how to make a change. These questions are a starting point to help you clarify your rebranding project and process. Each of them has many sub-questions that will deliver greater results, but these 7 will get the ball rolling.
1. Why are we considering a rebrand?
If you can’t answer this question, do NOT start the rebranding process! You absolutely MUST have a goal or you’re just spinning your wheels.
Think about what you want a rebrand to accomplish. What problem are you trying to solve? The other questions in this post may help you pinpoint your goal, but ultimately you have to have one before proceeding.
The average corporation changes its brand identity in some way every 7 to 10 years. But even if you’ve been in business less than that, it’s not necessarily too soon! Many companies—including 74% of the S&P 100—rebranded their business in the first seven years.
The reality is, if you have a solid reason for rebranding, you should go for it. But be sure you have concrete goals around your project or you will waste a lot of time and money.
2. Do we need (or have we already made) a change to the company’s brand foundations?
As we’ve discussed, the foundations of your brand are the essential pieces that guide the rest of your brand identity. Your mission, vision, and values should be the core of every customer touchpoint. Transparency and authenticity are repeatedly proven to be among the most important factors to consumers, so you have to ensure you can follow through on both. In addition, 77 percent of consumers buy from brands that share the same values as they do. So you have to connect your brand with your values in a way that customers can recognize and relate with them.
Along with your mission, vision, and values, there are other foundational changes that may signal a rebrand. Has your brand story changed? What about the messages you want to deliver to your target audience(s)? (More on that in #4 below!)
What about brand consistency? If you’re constantly straying away from your norm, it could be time to consider a rebrand. Consistency can increase revenue by up to 20%, so it’s in your best interest to create an environment where you can deliver an on-brand experience every time.
3. Are there new competitors challenging our market share?
If there are new players in the market or innovative products challenging your piece of the pie, more competitive research is certainly needed. Find out what positioning your competitors take with their brands. If someone has found a new way to use your products or services, you may need to develop a new value proposition to set your company apart.
Or, maybe your company is the one that has created a fresh take on things. One company that comes to mind is Corning. The age-old glass company that made all those kitchen bowls found an entirely new market by producing glass for smartphones. Genius! But they definitely had to do some brand work to help new markets understand that they could offer more than casserole dishes.
Which leads us to…
4. Has our target audience changed?
This might be the top reason for considering a rebrand, and with good reason. Your target audience is the Emerald City at the end of your yellow brick road! Everything should lead from your brand foundations to your target audience.
Many more questions relating to your target audience need to be examined:
- Have we determined who our ideal customer(s) are? (If not, STOP and figure this out. It is critical!)
- Is our brand in tune with what our target audience wants and needs?
- Do we need to reposition our brand to reach a different or wider target audience?
- Are we trying to break into a global market?
- Have our audience’s pain points—and/or their feelings about them—changed?
- Does our brand personality need to evolve to relate to a new demographic?
- When we envision the feelings and emotions our customers have around the brand, does our current brand identity align?
- Do we need to do damage control or attempt to fix a tarnished reputation?
The list can go on, but you get the point. Figuring out your brand’s relationship to its ideal customers, target audience, whatever you want to call it—it’s a major task and crucial to your success.
5. Is this rebranding project just catering to a change in leadership/management and their ideas of what they think we should do?
It’s unfortunate, but true: sometimes, a rebranding project comes about simply because someone important wants it.
This is not a great reason, but if you’re in a position where it’s unavoidable then you have no choice but to follow through. The key here is to become an investigator and find out exactly what the stakeholders’ expectations are. That way, you can get by with a brand “refresh” instead of a full rebrand.
What does this mean? Well, instead of paring down and starting over, maybe a new visual identity system is all that’s needed. (I say “all” as if it’s that easy—trust me, it isn’t. But it’s less work than a total rebrand.) A visual identity can go a long way to improving brand awareness, brand recognition, and even the first impression of your brand. It only takes 7 seconds for someone to form an impression, but it also takes 5-7 impressions for people to recognize your logo. (Pointing back to the importance of consistency!)
Or maybe your messaging needs an overhaul but your brand foundations can stay consistent. If your mission, vision, and values are still on target, you can rework your brand messaging points for your target audience and segments within. The way you speak to them—you brand’s voice and tone—can change while still staying true to your foundations.
The point is that executives who don’t speak marketing might be saying one thing while expecting another. Asking all the questions about their expectations and then managing those expectations will make a huge difference in the time and cost investment you and your team undertake.
6. Will this solution work for the next 7-10 years?
As mentioned above, the average company rebrands every 7-10 years. The last thing you want to do is complete a rebranding project—which typically takes 12-18 months—and realize that your new brand identity won’t hold up.
You shouldn’t begin a rebranding project without reviewing and aligning your goals with the company’s overall strategic plan. Don’t have one? That’s kind of a big deal. Goals are important, and without understanding where the company is headed it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to engage your audience in helpful ways.
Research should also be done into the future of your market(s). If you’re working for a company whose target audience is airline pilots, you need to know if that’s a profession that is going strong or dying out. A domestic car mechanic needs to understand buying trends for U.S.-made cars. Branding doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and you can’t stick your head in the sand and just make stuff pretty for the hell of it!
7. Do we have the resources to manage this project in-house?
So far, all these questions revolve around whether you should rebrand or not. But once you’ve decided to go for it, you need to assess whether you have the capability to actually do it.
Having worked both sides of the in-house vs. agency debate, I can honestly say that there’s no right answer here. I do, however, encourage you to be objective about your in-house team and each person’s strengths—and weaknesses. If you have a strategic expert, outstanding writer, and excellent designer among your staff, your team can probably get it done. Go team!
You also need buy-in from those who hold the purse strings. Companies spend an average of 5-10% of their annual marketing budget on a rebrand! Sometimes it is easier for executives to OK that kind of expenditure for outside vendors than it is to get that kind of money in-house. Granted, doing so in-house might be the cheaper route in dollars, but from a time perspective, not so much. The tradeoff of having your in-house team complete a rebrand is that they will be stretched thin trying to do their day-to-day jobs at the same time.
Make sure you do a cost projection and budget around your rebranding project before you decide which way to go. Evaluate your options, and if you decide that you want or need to outsource—get in touch!