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Brands that aren’t constantly evolving can become stale and irrelevant.

Rebranding might be the way to breathe life back into a struggling company. Apple is an excellent example of successful rebranding. In the early 1990s, Apple was slowly but surely dropping out of the computer market. To easily signal the change in their brand image, Apple updated their iconic logo from the dated rainbow to a sleeker, monochrome look. Of course, that wasn’t the only change, but it did mark the beginning of a new era for Apple. Today, they are one of the most widely recognized brands in the world.

So, is rebranding right for your client?

When Should You Consider Rebranding?

Perhaps your client has verbalized her desire to rebrand, but before you even jump into rebranding, you should figure out its purpose. If your client can't present a concrete reason (and “I’m bored” doesn’t count), then you should consider other avenues.

Why do you need to do this first? Simply put, rebranding isn’t as simple as slapping on a new logo or changing your name. Companies must be willing to change their entire company vision, including company goals, message, and culture.

It takes a lot of time, money, and effort to pull a rebrand off successfully, and those that aren’t fully committed will be stuck with a poorly defined brand that will not stand out in today’s competitive market.

So how do you know if you should encourage your client to take that giant leap to rebrand? Here are some great cues:

  • The brand has plans to expand the company nationally or internationally.
  • Its current brand is restricting its growth into other markets.
  • Its customers have negative associations with the company.
  • The company is merging or acquiring other companies.

How to Rebrand Successfully

Making sure that the rebrand goes through without a hitch takes equal parts unwavering enthusiasm and hard work. Use the steps below to guide your client through a successfully rebranding -- but encourage them to adjust each step to fit the needs and audience of their company. Approach each step by asking your client: How can this improve your relationship with your audience?

Step 1: Take advantage of social media to communicate with your audience. You’re almost required to have a Twitter and Facebook profile. Use it to inform your audience of the upcoming changes, and informally poll them about their thoughts on the rebranding. You can gather some research this way. You can also note your audience’s interests and include them in your rebrand, if it makes sense.

Step 2: When creating your action plan, encourage your clients to look at what they want their company to become, not just what it is. Do they plan on growing to a national or international level? What other markets do they want to expand into? Incorporate their vision for the future into their brand image so a future rebrand will not be necessary.

Step 3: Find a way to emotionally connect people to the brand. The most successful brands evoke some kind of emotion from their target audience. Go out and meet them; speak to them directly and get feedback; see how you can improve your image. People want to feel as though they're making a difference, and doing that face-to-face is a great way to increase customer loyalty.

Step 4: Implement the changes slowly. Start with something small, like changing the font used on documents, and work from there. Gauge reactions, and adjust when possible. If there is too much negative feedback, approach your audience to understand the issue and see if changing some things will affect your rebranding or not.

While most companies might not need to change their brand name, those with poor brand equity might want to distance themselves from negative reactions from their audience. If your client does need to change her company name, try to come up with an image or feeling she's hoping to convey to customers. Brainstorm names with other employees and managers. If you can’t come up with a name, try a business name generator for more ideas.

At the end of the day, a successful company is the overall goal for your client. And sometimes, that can only happen through a rebrand. Remind her that it doesn’t need to happen overnight and that change is good.

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Originally published Sep 6, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated September 06 2014