How (and why) to rebrand

It goes without saying that your brand is more than a name or logo. Your brand is how prospective clients find you, how current clients perceive you and how your employees feel about your company. Your brand encapsulates your values, identity and services; it says a lot about who you are and what your company aims to be.

A brand isn’t just for the biggest firms. Designing and deploying your brand should be at the heart of any marketing strategy. In this post, we’ll look into some of the reasons you might want or need to rebrand, the various steps this can involve and some key considerations to ensure the process is as successful as possible.

Why rebrand?

There are many reasons why a business might choose to rebrand, ranging from the banal to the existential. Sometimes a rebrand is a strategic decision; other times it is an unavoidable response to change within your business.

Some popular motives to bring in the designers include:

  1. A major business change. If your business operations have evolved, you need to ensure your brand still communicates who you are and what services you offer. If your look and messaging no longer align with your business, it’s time to redesign.
  2. To bring your brand up to date. You might not have changed – but society has. Everything from colour palettes to shapes can look outdated after a while. Refreshing your image can be a great opportunity to check your values still speak to modern society too.
  3. Your client base has changed. Is your target audience the same as your present client base? If not, why not?

A specific example of an enforced reason to change is in the aftermath of a merger or acquisition. After acquiring a new firm, it can be a good idea to incorporate some element of this firm’s branding into your own design in order to signal some degree of continuity for their existing clients – as well as highlighting your successful growth.

When NOT to rebrand?

The benefits of a successful rebrand are clear: it gives your business a fresh lease of life and provides you with an opportunity to reflect on your values and key messaging. You can use the launch of the new brand to tell your clients all about yourself and your work – whether emphasising what has changed or reassuring them that you are still offering the same quality services as before.

It is crucial, however, not to dive headfirst into a rebrand without thinking carefully. Changing something that has been successful poses a certain element of risk that clients who previously identified with the brand will be less enthused by the new approach.

More fundamentally, a rebrand can end badly if rushed or poorly prepared. If the objectives are not well-considered and communicated in a way that everyone understands, there is a risk that you end up with a project that goes nowhere. Nobody wants to spend a lot of time and money only to end up making something worse. Before you start the rebrand then, here are some key things to think about.

A branding case study

In 2021, Standard Life Aberdeen decided to rebrand by removing all the vowels from its name. The newly minted ‘abrdn’ declared that the brand would allow it to be ‘a modern, agile, digitally-enabled brand’.

The reaction did not quite go as planned. For a financial services firm, seriousness and professionalism are key motivators to get people to trust you with their money – and text speak does not exactly inspire confidence and scream professional.

Even so, the company has stuck with the new name and image. Only time will tell how successful the rebrand ultimately was.

What type of rebrand do you need?

Not all rebrands are equal. The question, ‘What type of rebrand do you need?’, follows on naturally from the question, ‘What you are trying to achieve?’

If the aim is to reinvent the business or if something fundamental has changed, a major overhaul might be on the cards. On the other hand, updating a slightly dated image might be achieved through a brand refresh.

  • A brand refresh usually involves minor edits such as modernising individual aspects of your logo or tweaking your colour palette. Brand refreshes are a great way to keep your brand on trend without drastically altering the styles.
  • A partial rebrand might mean you modify some elements but not others. For example, this could involve designing a new logo – but one that maintains elements of the old logo. Partial rebrands are a useful way to indicate change without overwhelming your clients with something entirely unrecognisable.
  • A full rebrand, where all aspects of the brand are recreated, can allow you to relaunch with a completely new image. This could be because something wasn’t working with the old style or simply because you want to create something that better reflects your current (and future) values.

A six-point plan

The rebranding process can be valuable not only for the product you get out of it but also for the learning experience that the process entails. By working openly and collaboratively, it is a great opportunity to reaffirm your company values and ensure your employees all understand what you are working to achieve.

As you reflect on your current brand and plan your new brand, here are six things to keep in mind:

  1. Decide your core messaging and values

Your brand goes to the heart of what your company stands for, what you’re trying to achieve and who you want your clients to be. It is important to talk through your values and how you want to be perceived BEFORE launching into a rebrand; otherwise, there is a risk that you end up with a new brand that does not present your business in the way you want it to.

  1. What is working and what isn’t?

Once you have reflected on your values, thinking carefully about the positives and negatives of your current brand is a crucial part of the process. Decide what needs to change but don’t forget to highlight things that are working well too; rebranding does not necessarily need to mean starting from zero, even in the case of a full rebrand.

  1. Do competitive research

At this point, it can be a good idea to check out your competitors. The point of this exercise isn’t to copy their great ideas – in fact, it’s the opposite. Looking at your rivals’ brand can help crystallise in your mind all the things that make your company unique.

  1. Think long term

When undergoing a design process, you need to have one eye on the present and another on the future. You should be happy with your brand in the short term, of course, but it’s important to make sure that it will still suit your needs several years down the line. At the heart of rebranding is the question, ‘Where do you want your business to be in the future?’

  1. Check everything your rebrand will affect

Rebranding does not finish once your new image is designed. It will take time to implement the change and make sure every aspect of your online and physical presence is updated. Ideally, this is something you’ll think about well ahead of time: if you are planning to rebrand in the next year, it’s maybe not the time to print thousands of business cards in the old style.

  1. Tell everyone about it

Once the rebrand is complete, let your clients know what’s changed – and what’s stayed the same. Part of the benefit of a rebrand is the opportunity to present yourself to clients again in your new and rejuvenated style. Explain your core values and services and, perhaps, how your new branding fits in with your overall objectives. And, unless the purpose of the rebrand is to distance yourself from your old image, be sure to reassure people that they can still expect the same things that they loved about the old brand.

Fixing or breaking?

At the centre of the rebranding question is the battle between tradition and modernity. By moving away from your old image, especially if this is iconic or long lasting, you might be seen as leaving behind your roots. Many people like the familiar and there’s a reason “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” is a well-worn saying.

A famous example of an attempt to fix the unbroken is the £2 million that Royal Mail spent in 2001 as part of a plan to change its name to Consignia. Within little over a year, the company had backtracked and cancelled the plans.

Maintaining traditional and much-loved values, while creating something that appeals to modern clients can become the key balancing act of the rebranding process.

TOMD rebranding TOMD

At TOMD, we have recently been through a rebranding process. As a specialist marketing company, the experience of conducting our own rebrand has been insightful for many reasons.

We decided to rebrand in order to create something that better reflected our values. With a new logo, redesigned website and changes in the way we introduce ourselves and our services, this was a major undertaking. From colour palettes and new symbols to reaffirming our business identity, our experience is a great example of the care and attention involved in a rebranding process.

How TOMD can help

We have vast experience working with companies – large and small – on full rebrands and partial or light-touch refreshes. Rebranding is not something to be taken lightly. Having the support and expertise of our specialist team can ensure the process runs smoothly from start to finish.

When you are so close to your brand every day, it can be hard to make these sorts of decisions with a clear mind. Enlisting an independent expert can help you understand exactly what you are trying to achieve with your rebrand. We will always listen to your requirements and offer thoughtful solutions that consider the perspective of clients and advisers. Get in touch today!

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