In a past post we discussed the typical triggers for a rebrand, or how to know when it’s time for a rebrand. In today’s post we address what makes a rebranding effort successful.
But before we get into the success factors for a rebrand, it’s worth remembering that a rebrand is different than a brand refresh. A rebrand is a more substantial, strategic change to the brand promise—one that expands and even creates new experiential expectations for all who engage with the brand. A brand refresh is really more of a cosmetic update to the logo and/or brand look and feel to keep up with changing tastes and trends. A nice example of a simple brand refresh is illustrated by the following change to the Qantas Airlines logo:
A rebrand, unlike a brand refresh, goes deeper and farther than updating the logo and carries over to a change in product/service offerings and business emphasis. Consider, for example, when Dunkin’ Donuts rebranded to Dunkin’ to go beyond the donut and emphasize all the other offerings of the brand in an effort to grow the brand’s market penetration and relevance.
So, what then are biggest success factors in rebranding? In descending order of importance:
1. Make sure there’s a compelling need or opportunity for the rebranding.
As we stated earlier, a rebranding is more than a refresh and has far-reaching implications in terms of market expectations and the costs to execute—not to mention the risk of rejection by the brand’s target audience (see next success factor). If the brand is holding the business back or needs to change to grow and thrive, the costs and risks often are worthwhile. But this needs to be evaluated before embarking on a potentially humiliating and expensive rebrand. Just consider the rebranding cases of Gap and Tropicana.
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2. Understand and engage the brand’s target audience(s).
Rebranding efforts that originate from a deep understanding of the brand’s target audiences succeed; those that do not, fail and often are forced to revert back to previous branding (e.g., MasterCard, Aunt Jemima, as well as the aforementioned Gap and Tropicana, to mention a few). The value of branding lies in the emotional connections forged with customers. Surprising those passionate and loyal customers with an ill-considered change they cannot understand and will not accept is self-defeating. Skillful research among brand advocates to gain input on the rebrand and thoughtful communication about the rationale for the rebranding and what it means during and after the launch of the rebranding is essential to ensuring success.
3. Plan the execution before starting the rebrand.
A rebranding effort has three distinct phases: First is the evaluation/development phase that culminates in the new brand (strategy, including the rationale, the cost/benefit analysis as well as the creative design). Next is the launch phase, when the new brand is officially unveiled and introduced to the world. Finally, there is the implementation phase in which the rebrand is carried through ongoing business operations. All three of these phases should be planned out before beginning the project to ensure maximum impact and success of the rebranding.
Rebranding, done right, is a powerful event that should create a step up in brand appeal, relevance, differentiation and business success. It costs substantially more than a brand refresh (logo and colors) and should therefore be treated with thoughtfulness and strategic deliberation.
For help with your branding projects, including rebranding, Six Degrees is ready to assist.