If you’ve ever experienced a significant “slate-clearing” life transition — like a big move or a job change — you know one big shakeup can kickstart a domino effect of positive change. Suddenly, you’re empowered to change your hairstyle, refresh your wardrobe, and ditch a few unhealthy habits. You feel different, and before long, everyone around you starts to notice, too.
Although your brand isn’t a living, breathing being like you, it also undergoes natural transitions that necessitate positive change. A successful rebranding can transform not only your brand’s look but also the impression it leaves on your audience.
But how do you know when you need one?
Let’s take a look at what a rebrand entails, plus a few signs that it’s time for a revamp.
In short, rebranding is the process of upgrading your company’s corporate image — usually to establish a new identity to buyers, stakeholders, investors and competitors. Like one of those addictive HGTV renovations, a rebrand overhauls your existing brand and replaces it with something more modern, enticing, and often worthy of a higher price tag.Rebrands often include (but aren’t limited to):
The degree of change involved depends on the catalyst behind the transformation and what you hope to accomplish.
A rebrand requires a significant amount of time, energy, prior planning and strategy. But, when done well, it can help you accomplish ambitious business goals — like boosting revenue, growing your audience, and ousting your competition.
Here are a few signs you’re ready to rebrand your business, plus examples of companies that did it right.
If your business has been acquired or merged with another company, a rebranding can help you assimilate into your new organization. This type of rebrand requires more heavy lifting than most because it typically involves blending two organizational structures and identifying a new hierarchy.
You’ll need to determine, for example, whether your brand will nest within the brand that acquired you (like Old Spice and P&G), or if you’ll form a dual-brand with the company you’ve merged with (like Intuit QuickBooks). In some cases, two brands fuse to create something entirely new — like when social media software companies Lithium and Spredfast joined forces to become Khoros.
A new product launch or deviation to a new business model is another excellent opportunity for a rebrand. When market opportunities change, strategic objectives shift, or if you’ve developed several diverse offerings and need one unifying narrative, a rebranding can give you the fresh and cohesive identity you need.
Social media giant Facebook, for example, initially launched as a Harvard student directory called “The Facebook” and has evolved dramatically over its 15-year life span. It’s also acquired several other businesses, including Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and more. In 2019, the company launched umbrella organization FACEBOOK (all-caps intentional) to reintroduce itself as a suite of products rather than a single app.
(Psst! Check out how the Just Add Ice Orchids rebrand boosted its growth.)
Some organizations assume that because they’ve reached household name status, a rebranding would be wasted effort. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. With time, brands can become stale and may eventually fail to represent the caliber of products or level of service they represent.
Take Apple, for example. In 1997, 20 years after it was founded, stocks were tanking, and the company was on the brink of bankruptcy. Consumers found the brand dull and uninspiring.
Re-enter Steve Jobs, who revitalized the company with the “Think different” campaign and sleeker, more premium-looking designs. He also ushered in the era of the iMac, iPod, iPad and other iconic products. Thanks to the foundation he laid, in 2018, Apple Inc. became the first company valued at more than $1 trillion.
If your audience considers your brand and your competitors interchangeable, that’s a good indicator it’s time to rebrand.
For example, in the 1990s and early 2000s, Target was just another discount superstore known for selling cheap goods at low prices — synonymous with brands like K-Mart and Walmart. To set the brand apart, the company began selling affordable lines by well-known designers like Mossimo Giannulli and Isaac Mizrahi.
The company also refreshed its logo, store designs, and ad campaigns to target hipper, more style-conscious shoppers. Today, Target is the second-largest discount retailer and has amassed a cult-like following among Millennials. Meanwhile, it’s former competitor, K-Mart has endured two bankruptcies and closed most of its stores.
In some cases, your brand may not resonate with the buyers you want. This often happens to companies expanding into new regions or territories, or national organizations seeking to go global. But a rebrand can help you appeal to a broader audience.For example, in 2015, healthcare provider North Shore-LIJ Health Systems wanted to expand outside the Long Island area into New York City and become a nationally recognized name. The organization rebranded as Northwell Health and replaced its simple, generic blue logo with an eye-catching and colorful logo. Today it’s the largest healthcare provider and private employer in the state — largely thanks to its impressive rebrand.
A rebranding isn’t something your company can do in a week or even a month. In most cases, a thorough rebranding takes at least a quarter or two — but the results are well worth the investment. By overhauling your brand, you can prepare your organization for its next and most successful chapter yet.