02 Nov Is it Time for Your Business to Rebrand?
When the venerable restaurant chain IHOP announced in June of this year that it was changing its name to IHOb to emphasize the burgers on its menu, Americans took to social media to weigh in with an overwhelmingly negative response. Soon after, however, IHOP let everyone in on their joke. The “rebranding” was a publicity stunt to make people aware of the fact that IHOP also serves up a mighty fine burger. It worked. The chain reported that hamburger sales quadrupled following the promotion, contributing to a significant lift in lunch and dinner sales.
But sometimes, an actual rebranding is necessary for a business to stay competitive and relevant in a quickly changing environment. The more established the brand, the greater the challenges, but it can be done.
We’ll look at two examples of success stories and why their strategies succeeded – then provide practical advice that every business needs to follow during the rebranding process.
First up, Best Buy. One of those “big box” stores that seemed endangered by Amazon.com, Best Buy reinvented itself by executing a customer-experience-focused strategy that positions stores as showrooms. Reporting for AdAge, Adrianne Pasquarelli writes the retailer’s rebranding is designed to highlight the personalized customer service it provides. Its TV spots are built on the theme, “Possibilities start with a conversation,” positioning Best Buy as a knowledgeable friend that can help consumers achieve their goals – which sales associates learn about through one-on-one conversations that lead customers to make the right choice. A new website and logo complete the rebranding.
Next, the Library of Congress. Although not an organization that immediately leaps to mind when thinking about rebranding, its new logo launched this August succeeds in bringing the library into the digital age across all media. Rather than a static, dusty repository of books, the new logo by design studio Pentagram visually communicates a vibrant image of our national library as a treasured resource for not only books, but also films, photographs, audio recordings, manuscripts, maps and fine art.
While Aileen Kwun for Fast Company reports the logo alienated some who thought it not sufficiently traditional, she writes:
“It’s a clever implementation of a dynamic entity: a digital-friendly brand, likely to look better on-screen than elsewhere, for a constituency and cultural audience that . . . has also been instrumentally and irrevocably shaped by digital culture.”
Of course Best Buy and the Library of Congress can easily afford fancy new rebrandings, but where does that leave enterprises of more average means? Fortunately, you can start with a good understanding of how to approach your own company’s rebranding strategy – beginning with the obvious question, “How do I know if my business needs a rebrand?”
Anada Lakra, writing for 99designs, provides a helpful guideline:
- Your target demographic has changed – If your brand is experiencing a generational shift, your product/service and brand identity must speak to the experiences and needs of these emerging consumers. Larka advises focusing on digital-only marketing and influencer branding strategy.
- New competition, technological shifts or taste trends have emerged – Yesterday’s category leaders are not necessarily today’s. For example, brands must adapt to changes in consumer preferences – such as the demand for organic and locally sourced foods being experienced by the food and restaurant industries.
- Your business has changed in a significant way – If you’ve added product lines or acquired another company, a rebranding will establish your new identity to your industry and target market.
- There hasn’t been a cohesive branding effort – It’s common for start-ups to add branding elements as the business expands. However, this piecemeal approach usually results in an inconsistent brand identity.
- Your brand is dated – If your company has been in business for many years, your logo – or, even worse, your website – may be behind-the-times. So how can a non-graphic designer tell? Graphic elements like swooshes and drop shadows were hot design trends in the late 90s and early 2000s, according to brand development agency Garrison Everest. Today, “flat” design is in, as evidenced by logos for such top global brands as Apple, Windows and Google. As for your website, our blog posts “Get a Sharper Image for Your Brand Through Sharper Images,” and “How to Tell if Your Website Needs a Redesign,” are good resources for a frame of reference.
Amanda Bowman, writing for Entrepreneur, offers another reason to rebrand: to outgrow a poor reputation, as Uber’s high-profile rebrand is intended to accomplish. However, Lakra cautions that merely changing a logo and ad campaign will be of no use if the company’s core values and day-to-day operation don’t improve significantly.
Lakra writes: “It is important to be clear about why you’re rebranding; this way you ensure that the effort of rebranding is worth it and will achieve the expected results in your business. If none of the scenarios described above reflect what is going on in your company, then take a moment to think about why you’re considering to rebrand. Perhaps there’s a problem that runs deeper in the company (such as no product-market fit *gasp*), which rebranding will not be able to fix.”
In other words, rebranding a bad brand won’t fool people in the long run. Fundamental to the process is in deciding your brand’s values, standards and practices. This presents an excellent opportunity for all employees and stakeholders to discuss what they think the brand is about, and how it can best position and utilize its competitive advantage.
The more open and honest these discussions are, the better the results will be.
Should you decide your business is due for a rebranding, contact Virtual Stacks Systems and tell us about your goals. We can make your new brand identity a success through our many services, which include website design and redesign, SEO, logo design, video production, social media marketing, and many others. Contact us today to learn more.