Creative, Marketing & Strategy

7 Signs It’s Time to Rebrand (And a Couple of Times When It’s Not Necessary)

By: Carmesha Thompson, Project Manager

With the start of a new year in full swing, you may want to use this time as an opportunity to improve your company’s image through rebranding efforts — #newyearnewbrand. A rebrand is the process of reshaping how a company or product is perceived. It can be as simple as a refresh or as extensive as a complete overhaul of everything from a brand’s name and tagline to its logo and visual identity.

A rebrand is a natural part of a company’s evolution. Due to various internal and external market factors, a brand’s image is only fresh and relevant for so long. One day you may look up and realize that your branding is not giving what it’s supposed to or what it used to. Even the strongest of brands have a shelf life and it’s rare to find a prominent company that’s been using the same branding for 20+ years. In fact, Airbnb’s logo has evolved five times since it was founded 14 years ago.

Rebranding can be an exciting endeavor. It gives you an opportunity to refresh your company’s image, strengthen your market position, boost reach, or even improve your bottom line. However, rebranding can also be an exhaustive undertaking that includes not only changing your brand identity, but also revamping your company’s website, business cards, letterheads, and other marketing collateral. With that said, you’ll want to ensure you’re rebranding for the right reasons.

So, how do you know when it’s time to rebrand? Read on for several surefire signs a rebrand is necessary and a couple of times when it’s probably not worth the effort.

1. Your branding no longer reflects your company’s vision and core values

Outgrowing a brand is not uncommon — what started out as a great brand image when the company initially launched, may no longer represent what it is currently about. Many companies begin as small businesses that serve as passion projects for the founders in which they are focused on specific products or services. Over time, however, these companies grow by expanding into new markets, creating new offerings, and reaching new customers. Subsequently, the company’s mission and goals may shift, and a wider purpose is unearthed, which results in a new vision and core values for leadership and employees.

When your company’s brand as you used to know it begins to change and is becoming shaped by the growth your company is experiencing and the future of where it is moving towards, then rebranding is necessary to ensure your image aligns with your new business goals and vision. Remember, your brand image is what appears front and center on every touchpoint your customer engages with, so it’s important that it is representative of your business.

2. Your logo leaves a bad first impression

Sure, your brand is more just than logos and colors. But let’s keep it real – just as people judge a book by its cover, they will judge your company by your logo – it’s a significant factor that contributes to a first impression.

Maybe your brand’s once-fresh colors, fonts or graphical elements now look dated or stagnant, so much so that your logo makes you feel like you’re traveling back in time. Or maybe when you launched your company, your logo was not a priority, so an amateur created it, and therefore it gives off low-quality vibes. Whatever the case, if your logo invokes a response that involves cringing or a feeling of embarrassment because of its sheer aesthetics, this could negatively affect first impressions of your company.

Strong visual branding should be unique, eye-catching, and above all memorable (in a good way). It should also convey relevancy to your target audience, and by staying fresh and modern, your branding communicates that your company is up to date and current.

3. Your company has undergone a merger or acquisition or you have multiple service lines

Mergers and acquisitions almost always involve rebranding at some level. In any acquisition, it’s important to look at how the acquired brand fits into the brand architecture of the acquiring entity. With mergers, brand architecture is equally important. If two companies come together, two brands come together, so rather than having one win out over the other, it may be better to come up with a corporate rebranding strategy that unifies and represents both companies. One example of a successful rebrand after a merger was the union of United and Continental Airlines. They kept the United name and used the globe symbol from Continental Airlines to create an identity that was recognizable by both sets of customers.

Similarly, if your brand offers an array of products and/or service lines and they all have different branding, it might look disjointed and confusing. You may need to take a step back to simplify and streamline to ensure everything can easily be identified as being part of your brand through a cohesive brand identity.

4. You’re trying to reconnect with your target audience or reach a new demographic

A rebrand lets you redefine your company with the goal of appealing to new and untapped audiences. You often see this from companies trying to reach younger audiences. As a core audience grows older, brands either must develop with them, or target the next generation by adapting their branding to fit contemporary trends.

Staying on top of demographic shifts and being aware of how each demographic relates to the world is vital for a brand. For instance, the last thing a savvy young demographic wants is to associate itself with the stuffy brands of their parents’ generation, so if your brand is associated with an older generation, it may be time to make changes to your look and tone of voice so you can appeal to a younger audience. In fact, that’s exactly what Tiffany & Co decided to do when they rebranded to shift focus on a younger buying audience with a campaign that declared “Not Your Mother’s Tiffany.”

5. In a progressive landscape, your branding is considered out-of-touch

A shift in cultural and societal norms may render a brand out-of-touch or offensive. People’s values change over time and your branding needs to adapt with them and reflect these changing values. As customers evolve, brands need to evolve with them.

Below are few examples of companies rebranding in order to change with the times:

WW’s change from Weight Watchers: Rather than focusing on losing weight, WW now pushes health, fitness and feeling your best – all of which are aligned with societal trends.

Pearl Milling Company change from Aunt Jemima: With social justice and racial equality conversations coming to the forefront in 2021, brands like Aunt Jemima needed a rebrand to survive a negative backlash of offensive representation.

Aerie: In 2014, the company announced that it would no longer be retouching its images to promote body positivity and real women with real bodies. As part of this campaign, the company rebranded its logo to align with its spotlight on the beauty in realness and imperfection.


6. Your company needs to overcome a negative reputation or perception

Rebranding to overcome a negative reputation might include repositioning to completely change the way the general public thinks of your company. In the past, a company could more easily keep crises out of the public eye. But now, largely in part to social media, company disasters can spread like wildfire. If the problem is serious enough, rebranding by changing the name or redesigning the logo to ditch a tarnished image might be necessary in order to give your company a fresh start.

A recent example of a company doing such is Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook. Several leading analysts have pointed out that the brand change came at a time in which the company was under attack and heavily scrutinized for its practices concerning privacy.

7. Consumers mix your company up with your competitors

Does your brand stand out in the marketplace? It’s important to distinguish your product or service from the competition as this helps to achieve marketing success, so if you’re failing in that area, then that’s a problem.

It’s critical that your business stand out from the competition with clear differentiators, and this starts with your branding. However, you’d be surprised at how many companies are unable to identify their key competitive advantages, so a rebrand can also serve as useful exercise to identify and determine or redefine your key differentiators.


When to Refrain from Rebranding Efforts

Brand equity, or the value of having a well-known brand, is a crucial piece of your brand’s health. Companies with higher brand equity are at a significant advantage because people know and trust them. Changing your company’s branding can put this equity at risk by minimizing brand recognition and thus decreasing your market share.

With that said, if your reasoning for rebranding is not listed above or isn’t based on another solid factor, then it’s probably not worth the risk, and you should just leave well enough alone. Below are a couple of situations in which you’ll want to refrain from changing up your brand.

1. You’re bored and looking to shake things up

It’s natural to crave a change after seeing the same colors, logo and messaging for some time. But, as the old saying goes: If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. Rebranding shouldn’t be done on a whim, or “just because.”

2. Your new branding will confuse your audience

Your goal when rebranding should be to give your brand a new look and feel that customers connect with and support, rather than going in a completely different direction, inevitably baffling them.


If you’re unsure if it’s the right time for a rebrand or not sure how to communicate the need for a rebrand to company leadership – let’s discuss how MassMedia can guide you to make the right decision. Contact us today!

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