When and How to Rebrand Your Business

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How to Rebrand Your Business Rebranding Tips

New Coke. Remember that stuff?

Maybe you’re too young, or you’ve just blocked it out, but the largest soda manufacturer in the history of the universe once tried to rebrand itself, and the result was probably the worst thing to come out of the 80s not called Winger.

So rebranding, whether your company is large or small, may not be for everyone. And it may even prove detrimental if done incorrectly. So how do you know when it’s time to rebrand? And how do you rebrand your business successfully? Here are some things to consider and steps to take when considering rebranding your business.

Should I rebrand?

Pretty new logos and sexy “new attitudes” are great if you’re a college sports team. For a small business, they may run the risk of alienating your most loyal customers. So before jumping full-scale into rebranding, here are some things to consider.

    • Why do I need to rebrand? – Are you losing sales or, even worse, are you losing regular customers? Has a new competitor come in who is forcing you to change what you do? And looking forward, do you think rebranding will solve those problems? 
    • Is my brand outdated? – Perhaps your family started your business back in the 1930s and you’ve updated your brand once since then … in the 70s. While your commitment to tradition is admirable, your look and attitude just may not fit in 2015. 
    • Will I alienate my customers? – If you’ve still got loyal customers, talk to them before doing anything. Changing what you do might drive them away, muttering “I don’t understand why they messed with something that worked.” 
    • Does our branding represent what we do? – If your company has adapted to technology quickly and is now using iPads and blasting techno music in the lobby, but your brand’s look screams 1957, you may want to consider at least a small tweak to how your business is perceived. 
    • Is my brand consistent across mediums? - Maybe you have a social media whiz kid crafting snappy Tweets and hilarious Facebook posts, but your store and the employees in it are drab and traditional. To build your brand, your message needs to be the same across platforms and in person, and inconsistencies will confuse customers.

How do I rebrand my business?

Rebranding – or at least successful rebranding – is far more than just changing your logo and throwing up a new website. The new image of your business must not only be reflected visually, but also in the corporate culture – the way employees dress and, most importantly, the feel when people interact with you. This means everything from the decoration and sounds of a store to customer interaction via email and telephone.

To make your rebranding complete and effective, you’ll need to take these steps, and probably more:

    • Consult with your employees, customers and other stakeholders – The worst mistake a business can make is forcing something on their customers that they may not want. As we said above, talk to your customers, but also your employees and others who will be affected to see what changes, if any, they think will help. 
    • Map out your plan – You had a business plan when you started this whole venture, right? Well a rebranding is almost like starting an entire new business. So just like you did when you opened, figure out your new markets, promotions, logos and other things that will achieve the goals you set. 
    • Set your goals and changes SPECIFICALLY – Saying “we want to be younger and more tech-savvy,” is kind of like making a new year’s resolution to “eat more green stuff.” Great, but what are the SPECIFICS? What attitudes, images, media and policies are going to change to reflect your new brand? And what are the goals of this venture? 
    • Start internally – Before you hire a graphic designer for your space-aged new logo, make sure you’re changing your corporate culture to reflect the rebrand first. If your team is not reflective of your new image, you’re wasting your money. 
    • Promote the rebrand – You may not have the money to advertise the new look and attitude of your company, but things as simple as YouTube videos, social media posts, and new “Grand Opening” parties get the word out that your game has changed. If you can afford it, hire a PR representative for a short time to get the media to discuss what you’re doing new. 
    • Make the message consistent – Look at every interaction you have with the public, whether in your store or on Twitter or on your company blog, and make sure the rebranding message is everywhere. Again, inconsistency will just serve to confuse, alienate, and ultimately lose customers. 
    • Repeat – Don’t repeat the whole process. But repeat the rebranding message in everything you do and make it the focal point of all your business marketing efforts until it’s drilled into people’s heads. Like the annoying 1-800 number at the end of personal injury lawyer’s’ radio ads, it’ll make you impossible to forget.

Not that all of this will 100% guarantee you don’t end up scrapping your rebrand faster than Gap did (remember that? No? Exactly). But if you truly believe your business needs to be rebranded, going about it the right way will infinitely increase your chances of success.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Matt Meltzer

Matt Meltzer is a professor of business communication at the University of Miami. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and holds a bachelors degree in business administration from UM, as well as a Masters of Mass Communication from the University of Florida.

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