To Rebrand or Not: Do Your Homework Before Taking the Leap

Rebranding - Opportunity or Mistake?Sometimes the germ of an idea takes root and grows, even though you’re not exactly sure why (a notion that grew in popularity, oddly enough, with the movie Inception). Case in point: You've been thinking about rebranding your business.

Your gut instinct tells you to do it. Maybe you should; maybe you shouldn’t. It’s a massive step. What do you need to know to make the decision?

Writing on the blog, marketing and branding expert Susan Gunelius says rebranding can be subtle or dramatic, partial or complete. But any way you cut it, it’s an expensive proposition and more often than not, a risky one.

Why do companies rebrand? Gunelius groups the reasons into two broad categories. Proactive rebranding may be undertaken for reasons having to do with anticipated growth; accommodation of a new line of business or market; to appeal to a new audience; or convey a new sense of relevance.

On the other hand, reactive rebranding is undertaken in response to a situation like a merger or acquisition; legal issue; competitive factors or negative publicity.

Under certain circumstances, rebranding can be a no-brainer. It becomes crystal clear that there’s just no other way than to regroup, reintroduce the business and build a new brand.

But more often, the need for and potential effects of rebranding are not quite so clear cut. In the face of such an important and major transformation, some detailed analysis is needed. Where do you begin?

David Brier of suggests 19 questions to ask in the course making the decision to rebrand or not. Some may seem obvious (Why are we doing a rebrand? What problem are we attempting to solve?), but for businesses contemplating rebranding, every single question should be explored in depth. Each of the 19 questions takes on a different aspect of the brand, from competitors to customers to a variety of internal factors.

Most important, perhaps, are those questions that would force business owners to delve deeply into their brand values, brand personality and brand story. Going back to the beginning and retracing the steps taken in building your current brand is a must before moving forward to rebrand. The answers to questions like these will be invaluable:

    • Are we telling the wrong story or an outdated one?


    • Why should customers care about our brand?


    • If we were starting the business today, is this a brand solution we would come up with?

If you ultimately decide to proceed with rebranding your business, remember that while there have been rebranding successes, business textbooks are filled with case studies of not-so-successful rebranding efforts. Take the time to do some homework. You don’t have to look too far. For example, there is much to be learned from the current J.C. Penney rebranding debacle, which will certainly become a classic case study.

In the meantime, argues in favor of rebranding: “You can’t run your company the same way forever,” it says. How to Successfully Rebrand Your Business offers 10 great ideas to bring about change and breathe new life into your business. Read them all here.


Image courtesy of  KROMKRATHOG /

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