A business’s brand is often associated mainly with its colors, logo, and design aesthetic. However, its brand identity means so much more. It is the language a business consistently uses to deliver messages and build relationships with its target audience. It is also integral to a company’s culture as it helps shape and define the internal relationships between all employees.
A study conducted by Accenture on brand affinity found that 66% of surveyed consumers are attracted to a brand that has a strong company culture, one that shares the same values and delivers on its promises.
To build a strong brand, businesses must have a distinct purpose, a clear direction, and a value proposition that they are consistently sharing with their audiences. But when a business’s mission and vision need to expand as its target audience evolves, a rebrand might be a viable strategy to evolve with it.
What Does It Mean to Rebrand Your Business?
Rebranding can be an exhaustive (but ultimately rewarding) process that requires a business to conduct market research, review its financial stability, and ultimately develop a new mission and vision that reinforces its value to customers.
“When people hear rebranding, they think of just visuals and that’s scratching the surface,” said Malla Haridat, an entrepreneur and business coach, in a Zoom interview with The Balance. “It is extremely expensive and costs strategy time. A true business rebrand is a new mission and way of doing business. It shows across everything—from marketing to employee culture.”
For instance, Android is a global brand, but its branding choices did not always reflect the needs of its global audience. To fulfill its mission and vision to make Android more inclusive, parent company Google partnered with advertising agency Huge to develop a rebranding strategy and help transform consumers’ understanding of the company. By 2019, the company changed its logo, color scheme, wordmark, mascot, and messaging to reflect its focus on global consumers. The result was a new brand identity that could better position Android to compete with Apple iOS and others.
Reason to Rebrand
Like the brand makeover of Android, an entrepreneur’s decision to rebrand has to put their business in a better position to achieve new goals and greater results. To accomplish new goals, a business must be ready to transform its purpose and direction.
A New Purpose for Doing Business
When a business is established, an important initial step is for the founder(s) to create a mission and vision statement.
However, there are times when a business’s mission and vision will have to evolve in order to meet the needs of its audience, which may require it to rebrand its messaging.
In October 2020, Wisconsin-based automation, electrical, and technology solutions company Suburban Electric rebranded itself as Suburban Enterprises. The company, which had been in existence since 1960, realized that it was not effectively marketing two of its key services—automation and technology—that were in high demand in its central location. In an email interview with The Balance, a Suburban Enterprises spokesperson said that the company’s decision to rebrand and reinforce its offering has allowed it to not only keep its loyal customer base, but also reach new audiences who were not familiar with its ability to provide a range of services.
When Not to Rebrand
While the allure of rebranding can be enticing to a business that desires a heftier profit, an appeal to a wider audience, or a fresh, new image, there are certain reasons why it may not necessarily be the right move.
Brand Vision Is Unclear
For a business to successfully rebrand, there needs to be a distinct shift from one direction to another, said business coach Malla Haridat.
If a business is relatively new and does not have a clear vision yet, it’s not time to rebrand. Instead, focus on developing a strong mission and vision so that your business can build trust in its target audience.
Since a business’s brand is not only defined by its appearance but also its behavior, Haridat advises developing a relationship-building strategy with your target audience first. After all, your target market needs time to feel confident in your business and you need time to build credibility.
Visual Appeal Is the Priority
According to Haridat, if you just want to change your logo or your online presence, this is not considered a company rebrand—this is an image update. That being said, if your brand has not updated its website in several years, or market research has shown that your brand’s colors do not effectively resonate with your target audience, then an update to your image is certainly in order.
You Cannot Afford the Expense
Rebranding costs money. If a business wants to rebrand successfully, hiring creative, strategy, and account teams—like from an ad agency—that will be able to develop a soup-to-nuts plan and execute it is key. Understand that the process takes more than just hiring a graphic designer for a new logo or printing new business cards.
Keys to Rebranding Success
If you believe strongly that rebranding is going to help your business grow, then it only makes sense to take the necessary steps to begin the process. Malla Haridat and others offer insight on rebranding with ease below.
The Purpose of Rebranding
If a business wants to consider rebranding, it is important to understand why it is interested. Haridat said that the two big questions that immediately need to be answered are:
- How will your business grow as a result of the rebrand?
- How will your company be able to compete with more established businesses?
Tap the Target Audience
A business’s customers are its ultimate lifeline. Before beginning a rebrand, it is important to speak directly with the target audience to understand its interest in your brand. For example, the Suburban Enterprises spokesperson said that when the company decided to rebrand in 2020, it spent time speaking with current clients to understand their needs. This type of information can be used by a business to determine its strengths and weaknesses, which, in turn, can inform its rebranding strategy.
Define a Budget, Team, and Timeline
Rebranding is a considerable expense and requires lots of time and a loyal team. Teneisha Jackson Warner, founder and CEO of Egami Consulting Group, told The Balance via email that when her company decided to transform its visual brand, it hired a team—complete with market researchers, copywriters, graphic designers, web developers, and more—to make a rebrand successful.
For a small business, a rebrand can typically cost anywhere from 10%-20% of its marketing budget, so it’s important to make sure it’s financially and operationally feasible to accomplish the task.
To move forward, form an internal team that can provide a clear accounting of all costs—including any brand development work needed from an outside agency and legal and regulatory expenses—and plan a rollout strategy for how the rebranding will unfold over the course of weeks, months, or even years.
Begin Sharing Rebranding Messages With Target Audience
Before a complete rebrand is unveiled, it’s important for a business to begin sharing its new messaging with a loyal customer base. This will help to ease any confusion that customers may feel about a company’s rebrand. It will also allow the new target audience time to understand the company’s value proposition.
The Bottom Line
Rebranding a business can be a great way to expand a company’s mission, vision, and scope. However, rebranding is not for every business. It can be a time-consuming and expensive process that is not always the best remedy—particularly if a business is struggling. Before making the decision to rebrand, a business should make sure that it not only has the means, resources, and time to take this course of action, but that it’s going to provide added value to its existing customers while attracting new ones.