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Nike, McDonald’s, Uber, Netflix: These companies operate in completely different industries, but they all look alike they have undergone a major rebrand at a given moment. This type of transformation may eventually become necessary in your own business simply because market demand is so volatile. But there are nuances to consider in how and when to rebrand?, such as how competitive your market is. Even big brands like Capital One, Weight Watchers and Sears have suffered major failed rebrand.
Part of the reason so many companies fail with rebranding is that they approach it in a superficial way (e.g. new colors, slogans or logos). Successful rebrands represent or are the result of deeper transformations that have already taken place in your organization. They show that your company has questioned its identity and that you are trying to close the gap between how people see you and how you really are or want to be. Increasing curiosity, collaboration and trust should be at the heart of this process and can reduce the risks of rebranding.
Related: When Is It Time To Rebrand? Lessons from Meta, Block and more
Creating a safe space for the right questions
In my company, we decided it was time for a rebrand as we wanted to enter new markets and new revenue channels in a post-pandemic world. We initially thought we had to start over and let everything go, including recruiting new leadership. We even engaged an image processing company to crystallize the direction we wanted and capture our value proposition.
But when we looked at the company, we still saw good bones. Many of our employees have worked with us for many years. They needed reassurance that we wouldn’t ignore everything they had built and the effort put into it. So a big gesture we made was to keep the original company name, a decision that the team received with an ovation. We deliberately explained that the rebranding was about coming together on a common mission and purpose so we could grow, not tearing down everything we had.
Once the team was confident that we were absolutely committed to acknowledging their legacy, we were able to spark curiosity. We asked ourselves good questions, like what the company would look like if we explored different markets. We chose to be more curious about our customers too, so we could learn in real time what their needs and wants were.
Related: When to Consider a Rebrand (and How to Do It Right)
Building a transparent, more inclusive two-way street
As our team explored, we naturally began to question and analyze the way we came together. How did employees work together, not only with colleagues but also with customers? We had to face the fact that our inward-looking approach was one of the biggest factors behind our loss of sales. In a more traditional way, we had taken all of our ideas and services and essentially told the customers what was going to happen. Only the biggest customers really had a lot of influence on the decisions we made. We realized we wanted — needed — to be more outward-looking, and that staying competitive depended on a much more balanced relationship with the customers we had.
So we developed new ways for the team to share ideas and information. We’ve changed our model so that we now ask people what works best for them and consider everyone, rather than just our “best” customers. We are also transparent about our prices and the margin we are trying to achieve. For us, this openness has become a distinguishing factor within the market.
Related: Branding is indispensable. Are you using it to your advantage?
Pumping people up with the tools already in the box
Rebranding can be a sign of change that has already happened or is in play, but shifts can still be nerve-wracking and stressful. People don’t always feel very confident during the transition, even if they are sure of what they want the brand identity to be, just because they are entering an area where they have never been before. In the back of their minds they ask, “Can we really go from here to there?”
My organization had a lot of this doubt. But when we looked again at our efforts and legacy, we saw a lot of success: Individual employees excelled, we exalted each other and took on challenges. We reminded everyone of their contributions and the results we achieved together, and we matched their skills with the new identity we had embedded to show we had what we needed to thrive. With a new jolt of confidence, the team was able to fully commit to the rebranding.
Stand on these three cornerstones for rebranding success
Things stand still for no one, not even the richest of the rich. So it’s not about if you rebrand, but when. you shall change, even if it means adding new values only to the ones you already have, and in the sense that rebrands mean growth, they’re good things. The most successful transformations trigger curiosity, allow people to collaborate in new ways, and ensure everyone involved is able to truly live the identity you want. Make these areas your cornerstones and you’ll reduce much of the risk associated with rebrands.