The Dollars, Design, and Desire that go into a Decision.
As a designer, I can typically find a proper rationale behind rebranding most businesses or products based solely on their presentation. As a business owner, I can view the effort more in dollars than in design – and the drive for change lessens.
Having the desire to rebrand is difficult for many. Rebranding equals change, and many people do not like change – especially when they are tied to their brand through emotion, style, or obligation. However, it should be a carefully thought-out endeavor if you are ready for change. When done with proper reasoning, resources, and structure, rebranding can be a revolution against an outdated or underperforming public presence. It can also be an evolution when a business is looking to capitalize on current success and growth or clarify its message. You also may discover that it’s best not to rock the boat today and focus efforts on other advancements in business.
Knowing when you need to revolt, evolve, or stay the course is the challenge.
Option One: Revolt.
The most often debated, labor-intensive, and often an expensive option. A full rebrand is effectively a relaunch of your business personality and should be approached with thoughtfulness and patience. This is the opportunity to reflect, right the ship, and set the tone for the future. While there are many motivations to undertake an effort like this, let’s break it down to three reasons we see the most as a Brand Agency: Repair, repositioning, and modernization.
This is the “break glass in case of emergency” scenario. Companies can often have a negative brand position due to a lack of awareness, publicity issues, or mismanaged branding efforts. If this is your direction, approach it with psychology first and design second. The top question we ask of our clients in this process is, “Is the brand your story or your customers’ story?” The answer can be subjective; however, we push for a clear balance of the two. Your brand should cause viewers to feel like they are on a journey and that you are their guide. People need to first know you understand them and that you can solve their problems.
Acknowledging why you are in this position in the first place is also essential. Shoring up any business issues that have impacted your brand image negatively first before debuting a new look should be a natural part of this process. This also is the opportunity not to repeat a look and message that may have been attached to that negativity. You get very few shots to improve the customer experience by re-introducing your business to them; take advantage of it.
Additionally, we advise refraining from rebranding solely to cover for severe problematic issues in the business, like poor customer service or products. Branding is a powerful tool when used correctly, but it will not replace the effect of the actual transactional experience with you. While rebranding may give audiences something fresh on the surface, the effort can backfire quickly. For example, if the food still gets to tables late and cold, a restaurant’s rebrand simply becomes a new logo on the napkin that went in the trash.
This effort can be based more on logistics than public presence. A shift in business offerings, market expansions, or mergers are just some scenarios that require a rebrand. While this is still wiping the slate clean in theory, it does not typically need to overcome as many public impression hurdles as a “Repair.” Repositioning should first assess what has historically made your themes and customer experience successful. Holding on to what has worked is critical. It avoids a complete re-set in the minds of your audience, keeps them comfortable, and avoids the potential for people to disengage with your brand. With that foundation set, you can build new assets that complement the past while establishing a clear direction for future changes.
Sometimes you need to change with the times. If trends, competition, and technology are behind the need to modernize, be sure you are doing just that during the process…modernizing. Making a lateral design move by creating an updated version of what you already had typically puts you back in the same position in a matter of a few years…still needing to define your future. However, this doesn’t always mean going more modern in the literal design sense. It means first understanding what about the current market and your position in it is forcing you down this path. Then you will better understand your design direction and what message it needs to convey to keep your loyal followers and attract new ones.
Studying brand trends inside and outside of your industry is essential when thinking ahead. Your audience may have a significant cross-over into services outside your genre. Explore brands that are consistently advancing their message, visuals, and business model to keep their customer base engaged for the long haul.
In contrast to a “Repair” when a rebrand is done to overcome negatives, modernizing can often be done when a company is on top of its game. Change for the sake of change may sound unnecessary; however, in the case of capitalizing on the business momentum, it should be viewed as an excellent opportunity to put an exciting new spin on what has already been impactful.
Stay tuned for Option 2: Evolve