Rebrand Your Business
Remember when Apple was Apple Computer? Or when BlackBerry was Research in Motion? Even longstanding companies know brands need to keep up with changing business demands. But how can you tell when it’s time to rethink your brand?
We asked several branding, legal and business professionals to weigh in on this question. Based on their insights, we’ve put together a list of six signs that your business might need a rebrand and added a checklist to help you determine whether the time is right.
1. No one understands what your business does
A strong brand instantly communicates your company’s purpose and personality. If yours doesn’t, a rebrand is in order.
Octavia Gilmore, chief creative officer of design firm Creative Juice, puts it this way: “Do people constantly ask what you do? Does it take longer than 10 seconds to explain your company? Most customers won’t spend a lot of time trying to find this information out. If your audience can’t figure out what you do quickly, they’ll move on to the next business.”
2. The business has outgrown the brand
Times and companies change. Products are added or dropped, founders retire and priorities shift. When significant changes like these occur, often the brand that once seemed so right no longer fits the new reality.
Small-business owner Amanda Henke initiated a rebrand in 2013, soon after she and her husband took over Annie B’s, a caramel and popcorn manufacturer. The founders of the family-owned business had retired, and Amanda thought the brand was ready for a change. “Annie B’s has been in business since 1978,” she says. “Rebranding was a way to kick off a new phase in the life of the company and to put our personality into the brand.”
The rebrand caught the eye of one of Oprah Winfrey’s staff members. As a result, Annie B’s caramels landed on Winfrey’s 2014 “Favorite Things” list. “Our rebranded logo is what attracted Oprah’s team to us in the first place, so I think we made the right decision,” Henke says.
3. You’ve received negative attention
The unthinkable has happened: A bad review of your company has gone viral. Suddenly your brand name is on everyone’s lips — but for all the wrong reasons.
In these situations, a rebrand can give you a fresh start. As naming expert Lynn Nichols, Ph.D., explains, “A brand name carries all the associations customers have with a company or product. When negative baggage accumulates, you might want a new name that’s empty of associations, and rebranding is one option. This gives you the opportunity to fill the name and brand with positive experiences as the company corrects the problems.”
4. You’re lost in a sea of competitors
When Celebriducks started in the late 1990s, it was the only company in its niche: manufacturing rubber duck versions of famous figures. That soon changed as overseas competitors entered the market.
President Craig Wolfe saw rebranding as an opportunity to make the company stand out while supporting U.S. manufacturing. “The rubber duck was invented in the United States, but in the early 2000s every company making them was overseas. We decided to bring the industry back here. Today, we’re once again the only ones making them in America.”
The company now includes “Made in America” on its packaging and produces its “Hatched in the USA” line of ducks at its factory in New York. And at its new Michigan factory, it makes PVC-free rubber ducks that are safe for teething babies.
5. You want to reach new customers
For many decades, Old Spice was considered the brand of choice for men of a certain age. When the company wanted to target a new, younger generation, they knew they first had to dispel the image of “Grandpa’s cologne.”1
Partnering with advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy, in 2008 the company rebranded its iconic Glacial Falls scent as Swagger. The name was designed to convey the confident, cool persona young men aspired to. Print, television and online ads featuring celebrity spokesmen further cemented the brand’s hip new attitude.
As a result of the rebrand, the company shed its stodgy reputation among younger customers, and sales of Glacial Falls/Swagger products quadrupled.
6. The brand’s already taken
Sometimes the sign you need to rebrand comes in the form of a cease-and-desist letter. As intellectual property attorney Sonia Lakhany points out, a lack of due diligence when first creating your brand can necessitate a rebrand later on.
“Rebranding often occurs when a business finds out they don't have the right to use the name they’ve been operating under,” she says. “This is usually because they didn’t consult with a trademark attorney to ensure the name was cleared for use.”
Greg Ratzlaff, creative director of digital marketing agency Blue Corona, offers this five-point checklist for companies considering a rebrand. “These questions are critical for a business owner to ask themselves regularly,” Ratzlaff says. “If the answer to any of them is no, it’s the perfect time to consider going through a company rebrand.”
- Is the current brand still relevant to customers?
- Does the brand reflect a level of professionalism the business delivers?
- Is it clear in the marketplace about what you offer or do?
- As a company, do you have clear differentiators within the marketplace?
- Is your brand executed consistently across all forms of the business and in your marketing and advertising?
Re-energize your brand
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1 O’Neill, Megan, “How Old Spice Swaggerized Their Brand and Men Everywhere,” July 22, 2010. Adweek.