An impactful brand is key to business success. If you’re missing the mark, you may want to try rebranding. It’s a scary thought – completely transforming your image, identity, and message. But a successful rebrand can help your business reach new audiences that might be more relevant to your business or the product/service you’re offering.
In this post, I’ll give you a comprehensive definition of rebranding. Continue reading to learn:
- What rebranding is
- Why you would rebrand your business
- The difference between a partial and total rebrand
- Rebranding strategies
- How to rebrand your company
- Examples of rebranding, and
- What goes into your rebranding checklist
What Is Rebranding?
When you develop a new identity for your company in the minds of consumers, investors, competitors, and the general public, that process is called rebranding. To undergo a rebrand, you rethink, change, or update your existing brand strategy.
If you don’t have a clear and strategic corporate brand, focus on building a brand from the ground up. Rebranding only applies to organizations that already invested significant time, budget, and resources into branding efforts.
Partial Rebrand vs. Total Rebrand
Because it’s such an extreme alteration to a core component of your business, there is no “one-size-fits-all when it comes to rebranding. There are various options when considering a rebrand and it’s not always a complete identity change. Sometimes, a slight change moves the needle considerably.
There are two forms of rebranding:
- Partial rebranding is when you make small adjustments to change public perception or target a new audience without losing your existing brand recognition.
- Total rebranding is the complete overhaul of your brand – including your name, compass, and visual identity.
The reasons you’re rebranding play a direct role in the path you take.
Why Would A Business Want To Rebrand?
Numerous events or scenarios may lead you to consider rebranding your business. The most common examples include:
- Expanding to a new location
- Repositioning in the market and catering to new target audiences
- Change in the organizational philosophy
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Developing a clearer brand message
- Addressing an issue
At the end of the day, any reason you feel your company isn’t reaching the right audience can be cause for a rebrand.
Before you go through any form of rebranding, consider taking a less drastic approach. Sometimes, developing a specific targeted marketing campaign can help you reach the correct audience without reworking the core of your brand’s foundation.
In the sections below, I’ll provide greater detail into the reasons for rebranding. If any of the descriptions sound familiar, you might want to gather your major stakeholders and consider a rebranding strategy.
Expanding your existing business into a new location can be a cause for a rebrand. New locations often involve nuanced differences in culture and preferences with a general demographic that’s not identical to your existing target audience. They might not identify or relate to your current branding.
Whether you’re a small business opening your second brand, a regional chain going national, or a national brand taking a global leap, rebranding might increase the chances of forming an emotional connection with your new audience.
Repositioning In The Market And Catering To New Target Demographics
If you don’t feel like you’re appropriately positioned in the market and not reaching the right audience, rebranding allows you to change course. To reposition yourself appropriately in the market, you have to know and understand your new ideal customer persona.
Repositioning doesn’t always mean starting from square one:
- If your current positioning is way off the mark, you likely need to replace your current audience with a completely new one.
- When you feel you’re brand is successful but could be more effective, adding a new demographic to your existing audience is possible without starting from scratch.
An automotive manufacturer branded as luxury that’s affordable may shift to messaging that emphasizes an affordable option that provides luxury. An emphasis remains on both qualities, but the primary focus shifts from targeting exclusivity to affordability.
Change In Philosophy
Anytime your company has a major change in philosophy, a subsequent rebrand comes with it. Whether it’s new leadership applying their philosophy or an overhaul of what exists already, you’ll likely have a new vision, mission, and values when all is said and done.
When your mission, vision, and values change, you need to modify your branding accordingly. A successful philosophical rebrand can bring in new audiences and increase loyalty from your existing support base. Slip up in your company rebranding and you could lose more than you gain.
Merger and Acquisitions
When two or more companies become one, so does their branding. There’s some degree of rebranding in any merger or acquisition. Whether it’s a merger between companies or one company acquiring others, you’ll be faced with one of three options:
- Operate under the existing brand that’s most prominent
- Modify one of the existing brands to account for the new audiences
- Undergo a total rebrand for a completely fresh identity
Every scenario is unique so there may be instances where retaining multiple, separate brands is in your best interest.
Creating A Clear Brand Message
As your company grows, more team members contribute to branding and marketing decisions. Over time, this can lead to misaligned messaging. Whether it’s inconsistent or downright off the mark, an ineffective brand message leads to poor results.
When you first started your business, you might not have put a lot of time and effort into branding. As you grow, it presents an opportunity to declutter the narrative and re-establish a more consistent brand.
Reshaping your message doesn’t mean a total rebrand unless you feel that a fresh start is your best choice.
Address An Issue
The saying all press is good press is a myth. If your company gets hit with a negative public relations crisis – or any form of negative reputation – rebranding might be an option. It’s best to try and address the issue head-on, with a partial rebrand to promise change for the better.
Total rebranding in response to a bad reputation is a double-edged sword. It presents the option for a fresh start, but you risk consumers perceiving the new brand as an attempt to trick the public and save face.
As I mentioned before, relaunching your brand isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. There are a handful of tested methods that companies resort to most often. These methods, or rebranding strategies, vary based upon:
- Your reason for rebranding
- The magnitude of your desired edits or updates (total vs. partial rebrand)
- The strength of your brand as it stands
- The shifting trends of your industry and customer needs
- Other factors
In the subsections below, I’ll define and describe a few of the most common rebranding strategies in greater detail.
Update Your Visual Brand
Your visual brand revolves around your overall creative aesthetic. It’s the overall look and feel of your brand, capturing the consumer’s attention in a visually dominant, modern market. Changing the approach and style of your visual brand through rebranding includes updating your:
- Color palette
- Brand imagery
While you can approach a total rebrand with this strategy, it also serves as a quick and relatively easy way to partially rebrand. You don’t have to change your name or rid your brand of all its existing components. Updating your visual brand is a strong option to:
- Stay relevant and on top of fashion/style trends
- Subtly imply a shift in your messaging while retaining valuable components
- Appeal to wider audiences while remaining authentic to your loyal support base
A healthcare facility may leverage a visual brand update to show they’re in with the times and on top of trends. Their brand needs to represent innovative medicine and state-of-the-art technology, equipment, and facilities. While the company rebrands its aesthetic, it retains its core compass of providing the highest level of dependable, responsible, and transparent care to those in need.
Change Your Brand Voice
On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, rebranding your brand voice involves altering the tone and language of all messaging. The way that you draft copy, write ad scripts, and any other verbal or written communication makes up your voice.
As with visuals, your voice can be part of a total rebranding but paired with other strategies. Altering your brand voice serves as a one-time solution for companies looking to:
- Expand or shift priorities
- Grow with their target demographic
- Stay relevant and incorporate modern slang/jargon
- Connect with unfamiliar demographics in new locations
Merge Multiple Brands Into A Single Entity
This rebranding strategy applies to larger corporations more than small businesses. If you offer several products and/or services and market them each as individual brands, it can dilute the recognition and authority of your parent brand. Not all companies have the name recognition and strength to market multiple brands.
Merging multiple brands into a single entity is a useful approach for rebranding to:
- Improve overall brand positioning
- Create clarity and consistency in your messaging
- Incorporating components of brands inherited in an acquisition
- Establishing a new brand from two or more existing brands in a merger
Launch A New Component Of Your Business
If there’s a specific product, service, or niche offering that is unique and notable on its own, you can launch a new brand. Though it’s the formation of a sub-brand, you’re still rebranding the entity that used to be a part of your parent brand.
This strategy is best utilized when you have a strong parent brand or when you hope to reach a new demographic while retaining your existing support base.
Imagine a pharmaceutical medicine manufacturer launches a line of consumer products like pill organizers, thermometers, scales, and other accessories. The manufacturer may rebrand the product line to better target a larger pool of general consumers who use medical accessories regularly.
How To Rebrand A Company
While partial rebrands offer quick solutions, totally rebranding your business is an immense undertaking and impacts the entire trajectory of your goals. There are steps to rebranding that approach the process strategically and maximize your potential success, including:
- Establishing and defining your new target audience
- Reevaluating your brand’s compass
- Creating a fresh brand name
- Developing your new brand identity
- Relaunching your brand strategically
- Tracking and measuring your brand sentiment
- Consistently managing your brand
In the following sections, I’ll provide in-depth analysis and advice on the steps listed above.
Establish And Define Your New Target Audience
Whether you’re completely repositioning or just looking to expand, you have to map out the new target audience you aim to reach. To assess your current situation, look at the type of people supporting your brand and who is supporting other brands. Compare the data and see where there’s potential to pivot or reach into untapped demographics.
Brands with a track record and extensive history have to decide whether they want to change with their core audiences as they grow or adapt to target the new generation. Ask yourself the following questions to help define what you’re looking for:
- How will your new audience overlap with your existing audience?
- Will it replace it completely?
If you’re establishing an entirely new audience, these questions might help kickstart the research and development process:
- Where does your ideal target audience engage online?
- What are their challenges or pain points?
- What types of content do they consume?
Reevaluate Your Brand’s Compass
Your brand’s compass is directly tied to the foundation of your business and informs all of your messaging and communication. The four components of your compass are:
- Vision, and
Your purpose is the reason why you started in the first place, so that can’t really be changed. Your mission, vision, and values determine the trajectory of your brand. In a complete rebrand, these three components will likely change in some combination for you to project your new message.
To reevaluate your brand’s compass, you can ask the following basic questions about your business:
- What are you doing?
- How are you doing it?
- Why are you doing it?
As rebranding is a major undertaking and your compass is the foundation, work with your team to shape your new approach. Together, openly discuss what can help build brand awareness, gain a new audience segment, and improve your reputation.
Develop Your New Brand Identity
The foundation of your brand is your identity – your efforts to shape the public’s perception. Developing a new brand identity means tearing it all down and starting from scratch. Every component of your brand will be reassessed to ensure they match the preferences of your target audience.
The elements that you consider include:
Make sure to spend extra time on the larger elements like your personality, voice, and visuals. While they can be a quick fix when partially rebranding, a total overhaul of the way your brand looks, sounds, and interacts with consumers requires careful thought and purpose.
If your senior living community’s brand image resembles the trope of a “nursing home” that’s more like a hospital where you lose any semblance of independence, you might need a total redo. Shape your identity to emphasize the individualism and freedom your facility offers, while retaining the core mission of providing quality care in a comfortable environment for individuals who no longer wish or can live on their own.
Create A Fresh Brand Name
One of the biggest decisions in a rebrand is whether to create a fresh name or keep your existing one. It’s a crucial decision as renaming your brand can cost you brand recognition, search traffic, and sales. If you have existing brand recognition and your name still fits with your message, then there’s no need to change it.
If your current brand name doesn’t align with your new identity, brainstorm ideas for a new one that aligns with your vision, mission, and values. Whether on your own or with other key stakeholders, consider the following for each name in your brainstorming process:
- How the name works regionally/globally
- Accessibility (is it easy to read, write, and pronounce)
- Whether it accurately reflects your identity
Relaunch Your Brand Strategically
After you’ve defined your new target audience, established a refreshed compass, redeveloped your identity, and selected a new name, all of your core rebranded elements are in place. That doesn’t mean you’re ready to go.
Relaunching a brand takes more than strategic development. You need a clear, concise, and detailed plan to execute your strategy. Create a thorough content plan that includes marketing your rebrand to existing customers and the general public. Your relaunch plan should include a combination of:
- Website copy and visuals
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Digital and physical advertising
- Other content marketing initiatives
Not every relaunch requires explicitly stating that you’ve rebranded. In many cases, it’s a good idea to write a press release for your website and other communication as an official announcement and explanation of your shift in messaging.
Track And Measure Brand Sentiment
The only way to know for certain that you need a rebrand, what adjustments will be most effective, and how you’re perceived post-launch is to track and measure brand sentiment. How do your customers and the general public feel about your new brand?
You can acquire customer feedback through focus groups, surveys, online reviews, customer interviews, and other audience research methods. The goal is to find out if your rebranding strategy communicates your new mission, vision, and values accurately. More importantly, does it make a positive impact on your target audience.
Tracking and measuring sentiment should occur throughout the entire rebranding process:
- Before you decide to rebrand, see what qualities and/or components of your existing brand lead customers to feel negative or unsatisfied.
- During your rebranding process, make decisions and updates to your strategy through customer feedback.
- After relaunching your brand, assess how the general public and your target audience are responding. Make any necessary adjustments according to their feedback.
Consistently Manage Your Brand
Rebranding can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months from start to finish. It’s a long process that requires significant investment, considerable change, and hard work across your organization.
However long it takes your business to determine the process complete, it’s never completely over. Once you’ve relaunched your brand successfully, rebranding turns into brand management.
As with the normal branding process, consistency is key. Every communication, message, and touchpoint should strengthen your brand and maintain a cohesive experience for consumers.
I provided a few hypothetical examples throughout this post. In the sections below, I’ve highlighted a few real-world rebranding examples to show what the process looks like in some of the world’s largest, most successful brands.
Facebook started as a social media platform designed out of a dorm room by Mark Zuckerberg. Over time, Facebook grew into a household tech brand with extensive expansion. The company created new offerings like Messenger and Business Suite while acquiring apps like Instagram and WhatsApp.
With all the new features and experiences, Facebook transformed into a social tech giant and outgrew its original name. In response, the parent company rebranded under the name Meta.
While the Facebook brand remains for the initial product offering, the decision to create a new brand for its parent company was made “to better encompass what it does, as it broadens reach beyond social media”. The decision wasn’t solely based on clearing any confusion around who owns what app. It was a forward-thinking approach to reposition and target business areas beyond 2D screens like the metaverse, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR).
Some rebranding strategies incorporate simplification to expand or transfer. One example is the auto manufacturer Kia. Originally Kia Motors, the company removed the word “motors” from its name as an emphasis on the brand’s full-on transition into electric mobility.
This decision was based on more than separating itself from association with less environmentally friendly powered motors. It was a subtle yet substantial transformation from affordable and economically friendly to quality, modern, innovative, and environmentally responsible.
Kia updated its logo to “represent the company’s commitment to becoming an icon for change and innovation” and look drastically different – modern, sleek, and innovative. Along with the logo, the company altered the design of its cars to appeal more bold and good-looking.
The company’s messaging shifted from a low-end option with unexpected results to a reputable brand that innovates and pushes change. This was exemplified in their updated slogan “movement that inspires” – setting far greater expectations than “the power to surprise” in the previous tagline.
Another example of subtraction for expansion, the established coffee and donut brand Dunkin’ Donuts rebranded to just Dunkin’ in 2019. While the brand was originally formed around donuts, the company developed its product line and became one of the most popular breakfast-centered quick-service restaurants.
By removing the word donuts from its name, Dunkin’ was able to position itself as a brand that offers much more than just donuts. They opted for a partial rebrand, maintaining the same colors, typography, and compass. The organization remained connected to its existing target audience and retained its hard-earned brand recognition.
To relaunch, Dunkin’ altered some of its messaging to emphasize that it was no longer pigeonholed into the reputation of a donut shop. Ad campaigns like “Just Call Us Dunkin’” and “Our Friends Call Us Dunkin’” served to reinforce the name change and alert consumers. The core message remains intact – America still runs on Dunkin’.
Most rebrands are well-planned, strategic, and effective. The Gap’s was not. In 2010, The Gap Inc. decided to rebrand its flagship store Gap. The effort was shortsighted and there was seemingly little to no strategy involved.
Gap decided to rebrand its well-known, simplistic, and iconic logo for no specific reason. Altering the look and typography without reason led to public backlash. Within six days, the Gap reverted back to its original, timeless logo.
If there’s anything to learn from The Gap Inc., it’s that you should always have a reason behind your rebrand and a plan to execute it.
We’ve covered nearly everything you need to know about rebranding. Since there’s so much information to take in, you might feel a bit overwhelmed. To ease your nerves, I’ve created a clear and simple rebranding checklist for you to follow as you approach the process.
- Clearly understand why you’re rebranding
- Define your new target audience
- Adjust your brand compass
- Create a new brand name
- Redevelop the components of your identity
- Relaunch strategically
- Track brand sentiment
- Consistently monitor and update your new brand
You can refer to the sections above to further inform your plan, but following this rebranding checklist will help you get the ball rolling.
Rebrand Your Business With Casey Templeton
That’s rebranding in a nutshell! There is a ton of information to unpack from what was covered throughout this post. At the very least, you should have a better idea of what rebranding is, why you would decide to rebrand, and how to approach the process.
No matter what type of rebrand you land on, visual branding is an essential component to move the needle. A diverse library of visual assets including quality images is a majority of visual branding strategy.
Casey Templeton Photography offers high-quality, professional business branding photography services. Casey has years of technical practice behind the lens and branding experience across various industries and business sizes. If you want to learn more about rebranding or work with Casey on transforming your visual brand, fill out a contact form.