Today’s consumers expect to meet brands, get to know them, and build relationships with them — just as they would with new people. As brands become increasingly humanized, having a clearly defined visual, emotional, and physical brand becomes more important than ever.
But it’s not just your core initial brand that matters. Think of your brand’s style and personality evolution in the same context you would your own. Do you still act and communicate the same way you did 10 years ago? Has your hairstyle changed in the past five years? How long has it been since you updated your wardrobe to align with current trends?
Growth happens, and trends evolve. It happens with people, and it happens with brands. No matter how popular your pink leg warmers were in the ’80s, they wouldn’t resonate with today’s fashionistas. Similarly, a killer brand platform from even five years ago is likely no longer relevant with your target audience.
With changing styles of communication, shortening attention spans, progressing industry trends, and evolving marketing best practices, your brand must continually reinvent itself — or risk getting lost in the shuffle.
When the Winds of Change Blow
Most organizations require a rebrand every 5-10 years — depending on factors as varied as industry landscape to company perception.
Starbucks is practically the gold standard for rebranding. After sales slowed down during the Great Recession, the coffee powerhouse updated its logo in 2011, liberating the Siren from her iconic ring. From selling coffee beans in Seattle’s Pike Place Market to celebrating its 40th birthday, the company has stayed fresh through successful rebranding.
When it’s time for a rebrand, there are a few signs to watch out for. We recently experienced many of these at Mitchell Communications Group, which prompted our recent rebranding process.
- There’s a gap in brand equity: Maybe you’ve changed your brand’s product or service offerings. Perhaps you’ve had a change in messaging or focus. All of these changes can create disconnect between your different brand touchpoints.
There may be different voices and messaging across your website, digital ads, and email communications. This is confusing to your customers because they perceive your brand as a person. Showing them conflicting personalities tarnishes the relationship they’ve built with your brand and makes them wonder if they really know you at all.
- You have new information: After Mitchell sold to Dentsu, we had many updates for our clients. They needed to know about our new office locations, our expanded offerings, our new partner agencies, and new industries in which we developed expertise. When you have enough new, important information to share with clients (and when it focuses on core brand issues like these), a brand refresh is a great way to reiterate your core capabilities, key offerings, and anything else that sets you apart from your competition.
- There’s room to grow: Your brand’s value to your overall company can be as much as 15 percent. With that degree of influence, it makes sense that creating an opportunity for growth is the most frequently cited rationale for rebranding. Your credibility with the public depends on the image and personality you publicize. To evolve perceptions, you must first update the brand itself.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Rebranding
Unfortunately, just as switching up your brand’s look isn’t as quick as getting a haircut, changing the way it communicates isn’t as easy as creating a Twitter account.
Rebranding takes much thought, planning, strategy, and careful execution. Because the key success factor in any rebranding is incorporating internal stakeholders, be sure to involve leadership in the rebranding exercise. Gather key decision makers and executives to discuss the following pillars of your brand house, and soft launch internally from there.
1.Define your brand essence or personality. This is the seed idea that clearly defines your brand. In a way, it’s like the “describe yourself in three words” interview question. What truly makes you you? What are the most important things people need to know about what makes your brand unique? These characteristics should feel very human.
For example, at Mitchell, we chose five traits to define our brand: smart, insightful, creative thinker, collaborative, and trusted. We didn’t just pluck these traits from the sky, though. We came to them through a careful self-evaluation process. They differentiate us from our competitors.
2.Consider your brand’s emotional and functional benefits. How do you want your brand to make consumers feel? What are the key functional benefits it provides? In Mitchell’s case, we aspire to make customers feel closely connected with us, taken care of, and confident in their decisions to work with us.
3.Ask yourself why customers should believe this. What are your success metrics? What proof points do you have that the brand attributes you’ve discussed truly reflect your organization’s identity? At Mitchell, we often talk about our leadership team’s unbeatable experience with leading category brands. We’re all about helping real people make real connections with real impact.
You’re always looking to grow your company, but the fact is that growth can’t happen without a little change. Rebranding your business may seem daunting, but with just the right haircut, style, and all-around visual reflection of your brand’s personality, you’ll be ready to forge ahead.