Rebranding is the “process of changing the image of an organisation”. It may involve the alteration of one, or many branding elements, including name, logo, and slogan. At its core, rebrands are a way to establish a different identity. Many businesses have looked to rebrands to reinvigorate or reposition themselves, in fact we have just launched a rebrand of our own, which you can explore at our brand new website.
At their best, rebrands help organisations attract more customers, differentiate from competitors, garner more favourable market perceptions and elevate their value.
At their worst, they can harm a brand. A lack of careful consideration possibly and “unnecessarily [wasting] time, effort, and money—even alienating loyal customers.” (Forbes)
Recently we have seen PR missteps in the pursuit of a rebrand. Just last week the Bureau of Meteorology garnered negative reactions in their attempt to pivot away from the affectionately attributed ‘BOM’ to the more authoritative ‘the Bureau’ (a decision they have now backtracked). Their media alert went down like a lead balloon, many questioning the timing (amidst national flood emergencies), rationale (why would they oppose the cache of a popular and authentic nickname for one they’ve tried to give themselves?), and hefty $200,000 plus contract awarded for this piece of work.
A failure to secure the supporting Twitter handles also adding further fuel to the execution fiasco fire…
“Poor timing and a lack of connection have made it into an expensive exercise in importance and ego” (Sally Dalwood, Smart Company)
“It’s been an all-time classic of badly executed rebrands. So bad, we may never know whether there was a decent strategy hidden somewhere inside it” (Tim Burrowes, Unmade)
So, what can we learn from ‘the Bureau’s’ stumble, and what must be considered when undertaking a rebrand to ensure a successful (or calamity free) rollout?
We propose five steps for rebranding which should be at the heart of planning and execution:
- Determine the reason behind a rebrand
- Obtain key stakeholder feedback
- Establish a firm brand value / strategy – redefine organisation vision and purpose
- Rebuild the brand identity
- Plan the launch and communicate clearly
Determine the reason behind a rebrand
Perhaps most crucial to rebranding is the ‘why’ behind the decision. A desire to change market positioning in attempt to attract new audiences, pursuing a new mission with values that need to be reflected in a bold new identity and expanding to global markets are all strong cases for the need to rebrand. Rebranding ‘just for a change’ or simply to get attention are not so compelling.
Obtain key stakeholder feedback
Honest feedback from key stakeholders is valuable to any strategic decision and rebranding is no different. Research suggests 72% of employees don’t have a full understanding of the company’s strategy, which hinders their output performance. Whilst another study found 95% of Chief Executives believe ‘effective internal communication’ is critical to employee engagement, but only 22% believe this is currently being delivered. Given they are often those who interact most with the brand, consultation of employees, customers, and trusted partners can help contextualise what the organisation stands for and what it should become, also contributing towards buy in for the new brand.
Establish a firm brand value / strategy – redefine the company vision and purpose
Revaluating the company mission, values and purpose is often pertinent to rebranding. Asking questions such as ‘what is it that we do?’ ‘Why do we do it?’ ‘Where do we want to be?’, all help frame the new direction and ensures both those internal and external to the organisation are aligned in the perceived value and strategy. It is also helpful in providing further clarity to the rebranding.
Rebuild the brand identity
Tangible assets (i.e., logo, colour palette, typography, and brand guidelines) that communicate the brand should be evaluated. Building elements that fit with the new vision and values is imperative to create a connected front between what the brand is saying and what they are showing.
Plan the launch and communicate clearly
Bringing the new brand into the world is an exciting prospect, but it should be a considered effort. The goal of the unveiling is to make people aware. Timing is important, set a launch date and plan how the rollout is to be managed. Update visible brand components and organise press releases. It’s also important that rationale behind the rebrand is clearly communicated, use focused messaging so it is understood why the change is taking place, creating a narrative customers can get behind.
“Storytelling is the foundation of all great marketing and there’s a story behind your rebrand that needs to be told. Content is your vehicle for sharing that story with the world, driving both an emotional connection [and] an understanding of the changes to your brand” (Jessica Thiefels, Outbrain)
Rebranding can be a powerful organisational exercise, but careful and strategic thinking is vital to promote resonance and set the new endeavour off on the right foot. Consider the why and how of the rebrand and communicate this effectively as you strive for success.