This is the first in a series of 3 Blog posts focused on Rebranding
When is Rebranding the Answer?
So You’ve Decided to Rebrand – What’s Next?
The Nitty Gritty Rebranding Check List
When you think of branding – what is the first thought that pops into your mind? Was it a logo or mascot?
This may be due to the fact that branding originally referred to marking for ownership. Think of old west cowboy movies and a scene of cowboys branding calves!
Branding has evolved from there, and it’s good to remember that a brand is much more than a logo. When considering rebranding, remember that the brand is how your target market, investors and other stakeholders perceive you or your organization. It includes every aspect of your business – culture, operations, product, communication – and every interaction you have with customers and the community. Personal branding is often described as what people think or say about you when you leave the room.
Are you contemplating a change?
Whether it's for a product, organization or person, effective rebranding can help revitalize your image and boost sales. But it is not something to do on a whim, it’s an important strategic decision. To make sure your investment of time, effort and resources pays off, first think through and determine why the new branding is needed and have a plan to support the new brand.
Questions to consider before rebranding:
Are you repositioning for growth?
A recent example of positioning for growth is the Carolina RailHawks. They recently rebranded as North Carolina Football Club -- part of their strategic intention to increase revenues and interest in Soccer by positioning themselves to become a major league soccer team.
“This is a brand restatement,” said North Carolina FC owner Steve Malik. “We aspire to be at the top level of both men’s and women’s professional soccer, so we are pursuing MLS and NWSL bids as well as a new stadium. We made a conscious decision to brand ourselves as North Carolina’s professional club. A united soccer community will be one of the keys to reaching these goals.” To read about the background and thinking behind the new branding efforts, check out this link. http://www.northcarolinafc.com/news/2016/12/05/we-are-north-carolina-fc-our-story
Insight: Have a clear vision and branding strategy that encompasses every aspect of your business. Include operations, product, place, customer experience and community.
Does your current branding no longer connect, resonate and communicate what you offer? Are sales stagnant and you want to reenergize?
Has the market changed? Are there new products and competitors with contemporary images encroaching on you target market?
Here’s an example of a company that was around for years with sagging sales due to market shifts towards a new product application (body wash) and contemporary images. Thanks to former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa - "A man, your man could smell like", Old Spice suddenly became new Old Spice. Since the first commercial launched, the 70-year-old brand's ad campaign generated tens of millions of online views.
Old Spice followed up with 186 related videos in which Mustafa directly responded to digital queries from bloggers and celebrities including Perez Hilton, Ellen DeGeneres, and Alyssa Milano. The company's rebranding efforts were successful -- sales of Old Spice Body Wash rose 11 percent over a 12 month period, and sales continued to gain momentum.
Insight : A clever ad + smart use of social media can produce a fresh identity, even for a brand that many associate with their grandfather's deodorant. "Old Spice didn't change its logo, it changed the experience," said Marc Shillum, principal at Method, Inc. a consulting agency for brand designs.
Why and what needs changing? What problem would new branding fix, or what opportunity would it leverage?
Given the right situation, changing your brand can have a strong upside. It may be essential due to technological developments, new entrants into a market, or shifts in consumer attitudes / behaviors.
But be careful, you could run the risk of alienating a loyal customer base eroding repeat business or referrals. So before considering any rebranding activities, thoroughly understand customers’ wants, needs, attitudes and buyer behaviors - what they like about the current branding, what do they identify with? You can read additional information on gathering and analyzing customer opinions here.
This is a step that can be overlooked -- a classic example of a large corporation not doing customer diligence before making a branding change is Coke-Cola’s rebranding efforts of New Coke.
When Coca-Cola changed the formula for its famous Coke brand in 1985, the public reacted as if the company had ruined a symbol of America. Sales plummeted and Coca-Cola received very bad press. Customers basically revolted! It took less than three months for Coca-Cola to pull their New Coke product from the shelves and return to the original formula, which they rebranded as "Coke Classic."
Insight : What happened to cause this huge costly rebranding error? Marketing experts believe that Coca-Cola failed to ask the simplest and most important question: "Do we need to re-engineer our product” and “What do the customers like / dislike with our brand.”
Can You modify or add a brand extension rather than rebrand?
Rebranding is obviously a very strategic and resource intensive initiative. It facilitates the realization of your company vision. Therefore, if you have a strong core business with a loyal customer base, it may be advantageous to add brand extensions or modifications rather than implement a total rebranding approach.
An example of this is Pabst Blue Ribbon, a Milwaukee lager best known for being a low cost beer and the drink of choice among college students. However, Americans may not recognize their PBR when traveling in China - Labeled "Blue Ribbon 1844" (the year the Pabst Brewing Company was founded) and retailing for $44 a 720ml. This product is different from its American counterpart - it's a special mixture of German malts and aged in oak whiskey barrels, brewed and sold in China through distributors who license the Pabst name.
China is the world's biggest beer market with a demand for high-end alcoholic drinks among the Chinese rising class. Blue Ribbon took advantage of developing a new brand extension without changing its image and positioning in the US.
Insight: Depending on your company’s structure, target market, and core customer base, implementing a brand extension or modification maybe the best strategic option.
In conclusion, rebranding is a comprehensive strategic initiative. Knowing your core customers opinions, shifts in the market, and having a solid vision of your company’s positioning in the future is key to deciding on whether to rebrand or not.
If rebranding fits your situation, please watch for the next blog in our series entitled:
So You've Decided to Rebrand - What's Next?
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