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Branding 101 – When Should You Rebrand?

Good brands are built to be sustainable over time, but of course, nothing lasts forever. All businesses reach a point where eventually their brand must change, evolve or completely transition to a new brand. But how will you know when it is the right time to rebrand?

There are a number of different triggering events that might cause the need for a rebrand, some more obvious than others. One of the clearest reasons to rebrand is a Merger or Acquisition. To realize the synergy the merger originally sought to achieve, one or both brands will often need to fade away. Sometimes the smaller brand will fade while the larger one remains, sometimes both existing brands will disappear to be replaced by a completely new brand, emphasizing the transformational effect of the merger. Transitional strategies and timing, external perceptions and internal culture/politics are important considerations regardless – read more on our thoughts of branding and M&A here.

A Change in Strategy/Leadership can also create a need to rebrand. Whether it’s a new partner, CEO, or investor coming on board, new leadership may see an opportunity to steer the business towards a larger growth opportunity, allowing the organization to take a bolder, more strategic stand. Either way, this requires a shift in the company’s positioning and how you talk about yourself as well as a change (subtle or dramatic) in the way you present your organization visually in order to get your industry’s attention.

Similarly, a New Service or Offering could be reason to rebrand. If the new offering is in a similar vein to what your company has provided in the past, the shift may be subtle, but if the new offering launches you into a different category with new competitors, there must be a strategic shift in your positioning and visual brand in order for the new offering to succeed and compete on equal footing with your legacy business. Brand architecture could become a consideration – do you treat this new offering on the same level as your legacy offerings or as a different section of your business? Is a proprietary product name helpful or confusing?

Another common reason to rebrand is when the company finds itself needing to Compete More Effectively. Perhaps your company’s offering was once on the cutting edge of your space, but today your competitors have developed comparable offerings, creating a mess of parity in your industry – how will you compete moving forward? A thoughtful rebranding exercise can unearth other distinguishing factors that differentiate you from competitive options, sometimes hard hitting (clear, tangible points of value with facts to support them) and sometimes softer (based on the feeling or experience of working with you, supported by testimonials and references).

While these are some of the most common reasons to rebrand, the truth is that brands need constant and careful maintenance to sustain their cohesion and relevance to the realities of the business. There are any number of reasons why your brand might need to shift or evolve, but if you feel your business is getting pigeonholed, not gaining the traction it should, or consistently being misunderstood by your industry, it might be time to explore a strategic update to your brand.

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