Companies rebrand themselves for dozens of reasons: a merger or acquisition, a new technology or product that disrupts the company and the market, a new CEO at the helm, or a craving to update an image that has grown tired after years of use.
Sometimes a company’s top brass realizes market shifts, once deemed temporary, are here to stay. At other times, those same leaders might decide that even though the market is steady, the company itself would gain reaching toward a new and different type of customer.
Whatever the reason, rebranding is always a gamble.
The average company will rebrand itself every seven to 10 years, but before doing so, smart companies know to ask themselves a series of important questions to make sure they emerge from their relaunch a stronger, sleeker and better-connected version of themselves.
Here are seven questions every smart company should ask itself before taking the relaunch plunge:
1) Why are we rebranding?
Rebranding means shaking up your identity, sacrificing your hard-earned familiarity with customers and wading into the waters of a new and untested market. It can provide stellar strategic gains, but only if handled with care.
Clicktale, where I serve as Chief Marketing Officer, is currently going through its own rebranding. Our reasons? After 10 years as a start-up enabling companies to improve the digital customer experience, the market has shifted, and so have we.
Whereas we once primarily targeted small businesses to help them strengthen and cultivate their online customer experiences, now we’re the go-to digital customer experience management platform for enterprise.
And along the way, we’ve learned to take the same advice we offer our customers: when overhauling a website or an entire brand, the trick is to focus not just on fashion but also on function.
You have to do more than just look good and adopt the new style – you also have to make sure that underneath the hood (or the homepage) your company is running flawlessly, and is focusing exactly where it needs to be.
So what do you hope to accomplish and why do you feel it’s necessary? Has the market shifted to such a degree that your profit lines are slipping? Has your customer base moved and you feel the need to catch up?
The bottom line: There are many great reasons for taking the rebranding plunge, but make sure that you and your entire staff agree that the need is great enough to justify the risk.
2) Is the board on board?
When your company is rebranding, think of it like an army marching into battle, or a chorus line dancing across the stage. Every leg needs to be in sync; every boot needs to hit the ground at the same time.
For rebranding, a unified front is key.
What you are doing when you rebrand is actually shifting the DNA of your company from the inside. That means that everyone – from the CEO to the marketing manager to the head of client services – needs to be in agreement as to how that DNA is going to look and feel.
The bottom line: You’re all part of the same team, and this is the biggest game you’ve ever played. Make sure you’re doing it as one.
3) Should we change the logo?
If you think a company rebrand means an automatic reboot of your logo, think again.
In fact, think 10 times about it, sleep on it, and then give it one more think just to be sure.
If rebranding is a snazzy new haircut, a reboot of the company’s logo is plastic surgery of one’s entire face and body. You want to look new, fresh and exciting to your customers, but you also want to make sure they still recognize you when you walk down the street.
A company rebrand means you take the best elements of what your enterprise was, hone in on the pieces of your business that may not be working for you anymore, and do surgical, precise overhauls to push yourself into future markets.
A logo is your identity, your beating heart, and the calling card with which you go out into the world. There is absolutely a time and a place for a fresh logo, but companies who make that call understand that it’s a decision separate from the decision to rebrand.
The bottom line: Make sure that after you rebrand, the customers who know and love you can still recognize you. And if that means keeping your logo intact, do it.
4) Where do you see yourself in three years?
Ah, the cheesy, oft-repeated interview question. How many young interns have walked into your office, a borrowed tie around their neck and briefcase in hand, to be faced with that question?
There’s a reason hiring managers love to ask potential employees where they see themselves going: it’s a question that can speak volumes about their potential to grow and change with the company.
So if you’re considering a rebrand, put your own company in the hot seat, and grill it just as you would an eager hire.
If you’ve decided to rebrand, it’s because your company isn’t getting where it needs to be. So ask yourself: Where do we want to go?
Pinpoint that answer, and then start dreaming, acting, and doing business like you are already there. Bonus points: When thinking about where you want to be in three years, make sure you also identify who your customer base is going to be when you get there, and start playing to them now.
The bottom line: Just as you should dress for the job you want and not the job you have, rebranding means acting like the company you want to be, not the one you currently are.
5) So you know who you want to be as a company. But who do you NOT want to be?
For questions of identity, there’s always a flip side that deserves equal scrutiny.
Don’t be so busy outlining how you want your company to look that you forget to take time to pinpoint the traits you want to be sure to avoid. While you’re envisioning exactly how you are going to look in three years, you have to also decide what you are going to give up in order get there.
Get your board together – that unified, army-like board of directors we discussed in step two – and come to a consensus together of how you are going to define yourself, and what moves could derail you on the way.
Make sure everyone agrees on the potential pitfalls that could make you stumble, and that each and every leader of your company knows how to avoid them.
The bottom line: Clarify your priorities, and in doing so, make it clear what you’re willing to give up in order to get them.
6) How are you going to celebrate?
A relaunch is a lot of work, sure, but it’s also a time for major celebration.
Your company is evolving. It’s taking active and deliberate steps to secure a better future for your brand, and for all the hard workers who show up each day to push it further.
This is a critical time for your employees, and it’s important that you celebrate it as a success.
Celebrate your rebranding, and invite staffers across the board and from all levels of management to do the same.
How you choose to celebrate is up to you, but whether you pop champagne at the next company meeting, send out a series of inspirational emails from the C-suite or throw a dedicated party worthy of a wedding planner, make sure you focus on the progress you are feeling now and the even bigger things to come.
The bottom line: If you want your rebranding to be a success, celebrate it as the first step of something spectacular. And make sure every employee is in the loop and able to get in on the fun.
7) Did you pack your foundation?
No matter where you’re going, it’s important to never lose sight of where you came from. This lesson, which is vital in all sorts of life situations, applies especially well to company rebrandings.
Your business is going to new and exciting places only because it started off somewhere great.
So before you can remake yourself, make sure you understand what you’re starting with. Who are you as a company? What values, cultures and mottos sit at your core and deserve to travel with you through the relaunch?
There’s no one who can answer those questions better than your customers, so make sure you include them in the move.
Talk to your best clients. Ask them what they value about their relationship with you, and what qualities they cherish most. Then stay true to those ever-crucial traits that made you who are you are in the first place.
The bottom line: You want to evolve, but you don’t want to erase yourself completely. Make sure you know what’s at the core of your company culture, and that you stick to it no matter how much you grow.