7 Keys to Successful Rebranding

Published: Jan 24, 2019
Modified: Mar 24, 2020

Is your organization considering a business rebranding effort? Whether it’s a change of company or product name, logo, motto, design scheme, or other asset, inept execution can lead to disastrous consequences.

To ensure success, consider the following seven best practices before launching any rebranding initiative:

1. Get clear on what a brand is. Your organization’s brand is the sum total of the messages, interactions, and experiences a customer has with your product, services, and people. To a customer, a brand is the promise of an experience. Customer satisfaction stems from making good on that promise. It’s a valuable asset that must be continually nurtured.

2. Maintain control of the rebranding process. It’s best to bring in a third party guide. This prevents the renaming effort from deteriorating into likes/dislikes or what your spouse thinks. Ground your brand in a strategy that acknowledges not only the brand’s origins but also its place in the current and future marketplace. Keep an open mind. Small ideas can grow, and seemingly big ideas can diminish over time. Also identify the brand attributes that cannot change.

3. Understand true brand ownership. A brand has two owners: The marketer owns 50%; the customer owns 100%. Yes, that’s 150% in total. The marketer produces messages, products, and services. Your customers experience the brand, and in the digital age, they are in ultimate control of the messages they receive. Therefore, check in with customers and, at the very least, include those internal players who have the most customer contact. The worst thing you can do is shut out your customers and front line employees by deciding all branding issues at the top level and then dictating to everyone else. That kind of behavior carries a risk of loss of relevancy and buy-in.

4. Celebrate the heroic. Every brand is heroic in some way. Think about what your brand fights for and against what odds. Consider what is at stake for customers in terms of their problems and how your brand solves them. By becoming a hero to your customers, you, in turn, make heroes out of them. That’s truly adding value.

5. A brand should always remain fluid. Obviously, any rebranding effort carries some risk. If the initiative fails, it can be expensive and disruptive (Coca Cola’s experience with “New Coke” is often used as a prime example). However, as long as you do not violate a brand’s established equities and values, you can add flexibility into a brand while maintaining its relevance. For example, Tide laundry detergent is built on consumers' trust that it gets clothes clean—yet the brand has found multiple fresh expressions of that proposition over the years, adding various consumer benefits to remain competitive. The key is to create a brand position that is broad enough to be as relevant today as yesterday and flexible enough to be relevant in the future.

6. Never stop supporting and promoting your brand. It’s easy to support a brand in boom times but much tougher in down times. However, study after study has shown that brands that are consistently supported during a down cycle gain greater sales and share when the economy heats up than those who cut support activities. Successful brands are a living presence in the marketplace. They have tangible relationships with their customers that must be nurtured if they are to survive—regardless of the economy,

7. Be a Brand Champion. Once you’ve gone through the hard work of crafting or refreshing your brand, appoint a key leader—typically a person in the marketing department—to be a Brand Champion. Set up brand guidelines and procedures to make sure the identity you have carefully created presents a consistent message and image across all of your marketing communications: Business cards, digital media, sales presentations, signage, etc.—everywhere customers engage with your brand.

In summary, a successful rebranding initiative must be:
- Extraordinarily strategic
- Respectful of the company’s cultural roots
- Relevant
- Consistently supported
- Focused on benefit to the customer

You can learn more about branding at this AMA seminar:
Branding EQ: Creating Brand Loyalty