Rebranding is a polarizing topic in the marketing world. On one hand, it can be extremely exhilarating to re-imagine who your company is and express that to the world. On the other, brand projects tend to take longer than expected, they are normally very expensive, and it is very difficult—if not impossible—to tie a clear return on investment to any branding or rebranding project. Hiring external support for a branding project is also difficult because of the intangibility of the work. You may be able to review historical efforts by a marketing company but you’re only seeing the creative outputs, not the actual process for getting there.
Just like transformation pictures in fitness magazines, the six-pack isn’t the magic—it’s the steps it takes to get there. Same thing with brand. So, if you’re considering a rebranding project, you’re going to want to clearly understand the benefits you can expect from all of your efforts. Here are five things you can expect after you finish your rebrand.
Benefit #1: You will know your true identity
The job of any good branding project is to hold up a mirror and allow you to see yourself in your true light. All the good and all the bad—because it is all part of you and your story. Our CEO, Tiffany Sauder, describes branding work: “You’re standing so close to the mirror that all you can see is your nose. You think all you are is a nose. A well-executed branding project pulls that back and allows you to see your entire body and learn who you are.”
Far too often companies show up in the way they believe the marketplace wants them to rather than as who they truly are. In order to have sustainable business results, you have to target the appropriate audience. Showing up inauthentically will never achieve that goal. A rebrand will help you to know yourself, allowing you to clearly articulate your brand’s position in the market and eventually target the appropriate customers. Those who you can serve better than anyone else, and who you have a discernible right to win over your competitors.
Benefit #2: Reposition yourself in the marketplace
As your company matures you may look up and realize that where you compete currently is either very crowded, no longer what you do best, or a mixture of both. Things change internally and in the market, and as you adjust to those changes you may simply find that the people you’re used to serving aren’t your best audience anymore. It is extremely difficult to suddenly shift the customer base you have traditionally serviced, though, and doing so without the support of a rebrand would essentially be professional suicide.
Your new prospective market needs to understand first WHY they should be interested in you. What about your background, product or service, or work history makes you a viable candidate for their resources? And no, you can’t just lead with all your features and benefits. Having a clear brand identity provides you the backbone of a differentiated “why.” Only after establishing this can you move onto how you do what you do, and finally what you actually offer—all those wonderful features and benefits your customers enjoy.
Benefit #3: Create a foundation for all marketing activities
One of the biggest mistakes companies make when undergoing more public marketing endeavors, such as building a new website, is to do that work without having an established brand. Your business’s brand is the starting point for every other piece of marketing that you execute. The brand guidelines tell you everything from the tone your copywriting needs to take to the color palette you will use in advertisements, landing pages, your website, and social media pages. Your brand touches literally everything that goes out of marketing’s doors.
If you’ve ever been at a company with a clear brand story, you understand how helpful this is when making other marketing decisions. When your brand is defined, it tells you who to target which in turn helps with the content you create and what channels that content is distributed through. Simply put, a strong and clear brand gives you the foundation to create cohesive marketing that can win in any market, good or bad.
Benefit #4: Create a compelling reason to join your team
In the past, you may have been able to count on an employee joining your team and staying for 30 or 40 years. Clearly, those days are long gone. Millennials, and Generation Z coming up right behind them, aren’t just job hopping. They’re opportunity seeking, and they clearly want to make a difference. Simply growing the business is not a compelling enough reason for your talent to stick around. As an employer, you’re competing every day to retain the valuable resources of your team’s talents. What will keep them?
If it’s a race to the top for salary, good luck. You won’t be able to just constantly raise salaries for your entire team and compete with the Apples and Googles of the world. If you’re a small- or medium-sized business, chances are other companies in your backyard are able to pay more or give stronger benefit plans. Plus, there is a huge amount of research detailing how little money actually matters in retention. You have to create a clear picture of what your team is trying to achieve. How are you improving the world? Why does your work matter? That’s brand in its finest form.
Benefit #5: Stay current with market trends and consumer sentiment
There is a difference between inauthentic pandering to trends and staying consistent with what consumers want. One of the best examples of staying current is The Walt Disney Company. Over the past decade they have noticed consumers seeking experiences over everything else—so they’ve created the most connected in-park experience imaginable. They’ve created new worlds with the Star Wars parks, and from the moment you touch down in Orlando, Disney has made it possible to interact exclusively with their brand. That’s not trying to pander to consumer desires. That is an evolution of a company that was an entertainment brand but has grown into an experience brand. Couple this with smart acquisitions such as Marvel Studios and you have a market-dominating brand.
You don’t have to make changes on par with Disney’s massively capital-intensive shifts in order to stay current. Nike and Adidas have both done this more subtly recently, as Nike has focused much of their advertising on social issues by sponsoring athletes with clear stances such as Colin Kaepernick and declaring 2019 “the year of the woman.” Adidas has taken a stance on sustainability and has created products completely out of recycled materials. They didn’t have to do a complete overhaul of their supply chain to make this happen, but they did have to clearly define why this makes sense with their brand. While you wouldn’t say Nike underwent a creative brand refresh with their focus on social issues, it is fair to say their messaging did undergo a rebrand—from one of “be a great athlete” to “be more than an athlete.” Sometimes the most effective shifts are not outwardly obvious.
A rebrand is a major business decision—consider it carefully
Jumping into a rebrand can be an exciting time for your business. But it shouldn’t be done without a good deal of consideration and planning. Once you make the leap, dive all the way in. The biggest mistake you can make with a rebrand is to leave the job half-done—only do the research and learn all the answers, but never implement them; or start making major changes to your brand, but never do the work to learn what your brand actually needs. Believe in the process, and you’ll reap these benefits and many, many others for years to come.
“Whatever you are, be a good one.” This advice has served Joe well as he’s worn many hats throughout his career–from college soccer player to marketing expert to Business Development Manager. He’s passionate about using big ideas to build mutually beneficial partnerships, because “to help yourself is to help others.”
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