Rebranding is an exciting proposition but one that comes with plenty of risks. Ultimately the exercise can either sink a business or propel it to new heights. For small to medium-sized businesses that don’t have easy access to capital and considerable cash flow to fall back on, rebranding is not something to take lightly.
In this article for Business West, I want to take a closer look at why companies choose to rebrand, how to do it well and what to bear in mind before you begin.
Reasons for Rebranding
Before you even get started on the actual rebranding process, you need to know exactly why you’re planning on doing so. There are a few reasons you might choose to rebrand your business. These could be:
1. Recover from a negative reputation
Whatever the case, rebranding is the way to go to rehabilitate your business’ reputation. SMEs especially those that have yet to gain a foothold in their target market, can afford to switch up their identity without worrying about losing much. For more established businesses, rebranding is a more significant decision.
2. Grow and reach a new audience
The perfect time for small and medium-sized businesses to rebrand is when they have met the limit of their current market reach and have accumulated the resources to extend into new spaces.
By presenting a new image, your business has the best opportunity to offer something novel to audiences adjacent to current customers.
3. Maintain relevance
While your original branding might have once resonated with your audience, it could be outdated now. It’s even more challenging these days with the internet and social media, in particular, having a huge influence on the way consumers interact with businesses and the speed with which social trends and fads come in and out of fashion.
Rebranding is justified when your brand no longer feels contemporary, particularly so if your target demographic is composed of tech-savvy youth and millennials.
Once you’ve established a good reason for rebranding, you can apply the following actions to transform your business’ identity:
1. Reflecting on Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Rebranding doesn’t always mean a complete overhaul of your company’s image. There could be elements of your current brand that customers believe and find value in.
Discarding parts haphazardly risks alienating loyal customers, so do the following:
- Survey your audience — Ask customers how they perceive your brand and what they like and don’t like about your business. Key considerations when getting consumer feedback include customer service, product pricing, and marketing materials. From this you should put together customer personas, which are like detailed definitions of your ideal customer.
- Survey your competition — Use this chance to also find out more about your competition and what they’re doing better and worse than you. It’s crucial you don’t try to copy what your competitor’s style as chances are they’ve been doing it longer that you and your customers will see straight through it. You may well get ideas though and, perhaps more importantly, see what they’re not doing or saying and identify gaps your brand can fill.
- Collaborate with your employees — Get their opinions on what works now with how your business presents itself. They could have a more grounded perspective formed from daily operations and directly engaging with customers. Involving them in the process also helps gain their support and smooth over potential problems like pushback or outright rejection of your plan to rebrand.
Your team will have the data you’ll need to assess how much rebranding will ultimately cost you. Such details cannot be overlooked when you have limited resources to work with as a small or medium-sized business.
2. Redefining Your Identity through Brand Archetypes
Rebranding is adopting a new personality and story for your business that new audiences can latch onto. Even with the research you’ve done to identify your strengths and weaknesses, it can still be difficult to decide on a brand to shift toward.
Many brand marketers use the method of thinking of their brand in terms of one of 12 pre-defined brand archetypes. Taken from the concept of Carl Jung’s archetypes, these are common personality types that have universal appeal, which you can model your company rebranding around. They are as follows:
- The Caregiver brings people in by showing compassion and directly addressing their needs. Each customer feels safe and special. Marketing tugs at the heartstrings.
Example: Johnson & Johnson.
- The Magician has the appeal of a visionary that can change the world. Audiences feel inspired to dream big. Idealism is the ideal state of mind.
- The Lover kindles intimacy through beauty and glamour. Their customers are made to feel desirable.
- The Warrior emboldens its audience to face challenges head on and overcome them. Feats of greatness are celebrated, and pride emanates from rising above the competition.
- The Innocent strives for simplicity and sincerity. Consumers looking for something trustworthy and beaming with optimism easily associate with such brands.
- The Creator taps into the imagination of their followers. Being able to express creativity is of the utmost importance. These brands are trendsetters.
- The Explorer engages people’s sense of adventure. Customers are encouraged to revel in the thrill of new experiences.
Example: North Face.
- The Jester is all about having a fun time. Jester brands invite their target audience to indulge in their impulses. Advertising is quirky and irreverent.
- The Sage exudes an air of scholarliness without pretension. The customers’ curiosities are invited, and Sage brands satisfy that with their expertise.
- The Rebel bucks conventions and promotes an alternative lifestyle. Rebel brands are subversive in their messaging, and never hard sell to their audience.
- The Everyman fosters a feeling of belonging. Brands of this archetype present a dependable, down-to-earth demeanour.
- The Ruler assumes authority in its field. A history of leadership and stability is a must for consumers to accept this brand archetype.
With an honest assessment of what your business stands for and what your mission is, you should be able to identify character traits from the list above that you can easily associate with your business. It’s not necessary to have a single brand archetype but you should be able to boil it down to a couple. It is then up to you to build on this foundation with an identity unique to your business.
3. Redesigning Your Logo
For a small business that is rebranding, redesigning your logo is a high priority. How different (or similar) it looks to your old logo is the first impression people will have of your new image.
The following are the elements you have to consider when coming up with a new logo that fits your fresh approach to business.
Buying behaviour is heavily influenced by colour. As much as 90% of snap judgements regarding products can be based on colour. With logo design, it’s critical that the colour matches the brand and the kind of product being sold.
Here’s a quick rundown of feelings and concepts generally associated with the most common colours:
- Red: Urgency, energy, stimulates appetite
- Blue: Security, trustworthiness
- Yellow: Happiness, playful, can be straining
- Purple: Luxury, creativity
- Orange: Friendly, warm, encourages impulse buys
- Green: Health, nature, growth
- Black: Sophistication, power
Legibility is another important aspect that colour directly affects, especially when your sign contains text and/or is viewed from a distance. The light reflectancy of a colour determines what other colour you can use to contrast it with so that the brighness differential is as high as possible (anything above 70% is considered very legible). The chart below was compiled by Paul Arthur and Romedi Passini in 1992 and is a great guide when designing your business sign.
The font you use for your logo’s text reflects the tone of your brand’s messaging. Your choice of typeface can convey your message with clarity or obfuscate it when it clashes with the rest of the logo.
Here are general attitudes associated with the three basic forms of most fonts:
- Serif: Strong, formal, vintage
- Sans serif: Modern, trendy, rugged
- Script: Feminine, casual, delicate
Scaling and spacing (or kerning) are two more elements that contribute to the overall tone of your typography.
Scaling refers to how a font looks in different sizes, while spacing (or kerning) refers to how much space there is between the letters. You need to be mindful of how the text on your logo will look on marketing materials of varying dimensions. It should be legible while not taking up too much space, whether the logo is on a poster or a business card.
The shape of your logo also imparts certain qualities about your brand in the minds of consumers. Lines, curves, and edges evoke all kinds of feelings. Consider the following and how you can use them in combination:
- Round shapes: The softness of circles and ovals present as welcoming and inclusive, making them great for messages of community and relationships.
- Sharp, polygonal shapes: Squares, rectangles, and triangles project strength and stability. Triangles, in particular, have a masculine vibe.
- Straight lines: Power exudes from vertical lines; horizontal lines emanate calmness.
- Curved lines: Movement and femininity can be associated with curves.
Rebranding is Just the Beginning
Understanding what your business does right and what it can do better, the brand archetype that most reflects what you are about and allowing this all to refresh your visual identity in an intuitive way are some of the core elements of a successful rebranding campaign.
This is only the start though. Rebranding isn’t just about the planning and strategy but the execution, which means getting feedback and data as much as you can throughout the journey. It isn’t uncommon for rebranding exercises to go through various iterations and adjustments as new information comes to light.
With a solid base to work on though, you can move toward a relaunch for your business with confidence.
About the Author
Joe Cox is the Content Director of Bristol based SEO Agency, Superb Digital.