How to Know When It’s Time to Rebrand

Photo of Meredith Lusher Fleece

BY Meredith Lusher Fleece

July 11, 2019

Creative

Have you ever noticed yourself scrolling through Instagram or Facebook and noticed a familiar brand with a familiar yet new look and feel, and thought, “Wow! They are doing really great!” Or perhaps the opposite: “Oh no! They should have stuck with their old logo!” Or maybe you are feeling a bit self-conscious about your own branding and think maybe it’s time for a change.

Whatever you might feel, the rebrand landscape is filled with winners, losers and plenty in-between. The trick is to identify if it is the right time for your brand (and the answer isn’t always simple).

The first trap that many rebrands fall into is thinking that it’s only aesthetics. And while good design is a big part of the process, there are many details to consider—though this is where we see a lot of big brands trip up and fail.

You might remember rebranding flops such as Gap, Tropicana, and Uber. For Gap and Tropicana especially, these were costly brand missteps that failed to understand their audience. Gap’s logo redesign investment was $100 million and months of time and work, only to revert back to their iconic look within a week. Tropicana’s misjudgment of the fickle orange juice customer had sales drop 20% (about $137 million) after a month and a half with their new look in 2009. They, too, ultimately (and swiftly) reverted back to their old design.Uber’s redesign in 2016 was another case of aesthetics driving the wheel, with CEO Travis Kalanick personally heading the design. He made claims that the new logo would be easier to read, but it ultimately was not popular and criticized as confusing and more of a distraction from the embattled CEO’s business practices. It was ultimately replaced again along with new leadership, to a clear logotype and simplified branding (though, they did keep some of Kalanick’s secondary branding elements, such as different patterns for different countries).On the other side of this coin are the rebrand wins. These successes happen because the strategies drive design. Often, a brand has to gauge when to rebrand in order to get the timing right. Then, they must be led through a process that asks the right questions in order to make the right decisions that will communicate effectively to their target audience. It’s a lot of work, but worth it.

A strong process is very present in these branding winners: Airbnb stands out as one of the best brands that knew exactly when it had outgrown its old persona and mission, and knew it was time for a new look and feel. It was a perfect time to abandon the old logo (which was never intended as a long-term identity), while the new branding gave the enterprises a clean, bright and inviting look—which proved to be an essential concept.MasterCard almost fell into the rebrand loser category with a fail in 2006 – they briefly ditched the iconic logo for a more complicated version of it, which confounded consumers. Like Gap and Tropicana, they reverted back. However, it seems that this taught them a valuable lesson, and they have rebranded again – this time, more successfully. Now, seeing changing times ahead, they have chosen then perfect time to promote their digital strategies, and have a cleaner version of the iconic logo to go with it. This rebrand is a win for MasterCard, helping them gain tech-savvy recognition and moving them forward as a company.

To help guide your rebrand dreams in the right direction, there are a few things we here at Grisko know can help:

Timing: First, know that it is the right time for a rebrand. Is your message getting stale? When is the right time? It’s also important to keep in mind that every good plan needs a timeline. There’s a lot that goes into this and most likely a lot of moving pieces, including time for research, testing and coordination of parties involved. Make sure you give yourself enough time to strategize and launch.

Research: It helps to answer important questions like who are we talking to? What are the risks and concerns? What questions do we need to answer? Where do we need to be targeting consumers?

Dare to be different, or not: Rebrands can be tricky, so be sure to take your research and make the right choices when choosing to totally revamp or play it safe. It can pay to stand out from the competition, but if your brand has a lot of equity, make sure your audience can still recognize you.

Target the right markets: As you launch, think about how you can start educating the public. Digital ads, train ads and promoted social ads might be the way to go the get the word out.

Design, design, design: Remember, it’s not just about the logo. Make sure you have your bases covered with branded materials that are helpful and target the message or consumer you are targeting. This will be a big part of the way you build anticipation about your brand, and good design can attract people to your product and make education materials more engaging.

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Photo of Meredith Lusher Fleece

BY Meredith Lusher Fleece

July 11, 2019

Creative