Rebranding the Right Way06.13.18 / David Lemley
Maybe your food, beverage, wellness or fitness business isn’t going as well as planned. Sales are on the decline, and you’ve been unable to adapt to changing consumer preferences. Or perhaps you’ve acquired a new brand and want to know how — or if — to integrate it with your existing product line.
These are just a few of the many (valid) reasons your company may be considering a rebrand.
The problem is that too many retail companies aren’t clear on what to expect from the rebranding process and how they should rebrand in light of that, and they end up going through the process far too frequently.
The decision to rebrand shouldn’t simply be a reaction to immediate market conditions or a new competitor, and it definitely shouldn’t be taken lightly. A rebrand has to get to the heart of what matters to your company internally and what will matter in the future to your key audiences — or it will inevitably fail.
If you’re rebranding the right way, it will change your entire company from the inside out.
Tackling the Obstacles to a Successful Rebrand
Not ready to take the rebranding step on your own? A brand strategy firm can guide you through the process.
They’ll be there to ask the right questions and steer your company in the right direction when things veer off track. Most importantly, a brand strategy firm will help your team tackle some of the biggest obstacles to a successful rebrand: misunderstanding, lack of enrollment, organizational psychology, and misplaced expectations.
When you hear the term ‘rebrand,’ what comes to mind? A new logo? Revamped packaging architecture? These elements can certainly be part of the equation, but they’re never the whole picture.
It’s easy to mistake branding for graphic identity, especially when you consider the origins of the term. There was a time when a ‘brand’ wasn’t this intangible thing that it is now; it was the scar you marked your cattle with so no one would steal from your herd. Even centuries later, it’s not surprising that this connotation still lingers.
But a new logo or an identity change does not a rebrand make. A rebrand requires positioning and strategy — it’s much closer to business strategy than it is to graphic design or marketing.
Getting this definition right is the first step in considering a rebrand, and it requires an awareness from everyone at your organization, from the top down.
Lack of Enrollment
There’s an old-school MBA perception that many CEOs share about whose world branding falls into. It’s easy for Better-for-you brand owners/operators to chalk up branding as a “marketing thing,” passing off rebranding work to a CMO or marketing team without a second thought.
But if a rebrand is more than just a new logo — if it’s an integral part of business strategy — then the rebranding process cannot happen in a black box. There absolutely needs to be buy in from leadership from the very beginning.
A brand strategy firm can provide the framework to make sure that happens.
We have something in our contract called the “Been Burned Clause,” which is our tongue-in-cheek way of addressing the fact that some of our clients have been hurt by working with an agency in the past who made promises but failed to deliver. We ensure this doesn’t happen in our partnership by mandating that our clients have key leadership in the room for brand strategy sessions from the outset. If even one member of the C-suite or upper management team can’t make that initial meeting, we’ll reschedule it. We’ll do this as many times as it takes because we know how important it is.
Every consumer brand has internal assumptions about what they are and what they bring to the table. That’s a given. Without someone to challenge these biases, however, they can present immovable obstacles to the rebranding process.
One of the most powerful things we get to do as a brand strategy firm is help CPG and retail brands sacrifice their sacred cows on the altar of impartiality, bringing an objective, outside perspective to rebranding conversations. We’re there to point to the cold, hard facts and push leadership to reframe how they’ve perceived their company, culture, and products in light of data they may never have considered.
Case in point: We’ve worked with food and beverage brands that have assumed (and asserted) for years that their product just tastes better than everyone else. All it takes is us setting up a blind taste test for them to fundamentally re-evaluate the one thing they’ve staked their marketing claim on for so long. By facilitating exercises like these, we compel our clients to rethink their positioning in a way that will fundamentally alter their rebranding strategy.
Since we’ve already established that a rebrand is more than just a logo change, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the rebranding process takes time.
But if that misunderstanding is in place — if leadership, in particular, hasn’t bought into the realities of the investment required for a successful rebrand — then expectations of timing and ROI will inevitably be mislaid.
A good brand strategy firm will establish clear expectations for the rebranding process right away. And they’ll be there to take the heat when things don’t go according to plan so no one on your team has to.