The brand identity of a business is fundamentally how the company positions its product or service, and how it presents an aspect of itself to distinguish their place in the market. To overhaul this by rebranding is to potentially change the public perception and even the very fabric of the company. It isn’t something that should be taken lightly or without proper preparation and awareness of the potential pitfalls.

Why, and at what cost?

Sensibly, the first steps would be to identify the purpose of the change and the budget available to implement it. It is essential to be clear and consistent from day one, whatever the reason for the rebranding, be it an attempt to freshen up a stale brand or to move away from certain negative associations with the current branding. A simple logo modification is unlikely to affect the desired outcome on its own. Rebranding can be an opportunity to redefine the culture of the company, a chance to reassess the values of the house and should not be treated as a routine marketing exercise.

As ever, communication is key

In this respect, it is smart to consult all the company stakeholders, internal and external. Any proposed changes should be discussed transparently with employees via internal training and other engagement activities. Making sure everyone is on the same page and heading in the same direction is vital to successful rebranding. A company would be wise to keep in mind their current customers and to avoid uncommunicated actions that might concern suppliers or alienate the existing customer-base. This can be accomplished by an enthusiastic promotional campaign that brings these stakeholders along with the changes, and doesn’t just inflict it on them.

In 2012, a Malaysian businessman Vincent Tan completed a takeover of the Welsh football team Cardiff City, nicknamed the Bluebirds. As part of his significant investment in the club, Tan decided that to appeal to the Far East market it was necessary to change the club’s colours from their traditional blue to a red kit, and to replace the bluebird crest of over half a century with a red Welsh dragon, more broadly associated with Wales as a country than Cardiff City itself. The moves prompted a backlash among the club’s supporters who felt they were implemented without consultation by an outsider with little regard to the club’s history. Interestingly, the club reverted to the traditional blue in 2015.

Play to your strengths

As they say, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Sometimes an overlooked strength of a company is its history, which can be used as part of rebranding to the future. The long-established British fashion house, Burberry, had found itself with something of an identity crisis in the early part of the 2000s as it became associated with ‘chavs’ and football hooligan culture, a trend attributed to lower priced products and counterfeit versions of their famous pattern. To overcome this unwanted perception, Burberry removed the pattern from all but 10% of its products and enlisted celebrities such as Emma Watson and Kate Moss in its advertising to highlight its luxury fashion pedigree with great success. Staying authentic is an important way to build trust with customers. This includes staying away from overblown taglines and unreasonable claims, such as BP’s outlandish “Beyond Petroleum” tagline that has since been ditched.

And before cutting the ribbon…

Make sure everything is in place for a smooth and impressive relaunch! It might seem self-evident but nothing undermines a rebranding process than a company ill-prepared to deliver the change in its message. Contemporary concerns for implementing are related to online management. Are the preferred URLs available and social media accounts ready? How will SEOs be effected and have all online directory listings been updated accordingly? Having spent time and money on a new marketing strategy, making sure all employees are well-versed (particularly customer-facing ones) will help ensure the successful delivery of the new corporate message.

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