Rebranding Strategy: When and How to Rebrand

Rebranding Strategy: When and How to Rebrand

At their inception, businesses spend a lot of time and effort building their brand identity. The reason behind this is quite intuitive: consumers love consistency. In other words, consumers want to be able to recognize the brand they love across various platforms. 

So it’s quite natural for the business to build a brand as well as a brand identity around it and stick to it. But sometimes, major events – for example, changes in consumer preferences – might disrupt the seemingly well-established brand. 

When this happens, businesses resort to rebranding because, with a successful rebranding strategy, it’s quite possible to win back the market. 

To rebrand or not to rebrand: that is the question. The answer will depend on a number of factors. Naturally, the first thing to understand would be whether rebranding is the right thing to do or not. 

If the business opts to proceed with rebranding, then it needs to adopt the most suitable rebranding strategy. Once this is done, the business will need to understand how to rebrand.

Sounds like way too much to handle all at once? No worries – we’ve got you because this article gives clear answers to the questions posed above to help you make the right decision.

  • Why and When you Should Rebrand?
  • Why and When you Should not Rebrand?
  • What Rebranding Strategy to Choose? 
  • How to Rebrand?


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Why and When you Should Rebrand?

Dunkin’ Donuts became Dunkin’ earlier this year. This change was major, and it was pretty smart. Dunkin’ has been famous for its donuts, but it has been providing other high-quality foods and beverages in recent years. 

For instance, Dunkin’ has been very strong in terms of hot beverages, especially coffee. Leaving the name of the brand Dunkin’ Donuts would not be telling of the wide variety of high-quality coffees that Dunkin’ offers.

Dunkin’ Donuts rebranding


The moral is: successful rebranding is a rebranding endeavor that has a strong rationale behind it. Rest assured that your decision to rebrand is wise if you’ve decided to rebrand for one of the following reasons.


New Values

Your company’s philosophy might have undergone a change. New philosophy means new values. And since the brand and the brand identity around it communicate your company’s views and values, they will need to be modified too.


Market Repositioning

You might decide to position your business differently in the market. This might happen owing to the fact that you wish to try a new market penetration strategy.

Or it could be because you want to present yourself differently to your current target market, in some or all of your existing markets. Whichever one it is, rebranding is a way to go!


Inorganic Growth

Inorganic growth – mergers or takeovers – result in a slightly or a completely different company. So rebranding is the least you can do to ensure your new values are communicated to customers.


when and why to rebrand


Why and When you Should not Rebrand?

Not all rebranding examples are as successful as that of Dunkin’. Take Gap, for instance: in October 2010, Gap unveiled its brand new logo, the first logo change in 24 years. The results were disastrous.

Even though brand recognition didn’t suffer, the little blue box in the new logo made no sense at all and was ridiculed by everyone, even the staunchest gappers. Six days later, Gap’s top management decided to revert to the old logo in order not to hurt the already shaken brand image.

Gap Rebranding


You don’t want to repeat Gap’s mistake, so forget about rebranding if you are doing it for one of the following reasons.


You’re Bored

This might sound weird, but some executives get bored with, say, their company’s logo and decide to replace it with some other visual. It might sound dramatic, but this is a very dangerous idea. Your customers perceive your brand image in one way or another, so changing it will almost certainly lead to a lot of confusion.


You Aren’t Ready to Change Everything

If you only dislike some visuals in the whole of your brand, you might need to rethink rebranding all together. Look: if you are planning to rebrand in order to penetrate into a new market, you’ve got to change all the visuals. You can’t keep the things you like. New brand identity implies changes across the board.


You’re Trying to Deal With a Crisis

If your business is in the midst of some public scandal, rebranding won’t help. In fact, it will make things worse. Why? Well, people will become angrier once they realize that you are rebranding to get out of the scandal. In this situation, dealing with the crisis holistically is a much better strategy.

why not to rebrand


What Rebranding Strategy to Choose?

Before you get to the meat of it all – that is, how to rebrand – you need to understand which rebranding strategy you need to adopt. To help you out with that, we’ve compiled the top 5 rebranding strategies businesses use. So let’s get going.


Brand Differentiation

If you find yourself facing a lot of stiff competition that you aren’t able to deal with successfully, it might be due to the fact that your brand image is not strong enough. It can also be because you haven’t done well in terms of brand building.

In this case, rebranding with the aim of differentiation can help tremendously. Take a look at LUSH. It’s a cosmetic company, and it’s not difficult to imagine how many competitors it has. However, with its clear rebranding campaign, they accomplished a lot.

LUSH rebranding

At the heart of their rebranding strategy was LUSH’s emphasis on the ethical production and sale of their cosmetics. The results have been astonishing.


Brand Expansion

Another rebranding strategy you can adopt is when you are trying to expand your presence in the market. A very successful example of rebranding by Dunkin’ – the one that has been discussed above – is exactly brand expansion. Dunkin’ tried to penetrate the hot beverages market, as it was well-established in the donuts market.


Repairing Damaged Reputation

It’s quite possible that your company has undergone some publicity scandal that has affected your brand image badly. We discussed this above and have said that rebranding is not a good strategy here. However, once you’ve dealt with the issue, you can start rebranding.

A very interesting example of this is Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo rebranding

This well-known brand came under federal scrutiny when the news spread that millions of fraudulent savings and checking accounts were created on behalf of totally uninformed clients. First things first, Well Fargo dealt with this crisis by apologizing and by paying huge legal fees

Once this was done, Wells Fargo adopted a rebranding strategy, at the heart of which was apologizing for what had happened. The new logo and other visuals aside, Wells Fargo changed its slogan from “Established 1852” to “Established 1852. Re-established 2018”. And this rebranding strategy turned out to be pretty successful.


New Target Market

If you want to carry out a demographic-related rebranding strategy, it probably means you’re trying to win over new age groups, new genders, etc. If this is what you’re trying to accomplish, then it is your go-to rebranding strategy. Old Spice did have a pretty successful rebranding campaign aimed at expanding its demographic grasp.

The problem Old Spice had been having was the perception of its brand. As the word ‘old’ suggests, the brand was perceived as uncool by younger generations. The message Old Spice was inadvertently giving off was that its smell was for older people. 

Things changed, however, when Old Spice launched its successful rebranding campaign in the early 2000s. Everything starting from packaging to brand positioning changed.

While they initially expected their sales to increase by 15 percent, they ended up having a whopping 60% increase, not to mention a huge increase in brand recognition coming mostly from a new, younger demographic.


Remaining Trendy

Lots of companies find themselves in a situation where their brand awareness diminishes. And a lot of the time, this is due to the decreased hype around the brand. So naturally, a good strategy here would be to rebrand a company to remain trendy.

Coty, a beauty brand, adopted this rebranding strategy when the perceptions of beauty and body had changed dramatically, and the much-needed concept of diversity had started to prevail. Coty changed its mission to reflect a new purpose, “to celebrate and liberate the diversity of beauty.” Their logo also changed to reflect the change in Coty’s mission and purpose.

Coty rebranding


How to Rebrand?

The first of the few arduous, though important, tasks have been completed — you’ve chosen your rebranding strategy. Congratulations — you’re halfway through, because once the rebranding strategy has been chosen, you’ve got to start thinking about how to rebrand. There are a number of ways to accomplish that, and, of course, you’ll need to decide how to rebrand based on the strategy you’ve picked. This is the hard part.

how to rebrand

The good news is — the question of how to rebrand can be grouped, as there are usually a few major ways of rebranding that most companies would resort to. So read these carefully to pick the one that suits you best.


Rename Your Company

Renaming your company is oftentimes a very good rebranding strategy. You might want to rename your company for a variety of reasons, many of which have been discussed in this article. Before we look at some valid reasons to rename, it’s important to note that renaming doesn’t imply a complete change of the brand name. 

Quite the contrary: it implies changing the name of your company. And it’s pretty intuitive, isn’t it? If you fully change the name of your company, none of your existing customers will recognize your brand. 

Now, back to reasons why:

  • You’ve had some public scandal
  • Your company started selling new products 
  • You’re targeting a new demographic


Come Up With a New Logo

A new logo is a must if you’ve adopted one of the rebranding strategies we discussed earlier in the article. It is because a logo is a visual representation of what your company is and what it stands for. Take Instagram’s logo change, for instance.

Instagram rebranding

Instagram’s old logo was a Polaroid camera, but it has grown to be a platform for all kinds of visuals; in fact, one might claim that now videos are more popular than photos. 

So, its rebranding was to the point —  the new logo is not a Polaroid camera but a camera that can shoot both photos and videos.


Change Your Company’s Mission Statement

The mission statement is a sentence or two that outlines the company’s main purpose. Mission statements are vital to the company’s success because these are sets of common goals that everyone in the company needs to follow. 

So, if your rebranding strategy involves a major change in purpose, go ahead and change the mission statement. Since mission statements are usually made known to everyone — for one, they are posted on the website — every single stakeholder will be on the same page with your new values.

update brand mission


Change Your Company’s Slogan

A slogan is a short and sweet phrase that presents something unique about the company. All companies have slogans as part of their brand strategy. But if the company’s brand strategy changes — mostly pursuant to rebranding — the company’s slogan needs changing, or at the very least, some adjusting. 

Remember the Wells Fargo scandal that we discussed earlier, the one that involved financial fraud? Remember what Fargo did after it’d dealt with their scandal? Right, they changed their slogan from “Established 1852” to “Established 1852. Re-established 2018”. Simple, but very smart.


Let’s Sup Up

Congratulations – you have all the necessary knowledge to pick the rebranding strategy that fits you the best! You also know how to rebrand effectively. But since this might be a bit too much information, we’ve made a rebranding questions list for you. So, before you start your rebranding process, answer the following questions:

  • Do I have a good reason to rebrand? 
  • Did I pick a rebranding strategy that suits me the best? 
  • Do I know how to rebrand? 
  • Does my decision on how to rebrand match my rebranding strategy? 

If you’ve answered yes to all – the keyword here is ‘all’ – questions in “My rebranding checklist,” then you are ready to get going!

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