5 of the biggest advantages to refreshing a brand
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Mention the terms “rebrand” or “brand refresh” to somebody and there’s a good chance you’ll end up discussing the BP flower, Instagram’s trendsetting pink to orange gradient, Yahoo’s questionable wordmark or Airbnb’s bum-heart (which we happen to be quite fond of). However, branding reviews aren’t just for giant organisations and, if undertaken for the right reasons and executed properly, provide genuine advantages and opportunities to businesses of all sizes.
Here are five ways that refreshing a brand can help reinvigorate an entire company:
1. IT SIGNALS A CHANGE TO YOUR AUDIENCES
For those companies lucky (or, rather, hard-working) enough to have made it through the first years of business, one reward of success is that their brand begins to carry equity with stakeholders. Clients may know them for their fantastic customer service, competitors may recognise them for launching a game-changing product which spurred them on to bring something to market themselves, and their industry might remember them for always having the sharpest, most eye-catching display at trade shows.
However, the key thing to remember about brand equity is that it is affected by both positive and negative factors. Perhaps a key account manager leaves and their clients are now spread between the remaining, already stretched team, impacting the level of service they receive? Or maybe a period of slow sales means the R&D budget gets cut, leaving the company looking complacent as competitors launch new and improved product lines? A few bad decisions, some bad luck or a good, old-fashioned PR crisis can all impact a brand to the point where any positive equity is wiped out, leaving only negative associations and poor regard. It doesn’t happen often but even the biggest companies can suffer.
Once launched, a refreshed brand acts as a beacon of change, making it clear to all external audiences that the company has recognised a need to address its image. It may only be that a new, modernised visual identity is signalling that a company is bringing its operations up to date with the industry, but such signals get noticed. Curiosity around any changes made brings increased attention and awareness of a company, meaning marketing activities launched in conjunction are likely to be that much more effective.
As well as the external signals, big changes can occur within a company when a refreshing a brand or rebranding entirely. It’s a great way to build excitement within a workforce and can often reinvigorate its sense of pride in the company they work for.
2. IT GETS EVERYONE ON THE SAME PAGE
When helping our clients refresh their brands, we’re sure not to undersell the importance of the vocal development phase. Discovering the values, vision and desired messaging of a company informs everything that happens afterwards, such as steering the development of a new visual identity.
Although you might assume finding out the company’s values and desired messaging would be a relatively simple research task, it’s actually one of the most complex, and spells the most common time for disagreements among the client’s own teams and decision makers to arise. It’s surprisingly common for everyone from the owners, to the directors, to the general workforce to have varying opinions on how the company should present itself. Market research-backed insights of course play a part in steering these discussions but we are all creatures of opinion and, even when presented with clear insights, the degree of variance between those opinions can be vast.
An in-depth discovery stage involving as many decision makers and secondary stakeholders as possible is the perfect opportunity to get everyone’s ideas laid out on the table. Discussion and debate give way to ideas and excitement, with all points raised gradually being revised and distilled until solid values, vision, mission, messages etc. are outlined.
Giving everyone the chance to have their ideas heard and incorporated into the discussions not only lets them feel valued, it’s a great way to build morale and a sense of direction. Having an entire company really get behind a brand refresh makes an enormous impact on its success.
3. IT’S AN OPPORTUNITY TO PIVOT
The storied pivot. Fabled game-changer of the Silicon Valley unicorn. But, whilst the challenges that come with such strategic changes of tack are vast, pivoting isn’t just for big tech startups and actually happens regularly across many different industries.
Refreshing a brand or rebranding entirely gives a company the freedom to step away from previous messaging and visual representations – vital if your (potentially new) target audiences are going to take notice. Without any change to the vocal or visual branding, new communications and materials run the risk of being dismissed as the same, pre-pivot messaging.
A new visual identity, at the least, is somewhat of a necessity when pivoting a business – the very decision to do so usually spawns from recognition that current operations aren’t providing the desired results, and that justification will be intrinsically tied to the visual identity. Take Odeo’s pivot to become Twitter. Or Burbn’s pivot into Instagram. The focus of the businesses changed, so the brands changed along with them. And yes, they’re Silicon Valley giants, but that doesn’t mean smaller companies can’t follow-suit.
4. IT CAN PROVIDE A HEAD-START
Nowadays, it’s difficult to find an industry that can’t be described as crowded. It’s not uncommon to see striking similarities between the visual identities and messaging of the companies within, especially amongst industries which have existed for many years. Over time, identities which aren’t updated as the businesses evolve become stale, resulting in the industry as a whole appearing tired and outdated.
For the savviest, this presents a huge opportunity. Being the first out of the gate with a brand overhaul immediately positions that company as a leader and, combined with some of the other advantages on this list, sets it up to reap the biggest rewards.
5. IT CAN BRING OPERATIONS TOGETHER
Long-running businesses often find themselves with multiple branches, product lines or even several brands operating as sibling companies. Operating completely separate brands can certainly work but uniting those operations under a single brand is a hugely effective way to boost efficiency, awareness and sales.
One of the biggest advantages to an umbrella structure is the clear conveyance of size. And, whether right or wrong, size is seen as evidence of success, expertise and reliability. Few would argue that bigger companies have more doors opened and opportunities presented, and certainly find it easier to operate with or win the business of other large organisations.
Unifying is undoubtedly a big undertaking and can mean difficult decisions if implemented at a structural level. However, in terms of elevating a brand to the next level, it can be a comparatively quick and cost effective win.
There’s no denying that rebranding or refreshing a brand – whether that be in what the brand says, how it looks, or a comprehensive overhaul of everything – is a big decision. It means hard work, investment and, primarily, change. Change can be a terrifying prospect, especially for companies who may not have reviewed their brand for some time. Despite the challenge, the potential benefits of a well-executed branding project are huge. For businesses suffering extended periods of slow sales, or stagnation of any kind, reviewing their brand could well be the catalyst to success.