How to Ensure Your Rebrand is a Success

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I remember having a conversation with a business owner years ago about branding. He was trying to convince me that a brand’s logo should NEVER, EVER change. At the time I had been in the industry for over a decade and knew that his intention was correct, but the reality couldn’t be more wrong. As I sat there listening to his reasonings—which completely contradicted each other, but that’s another story—I was taken back to my days in college and my History of Graphic Design book. There was an entire section on the evolution of brands, their logos, taglines, and even market positioning. It was as if I could read this chapter all over again.

Re/branding is not as simple as it sounds, and many organizations make the same mistakes over and over again. These mistakes can be extremely costly both to the organization and the life of the brand. Here are the top three mistakes that I have seen organizations make.

WHO SHOULD YOU WORK WITH?

There is a huge difference between someone who does logos or knows how to use Canva versus a professional or agency that specializes in re/branding. There is also a huge difference between someone who knows social media versus a professional or agency that specializes in re/branding. Working with the wrong professional is only going to increase your costs both short-term and long-term and cause unnecessary delays.

Yes, marketing, design, and branding are interrelated but are fundamentally different expertise.

  • Marketing emphasizes short-term actions that result in (often) short-term or an immediate increase in sales or awareness of the brand.
  • Design is primarily about the visual (but can include other sensory engagements) display of the brand and marketing to elicit an emotion or familiarity. It’s limited to that one specific instance.
  • Branding emphasizes the long-term equity that builds in value over time. Ultimately, it drives significantly more sales with shorter sales cycles.

Re/branding is about building a strategic framework for sustainable performance in the market. Marketing and design are tools that function within that framework to make it a reality.

THE COMMITMENT

I feel like I need to add sound effects to that subtitle, [dun dun dun].

As technology has evolved to allow us to track more results in marketing, the perception of its value is ever so slowly shifting as well. The shift went from “marketing is a nice-to-have” to “marketing is now all about the metrics” and let’s not forget “50% of all marketing is successful, we just don’t know which 50%”.

Yes and no to each of those statements. Each of them is focused on marketing or the short-term results of short-term actions. Because a re/brand is bigger than that and is about long-term sustainability, the investment in time and money are different. There is a psychological element in branding that surpasses short-term thinking. It’s more like a marriage than a call to action.

To embark on a re/brand journey it takes commitment to change. There is nothing worse than only partially committing. This alone can be the biggest mistake that an organization makes—and not just in fees to the agency. In the market, it could cause brand confusion, discredit your organization, drive customers to your competitors, or even cost you market share.

Your brand is a valuable asset that is intended to last you a minimum of 5-10 years. It comprises up to 40% of your company’s value. A strong brand will produce innumerable returns and make sales and marketing initiatives more effective. Strong brands also attract top talent, perform better in the stock market, and perform better during economic downturns adding even more value to the equation. To build a brand or to go through a rebrand process are costly investments because of this.

Having said that, there are better times to re/brand than others. If now is not the right time, that is ok. But not committing to the brand and attempting to keep one foot in the past while launching into the future is only going to cause both short-term and long-term damage. Along these lines, there is also a point of no return—a time when it makes the most sense to see the change through regardless of any push back.

So, let’s talk about the timeframe. Depending on the size and complexity of the brand, the initial re/branding can take 3-9 months and includes research, strategy, and design. The rollout of the new brand can take an additional 6-12 months and includes marketing and PR.

Most organizations don’t re/brand on a whim. It’s usually something they have been considering for a while. This usually means that when they make the commitment, they want to go full force forward and hit as many fast-forward buttons as possible! To continue with the marriage analogy of earlier, this is like finally deciding to ask that person out on a date, but instead, you propose marriage.

It takes time to do the necessary research, coordinate schedules of executives, and craft the brand elements. Give it the time it needs because a cohesive timeless brand will stand the test of time. Cutting corners for short-term gains is only going to compromise long-term value.

And now, investment. I know you want a solid “it will cost THIS” when in reality it's more of an “it depends” situation. Studies show that the average B2B business spends about 5% of their revenue on marketing. With that in mind, you can expect the average rebranding initiative to cost about 10-20% of your marketing budget.

LAUNCH YOUR RE/BRAND

When all is said and done with the research and design of the re/brand, it can be easy to feel like “we’re finally done”. In reality, we’re just getting started! You have been a part of the whole process, the whole journey so you know every aspect of the new re/brand—your market doesn’t, yet.

A re/brand gives you a cohesive brand narrative that conveys your competitive advantage and brand promise. There will be the initial rollout and a marketing plan that amplifies your brand’s position and value proposition. This is to build and ensure trust in the brand. Trustworthiness is based on perception and perceptions are shaped by branding. According to Interbrand, companies that focused on the importance of their brand over the past five years saw the value of their brands grow 2.4 times higher than those who didn’t.

You’ll need to invest post-launch to ensure you are getting the most for your investment. The report “Media in Focus” by Less Binet and Peter Field shows that optimal effectiveness is achieved when about 60 percent of a company’s marketing budget is devoted to brand building and around 40 percent to marketing activation.

As Warren Buffet says, “the single most important decision in evaluating a business is pricing power. If you’ve got the power to raise prices without losing business to a competitor, you’ve got a very good business.”

Where does pricing power come from? Yup—a strong brand. When you invest in a re/brand, it’s always in your best interest to spend the time and money to do it right. Any short-term savings you realize from shortcuts are sure to cost you more in the long run.