Dunkin’ did it. So did IHOP. And Slack. They all rebranded in one form or another and lived to tell the tale.
Not all companies earn kudos after taking the rebranding route, of course. Lots of them get D- grades from the public. At that point, they can try to make the best of bad planning. Or they can do like Tropicana did. The business lost face, lost $20 million in sales, and lost its failure of a rebrand—fast.
The point of these stories is simple: Your business can rebrand. In fact, you and other stakeholders might decide that a rebrand is in order, pronto. Nevertheless, you need to be cautious when it comes to the rebranding process.
In other words, learn from other brands’ successes and mistakes. That way, you’ll avoid pitfalls and enjoy a better “re-entry to market” experience.
1. Dovetail business improvements with your rebrand.
It’s easy to hire a graphics designer, upgrade your logo, and call it a day. That’s not true rebranding, though. That’s a recipe for confusing the public with a different image for the same company they’ve known.
When Angie’s List shifted to Angi in March 2021, the company used the opportunity to expand services, as well as rebrand its culture and design. What’s one notable change? Angi isn’t just a place for lists and reviews. The portal serves as more of a destination for all things home improvement, including project ideas, cost guides, booking appointments and payments. Plus, Angi revitalized its app.
This lesson is clear: If you’re going to move toward rebranding, think holistically. Make the moment a prime time to refresh your corporation from the inside out.
2. Think twice before saying “yes” to any logo or “wordmark.”
Maybe you’re in the mood to just destroy everything and let the phoenix rise from the ashes. Here’s the problem: Your customers might not be on board for the ride.
Discovery Channel’s story of two rebrands explains how to do rebranding correctly and inadequately. Their first rebrand was more of a logo shift. The graphics were updated and their ubiquitous “earth pic” became nestled into the “D”. The branding was widely championed as modern but not overdone.
However, when Discovery Channel unveiled a strange wordmark for its Warner Brothers merger in 2021, the backlash was swift. People couldn’t understand the basic, uninspired level of the logo. Their criticisms overshadowed what should have been an exciting announcement. Consequently, you’ll want to vet any designs with the public well before you release them.
3. Keep your most recognizable, beloved brand attributes.
You walk into your favorite restaurant. You grab a menu, although you hardly need to check it out. After all, you know exactly what you want to order. But lo and behold, your favorite dish has vanished! Thinking the menu is mistaken, you ask your server what’s up. He admits that your go-to dish is gone and suggests a replacement. Your eagerness—and loyalty—vanishes.
Your company might not sell food to hungry patrons. Still, you probably have some recognizable services, products, procedures, etc. that work. In fact, your customers might rely on those anchors, not to mention love them. Be sure you know what your foundations are when you rebrand so you can build on them as pillars.
When MasterCard underwent a logo rebrand, the company leveraged its two vibrant circles. Though it removed its brand name from the circles, the circles said all that consumers needed to know. According to reports, the rebrand was two years in the making. Still, the positive publicity it garnered made the patience worth it.
4. Get inspiration from other rebrands, but don’t copy them.
Ah, Sears. It hasn’t been a good few years for the company. In a last-ditch attempt to give itself a much-needed facelift, Sears unleashed a fresh logo. The only problem? A major graphic in its logo looked a lot like the graphic used by Airbnb. Oops. Although the glitch probably wasn’t on purpose, it caused more bad press for a company trying to climb out of a hole.
As part of your rebrand, you’ll want to investigate all the brands on the market that have followed before you. Make note of what you like, but be careful. Sometimes, your subconscious can grab hold of an idea and make it seem new to you. Even if it’s not.
Inspiration shouldn’t lead to imitation. Put due diligence measures in place before you tell the world about your brand. Examine it against other logos and brands. Look at the color palette. If you’re about to redo your website (and you should,) check it against the competition. The good news for Sears was that it wasn’t in direct competition with Airbnb. You certainly don’t want to make that type of a big mistake, or incur legal hot water over a trademark.
5. Create an exciting runway for your big, awesome rebrand event.
Springing your rebrand on unsuspecting prospects and customers can lead to a huge let-down. Therefore, let them know that a rebrand’s on its way. Create content to tease the moment and get people talking. Use your social media channels to generate buzz. You may even want to hold a “guess our rebrand” contest.
Remember that this is a moment you’re making. That means you get to design it from beginning to end. Even if you’re a small business serving a few B2B clients, you can still encourage momentum. You might even want to have a special re-launch party and invite VIPs.
At the same time, be sure to include employees in the enthusiasm. Your people shouldn’t be the last ones to learn about your rebrand. If they do, they’ll wonder what else you’re hiding—and your employee engagement could take a hit. You don’t have to tell them everything, but keep them informed in the process. Be sure to invite them to rebranding events, too. Or, have an insider rebrand party before you go public.
Getting ready to rebrand your company is a big deal. It’s a momentous occasion and means you’re scaling, changing, or evolving in some special way. Take your time with the process. That way, you’ll set up your brand to receive a collective thumbs-up from all of your stakeholders.