By Steve Gentile, Director of Strategy and Managing Partner of Pinpoint Promotions, responsible for overall growth and strategic vision of the company.
Your brand is your business’s most valuable asset. We’ve seen firsthand how the power of a brand can influence action. This holds true for every industry, from retail shopping aisles and car lots to regional construction companies and the local bakery — people will happily spend more and show loyalty if a company continuously meets the needs of and connects with the values of their customers.
On the other hand, we’ve also seen how a company that wants to or thinks it needs to rebrand ends up with a fumbled process, months of time wasted and frustration for all parties involved, primarily due to a lack of commitment and shattered expectations.
So, when is the right time to rebrand? Aside from extreme situations or significant shifts in your business, usually there is not a straightforward answer to this question. Deciding to embark on this journey is a weighty commitment.
Here is some insight for things to consider and questions to ask yourself before taking the dive into the deep end.
Rebranding: An Icy Dive
If I had to come up with an analogy for the process of rebranding, it would be this: You are in Antarctica, and the water below you is completely frozen. It’s so thick that people can walk and drive on it. A few feet in front of you, there is a circle cut in the ice, and you can see the freezing cold water — intriguing yet terrifying at the same time. That’s the beginning of the rebranding journey. Farther off, just within your vision, is another hole in the ice. That’s the new brand.
Now, you could simply walk to the distant hole, but if you do, nothing will really change. Your experience, clothes and attitude are relatively the same — you’re just moving forward on a surface level. The process of a true rebranding is committing yourself to jump into the hole in front of you, submerge yourself in freezing water and embrace the adventure of swimming under the ice to the goal ahead.
Once you have committed, here are the top three things that typically happen:
You immediately realize this is not a good idea and it’s way too much to take on. You panic and want out — now. You didn’t know the water would be that cold, even though you were warned and, well, it’s ice-cold water — what did you think was going to happen? So you ask to get pulled out of the water dripping wet, cold and frustrated.
Frustration And Return To The Familiar
You dive in and stay in the water, excited about the upcoming journey. Off to a good start! You begin to swim toward the other hole, but during the process, you become disoriented. Suddenly the hole seems farther and farther away. You get turned around and start feeling anxious, and now you’re questioning whether you should have jumped in at all.
At this stage, most people swim back to the original hole because it’s their place of comfort. Some even try to break through the ice above their current location, leaving them cold, bruised and regretful, now realizing that the frigid jump was worthless without making it to the other side.
Commitment And Transformation
You jump into the water, and, yes, it’s freezing! Rather than being scared by the chill you knew was coming, you decide the rush of cold is refreshing and provides a much-needed boost of energy. Your heart is pounding. Your focus narrows. Your senses heighten, and your mind is clear. You can see clearly where you need to go now — it all makes sense.
Confidently, you continue to swim. You’re cold, and your heart is racing, but you never look back. You see light ahead, pouring through the hole you’re straining for. The hole with the light gets bigger and bigger as you approach, and your anticipation increases, especially knowing it’s the only way out. You spring up from the hole revitalized and feeling like a new person ready to take over the world or run over anything in your way. On the other side of the journey, you ask yourself why it took you so long to jump in. You never knew how powerful this momentum could be. Emerging — seemingly a new person — you are focused, hungry and ready to take on anything that comes your way. You’ve rid yourself of your old skin, and you’ve never felt or looked better.
Top Five Indicators That The Time Has Come To Take The Plunge
The decision to actually embark on a rebranding initiative is rarely an easy one, at least if you intend to go deep and do it right, not simply make some surface-level adjustments.
Side note: Updating your logo is not rebranding.
To help, here is a list of the top five indicators that it might be time to rebrand your business.
• Your core audience has changed or is rapidly changing, and you’re concerned the current brand isn’t positioned to resonate with them.
• Your business model, core offerings or overall strategy has changed.
• The industry you are in is rapidly evolving, and you’re concerned that the current brand is headed toward being considered dull, uninspiring and outdated, especially compared to the competition.
• Your business name is overly literal or you have general identity problems.
• You’ve outgrown your own brand. What you are today — and, more importantly, what you aspire to be tomorrow — is different from what your brand once was.
Smart companies rebrand because they know that good design mixed with an established rebranding process is a winning formula for success. Whether you’re attempting to introduce your business to a new target audience or your current messaging and image is outdated, it’s important to consider rebranding carefully and make sure your core leaders are aligned, so your brand can remain relevant in the years to come.
The only thing worse than deciding not to rebrand when most signs indicate that you should is deciding to rebrand when it’s probably not necessary. After all, you don’t want to end up like the Gap debacle.