When most people think of branding, logos and colour schemes come to mind. But a brand is much more than the sum of its visual parts. Branding includes everything from a company’s tone of voice and communications to the powerful associations formed by customers.
A strong brand will create an enduring impression in people’s minds and differentiate you from competitors.
When it comes to your brand, how well is it performing? A few questions to start with:
- Has your brand felt stale or lacklustre lately?
- Have you made a significant business move that warrants a refreshed look and feel?
- Does your brand lack the salience it used to have in your target market?
Many, if not all, of these concerns will come up at some point during a business’s lifecycle, and how they’re dealt with can either help your company forge a strong path forward or hold it back.
Here are a few signals that your business is in need of a rebrand to better compete and win in the marketplace.
Your brand looks and feels outdated
Classic can be good. Think the regal, timeless designs of luxury car brands. But there’s a big difference between old and unappealingly dated.
An outdated logo, typeface, and/or visual assets can make your brand appear behind the times, signifying a failure to evolve. In today’s rapidly moving market, this rigidity and resistance to change can lead to the demise of even the most successful companies.
If your brand feels stuck in a certain decade or era, a rebrand can help bring it into the present while reminding your customers why they should do business with you now and into the future. Target market research and a competitor analysis are essential, as it will influence the creative direction.
Below is an example of a rebrand for a fake dietary supplement softgel manufacturer. In their original design, the logo detail makes it hard to reproduce, there’s no discernible colour palette, Times New Roman looks dated, and that drop shadow – oh my! The banal tagline tells nothing about the benefit, and anytime you need to call yourself a “world leader” means you’re probably not a world leader.
In the refreshed brand, the blue/green/turquoise hues provide a serene, stable brand identity. The dots represent time (echoing the company’s value proposition – they dissolve fast). The font is modern and crisp, while the tagline is benefits-oriented and more memorable. The tagline also lends itself well to scaling (for web or campaign uses), as “wellness” can be swapped out for other benefits – i.e., Delivering protein / probiotics / certainty / life-saving therapies / when time matters.
Your brand identity no longer reflects your offerings
As touched on already, businesses that are slow to adapt and innovate are sure to be left behind. If your company has pivoted in a new direction, you might find that your brand no longer makes sense based on the products and services you’re offering.
A careful, well-planned rebrand may be needed if your company has:
- Chosen a more focused niche – as an accountant, you now serve only engineering firms, yet your branding evokes other professional sectors
- Broadened its offerings – you don’t just offer hairstyling services anymore, now also nails and facial treatments, but your brand is centred around haircare
- Dramatically changed its business model – you’ve gone from a selling a product to a subscription-based service, but your logo is a picture of the product
- Expanded into new markets – you’ve made your service available in Australia but have a Canadian-themed brand and website
- Pivoted in an entirely new direction – you started as a food truck but are switching to a bricks-and-mortar catering company, though your brand name includes “On Wheels”
A rebrand is clearly needed in the above instances, especially if the original brand didn’t leave any room to shift and change with the market or your offerings.
The next step would be to focus less on the “what” about your business and more on the “why” – what core problem does your company solve for its customers? How it does so is less important.
Sculpt your brand around this idea and you’ll find it has more longevity and power.
You’ve undergone a merger or acquisition
A strategic move like an acquisition or merger is a big deal, requiring external communication about the change to the market and your client base. Sometimes the larger corporation will absorb the smaller brand leaving no traces behind, while other times the parties will find a new mutually representative brand to use going forward.
There’s no right or wrong way to handle M&A branding, but often there will be a need for adjustments to colour palettes, logos, imagery, and naming hierarchies (e.g., “an XYZ brand” or “a division of ABC company”).
One strategy is to announce the change using a temporary landing page on both company websites communicating what is happening and how it will affect stakeholders for the better. Next, changes to website copywriting, visuals, and marketing materials should be implemented swiftly to make the transition as smooth as possible. This step includes an amalgamation of websites and social media accounts if strategically needed.
The overall message here is communication, clarity, and thorough updating of all front-facing marketing collateral. For more, check out this quick M&A brand strategy guide from Entrepreneur magazine.
You want to change your brand reputation
If your business has had the misfortune of bad publicity—hey, it happens—a rebrand might be needed to distance the company from negative brand associations. Or, in the case of a major market shift, a company may need to make a significant departure away from what it has always been known for.
A rebrand can help in these instances, provided that thorough research is done and careful thought is put into brand strategy. In some cases, what is needed is not a rebrand at all but an adjustment to the business strategy, target market, segmentation, or positioning.
You need to differentiate more strongly from competitors
Have you noticed that environmental companies tend to use nature-inspired greens and browns, while the pharmaceutical industry is saturated with blue tones? Industries tend to gravitate toward similar colours and imagery due to a mixture of colour psychology research, logic, and the copycat effect.
This can cause problems for brands looking to set themselves apart from the competition while still resonating with their audience.
If your brand has started to feel lost in a sea of similar-looking competitors, a rebrand including a colour palette change might be in order.
It can be as dramatic as a shift opposite the colour wheel—say, green to hot pink—or a rethinking of logo elements and graphic design styles to make the brand less cookie-cutter.
A departure from the pack is an exciting phase in a business’s journey, bringing energy that can be leveraged in many positive ways to gain publicity, customers, and more revenue.
Is your life science, health, or wellness business in need of a rebrand or strategic branding guidance? Let’s discuss!