It's Time to Re-brand. Or Maybe Not.
5. You’ve grown through mergers and acquisitions, but does anyone understand who you are now? You’ve assembled a great organization, but you also have piled up a raft of logos, taglines, brand promises and competing visual approaches. It takes five floors to get across your elevator message. Time to look at your brand architecture, decide which accumulated brands will live or die, develop messages that will communicate and connect and craft a visual system that will hold things together. Your almost-new-from-the-ground-up brand will present an organization that people will “get” and value.
Re-brand Is a No
1. You have a new CEO or CMO and he or she wants to make sure the world knows it. Your brand meaning is in sync with your organization and its offerings; your constituents understand and remember it; you’re differentiated in the competitive landscape. Head off change for ego’s sake. Perhaps a new marketing campaign (that also reinforces your brand) is in order. You’re not a dog walking by a fire hydrant.
2. What’s holding you back is a product or service that’s not compelling. If what you’re offering under-performs or doesn’t fill real needs, it’s unlikely that rebranding it — or your organization — will address those problems. Brands are comprised of offerings, communications, history and behavior — and the meaning and value that these components have in your constituents’ heads. Fix what’s really broken first.
3. You have operational issues in your marketing, sales or communication areas. Your brand, and branded communications, may be what they need to be, but if those charged with planning and delivering your message, making connections and following up are underperforming — or there’s dysfunction within and across these areas — expending resources to evolve your brand framework isn’t going to fix these internal organizational issues.
4. You want to present yourself as an organization that you can’t credibly be, or become. Your brand needs to be an honest, authentic representation of who you are — credibly informed by your aspirations. But your brand can only get so far ahead of reality: disconnects take a lot of time to repair. Years ago, Haagen Dazs tried to own the granola-fed Vermont brand attributes of Ben & Jerry’s. It didn’t work.
5. You’re looking for a successful “Hail Mary!” pass. Whether you’re an arts organization, financial services firm, institution of higher education or are selling vacuum cleaners, it’s a competitive world out there. You have to get the word out, make connections, resonate with consumers, create positive buzz and deliver something of value. It’s hard. If you’ve tired this — then that — and have not had success, your brand might need tuning up, but beware of digging in to what could be a very substantial project just because you’ve checked off all of the other boxes and they haven’t delivered results. Brand-building is a process, not an event, and even the best re-brands take time to deliver results.