Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rebranding - Make it Relevant

You can't run your company the same way forever. If your company is operating the same way today as it did when it was first launched, then you are stagnant, which means you are losing business. Whether it is a complete overhaul or a few adjustments, every company can stand a bit of improvement. Evolution is inevitable. "Even awkward first steps toward improvement are highly regarded by consumers." says Michael Silverstein, a consumer and retail expert with The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global management consulting firm.

Rebranding has become something of a fad at the turn of the millennium, with some companies rebranding several times. The rebranding of Philip Morris to Altria was done to help the company shed its negative image. Other rebrandings, such as the British Post Office's attempt to rebrand itself as Consignia, have proved such a failure that millions more had to be spent going back to square one.

Rebranding is the creation of a new name, term, symbol, design, or a combination of them for an established brand with the intention of developing a differentiated or new position in the mind of stakeholders and competitors.

Far from just a change of visual identity, rebranding should be part of an overall brand strategy for a product or service. This may involve radical changes to the brand's logo, brand name, image, marketing strategy and advertising themes. These changes are typically aimed at the repositioning of the brand/ company, sometimes in an attempt to distance itself from certain negative connotations of the previous branding or to move the brand upmarket. However, the main reason for a re-brand is to communicate a new message for a company, something that has evolved, or the new board of directors wish to communicate.

This time around we have compiled some interesting observations from Rebrand.com and INC.com

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE A REBRAND

1. BE READY FOR CHANGE
Revamping your business requires shifting your thinking and being ready, willing and able to let go of things you felt were perfect, which may no longer be the case. A first step is to be open to changing or adjusting the way you do business and you have to be prepared to act immediately.

2. DETERMINE YOUR MISSION
Revamping your business involves taking stock of your company's strengths and weaknesses—what's the total picture not just a snapshot view. Before you embark on any type of product, brand or company change take stock of what is the problem you are trying to solve and make it a mission project.

3. TALK TO PEOPLE
Ask your customers, employees, business partners and industry experts their opinion about your company—it's products, services, and brand. Find out what they like and don't like. How hard is it to do business with your company? What would they suggest; do you need a little revamping or a major overhaul? Have you clearly communicated your positioning? Do you have good price value? Where do you rate in terms of customer satisfaction and brand differentiation?

4. MEASURE YOUR TOTAL MARKET
Devote your study in two arenas, within your industry and outside it. How has the market changed in your industry? Is your product or service still relevant? That's the moneymaking question. While Coca-Cola measured its share of colas for targeting its soft drinks, Pepsi was watching Aquafina and buying SoBe, Gatorade and Tropicana. The real measurement for both companies is their market share of beverages.

5. RESEARCH THE COMPETITION & SEEK ALLIES
In the case of Seattle's Best Coffee, market research unearthed a very important discovery. "The coffee category had gotten very complex and cluttered—lots of names and lots of geographies consumers can't even pronounce,". How could Seattle's Best Coffee evolve to be more relevant? The company's new purpose or mission became to make its premium coffee simple and easily accessible.

The company expanded its distribution points by fostering new relationships with retailers and solidifying exciting agreements with companies, including Subway Restaurants, AMC Theaters, Border's Bookstores, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

The company created a new brand identity that evokes optimism and fun. A new logo maintains the name and the color red while adding such symbols as a drop of coffee, a cup, and a red semi-circle representing a smile enclosed by a silver circle conveying a silver lining.

TOP TEN MISTAKES MARKETERS MAKE WHEN REBRANDING
1. CLINGING TO HISTORY
Rebranding well means staying relevant. Assumptions made when the brand was established may no longer hold true. Analyze changes in target markets when exploring opportunities for brand expansion, repositioning and revitalization.

2. THINKING THE BRAND IS THE LOGO, STATIONERY OR CORPORATE COLOURS
Brands encompass everything from customer perception and experience to quality, look and feel, customer care, retail and web environments, the tone and voice of communications, and more.

3. NAVIGATING WITHOUT A PLAN
Effective rebrands rely on a creative brief to keep everyone focused as the project progresses. Include sections for a situation analysis, objectives, target markets, budget and resources, timeframe, point person, known parameters, approval structure, stakeholders and metrics for assessing results.

4. REFUSING TO HIRE A BRANDING CONSULTANT WITHOUT INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE
It’s ok to consider an agency that hasn’t worked in your specific industry before. Sometimes it’s ideal – especially if you’re serious about a turnaround. Smart companies recognize the value of a fresh perspective.

5. NOT LEVERAGING EXISTING BRAND EQUITY AND GOODWILL
Dismissing brand equity when rebranding alienates established customers, while unnecessary overhauls can irreparably damage a brand’s perception. Consider the needs and mindset of the target market carefully before digging into the process. Sometimes a small evolution – or a new coat of paint – is all that’s needed to rejuvenate and make a brand relevant.

6. NOT TRYING ON YOUR CUSTOMER'S SHOES
Simply calling your own 800-number or receptionist may reveal challenges customers face and inform your rebranding strategy. Take the time to navigate your own website, buy your products and return something. Better yet, ask a friend or family member to do so and learn from their experiences.

7. THE REBRAND LACKS CREDIBILITY OR IS A SUPERFICIAL FACELIFT
The rebrand’s story must be believable given the existing brand experience and customer perception. It must also hold credibility internally. If employees who live the brand day-to-day don’t believe, the target audience won't either.

8. LIMITING THE INFLUENCE OF BRANDING PARTNERS
Good branding consultants are more than graphic designers. The best ones help develop new products, expand demographic focuses and even streamline business operations. Rein them in when needed, but don’t limit their areas of influence.

9. BELEIVING REBRANDING COSTS TOO MUCH
Good thinking doesn’t have to come with a multi-million dollar payout. You can get good thinking and solid strategy from small and talented branding agencies, consultants and in-house talent. Consider university students or small firms for cost-effective results.

10. NOT PLANNING AHEAD FOR ADAPTATION
It’s tempting for team members to walk away after the final presentation, however this is just the beginning of the final stretch. The implementation process may require adaptation as the rebrand rolls out. Acknowledge the need to keep the team and consultants together throughout implementation.

11. BYPASSING THE BASICS
The value of perfecting your physical environment, marketing materials, website, etc., is decreased if your customers languish on hold for inordinate amounts of time. If your invoices and contracts are written in 7-point legal jargon, the brand experience declines. Keep all customer touchpoints in mind when rebranding.

12. NOT CALLING THE CALL CENTRE
Often ignored in brand strategy sessions, customer service and other front-line staff can yield valuable information. This is the proverbial buck – the place where customers are the most honest, no matter what research indicates.

13. FORGETTING THAT PEOPLE DON'T DO WHAT THEY SAY
Use caution when basing rebranding strategies on focus group-type research. Unless you’re physically in the customer ’s environment observing them using your product or service, you’re not getting the full story. Actual observation, while not perfect, will get you a lot closer to the right solution.

14. GETTING STRONG ARMED OR INTIMIDATED BY CONSULTANTS
It’s the client's responsibility to reel things in when necessary. You still know the most about your brand and organization, the value of a non-immersed, fresh perspective notwithstanding.

15. PUTTING THE WRONG PERSON IN CHARGE
Assuming you’ve hired capable-to-outstanding branding consultants, the quality of the work delivered depends on sound, knowledgeable project management. Make sure your internal point person has the skills, time and resources to drive the agency to its most effective work yet.

16. STRATEGY BY COMMITTEE
Too many opinions delay the rebranding process and diffuse the focus needed to achieve ROI. Keep those with critical approval authority to an efficient shortlist, and assemble the smallest, most essential project team possible. Include a mix of levels – not just executive.

17. REBRANDING WITHOUT RESEARCH
There’s a lot of lip service about customers, but in brand strategy sessions they’re often forgotten. Current and prospective customers should be front and center when creating solutions. After all, the customer will be your ultimate test. Check sites like ReBrand.com for informative case studies.

18. BASING A REBRAND ON ADVERTISING
An ad campaign and a slogan do not equal brand positioning. Brand strategy should lead advertising – not the other way around. Sometimes the most effective rebrands don’t include traditional advertising.

19. TUNNEL FOCUS
Focusing solely on your own industry can be limiting. When rebranding, cross-pollinate your thinking with what leaders in other industries are doing in regard to customer experience, retail experience and customer care. Pull in thinking from different industries and encourage your agency to do so.

20. BELIEVING YOU'RE TOO SMALL TO REBRAND
Every brand needs refreshing to stay relevant as markets evolve. Smaller companies and non-profits are not immune. Like larger brands, they too have brand positions that need to be enhanced. Define your brand or be defined.

THE 10 MOST SUCCESSFUL REBRANDING CAMPAIGNS EVER
  1. J.CREW'S SALES WERE PLUMMETING; NOW MICHELLE OBAMA IS AN ENDORSER
  2. BURBERRY WAS CONSIDERED GANGWEAR; NOW IT'S WORN BY EMMA WATSON AND KATE MOSS
  3.  PABST BLUE RIBBON WAS CHEAP AND FRATTY; NOW IT SELLS FOR $44 IN CHINA
  4. HARLEY-DAVIDSON ALMOST WENT BANKRUPT; NOW THEY ARE THE MOST RELIABLE MOTORCYCLE BRAND
  5. MCDONALD'S MADE AMERICA FAT; NOW IT LOOKS LIKE STARBUCKS AND SERVES SALADS
  6. TARGET WAS JUST ANOTHER LOW-BROW DISCOUNT STORE; NOW IT'S THE FAVORITE OF THE YUPPIE CLASS
  7.  WALMART WAS CONSIDERED CHEAP; NOW IT'S THE FIRST OPTION FOR MANY AMERICANS
  8. THERE WAS NOTHING SPECIAL ABOUT OLD SPICE; NOW IT'S A VIRAL SENSATION
  9. APPLE WAS NEARLY BANKRUPT; NOW IT'S RULING THE WORLD
  10. UPS WAS BIG AND BORING; NOW IT IS PERSONAL AND INNOVATIVE