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Your com­plete guide to rebrand­ing in 2022


Ryan Tay­lor

Rebrand­ing has become very fash­ion­able these days. And though it is a vital part of a company’s life­cy­cle, many mis­con­cep­tions have built up over time. So, why do com­pa­nies rebrand? What are the advan­tages? And when should you avoid it? 

Rebrand­ing is point­less. Brand­ing is some­thing you do once

If only it were that sim­ple! It may be con­ve­nient to think that once you have all your brand ele­ments nailed, then there’s noth­ing else to do, but that couldn’t be fur­ther from the truth. 

Think of it anoth­er way — dur­ing the life­time of your com­pa­ny, how many times have you changed the team, updat­ed equip­ment, or added a new ser­vice? Unless your com­pa­ny is young, chances are all of these things apply. Giv­en brand­ing is the first impres­sion that cus­tomers have of your busi­ness, it stands to rea­son that as the com­pa­ny devel­ops, so will the way it looks, acts, and feels. 

In 2020, the aver­age lifes­pan of a com­pa­ny on Stan­dard and Poor’s 500 Index was 21 years. Thought about in human terms, that’s birth to ado­les­cence — I think we can all relate to the num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant and sub­stan­tial changes we’ve gone through in that period!

If your com­pa­ny is per­form­ing well, under­take a brand update every 3 – 5 years. If your com­pa­ny has hit a rough patch, that need may be more press­ing. In either case, that’s at least 4 brand updates for the aver­age business.

Rebrands are for fail­ing companies

They can be, but increas­ing­ly, com­pa­nies that are per­fect­ly sound are using rebrand­ing as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to make impor­tant changes. Align­ing with the needs of your cus­tomers is essen­tial to longevi­ty, and rebrand­ing is a fun­da­men­tal part of how those cus­tomers per­ceive your busi­ness. Put sim­ply, rebrand­ing can be reac­tive, but proac­tive­ly using brand­ing changes to place your com­pa­ny ahead of the com­pe­ti­tion, is increas­ing­ly a tac­tic many are using.

Many suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies have rebrand­ed mul­ti­ple times dur­ing their oper­a­tion. Take Apple, for exam­ple. Since its incep­tion in 1976, it has had at least 7 major brand iter­a­tions, each with its own dis­tinct set of visu­als and val­ues. It is true that more recent iter­a­tions have been less sub­stan­tial, but rebrand­ing doesn’t always have to be a root and branch oper­a­tion, and more often than not, it isn’t. Instead, it’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty to assess what is work­ing well, what isn’t, and using that knowl­edge to make sub­tle changes to redress the bal­ance. This kind of work is equal­ly impor­tant whether you’re at the helm of the largest tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny in the world, or a one-per­son outfit.

Some com­pa­nies choose to use rebrand­ing not when they are fail­ing nec­es­sar­i­ly, but when pub­lic opin­ion, or mar­ket forces, pre­vail. Face­book — or Meta — as it is now known, recent­ly made sig­nif­i­cant brand changes at the same time as pub­lic opin­ion began to change. Con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous­ly, the com­pa­ny intro­duced the _​metaverse_​, a new ser­vice. These two events prompt­ed Face­book to change its name, logo, brand val­ues, aes­thet­ics, and repo­si­tion the many com­pa­nies it owns. Oth­er com­pa­nies such as Google — now Alpha­bet — have tak­en a sim­i­lar approach to address a chang­ing mar­ket or a reeval­u­a­tion of the company’s pri­ma­ry goals. 

Brand­ing is just visuals

Tra­di­tion­al­ly, maybe, but increas­ing­ly brand­ing applies to any cus­tomer-fac­ing aspect of a busi­ness. Visu­als are very much a part, but brand­ing is also impor­tant in deter­min­ing com­pa­ny val­ues, goals and aspi­ra­tions, tone and mood, recruit­ment, and tar­get mar­kets. Brand­ing is both the aes­thet­ics and the per­son­al­i­ty of your com­pa­ny, or put sim­ply: the way it looks, but also the way it feels.

When con­sid­er­ing rebrand­ing, con­sid­er both look and feel. For exam­ple, if the com­pa­ny is of a cor­po­rate nature, inspi­ra­tion for its tone, val­ues, and visu­als should be gath­ered from a dif­fer­ent pool of pos­si­bil­i­ties to that of a com­pa­ny that is infor­mal, youth­ful, or playful. 

Rebrand­ing is expensive

Busi­ness own­ers like to track the suc­cess or fail­ure of a com­pa­ny change, usu­al­ly via met­rics termed _​key per­for­mance indicators_​(KPIs). Brand­ing doesn’t fit neat­ly into this type of track­ing, as much of what brand­ing brings to a com­pa­ny is about feel­ing, opin­ion, and the way it is regard­ed. That doesn’t make it any less impor­tant. Giv­en brand­ing is fre­quent­ly the first and last impres­sion a cus­tomer has, you could say its val­ue is price­less. If I said _​a tasty fruit, the Gold­en Arch­es, _​or _​swoosh_​, you prob­a­bly know exact­ly which com­pa­nies I’m refer­ring to. Those com­pa­nies all start­ed from noth­ing, yet their brand­ing is now so recog­nis­able, it feels as if these com­pa­nies are a part of the fab­ric of society.

Things are look­ing a bit tired. Let’s rebrand!

Abort! Bore­dom is not a good rea­son to rebrand. Nei­ther is the age. Allow­ing deci­sions as sig­nif­i­cant as whether to change your com­pa­ny brand­ing to be deter­mined by emo­tion nev­er ends well. Take the time to have a pro­fes­sion­al assess your brand, and deter­mine an approach based on their analy­sis. There are plen­ty of less cost­ly ways to scratch an itch!

X com­pa­ny is doing well. Let’s copy them

Uber pio­neered ride-shar­ing, the abil­i­ty to order a taxi almost any­where, at the tap of a phone screen. With­in months, end­less copy­cat firms had sprout­ed up. And over time, end­less copy­cat firms dis­ap­peared off the face of the earth. Copy­ing the brand­ing of anoth­er com­pa­ny is fol­ly, even more so if that com­pa­ny is soar­ing. If you decide to copy a suc­cess­ful com­peti­tor, you’re hand­ing them your busi­ness, as from that all impor­tant first impres­sion, you offer noth­ing dif­fer­ent. Which would you pick in this situation?

Where do I start with rebranding?

First­ly, there is noth­ing stop­ping you from rebrand­ing your­self, espe­cial­ly if funds are tight. How­ev­er, it’s worth not­ing that the process can be com­pli­cat­ed, and is nev­er lin­ear, so enlist­ing the help of a brand con­sul­tant or design­er will be a sol­id investment.

That said, if you are intent on explor­ing rebrand­ing your­self, the last thing you should do is make impul­sive changes. Your appetite for change may be great, but again, do not let emo­tions over­whelm com­mon sense. Instead, con­duct research to iden­ti­fy defi­cien­cies or areas for change. Enlist the opin­ions of your team, your cus­tomers, and impor­tant­ly, the opin­ions of laypeo­ple, to help catch con­sid­er­a­tions you may not spot your­self. Once you have an idea of what you think is required, then speak to an expert who can make it happen.

The brand iden­ti­ty of your com­pa­ny is an asset. It’s also an area where cre­ativ­i­ty and pas­sion can flour­ish. Enjoy it!

This arti­cle was orig­i­nal writ­ten by our Cre­ative Direc­tor, Ryan Tay­lor, for the Shut­ter­stock blog.

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