From Average to Award-winning: A Guide to Rebranding Your Business
May 5, 2023
This past weekend Atlanta welcomed a crowd of nearly 300,000 people donning colorful beaded bracelets, pristine white cowboy boots, and heart-shaped accessories. This wasn’t a typical Southern Sunday gathering or country music festival. On the contrary, it was an event so anticipated that Ticketmaster and its parent company, Live Nation, were sued over two dozen times by disappointed fans who accused the company of fraud, misrepresentation, and antitrust violations. These fans, affectionately called Swifties, rallied to see Taylor Swift return for a 3-night performance on The Eras Tour.
Taylor Swift is a name that needs no introduction in the music industry. With numerous chart-topping hits and a fiercely loyal fanbase, she has established herself as one of the most successful singers of all time. As she evolved as an artist, she also underwent a significant rebranding that took her music, image, and message to a whole new level. From her bold image makeover to her strategic marketing moves, she has shown the world how rebranding can be a powerful tool for staying relevant in a constantly changing industry.
What do Taylor Swift, King Charles III, and Jesus Christ have in common?
“The female artists I know of have to remake themselves, like, 20 times more than the male artists,” Swift said, “or else you’re out of a job.”
Taylor Swift is just one example of a successful rebranding campaign. Companies like Kia® and Dunkin’®, both successful businesses before their rebrand, finalized logo and name changes in the last few years that helped to revitalize their corporate identity and increase growth. Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Great Britain began the process of changing its national identity by incorporating the name and likeness of King Charles III in the national anthem, on currency and bank notes, and several other properties and services like military medals, UK passports, and brand packaging. Even followers of polarizing religious figures are on the bandwagon to revamp images associated with their church’s doctrine. The $100M “He Gets Us” ad campaign launched in March 2023 as a strategy to make Christianity and Jesus Christ modern, relevant, and marketable.
Although we can gain knowledge from studying these popular rebrands, what if you’re not the CEO of a multi-million dollar business, an international pop star, or a King?
Facilitating a successful rebrand to increase profit margins and keep your customers satisfied is possible if you incorporate these seven fundamental building blocks and proceed with a robust strategy, innovative creativity, and exceptional execution.
7 Methods for Rebranding Your Business
Reestablish/Research your brand’s audience and target market.
Embrace changes that may occur with your target audience as they age, industries evolve, and communication shifts. Many rebranding efforts are focused on either adapting to their current target market’s tastes or finding a new demographic. If you are rebranding for these reasons, make sure to do the necessary research to understand your new target market so your current branding will connect with them.
Take the company Old Spice® for example. The deodorant company was created in 1937 and was known for being straightforward and consistent with their branding which mostly appealed to older generations of men. However, when Axe® entered the market, they began losing shares and customers, so they decided to combat the brand stereotype of “smelling like your grandfather” and employed a humorous and youthful tone to their commercials and products. They currently have a line of deodorant called “Swagger” that includes taglines about smelling confident. By understanding new trends, Old Spice® was able to engage with its new target demographic, ditch the outdated image of the brand, and effectively capitalize on these changes.
Redefine your company’s vision, mission, and values.
Successful brands that last for decades have a core ideology beyond simply making profits. Modern business ideology dictates that a company’s mission should be aspirational and define why a business was created and what it intends to do to help others.
Tesla® may have high profits and produce exclusive, luxury vehicles, but its mission in 2023 is to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy” as well as design and manufacture state-of-the-art vehicles and technologies. Meta Platforms Inc® owns social media and communication platforms Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. They include their mission on the website landing, “Giving people the power to build community and bring the world closer together” which helps the brand to appear transparent and compassionate with their overall values.
Reconsider your brand’s slogan/tagline.
Your company slogan or tagline is one of the most important aspects of your brand’s visibility and customer base. Having a catchy, popular, and lasting slogan can help elevate your brand and keep it at the forefront of your customer’s options.
Remember the endearing “Every Kiss Begins with Kay” ads by Kay Jewelers® or the widely popular “He Went to Jared” commercials by Jared® Galleria of Jewelers? Those taglines had engaged couples everywhere clamoring to purchase a diamond from those stores. Other notable slogans took some effort to perfect. Denny’s® upgraded from “A good place to sit and eat” to “America’s Favorite Diner is Always Open.” A memorable strategic move that incorporated business hours and encouraged community by using patriotism to entice its diners.
Redesign your brand’s logo.
Another important step to consider is redesigning your logo. A logo upgrade can indicate to your customers that your brand identity has changed. Other advantages to upgrading the look of your company are connecting with a new audience, staying ahead of your competitors, and staying up-to-date on current trends.
One of the most popular logo rebrands of 2023 was for Kia® automobiles. The old logo had the name of the company in bold surrounded by an oval. It wasn’t considered sleek or modern, but it was familiar and signified a solid, reliable family car most people could afford. When their new logo launched it elicited some confusion with many questioning what new luxury car people were driving. There are still conflicting opinions on whether this rebrand was successful, but 30,000 people search online for “KN” cars each month and are redirected to Kia’s website full of gleaming new designs and electric vehicles. Curiosity may not have been their intent, but it’s doing the trick to drive traffic to their brand. Maybe it’s safe to say “A win is a win.”
If your company is hanging on at its fingertips, renaming it may be the right choice to consider. This decision should not be made lightly. Once you rename your company, you run the risk of losing customers and shareholders. Make sure the rollout is highly publicized across all forms of media to ensure your profits and audience don’t drastically decrease while you launch your rebrand.
There are many companies that have enacted slight changes to their name, such as dropping a word (e.g., Dunkin’® formerly Dunkin’ Donuts, and Starbucks® formerly Starbucks Coffee) or maybe they’ve decided to go by their more popular acronym instead (e.g., KFC® formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken and WW® formerly Weight Watchers International). Other well-known businesses took a more drastic approach. Today, we could be opening a can of Brad’s Drink instead of Pepsi®, logging on to Cadabra instead of Amazon®, or lacing up our Blue Ribbon Sports sneakers instead of Nike®. These new names are still synonymous with the brands we know and love, but part of their success could be attributed to these upgrades.
Rebuild your brand identity with an updated website and new marketing materials.
Your website and marketing materials are an integral part of telling the story of your business. It should be easy to navigate and made accessible for everyone. When you upgrade your site you can drive more traffic online and also provide access to your social media accounts which can inform your customers of your brand’s message and voice.
The popular video rental company, Blockbuster® filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and closed most of its doors in the years following. The company wasn’t able to transfer to a digital model and update its website for online streaming to beat competitor, Netflix®. Interestingly enough, Netflix® offered to buy out Blockbuster® in 2000 for $50 million, but the CEO declined, stating he thought it was a “very small niche business” with declining revenue. A similar situation happened to the beloved conglomerate Toys R Us®. They were also unable to update their website in time to compete with Amazon® and subsequently filed for bankruptcy in 2017 (the same year they announced they would revamp their website to better accommodate online shopping). Unfortunately, it was a little too late, and they closed their last two flagship stores in 2021. Macy’s® signed a deal with Toys R Us® and opened 451 branded toy shops inside the megastore. Maybe it’s not too late for a comeback after all.
Review your progress by continually monitoring and measuring your results.
When you’ve taken all the steps to revitalize your business, remember to stay consistent with monitoring and measuring your results. Your company’s rebrand can be the next success story as long as you continue to prioritize growth and renewal. The businesses that choose to stay stagnant and double down on their messaging run the risk of losing major brand-defining deals and public support. When you start incorporating these changes to your business model, you run the risk of alienating your audience, losing customers and shareholders, and the company itself. However, it’s much better to take risks in order to enact positive change than stand by and watch your company fail having done nothing new or innovative to save it.