When Does Rebranding Make Sense?

When Does Rebranding Make Sense?

Making the decision to rebrand your company isn’t one that should be taken lightly. While rebranding done well and for the right reasons can significantly improve your business, the reverse is true for rebranding done poorly or for the wrong reasons. And, while there are certainly many valid reasons why rebranding your company could make sense, there are also many reasons why it’s probably not a good idea. Here are 5 reasons why you should rebrand, 5 reasons why you shouldn’t and 5 key things to keep in mind if you do.


#1 Your company or product has changed.

Your brand should clearly and concisely communicate to consumers what it is you offer them. A shift in a company’s philosophy or offerings can often be the catalyst for a necessary rebranding effort to eliminate confusion about what your company is or does. Apple, for example, started out in 1976 as Apple Computers and later changed the name in 2007 to Apple, Inc. in an effort to more accurately reflect the wide range of products and services they offered.

#2 You have discovered a shift in your audience.

In 2010, Old Spice discovered that 60% of men’s body washes were purchased by women. They not only changed the look of their brand to appeal to the newly discovered consumer segment but a new campaign focusing on “the man your man could smell like” was created. We all know how that turned out.

#3 There is a shift in your industry.

Sometimes the winds of change can uproot even the most established brands and make rebranding a necessary step to remain relevant. Take public transportation for example. Since the introduction of services like Uber and Lyft, cab companies have lost massive portions of the market share in cities all across the country. Many cab companies are now rebranding everything from the companies themselves to the cars and even the services in an effort to create their own app based Uber-like experience.

#4 Take back your story.

At Telegraph, we frequently point out that a brand is made up of three things: what you say, what you do and what others say about you. If those first two aren’t aligned, the third (and most important part of the equation) is doomed to fail. When the narrative around your brand has been taken out of your hands, a rebranding effort may be just the ticket to take your story back. In 2009, Domino’s Pizza took their story back by publicly acknowledging that their pizza sucked in “The Pizza Turnaround” campaign. Their rebranding began with a new recipe and an effort to get consumers to give them a second chance, and it worked with sales increasing as much as 3.9% in a single quarter.

#5 A Natural Evolution

A major company crisis, a shift in the industry or a newly discovered consumer insight isn’t always necessary to justify a rebrand and not all rebrands have to be a complete overhaul of your business. Sometimes, just being insightful and proactive is reason enough to make a simple tweak to your brand. Starbucks, for example, has changed its logo four times since opening in 1971 and each update has cashed in on the existing brand equity, making the logo and brand more and more iconic with each evolution.


#1 Knee-jerk reaction to your competition.

There’s no reason for your company to hit the panic button just because others in the industry are investing in a rebrand. If you have a strong brand and business is good, stay true to who you are as a company and avoid getting into a pissing contest that can ultimately damage your brand. Sometimes the same lesson the hare learned from the tortoise can be applied to branding decisions as well.

#2 You’re just tired of your current brand.

My father-in-law had a long career as a Creative Director at Leo Burnett in Chicago and they had a name for it when clients decided to rebrand just for the hell of it. They called it “boardroom fatigue,” meaning that their clients were just tired of seeing the same things over and over. The problem with this logic is that it is not necessarily representative of your customers take on your brand. Just because you’ve listened to your favorite song on repeat to the point of now hating it doesn’t make it a bad song. The point is, if you are thinking about rebranding, make sure you do it for the benefit of your customers, not the mental health of your boardroom.

#3 To reach an audience that isn’t really your audience

If your business is built on filling square holes, don’t try and brand yourself as a round peg company. Too often, companies build a brand around the target audience they want to appeal to instead of the one they actually appeal to. Oldsmobile learned this lesson the hard way when they ran the company into the ground by attempting to rebrand themselves as a car for young people with the “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile” campaign. The irony of the name “Olds-mobile” has never been lost on me with that one.

#4 It ain’t broke.

There are plenty of rebranding case studies that prove you can update your brand without killing a company’s momentum, but it’s still a question worth asking if you’re considering a rebrand. If business is doing well and customers are happy, make sure you don’t break what’s working with a major change. If you’re in this situation, subtle enhancements may make more sense than a full on rebrand and there’s also no shame in sticking with what is working.

#5 Chasing trends.

Be sure that any pivots or updates you make to your brand are aligned with your company’s core competencies, philosophy and vision for the future. If you’re only thinking about updating your brand to keep up with the latest trends in design or marketing, you may actually be causing long term damage for short term recognition. Think of it like getting a tattoo on a whim during Spring Break.


#1 Be what you say.

This again goes back to Branding 101, but be sure your company can actually deliver on what your rebrand promises.

#2 The “Straight Line” philosophy.

My approach to marketing is all about finding ways to make connections. Whether it’s a logo, a tagline, a video, an image or any other form of communication, a company’s marketing efforts are all about connecting with your customer. That being said, keep in mind that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line and consider your messaging and branding that line between your company and your customer. In other words, don’t overcomplicate things.

#3 Lead, don’t follow.

If all you’re doing with a rebranding effort is taking a look at what the competition is doing and mimicking that, don’t bother. Put in the time and effort to identify what that unique aspect of your company is that sets you apart from the competition and do it better than them. And if you can’t identify something that makes your company better than the competition, rebranding isn’t going to solve your problem.

#4 Don’t undervalue your existing brand equity

Make sure you realize just how valuable your existing brand is and don’t do anything to damage that with a rebrand. In 2009, RadioShack decided to drop “Radio” from the name and just become known as “The Shack” in an attempt to attract a younger audience. Their customers reacted poorly such a drastic change to the iconic 92-year-old brand and after spending nearly $200 million dollars on the rebrand, they quickly made the switch back to RadioShack.

#5 Keep the horse ahead of the cart.

Be sure that you have the timing right when you rebrand. Rebranding shouldn’t be the catalyst for your company to change. Change should be the catalyst for your company to rebrand. In other words, become the company you want and then let people know about it vs. using a rebrand to tell people what you want your company to be.

Obviously, there’s no one size fits all approach to rebranding. Every company is different and ultimately you should always have your finger on the pulse of your brand and know how it is being perceived by your audience. If it’s time for your company to rebrand, just give it the attention it deserves and make sure to approach it the right way to move your business forward.