We all know what it feels like to reach for one of your favourite outfits and find, wow, I’ve really outgrown this. Well, maybe all of us!
When it was new and shiny, it was the thing best ever. Now it doesn’t look right anymore, the cut’s all wrong. Once it said all the right things about you but now it does the opposite.
Company brands are not dissimilar.
You’ve built it from scratch and it’s familiar. You know that so much hard work, planning and investment went into building it the first or the last time but, as art and fashion reflects the zeigeist, so too must a company brand reflect internal and external context.
You know when, in the immortal words of fashion conscious Gough, ‘it’s time’.
So, what are some triggers for rebranding and how can you sell it to the executive?
1. Mixed messages
Your sales people are pitching your organisation as an industry leader and your brand voice and collateral is from the 80s. Often, when businesses evolve operationally the marketing materials take a while to catch up. Sometimes it is due to the organisation not starting with a marketing function and marketing forming part of a the job of someone employed in an operational or HR role. It’s time to define and articulate the essence of your company and its key points of differentiation from the competition in print and digital marketing materials.
2. People don’t know what you do
When organisations grow, where they end up can be miles from where they began. If the narrative has changed, it’s an opportunity to share the story. If you don’t know what the story is due to extended years of organic growth embarking on a brand identity process provides a useful way to extract the knowledge often built into an organisation’s DNA. People connect with stories and they’re often worth sharing. Discovering the stories and articulating them back into the business can generate enormous goodwill and, next time the BBQ starts, employees and customers will know what to say about your business. It’s time to understand what your company and its people represent today, and tell that story through your people.
3. It’s a crowded market
When there is little product or service differentiation, the intangible aspects of a consumer’s experience with the brand becomes the differentiation. You know in your heart that the home brand is really just as good as the ‘premium, triple distilled, dusted with magic’ brand in the gold foil, but you go for magic. Why? Because we associate the name, attractiveness of the box and the investment in such things with quality; and place a value on it. The experience you create for the customer translates in to a price premium with a nice impact to the bottom line. If you are in a crowded market, it’s time to stand up and stand out.
4. Employee disconnect
Ever noticed how some companies manage to turn most employees into unabashed advocates? What is the secret? What do you say when someone asks you what you do and where you work? Our occupation and our choice workplace forms part of our identity: it says a lot about who we are. So, great brands, focus on understanding employee attitudes first. Going through a rebrand presents an opportunity to boost employee engagement and define the employee value proposition (or what makes your organisation a wonderful place to work). When your employees see work as ‘just a job’, it’s time to rebrand.
5. A shrinking market
If the pool of work is running dry, conducting customer and employee research can help you understand why and how to retain existing customers, while also providing insights into new or emerging markets and trends. Innovating is about trying to do things differently, exploring new territory and moving forward. Be bold. Define the market.
6. It doesn’t fit anymore
Just like the outfit you loved 10 years ago, it doesn’t fit anymore. This problem is common and isn’t a bad problem to have. Usually if you have this problem your organisation has reached a point of maturity, has a well established business and is ready for its next incarnation. It takes courage and vision to change. Looking back you’ll wonder what took you so long and why you didn’t change earlier. Markets change, the business changes, clients change and society changes. You need to change too. But you want style and substance. The process is one of distilling what you already are and can do, not grafting an unworkable vision.
For left brain thinkers, consider the market risk of not evolving. For right brain thinkers, consider the incredible difference an emotive experience makes to relationships. Your brand can be much more than the SKUs and the customer service model. It can represent optimism and confidence.
Gough knew when it was time, do you?