How Do You Know When It’s Time to Rebrand?

Retro TV Commercial

In the comedy industry, if you have to explain a joke, it wasn’t very funny.  How does this adage translate to the corporate world, and more importantly, your branding strategy?

Are You Explaining Your Brand?

The first, most obvious, sign that you need to rebrand is if you find yourself consistently having to explain or make excuses for your logo and slogans to your target audience.  This means that there is a disconnect between the message you are trying to convey and the one your potential customers are receiving.

Has Your Target Client Base Lost Attention?

Rebranding is also necessary when it is clear that you are no longer reaching your target audience.  A good example of this would be the trials and tribulations of the now defunct Oldsmobile brand.  By the late eighties, they obtained a reputation of being a vehicle for an older person.  While a healthy debate could be generated about whether or not rejecting that mantle was a mistake, the fact was that they wanted to reach the youth market.  This was not possible with their image in the marketplace.  Subsequently, in the early nineties, they rebranded with a “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile” ad campaign, along with a slick and contemporary logo.

Have You Outgrown Your Brand?

Rebranding is also often the side effect of a change in the business.  It is possible for a company to grow beyond its brand identity in the market place.  In this case, it is necessary to rebrand in order to reflect those changes.  The World Wrestling Federation is a very good example of this change.  For decades, they sold little else besides body slams.  Today, they are involved in sports entertainment, music, and publishing.  The old WWF brand was too narrow to reflect the company’s current structure.  After a complete rebranding, they now exist as the extremely successful World Wrestling Entertainment.  If rumors are to be believed, there will be a future rebranding where the word “wrestling” is removed from the name.

Has Your Business Stagnated?

Finally, a common source of rebranding is stagnation.  There may be nothing technically wrong with a business’s current brand identity, but after many years with the same image of trappings, it is impossible for the impact to be the same.  In this case, the rebranding is not as dramatic as in the previous two cases, but rather, the rebrand takes the form of “tweaks.”  This is especially true when the images and language that attract your target audience keeps changing.

Pepsi is an excellent example of this paradigm.  The Pepsi logo of today is dramatically different than the one of twenty years ago.  This is because they have branded themselves as the drink of the young.  The same images and slogans that would have garnered the attention of a young person twenty years ago would not register with the youth of today.  In recognition of this, the Pepsi brand is regularly re-evaluated and changed to reflect the current mores and norms of their youthful demographic.

Rebranding is always a tough decision, but these suggestions should provide you with food for thought regarding when a business may need to rebrand their image.

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