How your brand is perceived is vital to its success. And for most companies, rebranding is something that needs to happen every so often. Below, we reveal the 10 questions you need to ask yourself before rebranding your business.
In today’s increasingly image-driven world, your brand’s visual identity will undoubtedly be used by customers to make snap judgments about your business, so it’s crucial to have an eye-catching and informative design that draws potential customers in.
Everyone knows logos are important, but good branding is about more than just the logo. These days, effective branding permeates to all facets of your customer-facing product. From the packaging to social media posts, it's important to take a moment to assess what you are saying to your customer.
Before you decide whether to rebrand, ask yourself the below questions.
01. Does your brand tell a story?
Before rebranding your business, it's important to assess whether your brand tells a story that will resonate with your audience. Psychologists have also acknowledged that the human brain lights up when stories are being told. Here's an example below:
Once upon a time, there was dish soap. It was just like all of the other dish soaps—except it could clean crude oil off of ducklings and save other animals from oil spills, too!
That’s the kind of story that connects with audiences. Who doesn’t love saving baby animals? Customers crave personal connections with brands, and telling a story that gets them to connect is the perfect way to foster a relationship.
Dawn’s branding appeals to the animal lover inside all of us and capitalizes on the ever-increasing popularity of being more environmentally aware.
Their genius coupons make customers feel like they are personally helping the cause by buying Dawn products, and Dawn encourages even more interaction on social media platforms using hashtags like #HowDoYouLoveWildlife.
Dawn’s strength also lies in creating social media images that grab the customer’s’ attention and draw the focus to their humanitarian efforts. They also consistently make sure to always advertise their product by adding an overlay of their product to their images.
Evaluate if your brand tells a meaningful story — whether or not your brand should rebrand depends on your findings.
Try it: Use Canva to add your logo, product photo, or slogan to a photograph that represents your values and entices your audience to interact with the image.
02. Will a rebrand compromise your brand equity?
Brand equity refers to the value of having a well-known brand name and reputation. Companies with higher brand equity inevitably earn more money because people know and trust them.
Another important question to ask yourself when rebranding your business is whether it will confuse customers, or devalue your brand equity.
Your goal when rebranding should be to give your brand a new twist that customers identify with and support, rather than going in a completely different direction. IHOP (International House of Pancakes) is a great example of this.
IHOP's rebranding included a new logo which maintained their easily recognizable color combination, shapes, and fonts.
One of the biggest changes they made was turning the red “frown” upside down and into a smiley face, which they have now incorporated into many aspects of their brand identity.
IHOP also created new marketing campaigns capitalizing on their new happiness-focused brand, such as the #IHOPSmile hashtag which encourages customers to share photos of themselves enjoying meals at IHOP on Instagram and Twitter.
Using the refreshed colors and new logo, IHOP has also created fun icons and patterns (like the one below) that can be used in their visual marketing, from business cards to the wallpaper in their restaurants.
03. Do you need to streamline your services under one cohesive identity?
If you offer an array of services, are they all easily identified as being part of your brand? Or perhaps you have recently merged with or acquired another company and need to create a new logo and cohesive company identity.
If this is the case, a rebrand can help focus your company’s vision and portray, to new and old customers who you are now as a unit.
One example of a successful rebrand after a merger was the union of United and Continental Airlines. They kept the United name and uppercase formatting and used the globe symbol from Continental Airlines to create an identity that made sense and was recognizable by customers.
Recently, to celebrate their 90th birthday—and to highlight the longevity of the company—United created a unique cover photo for their Twitter page showcasing a plane from 1906 and a plane from their 2016 fleet, with a United overlay.
This interesting and attention-grabbing visual was a great way to illustrate their long history and success.
04. Can you identify a problem with your current brand?
As the old saying goes: If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.
Before rebranding your business, it's important to ask yourself what problems there are with your current logo, or brand kit.
If you can’t identify a real, quantifiable reason to rebrand, it’s probably not a great idea just yet. Take Gap as an example of what not to do.
In late 2010, Gap silently swapped their 20-year-old logo out for one you see on the right-hand side above.
Helvetica replaced the tall elegant font of their old logo and an awkwardly floating blue box drew the wrong kind of attention. The negative feedback forced Gap to revert back to the old logo within days.
What can we learn from Gap? Branding is delicate and needs to be treated as such. Rebranding should not be undertaken “just because.” Lots of time and research needs to go into successfully executing a rebrand to avoid a setback like Gap.
05. Is your brand story still relevant?
Another question to ask yourself when rebranding your business is whether your brand reflects the values of your core audience. People’s values change over time and your branding needs to adapt with them. As customers evolve, brands need to evolve.
Take, for example, Aerie. An offshoot of American Eagle Outfitters, Aerie sells intimates and sleepwear to AEO’s target market of young women. In 2014, the company announced that it would no longer be retouching its images as a way to promote real women with real bodies.
The #AerieReal campaign was born, which naturally meant a rebranding for Aerie, and their new handwritten logo fits right in with their spotlight on the beauty in realness and imperfection.
#AerieReal focuses on the importance and beauty of body differences in order to connect with their customers. These days, body positivity campaigns are everywhere, and Aerie’s bold move to nix digital retouching really resonated with their audience.
Aerie continues to interact with their customers on social media. Using their hashtag, they are able to see direct statements from customers about how the Aerie brand is impacting their lives.
They excerpt quotes like the one below from these testimonials and transform them into shareable social media images to build a network of personal connections with customers.
06. Has your target demographic changed since you created your brand?
Could a rebrand help you reconnect with your target audience, or help you reach a new demographic?
As we know, trends are ever-changing, especially with young people. As your core audience grows older, brands either have to change with them, or change to target the next generation.
One recent example of a brand that changed their target is MTV. This company has always aimed to reach a younger demographic, but they have been losing popularity due to online competitors such as Buzzfeed.
MTV decided to rebrand, changing their slogan from “I want my MTV” to “I am my MTV,” a message which focuses on today’s teens’ desires to express their individuality through unique content creation.
The new visual brand is a wild mish-mash which attempts to capitalize on teens’ interest in all things digital and self-promotion based.
On their website, teens can use MTV Bump, a platform where users can create mini animated videos and have a chance to get them aired on MTV.
For MTV, a brand which targets a tech-obsessed generation, it’s crucial to have a great social media presence. One way MTV does this is by utilizing their Facebook page to share clickable content that will grab teens’ attention and to post links to articles that will provoke a reaction from fans.
MTV also uses its Facebook presence to promote programming by using their cover photo to advertise TV shows through interesting visuals with information about the day and time the show airs.
This is an easy but effective way to convey information to customers as they interact with your company in a natural way.
07. Have your service offerings changed over time?
Perhaps you started off offering one service but over time have expanded your services. Or maybe the reverse is true; you started out offering a variety of services but now you’ve specialized in one thing.
One example of this can be seen in the ubiquitous Uber rebranded early in 2016 as they realized their market was growing globally and that they had expanded beyond their original purpose. What was once a simple taxi service has now expanded to delivering goods and food as well as transporting people.
Uber realized that it had the potential to diversify even more, and wanted branding that could grow with it.
As such, Uber created two different apps; one for drivers and one for riders. They refreshed the font and focused on the diversity of the market, using colors and patterns to represent the feel of different countries where they have a presence.
Though the new app logos got mixed reviews, using their new color schemes and patterns, Uber will be able to create diverse yet consistent looks for campaigns in different parts of the word which will connect on a more personal level with their users.
Design Tip: Use colors and patterns consistently throughout your marketing materials to create a cohesive look that will become instantly recognizable.
08. Are any of your brand’s colors, fonts, or graphics outdated?
If so, it’s likely that your brand could use a refresh. By keeping your design assets fresh, you are helping your brand communicate that you are up to date and current.
Verizon is an example of a once-fresh logo looking outdated. Verizon recently refreshed their logo and brand message which showcases Verizon’s “revitalized purpose of delivering the promise of the digital world — simply, reliably and in a way that consumers want,” (Kim Ansen, Verizon Press Release).
The old Verizon logo comprised an italicized font and gradient graphics. The oversized Z and the large fading checkmark just didn’t feel modern anymore.
Verizon kept a similar style of bold sans serif font while minimizing the easily identifiable red check mark to bring the logo into the age of flat and bold brand marketing. The new logo is now more flexible and easily scalable due to the simple graphics, lack of stacking, and minimalist feel.
Verizon’s commitment to simply showcasing the best of what the digital world has to offer can be seen through their curated Pinterest boards. They’ve stuck to their branding message by providing curated boards of gift guides, DIY tech projects, and more.
09. Can people understand your message at first glance?
What information and feelings does your branding give at first sight? If people are confused about what you are trying to portray when they catch a glimpse of your website or product, they probably won’t stay long.
This rings especially true for companies that sell products with packaging. Whether we like it or not, when it comes to products, what’s on the outside is just as important as what’s on the inside.
Having cheap or bland packaging conveys the message that your company doesn’t take its image importantly, and no one wants to buy a product with zero prestige.
Take Tesco for example. Tesco is a multinational grocery store based in England with store brand line of products called Everyday Value.
Typically, store brands cut costs on packaging to maintain the low prices they offer, and Tesco was no different. But their lackluster, and at the same time hard-to-miss packaging was embarrassing for timid bargain shoppers who were trying to save some money on bargain products.
The basic packaging was meant to help cut costs, but the message it gave off was that the products were as low quality as the packaging design.
By giving their brand updated and attractive new packaging and adding more variety to their offerings, Tesco was able to bring the products to life again and compete with similar retailers in the market.
They added bright new colors, and modern icon designs to encourage customers to buy products that were great quality for their value, something that the packaging now displays.
10. Does your brand create a memorable impression that will stick with your potential customers?
As a business, you want customers to remember you, and recommend you. If your brand doesn’t stand out among competitors, you might get passed over for a brand that has a more memorable reputation—or a more eye-catching logo.
Duolingo is a company that has taken a new approach to teaching languages. Where competitors are stiff and practical (not to mention expensive), Duolingo is bright, playful, and free!
They offer free language learning services for more than 25 languages through interactive game-like exercises with colorful graphics in bite-sized lessons.
Duolingo wants to make learning fun, and this message shines in their new logo. Their updated color scheme stands out with its lime green lettering, and the redraw of their owl logo has made him more realistic and relatable.
Using these same cartoon-like graphics, Duolingo creates and shares images on Twitter and Facebook to inspire people to start learning a new language for fun (yet practical) reasons, like flirting in a foreign country!