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BLOGViewpoint: The Rebranding Decision

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Branding, Make It Happen Tipsheet, MarketingTagged as: , ,

At what point might it make sense to rebrand? Not a question to be taken lightly, but it has been asked – or considered – by just about every CEO and every marketer at one point or another.

In the spirit of putting some objective criteria behind any decision to change, here are some ideas that can clarify the conversation, and ultimately lead to better brand decision-making.

First, a quick definition of brand: it’s not the logo, or the name.  The brand is the intrinsic quality of what you and the organization represent. It is how your organization interacts at each touchpoint, it is your culture, and it is what people say about you behind your back.   So when people talk about rebranding, it can mean two things:  changing that underlying culture, or it can mean changing the public face – the representational symbols, such as name, logo, website, etc.

Five reasons why rebranding makes sense:

  1. Reality gap: The reality of the underlying brand – your culture – no longer is represented by what people see.  Your name, logo, and collateral are out of sync.
  2. Desired future gap:  There is a gap between what you represent – the reality of your culture – and what you want your brand to represent.  In other words, your culture needs updating… and eventually, so will the visual representation of it.
  3. Competitive repositioning:  A rebrand can deliver a strong competitive nudge by repositioning the organization differently relative to competitors.
  4. Organizational change: mergers and acquisitions or divestitures may mean a rebranding is necessary, or an important market signal.
  5. Fatigue:  The old logo and visual identity appear tired, and need a refresh to appear less dated.

And four reasons not to rebrand:

  1. Because the agency says so.
  2. For the heck of it.
  3. Because the new CEO doesn’t like the old logo.
  4. Because the timing is not right.

At the end of the day, the decision to rebrand is a question of whether the benefits of the new brand will be greater than the value of the old brand equity that is being jettisoned.  Sometimes the answer is yes, but often, it is not.


Often the problem with brands is more a question of consistency.  This week, look for examples of inconsistency, and start the process of fixing.  (Hint: don’t just look at logos, brochures, and powerpoint templates. The biggest problem areas are on the internet and intranet, and within social media.  And it’s not just visual branding, it is the user experience.)

Branding Insight:  Sometimes it is more powerful to breathe new life into an existing brand than to completely start new. Breathing new life might mean refreshing the logo, updating the look of the website, or changing your standard word and powerpoint templates.  Breathing real life into a brand, however, means working on the underlying cultural drivers, then motivating your staff to live your brand values every day.

Does this topic resonate? Reach out to Randall: he can present it to your group.  (More presentation topics)
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