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Rebranding: What you need to know about revamping your brand

May 11, 2021 · 10 min read

When you saw this post, did you read the word “rebranding” and immediately feel a sense of dread? 

Maybe you felt a momentary sense of relief that you haven’t had to undergo a rebranding … yet.

The truth is, while rebranding may seem scary at first, it's nothing to fear. Not only can rebranding be a fun endeavor, but it can also work wonders for audience sentiment and sales.

Take a deep breath before you keep reading. We’ll walk you through the basics of rebranding and dive into some specific guidelines so, when the time comes, you’ll know when and how to rebrand. 


What is a rebrand?

A rebrand is a change in the overall brand image of a company or organization. 

Companies typically undergo a rebrand to develop a new brand identity or slightly change their current brand.

Rebrands involve creating a new look and feel for the established brand to influence its audience's perception of a product, service, or overall company. However, rebranding doesn't just involve creating a new logo design and color palette. 

It’s often a more complex process.


Why you might need to rebrand your business

A business may need to undergo the rebranding process for various reasons. 

An organization may need a total rebrand if they completely shift their brand identity, which can happen when the mission, vision, or values change. (You’ll see this in the ACLU example below.)

Some businesses may just need a partial rebrand, which allows them to keep their general brand identity and brand recognition built over the years while refreshing their visuals to stay current. (You’ll see this in the Dunkin’ Donuts example below.)

Let’s take a look at some examples of when a business might need to rebrand.

1. New company mission

A critical part of branding is communicating your company’s mission and values. If your branding no longer reflects the company mission, it could be time for a serious change. 

Has your company completely pivoted? Do you no longer offer the same goods or services you once did? Maybe you do, but your core mission or values behind those offerings have shifted. Perhaps you even have a new name.

Whatever the reason, a change in your company's mission, vision, or values indicates that it may be time for you to consider a total rebranding.


2. Outdated designs

You might want to party like it’s 1999, but you probably don’t want your brand's visual elements to look like they're stuck in the past. 

Does your logo look outdated? How about your color scheme and fonts? 

If vintage charm is a big part of your business, you’re probably fine sticking with the existing branding. Otherwise, it may be time to revamp the look and feel of your company to keep up with the times (and your competitors)! 

This type of rebranding is also usually fully encompassing. Since your logo, color palette, and other visual elements are all over your marketing materials, you’ll need to redesign a lot of them to keep things consistent.


3. Market repositioning

Is your company in the midst of, or considering, expanding into a new market segment? 

If so, your current designs and marketing materials might not paint a clear picture of this. 

Repositioning is a common reason to rebrand because effective, accurate visuals are often the first thing customers see when you expand and look for product-market fit. 

This also applies to international markets. If you’re not careful, your branding could convey the exact opposite of what you’d like it to abroad. For example, “grand” means “impressive” in the U.S. but just means “alright” in Ireland. The color white represents innocence in many cultures, but in others, it can signal death. 

Pay attention to your messaging and imagery and how your audience in various cultures and markets may interpret these.

Market repositioning is an excellent example of using a partial vs. a complete rebrand of your company. A partial rebrand can focus on new offerings and segments, while the rest of your company’s branding can remain intact. Think of a partial rebrand as branching out from your current branding—not replacing it in its entirety.


The rebranding process

If your company has decided it's time for a brand overhaul, you'll need to create your rebranding strategy. 

A successful rebrand is a thoughtful, intentional process. You shouldn’t rush it. Instead, it’s essential to think through each step and ensure that you are coming to educated decisions that reflect your company’s goals and customers’ interests. 

Also, make sure to involve all stakeholders who have input on your public-facing brand like the CEO and other members of the leadership team outside of design.

Here are the main steps you'll take as you start to rebrand:

1. Redefine your company's mission, vision, and values.

The most important part of your company is its mission, vision, and values. Maybe they’ve changed, or maybe they’ve stayed the same. 

Either way, start the rebranding process by clearly redefining these elements since they will be reflected in your revamped brand identity. That way, you can have them fresh in your mind as you update any necessary areas of your brand.


2. Review your brand's audience and market.

Did your brand’s target audience change or grow? 

Before making any decisions about your rebrand, review your target audience information and update it where necessary. Consider your customer base as well as other stakeholders like investors and future employees.

Also, reassess your market and review your competitors. Are competitors from 10+ years ago still your competitors? Has their branding changed over time? Consider these questions as you identify ways that your branding helps you stand out in the marketplace.


3. Identify any messaging or visual elements or that need a makeover.

Once you've redefined or reestablished your company's mission, vision, values, audience, and market, it's time to start considering what areas of your branding need to change.

The first question to ask is, "How do we want people to feel when they see our brand or encounter our messaging?" Write down some adjectives or descriptions that answer this question, so that you can have them in front of you during the rebranding process. 

Now, take a look at the elements of your existing brand to determine which parts don't align with your new brand identity. Here are a few things you'll want to review:

Company name or brand name

  • Tagline or slogan

  • Logo design

  • Color scheme

  • Brand voice


4. Manage Expectations and Timeline

In a perfect world, a rebrand would take no time at all, and your team would implement it seamlessly. Ah, one can dream! 

In reality, rebranding projects take time, collaboration, and strong communication. There will most likely be a transition period between the old branding and the new. 

It’s important to manage expectations of what your rebranding efforts will look like and identify potential bottlenecks, such as waiting for stakeholder feedback or working with external designers or branding experts.

Then, create a rebranding plan—with a timeline. Are you starting with something major, like a logo redesign? If so, communicate when the change should be complete, when to stop using the old logo, and when to implement the new one. 

A cohesive rebranding strategy and schedule will help you implement your company’s new marketing materials without confusion.


5. Build new brand guidelines.

When your company undergoes a rebrand, your branding guidelines will need some updating as well. We offer a helpful brand guideline resource so you can get all your materials in order after a rebrand. 

As always, make sure these brand guidelines are well-documented and communicated across your company. This ensures everyone is on the same page in regards to what assets and creative materials to use.


Three examples of rebranding done right

Need some inspiration for your rebranding project? Here are 3 examples of successful rebrands:

1. Old Spice

Old Spice is a brand with a long history of providing men's grooming products. Founded in 1937, the brand mainly attracted older men—that is, until 2010, when the company decided it needed to revamp its brand and reach a new demographic to stay competitive in the marketplace.

While Old Spice kept its brand name, they changed just about everything else. The brand went from being synonymous with what your grandpa smells like to a viral sensation with a change of tone, voice, and positioning. 

Source

This rebrand introduced the "Old Spice Guy," played by Isaiah Mustafa, an actor and former football player. He was surprisingly funny and quirky, which created a lot of buzz around the revamped brand. Old Spice was no longer seen as serious and instead embraced humor and quirkiness to appeal to a new generation of customers.


2. ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has a mission to "create a more perfect union—beyond one person, party, or side" and to “realize this promise of the United States Constitution for all and expand the reach of its guarantees.”

Since they're on a mission to unite the country and embrace inclusivity, they decided to update their branding to reflect it. Their original blue branding could be seen as partisan, given that blue is often associated with the Democratic Party, so they opted for red, white, and blue with their new logo. They also decided to use 14 different colors across their branding to reflect the diversity of the United States.

They also got guidance from the ACLU's disability rights teams to ensure that their branding elements were accessible for everyone.

Here’s the branding before:

Source


And their branding after:

Source

This successful rebrand is a shining example of what it means to update your branding to reflect your mission, vision, and values.


3. Dunkin'

In January 2019, Dunkin' Donuts announced a name change. They dropped the Donuts!

Luckily for doughnut lovers everywhere, Dunkin' did not actually drop the doughnuts from their menu. However, they wanted to position themselves as a "premier beverage-led, on-the-go brand." Dropping the "Donuts" from its name was also a nod to the fans who lovingly refer to the company as “Dunkin'” already.

Dunkin' has been serving customers since 1950, so the company worked hard to ensure the rebrand would not undo any of the brand recognition and loyalty they’ve established over the years. 

Source

This was a successful rebrand because customers were already familiar with the shortened name from the company's tagline, "America Runs on Dunkin'." The company also kept the same general font and colors in the logo redesign.


Air can help you rebrand

Rebranding can seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. It's not very often that your company will undergo a rebrand, so be intentional and take your time as you embark on the process.

Whatever your rebranding strategy looks like from a timing or design perspective, you'll need to keep things organized to streamline the process. That's where a digital asset management platform like Air comes in. 

Establishing a central location to collect, review, and collaborate on your rebranded assets is essential to keeping everyone on the same page. While being able to host different asset versions in the same platform allows you to stack new versions of branding assets on top of old versions or iterations while tracking the transformation.

Find out how Air makes collaboration easy for teams during a rebrand and beyond.

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