Your branding is a key expression of your brand identity. But, just as your brand doesn’t stay the same forever, sometimes your branding needs a makeover. Is it time to rebrand? How can you tell?
Here are the top five signs that your brand needs refreshing:
1. You’re going through changes
Have you taken on a new business partner? Merged with another company? Significantly altered your product? Stepped into a new market?
If a major change has happened to your brand, rebranding is often a good idea.
There are risks associated with rebranding. People like what’s familiar, and you will inevitably experience backlash when you first rebrand. For a start, customers will lose that comfortable sense of consistency they’ve come to expect from your brand, and new customers may struggle to find you.
However, continuing with branding that no longer reflects who your company is could be more damaging in the long run.
The classic UK example of rebranding to reflect change is the merger of Orange and T-Mobile into EE. When the two merged in 2009 (and became the UK’s biggest mobile network), they launched a joint rebranding campaign which made marketers everywhere weep with delight:
Honestly, this is like porn for marketers
The clever thing about this campaign was that it used the established branding of both companies to explicitly link the two. This prepared the way for the final merger into EE, with its own distinct branding.
2. Your business card makes you cringe
One of the clearest signals that it’s time to rebrand is that your current branding embarrasses you.
Maybe you’ve outgrown your current branding. Maybe you’re better at graphic design these days. Maybe you’ve changed your values, or grown and changed as a company (in which case, check out other entries on this list!)
Whatever the reason, if your logo or branding makes you cringe, that’s a good enough reason to rebrand. You should be proud of your branding, not wincing every time you hand over your business card!
Don’t worry. If your branding does embarrass you, you’re in good company. Here are a few notorious logo fails to make you feel better:
So far, so clean.
Oh dear, poor Mama.
Probably a good thing that this one came out so small
That is indeed a very Dirty Bird
Where on earth is our writer finding these? (Oh right, the internet)
Pizza. Salad. Panini. Painful Piercing.
At this point we had to block emails from our writer containing the term ‘Logo fail’
3. Your branding no longer reflects your values/mission
If your brand has been established for some years, it’s likely that your values and mission have changed and evolved over time. If so, a rebrand may help to bring your business image in line with your new ethos.
For example, if you’ve recently brought in green initiatives and are working towards making your brand carbon neutral, it might be worth reflecting this in your branding. That kind of positive change isn’t just great for the planet – it also reflects your brand identity in a very positive light.
Think of your branding like the ‘clothes’ your brand wears. Your clothing doesn’t just keep you warm and decent – it also expresses your personal style and identity. And we’re willing to bet that your personal style has changed since you were a teenager!
Of course, you shouldn’t change your branding as often as you change your clothes. But when your brand ‘style’ (i.e. your values, mission, tone of voice etc) changes, it’s definitely worth considering a rebrand.
A rebrand to reflect a change in values doesn’t have to be major. Take Uber for example.
Recently, Uber made the decision to be a more approachable, friendly, and inclusive company. They would be training their drivers in customer service techniques, screening drivers for problematic behaviour, treating their drivers in a more humane manner, and so on.
To reflect this, they made a very simple but very effective change to their logo:
Before – RUDE. After – Luvvly jubbly
All in all, a rebrand to reflect your new brand values doesn’t have to be drastic. If you’re taking an eco-conscious stand, you don’t need to paint everything green and design a talking tree mascot. Something as simple as changing the font or the case of your logo can make all the difference.
4. Your core audience has changed
Audiences are not static. They change and grow – and you need to change and grow with them. Your branding needs to evolve with your audience, or you’ll find yourself left behind.
The quintessential example of evolving with an audience is McDonalds.
Do you remember McDonalds branches in the 90s? We do. All bright colours and cartoon characters. Hamburger stools! If you were lucky, there was even a jungle gym outside. It was incredible…if you were a kid (which we were. Not to show our ages or anything).
God, we miss those hamburger stools
Compare to modern McDonalds restaurants. Gone are the jungle gyms, the cartoon murals, the (sob) hamburger stools. They’ve been replaced by shades of grey and ochre. While you couldn’t call modern McDonalds sophisticated, exactly, it’s no longer so single-mindedly targeting its branding at kids.
Why? Well, there are several reasons for the drastic change in aesthetic. One is that clowns underwent a major image change between the 70s and the 00s. John Wayne Gacey ‘The Killer Clown’ was executed in 1994. Pennywise, the murderous clown in Stephen King’s ‘It’ was immortalised by Tim Curry in the 90s. The term ‘Coulrophobia’ (fear of clowns) entered vocabularies all over the English-speaking world. And, as the final nail in Ronald McDonald’s coffin, teenagers began to dress up as ‘killer clowns’ and stalk or otherwise scare unwitting passers by during dark October nights.
So much for Ronald McDonald. But the image problems of the clown community weren’t the only, or even the main reason why McDonalds changed their branding so drastically. The major reason was that their customers were changing. As well as no longer liking clowns, their customers weren’t kids any more. Instead they were tired, busy Millennials who wanted to grab a quick meal in their all-too-brief lunch breaks.
So, McDonalds scrapped the overt child-focused branding, and replaced it with something more sophisticated. They gave themselves a look that a knackered adult wouldn’t feel (too) ashamed at being associated with.
The kids’ stuff didn’t go entirely, of course. McDonalds still does their (in)famous Happy Meals, and many of the core characters we remember from the 90s can still be found in restaurants if you know where to look. But overall, McDonalds has evolved and changed with its core customers.
And it’s worked. Unlike rivals such as (in the US) Chuck-E-Cheeze, scrapping the kid-focused branding helped McDonalds to survive and thrive into the 21st century.
5. You’ve messed up, and need to distance yourself from the mess
Remember Hermes? The delivery company that was voted the worst courier in the UK for years and years in a row? It’s now called Evri (and is still being voted worst courier – but we’ll come back to that in a second so bear with us!)
It’s fair to say that Hermes had a bad reputation. So much so that brands were eager to distance themselves from them. They stopped using Hermes to deliver their goods and turned instead to alternative companies.
The only good thing about Hermes was the memes
So, to get away from the monumental mess they had made by being truly shite couriers, Hermes rebranded. Gone was the old logo and even the old name.
Hermes was now Evri – a name that customers wary of Hermes could trust..? Well, no, but at least a name that didn’t have the terrible name-recognition of Hermes. For now.
Rebranding is a common tactic that brands use to escape a scandal. After all, if you want to prove that you have changed and are going to do better from now on, what better way than to literally change your branding and even your name? A fresh start! And you’d be in good company. The Facebook company did it, becoming ‘Meta’. The Lance Armstrong Foundation became ‘Livestrong’ after Armstrong was found guilty of doping. ‘Pete’s Super Submarines’ became ‘Subway’ (bet you didn’t know that one!)
Honestly, it’s not a bad tactic. But there’s a caveat: in order for a rebrand to be an effective escape from a scandal, you really do have to change. Which brings us neatly back to Hermes/Evri.
Did Hermes/Evri learn, change, and grow from their experience of being voted worst ever courier for several years in a row? Let us consult the memes and find out:
Recently, Evri had the honour of being voted worst courier in the UK – the title previously held by Hermes (i.e. themselves). So, while the name may have changed, the service has not. In fact, you could say that Evri now has an even worse reputation than their previous incarnation ever did, because the attempt to escape Hermes’ poor reputation was so blatant, and such a failure.
Hermes was considered a bad courier company. Evri is considered both a bad courier company and a laughing stock.
So, if you have made a mess and want to distance yourself from it, rebranding is a good way to turn over a fresh leaf. BUT it won’t be effective unless you actually change the behaviours that caused the mess in the first place.
Don’t just change your branding to escape a scandal. Change the way you do things, too. Prove that the new brand is worthy of custom through your actions, not by just slapping a new name on an old problem.