How to Rebrand for Growth

Rebranding at any stage of a business's life cycle can feel like a big decision.

More than a visual identity upgrade, rebranding can sometimes even make or break a company - especially if it gets it wrong and its consumers end up feeling alienated by its new persona, or in the nightmarish case of Tropicana, stop recognising the brand altogether.

Because rebranding is such an important activity, there is usually a driving reason behind undertaking it - and sometimes that reason is rebranding for growth.

A rebrand is often seen as a softer element in business strategy when compared to sales or finance but don’t underestimate its power: rebranding can be an extremely powerful tool behind commercial success.

With that in mind, we thought we’d step in and help with tips for a successful commercial growth-inspired rebrand.

1. Identify the reasons behind the rebrand

Sounds obvious, right? But it’s remarkable how many businesses fail to use their specific reason to shape their rebranding strategy.

If a business expands in its market and matures alongside it, it's likely that the core of its brand values, identity and mission will change. Any big brand that you can bring to mind - Coca Cola, Starbucks, Apple - all look and feel completely different now as to when they first entered their markets. That’s because they’ve evolved: They’ve released new products, targeted and refined their ideal consumers, and ensured that their brand identity and values align with those of their audiences in that moment in time.

So whether it’s a case of your business realising that its ideal consumer and actual consumer are completely different, brand perceptions no longer matching that of the brands current identity, or you’ve undergone a partnership or expansion, your reason will dictate which parts of your brand need to change in your rebrand and why. Find it!

2. Decide which elements to include in your rebrand

When it comes to branding, it can be very easy to say the word “rebrand” when actually what ends up happening is the brand does a “refresh”.

The two have some very subtle differences which you can read more about here, but it’s a crucial reason why a brand should identify the elements that need changing before pressing on with a rebranding project.

If for example your brand just needs a change of visuals and a new slogan, you’re going to be doing a refresh. Whereas if your brand needs an entirely new brand persona, a new tone of voice and a complete overhaul of its image, you’re going to be ploughing ahead with a deeper rebrand. It will be beneficial to plan what actions you need to take, what kind of design for advertisement you should implement, and how you should refresh your brand's visual identity.

Unless you identify the elements that need changing, why and how they will help to grow your business, you won’t know which path to follow - and getting it wrong could lead to a disconnection between what your brand says, and what it does.

3. Expand on your brand’s core idea

Every brand has an idea at its very core, or a problem it wants to solve: It could be an idea relating to its values, mission or purpose, but it’s usually what drives the brand and makes it truly unique.

When undergoing a rebrand for growth particularly, it can be doubly important to refocus on this idea and answer a series of questions about it which can better refine the brand as it transitions into the next stage of its life.

The four main questions that should be answered are:

  1. What makes it real?

In other words, what space in the market can your brand own by being its authentic self.

2. What makes it meaningful?

How do your audience find meaning in your brand? What about it connects and engages them and how?

3. What makes your brand different?

A brand's USP is what makes it different, so how does yours stand up against competitors and what is ownable?

4. How scalable is it?

When it comes to scalability, how can what’s at the heart of your brand help drive it to the next level as a scalable proposition?

4. Design visuals that introduce change

Throughout any rebrand the core idea of the brand must stay present - otherwise you risk presenting a completely new brand which will alienate existing consumers that you want to keep onside.

Think of your growth-inspired rebrand as everything else evolving around your core idea. Your idea must stay central and remain relevant and meaningful to your consumers, but at the same time, you must also subtly introduce the future of your brand.

American food conglomerate Kraft achieved this when they rebranded their peanut butter range. They kept their iconic bear mascot front and centre - the identifiable iconography which ensured they could still connect with consumers on an emotional level - while at the same time redesigning their functional packaging in such a way that underpinned the strong growth Kraft envisioned occurring in the range (they would later be embroiled in a $1m lawsuit by appearing to copy their competitor, which we advise against!).

That way, existing Kraft consumers were able to recognise the brand they knew and loved and the product they trusted, but also recognised that the range itself was evolving. This was key to retaining the existing consumer base, whilst potentially reaching new consumers with the brand new look.

Talking of things we would and wouldn’t advise, use our free guide to how and how not to rebrand to make sure that yours goes as smoothly, and successfully, as possible.

5. Communicate changes

A rebrand is no small feat and if your entire visual identity or brand persona will be undergoing a change, it’s time to communicate that to the world. Whilst internally your staff may know what your new identity (and potentially new name) symbolises, your consumers won’t and are likely to be confused if things change dramatically.

In the case of Tropicana, who changed everything about their brand except for their name and paid for it by watching their sales fall. The reason? Their consumers didn’t recognise them. And worse: Their consumers didn’t trust it was truly the Tropicana brand because they’d changed so many identifiable and traditional elements.

A rebrand affects everyone: From suppliers, to stakeholders, to staff and your customers. Common anxieties about rebrands often relate to consumers fearing the brand has moved on without them, or something about the brand will change significantly and will no longer provide the service or experience they are used to, changing their relationship.

And really, if you’re rebranding for growth, and perhaps even raising growth capital, something is changing dramatically so it’s best to be upfront and honest and communicate that as a strength. Create a new landing page. Design social media posts that are set to repeat for a period of time before the rebrand occurs to get your customers used to the idea. But most importantly, reiterate that the core idea driving the brand will remain the same and explain what’s changing, why and what you hope to deliver out of it.

Using Starbucks as an example, a statement could look like: “We’re rebranding. As part of that, we’ll be changing some elements of our visual identity alongside our logo so that we can be more recognisable overseas as we head into international markets where we’ll be bringing our range of unique, tasty coffees to new, global audiences.”

That way, you explain what’s happening (the rebrand), what’s changing (visual identity and logos), why (growth in international markets) and reiterate what’s staying the same and what will keep your customers buying from you (unique, tasty coffees).

6. Launch

Whether you choose a staggered rollout, or a full and compact rollout, launching your rebrand is the last big hurdle, and opportunity.

It’s best to prepare customers ahead of time by communicating with them through CRM software, creating marketing collateral like advertisements, landing pages and blogs. When creating landing pages, make sure to use landing page templates that are visually compelling enough.

Email marketing campaigns are also useful, and can be scheduled in advance so that consumers are reminded throughout the launch. When it comes to emails, it's important to do a DKIM check to ensure email authentication and security.  It is also important to regularly review your email list and make sure that all email addresses are valid. To do so, you can integrate an email validator API into your business applications and easily check the validity of email addresses.

Stirring up excitement about new visual components (in the case of UK Cadbury) on social media channels can also help audiences to embrace a rebrand by making new designs something to look forward to.

What’s most important is to focus on your key channels to drive effective coverage for your rebrand.

Closing thoughts

The decision to rebrand your company is not a marketing or design decision in isolation. It can fuel the growth of your business both commercially and on a deeper level for longer than you might have thought. By making the leap, companies can reach the next level of their business without the cost of significant expenditure.

If that sounds like something you’ll need help with, at Huddle Creative we’ve got a fast-paced, collaborative and tested process made to deliver innovation and to power rebrands. Find out everything there is to know about it here, or reach out to us for a chat here.