Signs It’s Time to Refresh Your Brand

August 15, 2014

It seems like it was just yesterday that you launched your new positioning, tagline, logo, website, signage and advertising campaign. Now your team is telling you that it might be time to give it all an update. What do you do?

First thing is to remember that a brand is much more than just a logo. It encompasses everything that contributes toward customer experience, including culture and how you deliver your product or service.

Even if, subjectively, some are unhappy with your brand expression, you have to evaluate it objectively. Rebranding is an expensive endeavor; you should only do it to solve a strategic issue. Due to the time it takes to build familiarity and positive perceptions, it is often when the internal team begins to tire of your current messaging that external audiences are just beginning to catch on. Just because you feel like you need a change doesn’t necessarily mean you do.

Nonetheless, your brand is an essential business tool. If it is not helping you achieve your strategic goals, no matter how attached you are to your brand promise or your current campaigns, it may be time to take a fresh look at them.

Here are five signs it’s time to reevaluate your brand strategy.

1. Your brand scores are slipping

Akin to servicing a car, you need to keep tabs on the functioning of your brand. If you regularly research your brand’s relevance with key audiences and periodically fine tune your messaging then you will get a lot more miles out of the brand than if you drive it off the showroom floor and never get it serviced. At a minimum, annual brand health surveys with external and internal audiences can keep you from suffering any major brand breakdowns. At best, you can solicit feedback in real-time from your customers, employees, and constituencies so you can respond quickly and efficiently.

2. The business strategy changes

Brand strategy always follows business strategy. Perhaps the leadership team has decided that doubling revenues by acquisition is the goal for the next five years. Or maybe an IPO is in the not-so-distant future. Or the opportunity has arisen to enter a new international market. As a critical tool for rationalizing your portfolio and building market appeal, your brand needs to align with, support, and reflect your business strategy. It is the story that holds your business together and it must be told clearly and consistently to have proper impact.

3. Competitive pressures have increased

Whether there are new entrants in your industry or a groundbreaking technological advance, when the dynamics of your industry shift, you need to make sure you aren’t being left behind. “Clear, relevant, believable and distinct” is the mantra we use to keep us on track when developing a brand positioning. When market dynamics change, so can your ability to stand out from the crowd and be unique. If a “me too” provider pops up with a vociferous awareness campaign, you run the danger of becoming a referential brand: “Yeah, we’re just like X only we’ve been around longer.” You need to retool your messages to stand apart, even if it is as simple as being sure to include your years of expertise in your outreach.

4. Your brand expression looks dated

Ideally your original brand strategy was both cutting edge and sustainable. But sometimes market tastes shift beneath you. Just look at all of the companies out there with the word “cyber” in their name, or, more recently, how many logos have all lowercase, san-serif, colorful fonts. Whether it’s an elegant refinement of your current logo or starting from scratch, your brand expression needs to match your cultural personality in tone and manner. You can’t credibly claim to be innovative if your logo is stuck in the 1980s.

##5. You want to signal change Sometimes you just need an opportunity to tell a new story. It could be because you have a change in business strategy, or new leadership, or you have identified a sizeable shift in your core audiences. Perhaps you have merged with another firm and together have more to offer than the sum of your two parts. A refreshed look and feel, a new tagline – even a new name – may be what you need to attract attention, build awareness and capture the market share you desire.

Whatever the reason is for reevaluating your brand, whenever possible, existing brand equity should be retained. Just as when you’re building your brand, whatever strategic and tactical plan you take on should be fact-based and built to achieve specific goals. Change should never be made simply for change sake.

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