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Four Ways Rebranding Will Go Wrong

Rebranding is challenging in the best of times. It is easy to change too little when the change doesn’t matter or is worth the effort or expense. Or change can be so dramatic that it erodes or potentially destroys any brand equity. The trick is to strike a balance. But there are at least 4 things to be careful of to help ensure your rebranding doesn’t go down the wrong path.

1. Culture

The culture of the organization is the “glue” that holds everything together. It’s the leadership and all of the employees who build the kind of culture that underpins what the brand stands for. It is one of the most important dimensions of a brand that leads to customer engagement and lasting relationships. It’s easy for an organization to define the type of culture it aspires to. But not so easy to pull off.

You can’t mandate a culture. It’s organic and has to grow within the organization by virtue of values and behavior. It starts with leadership who has to adhere to a desired culture by example. And then employees have to believe in and embrace it through their behavior. Culture has to be gently shaped over time. There are no shortcuts. Changing a culture needs to be handled with care. And it takes patience. Trying to change a culture overnight as part of a rebrand is going to go badly. It’s a surefire way to jeopardize the rebrand.

2. Brand Equity

Brand Equity is hard-earned. Recognition, awareness, reputation, and distinction are built through time, effort, investment, and strategic foresight. It is this brand equity that has both tangible and intangible value that would be unfortunate to lose in the rebranding process. This is why one of the key objectives of any rebrand is to protect and build on any earned equity. How much change is embedded in the rebrand will factor into the strategies to transfer brand equity. If it’s done right the brand will be that much stronger as a platform for continued growth. If it is mishandled the consequence could be a loss of brand equity that would erode the value of the brand. A degradation of recognition and awareness will most likely translate into a loss of customer loyalty. That is when a rebrand has gone seriously wrong.

3. Customer Loyalty

What could be more valuable than customer loyalty? Isn’t that what all brands aspire to? The challenge is that it takes so much effort and commitment to earn loyalty. But so little effort to lose it. A rebrand could put some or all of that customer loyalty at risk. However, that can easily be avoided. It’s the reputation that builds loyalty. Consistently delivering on the brand promise is what sustains it. Understanding what resonates with customers propels the brand forward. And a relevant value proposition will keep it competitive. The right kind of rebrand strategy will ensure customer loyalty. Taking for granted customer loyalty isn’t just unfortunate but quite simply wrong.

4. Brand Identity

Brand identity (name, logo, symbol, system) is what people recognize and associate with the brand. It is what symbolizes what the brand has come to stand for. It is also essential in creating category distinction. Brand identity is a valuable asset. Rebranding needs to consider the degree to which the logo will change. And that change needs to reinforce and reflect the underlying rebrand strategy platform. An update to the logo won’t generally impact recognition. A new identity will require a comprehensive communication plan to transfer recognition. Care and purpose will be what drives a successful identity change. The biggest mistake is to change the identity without considering the equity of the current identity.

Brands are Fragile

Even the most established brands are fragile. A few mistakes in the rebranding process could fracture even a well-known brand. Destruction might even be possible. Twitter might be a good case in point. Let’s begin with the culture. Layoffs and staff-alienating policies decimated it. Confusion and dysfunction quickly eroded customer loyalty and advertisers. 17 years of hard-earned brand equity discarded. And finally, one of the most recognized symbols in branding abandoned. Some companies might make one or two serious mistakes in their rebranding and survive. But doing everything all wrong is some kind of achievement. There is a lesson in all this, however, regardless of what ultimately happens to “X.” Rebranding can elevate a brand to new heights. Making a few mistakes could lower it to new depths.

The goal of How Brand Works is to share our experience, perspectives and philosophy on the different facets of branding intended to enable an effective brand management strategy.

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