How Brands Can Navigate Successfully Through a Rebrand

There's often something to spark this change

Make no mistake about it: rebranding carries a huge risk. Photo Illustration, Source: Getty Images, WW, Dunkin', Apple, Radio Shack
Headshot of Abhi Jadhav

What do WW, Dunkin’ and Apple have in common? The connection between fitness, coffee and the technology company may not be obvious at first, but once you go back in time, you’ll know right away.

Previously known as Weight Watchers, Dunkin’ Donuts and Apple Computer, each of the three companies found themselves needing a name change. Apple did it 10 years ago, while WW and Dunkin’ are executing on their rebranding.

On the surface, shortening these companies’ names may seem to be an easy rebranding exercise. But make no mistake about it: rebranding carries a huge risk. Get it wrong, and a company can lose goodwill, market share and much more very quickly. Just ask The Shack.

With all that risk, why do companies rebrand in the first place? Let’s take a look.

Why rebrand?

When companies find themselves struggling to stay relevant in the marketplace, many turn to a brand refresh to help guide them to a stronger, more secure future. The reasons are plenty: A change in the company’s focus and direction, an opportunity to improve and/or alter public and customer perception, a way to distinguish themselves in an overcrowded vertical and even a way to attract top talent.

When companies find themselves struggling to stay relevant in the marketplace, many turn to a brand refresh to help guide them to a stronger, more secure future.

As an example, let’s go back to Dunkin’ Donuts. Dunkin’ is on a mission to keep the brand relevant for millennials and the-coming-of-age Gen Z customers who are more health conscious than previous generations. Without a change in messaging to reset the perception that all Dunkin’ sells are donuts, Dunkin’ won’t be able to convince the largest demographic that they should still be brand loyal.

In such cases, rebranding becomes a critical step in keeping pace with changing customer needs.

The risk

The need to rebrand needs to be understood internally as well as externally. If the public doesn’t understand the need for the rebrand, then the rebrand may be received with negative sentiment.

Similarly, if the need for a rebrand isn’t well-articulated internally, there will be internal resistance to the rebranding effort. Directly or indirectly, a rebrand affects every employee, customer and brand ambassador inside and outside the organization.

The logistics

Executing a rebrand is a task that requires literally everyone in the organization to participate in some way. From signage to legal templates to email signatures, there are numerous changes to coordinate across a large number of resources. The timing of the rebrand is just as important because the rebrand needs to be well-executed with a clear message that can be heard and seen across all channels.

The resources

Rebranding is more than a logo change. At a minimum, a well thought out rebranding project requires creative, PR, internal communications, marketing, sales, technology, product owners, account managers, facilities and administrative participation.

The process

To successfully execute a rebrand, you will need an enterprise-wide team that includes resources from all parts of the organization. The process begins with research and validation of the new brand name. The validation will include checking public perception as well as confirming availability of the domain name and social media handles.

Once the validation of the name is done, rebranding boils down to a well-executed name and logo change to communication templates, signage and a variety of marketing and sales assets the company uses. Special consideration should be given to website rebranding because a poorly executed plan can have a major impact on a company’s website traffic.

In addition to the hard assets that will need to reflect the new brand name, you will also need to plan to communicate the name change using press releases, online and offline advertising spots and other marketing methods.

To wrap up the rebrand, you will need to enlist the help of every employee to change names on assets they manage. Such assets include phone greetings, voicemail, the company’s phone directory, IVR greetings, employee profiles on LinkedIn and much more.

As you can see, changing the brand name of an organization is a massive undertaking. However, when done right, you can rest assured that you and your company will get well-deserved publicity out of the effort.

@AbhiJadhavNow Abhi Jadhav is managing partner at Bay Leaf Digital.