By: Brian Lischer
If there’s one thing that running a branding firm has made me appreciate, it’s the ever-changing nature of the marketplace. Whether you sell lattes to hipsters out of a repurposed Airstream trailer or data analytics to Fortune 100 executives on Wall Street, there is one immutable truth about modern-day business: Every company has to rebrand itself at some point.
But how do you know if your company needs a rebrand? It’s a question I get asked a lot.
Sometimes the signs are obvious: One of our clients was ready to expand beyond the San Diego region, but the city was integral to the company’s positioning. It was even part of its name! In a situation like this, there is little choice but to rebrand.
Other times it’s just a gut feeling that a change is needed—or is long overdue. Another client, a large regional health care provider, had been serving its community for more than 40 years before finally admitting that its brand could use an update. In cases like this, it’s remarkable what rebranding can do to reenergize a stalwart yet stagnant organization.
If you’re wondering whether your brand needs a refresh, take a look at the following six signs. Each of these is a good indicator that the time is right to rebrand.
- You’re embarrassed to give people your card. This is one of the most common signs I see. If reaching for your business card makes you cringe, or if you feel the need to explain why your website is outdated when you share your URL, it’s a good sign you’re ready for a rebrand.
- Your brand’s name no longer evokes its vision. What’s in a name? When it comes to branding, a lot. Sometimes what seemed like a great name 10 years ago is no longer aligned with what your brand is trying to accomplish. Other times a name takes on a whole new meaning due to cultural happenings outside of your control. Spend some time considering your company name in and out of context.
- Your brand doesn’t stand out from the crowd. Among the primary goals of branding is competitive differentiation. If your positioning doesn’t separate your brand from the competition, then your brand is failing you. You can get a better sense of your brand’s differentiation by performing a mini brand audit. Take a look at some of your brand’s collateral alongside that of your top competitors. Does it stand out or just get lost amongst the sameness?
- Your brand has become too complicated. Many companies that were able to weather the Great Recession came off as inauthentic brands: In order to survive, they created new service offerings, lowered prices, expanded into new markets, or pursued less-than-ideal customers. Any opportunities to simplify, focus, or develop a unifying brand narrative will benefit your business for years to come.
- You’re undergoing (or have recently undergone) a merger or acquisition. If you’re undergoing (or have recently undergone) a merger or acquisition, take a big-picture look at the implications for your brand architecture. It can be helpful to sketch out a diagram of the various brands and sub-brands involved. Look for logical ways to configure your brand architecture so that each brand and sub-brand derives value from the others.
- You’re not attracting top talent. It’s simple: The best talent wants to work with the best brands. If you’re unable to recruit quality personnel for open positions, it might be because your brand seems mediocre to qualified candidates.
Often, the first sign you need a rebrand is the fact that the thought of a rebrand even crosses your mind.
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Brian Lischer is founder and CEO of Ignyte, a company specializing in brand strategy, identity systems, and storytelling.