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3 Keys to Successful Rebranding, Part 1

Every month companies call us because they realize that their brand—and by that we mean the combination of aesthetic elements (e.g., logo, colors, design and style) and strategic elements (e.g., business model, product and service offerings, customer service and marketing materials) that define a business—needs an update.

The most common reason companies come to us for rebranding is that their existing brand is out of sync with the customers they want to attract. The next most frequent reason is that a company is expanding or merging, and needs to create a new “face” to present to the world.  The process we and they follow to ensure their new brand succeeds in the market is the same, regardless of their motivation. Over the next few posts we’ll look at the three biggest keys to rebranding success.

Here’s key #1: Know your brand’s target customer

Once a team recognizes that they need to rework their brand they often start browsing competitive logos. This is fun and even inspiring, but it’s something we recommend postponing until much later. “Begin with the end in mind,” as Stephen Covey would say: to create a brand that strikes a chord with a specific target audience, step into their shoes. For instance:

  • Know why they choose the way they do. Beyond knowing what problems they need solved and/or how they’d like their life improved by your company’s offerings, aim to understand their buying process and the motivations for the decisions they make in their work/personal lives (depending on whether you’re B2B or B2C). For instance, if you own a restaurant, do they buy from you as an indulgence or a time saver, as entertainment or for convenience?  To offer another example, I once worked with a growing company that provided one-of-a-kind solutions that drastically reduced the likelihood of mistakes in the hospital setting; initially we thought “break-through innovation” made sense for their brand. But when we looked a little deeper, this company’s key clients were so nervous about the possibility of fines stemming from implementing a new approach that we had to play down the innovation angle.
  • Know how doing business with you might make them feel smarter, more desirable, in some way “better” than they are without you. Those are the emotional drivers that can unlock the key to greater loyalty—looking at lifestyle choices and other favorite brands in parallel categories can help shed light on this motivator.
  • Know how your brand can serve them. Find out their minimum expectations from your category—and start to imagine what might surprise them.

Stay tuned for the next two keys: know what makes you unique, and ensure your brand unfolds cleanly. Meanwhile, we’d love to hear about any rebranding efforts you’ve been part of… what worked? What would you skip next time?

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