When to rebrand (and when not to)

You’d be hard pressed to have missed the news over the past month or so about Facebook’s various PR crises and the constant speculation about the future of their platform and the company as a whole. And if you haven’t been aware of it until now, honestly we commend you – you clearly have many more interesting things to be doing! However, this unfortunate cake was iced this morning with news of their impending rebrand, from Facebook to Meta (yes, we know). While we’re somewhat weary of hearing about the latest thing that the company has done, or failed to do, it did give us food for thought about the circumstances in which a rebrand is a good idea, vs when it’s really not advisable (In poor Zuck’s case, definitely the latter).

Now we know, we’re not some giant corporation and neither are our clients, so surely it’s a little different for us? Well… yes and no. We might not be in the public eye to anywhere near the same extent as a social media giant, but we all still have customers and clients, and plenty of competition. We also face many of the issues that any business faces, no matter it’s size. That being said, we also know that branding (and subsequent rebranding) is a sizeable investment for most small businesses, and should only be undertaken if it makes business and financial sense to do so. Undertaking a rebrand at the wrong time can hurt us a lot more as a small business with a finite amount of funds and there are many things to consider before making this important decision. Luckily, we love talking (at length) all things branding, and have put together a list of the situations in which we would recommend considering it, and those that we would strongly urge you to steer clear of, to help figure out if its the right move for your business:

When it's a good time to rebrand

When your brand has outgrown its current identity

We’ve all reached that stage where we look at our logo or our brand identity as a whole and feel that it no longer reflects the brand as it is currently. Perhaps you’ve used the same logo since the business started and it’s since grown and evolved? Or maybe it served you well for a while, but is no longer inline with your goals for where you want to take the brand in the next few years? Both of these situations are an excellent time to consider rebranding and realign your visual identity, offering and messaging to where your business is now and where you want it to be in the future. However, as a caveat to most of the situations on this list, a rebrand should never simply be about visuals alone. In our humble opinion focusing solely on aesthetics leaves brands open to choosing a ‘trendy’ route which can quickly become outdated, rather than making decisions based on who their audience is, who they want to attract and their long-term goals. 

When you're not standing out from your competitors

Maybe you actually really like your brand identity, but it’s struggling to to stand out against the competition? Now of course we want you to love your branding, but unfortunately a sea of brands that look the same does nobody any favours. At best, customers become forced to pick who they want to buy from or work with based on other factors, such as price, or at worst your brand simply gets lost in the sea and struggles to even get in front of your ideal audience. This is another prime situation where a rebrand is a really good idea. Working with you to really focus on who your dream customers are, what they’re interested in, who your competitors are and what they’re doing well (and not so well) allows us to carve out a niche just for you – one that your audience can instantly recognise and fall in love with, and that you can be proud to show off.

Your brand is confusing

To state the obvious, if you find your brand confusing, how do you think your customers feel? Confusing brands have often developed that way through a lack of strategy, or focus, resulting in a ‘scatter gun’ aproach that ends up failing across the board. They may diversify their offering into areas that aren’t really aligned or relevant to their audience, resulting in customers who either don’t know what to expect or simply glaze over trying to make sense of it all, neither of which are good for sales. Again, in this situation a rebrand is definitely a worthwhile investment. A clear vision for your brand, backed up by consistent and impactful visuals, cohesive messaging and a strategic approach not only has far more focus and impact, but also provides you with clarity and confidence, and instills trust in your audience.

You're not attracting your ideal customers

Maybe you want to attract customers who are willing to pay a higher price point? Or perhaps you’re just not getting engagement from the kind of clients you hope to work with? The success (or failure) of a brand comes down to the perception that your current or prospective customers have of your business, so if you want to raise your prices, the perceived value has to increase too. If your ideal audience is for example a particular age group but you don’t seem to be attracting them, chances are there’s a disconnect between what you think they like and what they’re actually engaging with. Either way, this situation is usually a perfect time to consider a brand refresh or a total rebrand to get to grips with what your audience are looking for and align your brand accordingly. 

When it's not a good time to rebrand

When you're in the midst of a pr crisis

As tempting as it might be to want to run away, hide under a rock and emerge with a new name when the dust has settled, this is rarely a good idea however big or small your business is. Like people, a company’s values and culture, or true colours, are never more scrutinised than when there is some kind of negative press drawing attention to them. By focusing on a rebrand, with or without the hiding, at best it comes across as a weak attempt to distract from the issue at hand, and at worst it looks like the company is trying to shake off all responsibility for their actions with no repercussions. Consumers are smart and can 100% see straight through it, and not only that, they don’t forget. Brands going through this situation are much better off acknowledging the issue, apologising and making amends as necessary, than rebranding and pretending it never happened.

when you've recently rebranded

As designers, we know how tempting it is to change your brand to include that gorgeous new font you found, or to incorporate that amazing colour that you saw on a brand on instagram the other day. But.  If you’ve rebranded your business in the last year, we would strongly advise against doing this, however tempting it may be. Customers need something identifiable and consistent to build trust upon, which translates into sales. If you keep rebranding every time you find another design that you love, your brand ends up like a chameleon, and the constant shape shifting makes it impossible to create a strong foundation for people to relate to. Plus it says you don’t know what you want, and if you don’t know what you want, how will they? Unless your previous one was an absolute disaster, just don’t do it 🙂

Because you're bored

There’s a saying “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” and this is as true for branding as it is for anything else. If your customers like and recognise your brand, your sales are doing well and the business is growing, now might not be the best time to rebrand. Rebrands that are based on the owner or other leadership fancying a change, or because a new addition to the team wants to make their mark, are rarely well thought through and serve no particular benefit to anyone, while also costing a large amount of money. In a worst-case scenario they even end up losing brand loyalty through customers who feel alienated by the changes.

There are other internal problems

There are so many aspects that add up to create a company’s identity, and some of those are areas that aren’t seen by the public, such as company culture. If there are warning signs that there are more underlying problems within the business, a rebrand will not solve any of it. It will merely act as a band-aid, temporarily covering up these problems until they raise their heads again in a few months time, whilst costing a lot of money in the process. As with a PR crisis, if customers have any inkling of the goings on behind the scenes, a rebrand will simply raise more alarm bells, garner more unwanted attention and futher dilute the already weakened trust in the brand.

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