So, your team has been tasked with deciding if your organization should undergo a rebrand. The reasons can widely vary from repositioning to reflect changes in your business or industry, to appealing to a new audience. Or, worst-case scenario, to distance yourself from negative associations with the current identity.
Whatever the reason might be, more and more brands are opting for an overhaul. According to a study by Brand Finance, the number of global rebrands increased by 20% in 2021 – marking the highest level of growth in rebrands since the study began in 2000.
To get more insight into rebranding, we recently spoke to Arnab Ray, Creative Director at Landor & Fitch India. Over the course of our conversation, Ray discusses some of the symptoms and signs that it’s time for a rebrand, what the data says about the short and long-term effects, brand building for startups and not-for-profits, some of his personal favorite rebrands, and more.
What are some symptoms or signs to look for when it’s time for a company to consider a rebrand?
A brand’s identity is crucial for its success, and if it no longer accurately reflects the brand’s purpose, intent, offer, or relevance in the market, it’s time for a change. However, the degree of change needed depends on the brand’s health, strategy, or future intent.
An evolutionary direction may suffice for incremental changes to the brand’s offering, while dramatic changes or diversification require a more revolutionary approach. Consumer tastes constantly evolve, and brands must stay relevant in all aspects, especially in today’s rapidly changing market.
Here is a good article that I read in Forbes to elaborate further on this subject.
What does the data tell us in terms of business perception and performance following a rebrand over the short and long term?
Research suggests that rebranding can positively impact a company’s perception and performance over the short and long term, generating consumer excitement and interest and increasing engagement and sales. A rebrand can also help differentiate a company from its competitors and improve brand recognition, loyalty, and advocacy, leading to sustained business growth and success.
However, the success of a rebranding effort depends on various factors, including the company’s goals, target audience, messaging, and execution. The key to ensuring the effectiveness of a rebranding effort is understanding customer preferences and gathering data.
Quantitative brand measurement metrics such as brand value, brand impact, sales performance, and digital metrics can help measure the effect of a rebrand and troubleshoot any potential problems. By tracking these metrics, companies can effectively gauge the efficacy of their rebrand and ensure sustained growth and success.
You’ve previously talked about how brand building for start-ups and not-for-profits can have major business-driving capabilities. Tell us more about that.
In today’s competitive brand landscape, branding has become more than just a logo or a tagline. It has become a vital tool for startups and nonprofit organizations to establish their identity, communicate their values, and differentiate themselves from competitors.
“Research suggests that rebranding can positively impact a company’s perception and performance over the short and long term, generating consumer excitement and interest and increasing engagement and sales.”
With the right branding strategy, startups and nonprofits can communicate a clear understanding of their purpose, reason for existence, and the value they bring to their consumers/audience.
Investing in branding can help these entities build perceptions that match their brand’s purpose, creating brand love and belief. When consumers interact with a brand that has a clear understanding of its purpose, they are more likely to experience and invest in it, which ultimately leads to revenue creation. Amnesty, WWF, and IUCN are some examples of organizations that have achieved this amongst others.
IUCN, illustrated by a recent brand exercise we did for them (Paris studio) to communicate how our planet’s survival is a domino and one action has a chain reaction and their campaign in partnership with Lacoste highlighting endangered species. Its fresh outlook on saving flora and fauna keeps giving us interesting perspectives from a brand narrative pov.
These organizations have established solid branding that beautifully states their purpose through various mediums and has been consistent over the years. Their branding has created a sense of trust, loyalty, and belief in their cause, making it easier for people to invest in them.
Cult.fit is a startup that invested in branding early on. They effectively communicated what they stood for – holistic health – through their branding. This resonated with people, and they signed up, creating a loyal customer base.
Another great example from the startup ecosystem is Nothing, which has approached design in a truly radical and innovative way.
Last year you worked with Camel, Camlin, and DTDC amongst others on their rebrand. In general, what are some of the challenges in rolling out a new look and feel for a brand with an already well-known image?
Regarding rebranding, one of the most critical considerations is the brand’s existing equity. Brands have established sacred assets in the minds of their consumers over the years, and it takes work to do away with them.
Therefore, any rebranding project should involve a sacred asset mapping exercise before making critical decisions. In such mapping exercises, data from BAV and other studies help determine whether to retain, evolve or discard key assets.
For example, in the case of Camel, it was essential to retain the red colour and evolve the camel mascot as it had much nostalgic equity in the consumers’ minds.
On the other hand, with DTDC, it was necessary to retain its blue and red colours and refresh its mascot to make it more relevant for modern platforms.
Another critical aspect is that rollouts are sometimes over time and 360 degrees. It is crucial to make changes holistically as much as possible so that consumers experience the brand in a new avatar across touchpoints rather than piecemeal. Half in the future and half in the past can confuse consumers.
Rebranding is never an easy process, but if the right balance is maintained and the refresh lives up to the brand’s offer, it can be accepted over time. With a well-planned rebranding strategy that respects the brand’s existing equity and evolves to meet modern needs, businesses can successfully refresh their brand, attract new customers, and strengthen their relationships with existing customers.
Outside of work you’ve done, what are some rebrands in recent years that you most admire?
KIA’s recent rebrand was a masterclass in modernizing a brand’s image and creating a lasting impression in consumers’ minds. It successfully repositioned the brand as an innovative, modern, and forward-thinking mobility brand.
This bold move helped KIA stand out in a crowded market and reinforced the brand’s commitment to delivering cutting-edge technology and design.
Other brands that have undergone successful rebranding efforts include Mastercard and Burger King. Both brands simplified their assets, making them more iconic and relevant to modern interfaces while nodding to nostalgia.
The new logos and designs were clean and sleek, giving them a contemporary feel while retaining familiarity.
Another impressive rebrand comes from L&F’s stable, the Australian Open. The organizers simplified their branding and created a more cohesive, consistent brand identity that captured the excitement and energy of the tournament.
The new design was modern and clean, making it easier for fans to engage with the brand and creating a strong visual identity that stood out in a crowded market.
One common theme among these successful rebranding efforts is the importance of activating with the purpose of meaningful storytelling. By creating a compelling narrative around their rebrand, these brands were able to engage with consumers and build brand loyalty.
They understood that a rebranding effort should not just be about changing a logo or design but a holistic approach to creating a brand that resonates with consumers on multiple levels.
MORE: Lulu Raghavan on Brands Striking a Balance Between Digital and Physical Engagement