When is The Right Time To Rebrand? What to Consider before Shaking Things Up

We recently went to one of our favourite Chinese restaurants and were surprised that the menu had gone through quite a bit of a revamp. Luckily, their signature dish of crispy fried noodles was still featured prominently and the oh-so- personal service hadn’t changed a bit.

This is the third time in the establishment’s 30-year history that they have made significant changes; the most recent was the interior decoration, which I heard they spent close to a quarter of a million on. Some patrons had asked the owners why they bothered since their business had been reasonably good so far, but as many of us know: this kind of “rebranding” is necessary in the highly-competitive F&B industry.

Read More: What Does your Brand Smell Like? Making Sense Part of Your Branding


Successful businesses rebrand several times in their life; the difficulty is finding the right timing. Rebranding is no flippant decision: it is expensive and time-consuming and may even lead to an initial loss of sales as customers adjust to your new positioning and philosophy. However, rebranding at the right time leads to long-term success, including the chance to reach new audiences, improved ROI, and a modern appearance.

If you’re thinking about rebranding, take time to assess the following criteria to determine if the timing is right for you.

You’re Offering Different Products and Services

Many brands start off selling just one type of product or offering a specific service. As you progress, you may want to expand into new areas but find your current brand image stunts your growth. In more extreme cases, your original product line may no longer be relevant in a modern market. To show your customers you have evolved, you need to change your positioning, and maybe even your name.

One example of rebranding in this way is Apple. Originally Apple Computer, the company dropped the second word in its name to express the move toward consumer electronics as a whole. Another famous example is Google, which became Alphabet to distinguish the search engine from the company’s other offerings, which include YouTube.


You’re Just Another Name

If you’re suffering heavy competition from other brands offering similar products and services to your own, you need something that will allow you to stand out from the crowd. Rebranding is your chance to differentiate your brand with a unique set of values and to better define your message.

Rebranding too early or too frequently can confuse customers and ruin your chances with new prospects.

CVS decided to stand out by taking a stance on tobacco. After changing the company’s name from CVS Caremark to CVS Health, the chain stopped selling tobacco products, which had previously accounted for 4 percent of sales. Another example is Target. Instead of becoming one of many discount stores, the company teamed up with top designers to offer exclusive products at lower prices.

Your Market Has Changed

Whether you want to target new demographics, new sectors, or a new geographical area, your brand will need to reflect these changes. Rebranding is the only way you’ll have a chance to compete with others and develop loyalty with customers who previously favoured another company.

Until recent years, people associated Old Spice with their grandparents. To change these perceptions, the company hired NFL player Isaiah Mustafa for commercials, positioning the brand as a choice for young men. An example hailing from Asia is Pabst Blue Ribbon. This Milwaukee beer brand is known for being cheap in the states but high-end in China, thanks to an entirely different value proposition along with Blue Ribbon 1844, an expensive lager.

You’re Merging with Another Brand

It is unreasonable to expect a brand to stay the same after a merger or acquisition. By repositioning to reflect the values and offerings that the two businesses together will bring, you show your customers that the merger makes each other stronger. Some of the most well-known mergers include AOL/Time Warner, the Exxon Mobil Corporation, and Verizon Communications — a combination of Bell Atlantic and GTE.

You’ve Suffered from Negative Press

Scandals and product recalls are some of the most popular news stories online. The negative press can be devastating for a brand and the strong negative associations are hard to shake off. In such instance, a new brand signaling a new change is imperative (We think Malaysia Airlines would need to rebrand)

The Brand Cannot Be Trademarked

In order for brands to become intangible assets, it must be able to be protected. It would be disastrous if your brand is so successful but yet you do not own it legally and let someone else capitalised on your hard work. This happens to many companies when they expand overseas and found they cannot use their brand names as it had been taken by some opportunists or too close to some existing brands.

The Takeaway

If one or more of the above applies to your brand, the time is ripe to review your brand. Make sure you understand exactly why you want a rebranding exercise and what results you can expect from the change. However, if you feel comfortable with where you stand for the time being, it is best to leave your brand well alone. Rebranding too early or too frequently can confuse customers and ruin your chances with new prospects.


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