What people usually mean when they start talking rebrand is putting a new spin on things. Changing perceptions without changing the business. Sometimes, just changing a logo is thought of as a rebrand. Other times, a name change is all that’s required. But really that’s the equivalent of putting some fancy, frilly new duds on the same, tired ugly body. Everyone knows the same body is under that new wardrobe, and they won’t believe it’s a new you.
|Does this brand make me look fat?|
Let’s take Hebrew National’s recent “rebranding” as an example. In an obvious attempt to change people’s perceptions of the popular hot dog, Hebrew National changed their logo, dropped their tagline, “We answer to a higher authority,” and replaced it with “Made with premium cuts of 100% Kosher beef.” Evidently the folks at Hebrew National’s parent company, ConAgra Foods, thought the product would be more mainstream by emphasizing ingredients rather than an implied spiritual association. Is it a true rebrand? I don’t think so, because Hebrew National hot dogs appear to be the same dog with a different logo.
True rebranding rarely happens all at once, it’s an evolutionary process that may take several years. A company slowly changes and eventually realizes they’re not the same company any more. So they make it official by changing the logo and shifting their marketing. That’s what happened to AOL, now Aol, and I would say they have a true rebrand, albeit one that has been forced on them over the years since their disastrous merger with Time Warner. Aol used to be an internet service provider, now they are an internet content provider.
Rebranding in Action
My Twitter friend, Jay Miletsky, claims a “radical re-branding” when he and his partner changed their 15 year old marketing agency from PFS Marketwyse to Mango! Creative Juice. He details the the change here: RADICAL RE-BRANDING: WHEN IT’S TIME TO CHANGE. The agency got a new name and a new logo. Is that enough? Not according to Miletsky:
“But Mango!, with it’s bright, happy orange and quirky name, needed to be about more than just an aesthetic change. As I’m fond of pointing out to anyone who will listen, logos are not synonymous with brands. If business as usual continued as it always had, Mango! wouldn’t be a new brand at all – it’s be the same old PFS with a different coat of paint.”
Companies usually devote lot of emphasis, and money, to a ‘visual re-brand.’ And to be be sure, remaking yourself visually is important in altering people’s perception. It’s difficult to imagine a new brand without a new visual identity. But once you get past the visual part, is there anything else that’s different?
What About the Customer?
One way to judge is current customers base vs. anticipated new customer base. A primary objective of rebranding is to get new customers. But if the company does not fundamentally change, there will be no new customers. So now we get to the heart of rebranding and this whole notion of changing perceptions. When Miletsky rebranded his agency, he says it boiled down to asking two questions: Who are we? What do we really believe in? That is an excellent starting point. What you believe is the foundation of a new brand. But that belief must manifest itself in a way that’s that goes beyond the initial visual perception.
Mango! not only got a new logo and a new message, but they also got a new approach, a new personality, and new services. And I would say they also shifted their brand’s promise in what they will deliver to customers. In my opinion, it’s a true rebrand. Because rebranding is not just about altering people’s perception, it’s about changing what you promise to customers. Actually I should clarify, rebranding is changing the promise you deliver. Brands can promise anything and not follow through. When you change your brand promise, and deliver that brand promise. Then you have a true rebrand.
Rebranding means re-promising. It means fundamentally changing what you offer, because the foundation of any brand is what it promises to deliver: it’s brand promise. Want a new brand? Deliver a new promise.