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We create impactful copy solid strategies stunning identities surprising names powerful logos wow experiences fascinating voices novel concepts slick visuals gorgeous videos strong brands
for meaningful brands. ambitious brands. unique brands. memorable brands. bold brands. outstanding brands. confident brands. daring brands. demanding brands. inspired brands. a tough world.
Andrea Ciulu Matteo Modica Strategist and Copywriter of Sublimio by Andrea Ciulu 6 MIN. READ 11.08.2023
Andrea Ciulu Matteo Modica Strategist and Copywriter of Sublimio by Andrea Ciulu 6 MIN. READ

A rebrand can be both an exciting and a frightening experience for a company: while it may open a new, successful chapter, it might also turn out to be a complete and costly disaster. This is why you shouldn’t take it lightly.

Is it the right time to rebrand your business? Maybe you have been thinking about this for a while, postponing the moment for your company to get a new face. This is understandable: a rebrand is a sensitive operation, and getting the fundamentals wrong might result in a severe loss of customers and money, burning a lot of what you have built through the years.

Doing nothing, though, is not necessarily a better option: while you will preserve your brand awareness, your brand could show signs of aging, lose touch with culture, and simply miss some opportunities that come with a rebrand.

Ultimately, opting for a rebrand will require a great deal of care, both in terms of decision-making and execution. You will want to control every step of the process to make sure everything makes sense to you and to others.

Get the timing of your rebrand right

A rebrand should never be a purely superficial matter: it has to make sense. It should be linked to a special moment in the life of the company.

In case you have no special reasons to exploit, a brand anniversary can be a good excuse for a refresh. Turning 10, 20 or 50 makes it all easier as the rebrand becomes part of the celebration. 

You might want to align your rebrand to the launch of a new product, product line or service but it has to be big enough to signal a new phase for the brand. For example, an automotive brand that is introducing an all-electric line or a cosmetics brand that adds a vegan line to its offering.

A new CEO or CMO might sponsor a rebrand, as long as she has a vision to match. Associating yourself with a rebrand requires quite a lot of courage, but it could become a badge of honor if done right.

changing old name with naming design
Photo by

Changing your name? That’s a big leap.

When it comes to a rebrand, name change is a bit of a taboo. After all, people change their hairstyle to become more attractive, but they change their name when they want to disappear. 

The same goes for a brand: changing your name is a high-risk decision and it should always be motivated by very concrete reasons.

Let’s start with the reason that shouldn’t motivate a name change: you don’t want to change your brand name just because you think it’s outdated and want something that sounds cooler. In other words, never rebrand to chase a trend. What you have built is far more valuable than the marginal value you might get from changing your name.

A good reason is – of course – a merger / acquisition that involves your company. In this case, a lot will depend on the legal agreement between the parts, which might define the weight each part should have. This will also require a proper brand audit that will help you define which of the brand names brings more brand equity to the table.

Another good reason for a change of name can be a complete change of market and audience: it might be the case when your business exits a shrinking market to find new opportunities for growth. In this case, changing your name will signal that the brand is taking on a new identity, and it will allow you to incorporate elements that make more sense in the new industry.

Your company could also be emerging out of a reputational crisis that required a management overhaul: nobody wants to be in this position, but when it happens it might be worth considering a rebrand that includes a name change, since the existing name has now too many negative associations.

Whatever the case, the new name might retain some traces of the old one, but that largely depends on the reason for changing it.

brand Cocacola advertising
Photo by Vinzent Weiskopf

Identify and evaluate your brand assets before you rebrand

The reason so many companies are afraid of rebrands boils down to the risk of losing all those memory associations built through the years that make the brand familiar, recognizable, and easy to bring to mind in the moment of need.

While you might be thinking about your name and logo, there are many other brand assets that can act as precious “memory triggers”: soundmarks, characters, colors, typography, and packaging.

You probably know all of them (or at least you should). What you might not know is which assets your audience remembers the most, in other words their relative value. Maybe changing your logo won’t be such a big deal as long as your packaging stays untouched.

Consider conducting a brand asset survey to find out. It will provide you with a precious map for your rebrand efforts. Be very careful about changing assets with strong memory links.

What you might not know about your brand assets is which ones your audience remembers the most.

In a rebrand, evolve before you destroy

Whatever assets you decide to change in your rebrand, remember that evolving what you have is usually better than destroying it.

You usually see it in logo redesign: good branding agencies know how to make the logo feel fresh while keeping those traits that make it recognizable. It might look like “less work” but it’s usually easier to just create a new logo than to refresh an existing one. Keeping memory structures, though, is totally worth it.

Evolution, though, can be applied to all assets. Characters, packaging, sounds, even taglines, can be made “different but recognizable”.

A character might become younger (think about KFC’s Colonel Sanders), a sound logo might enjoy many different versions, as it happened – and still happens – at McDonald’s, while retaining those defining traits that make it recognizable.

This ensures that your audience will have a reason to pay attention while not feeling lost.

Rebrand foundation building a new brand
Photo by Ben Allan

Make sure your rebrand gets the launch it deserves

When doing a rebrand, what you are trying to do is essentially replace some hard-earned memory associations with new ones in the mind of your audience.

This will be a gradual process, but a proper launch will help establish the right imprinting. Your rebrand must be news.

The first thing you need is a story, a “why” to your rebrand. People will not be satisfied – not even interested – if the rebrand is just about refreshing the looks of your company. What is the meaning? What drove the change? What journey led here? What kind of brand can they expect?

The second thing you need is a set of communication assets that present the new brand, possibly by highlighting the connection with the old brand. This is why rebrand videos are so powerful: they help the audience build a bridge between old and new, and make sense of it all.

Also remember to prepare your whole team for the change: internal comms are just as important at this moment. Make sure that the whole company is involved and motivated before the rebrand is made public: everyone should feel like they “own” the rebrand.

Choose the right brand agency for rebranding

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

Choose the right agency for your rebrand

A rebrand can easily become an emotional and messy moment (in a way, it should: it shows you care!). Having the right partner on your side will give you an anchor in stormy seas.

But what kind of agency should you choose for a rebrand?

If you opt for an agency that’s focused on design only, make sure it doesn’t get tempted to overdo it. As we said before, an evolutionary approach is more sensible but it gives design less space to shine. You should also ensure that the agency can see the brand values beyond its aesthetic dimension.

On the other hand, a pure marketing agency might focus on the “here and now”, pushing for a strong modernization that will make the brand fit the market perfectly. It all sounds good, but beware of any rebrand that feels like jumping on the bandwagon: you might easily miss the bandwagon altogether, and it will probably won’t go very far anyway. For a rebrand, ask your agency to keep the long term in mind.

Your best fit is probably a branding agency, that will be able to follow both strategy and design. In this case, make sure they have strong design muscles and great creative connection, as there will be a lot of work to be done in that department.

AUTHOR Andrea Ciulu Copywriter & Strategist Andrea Ciulu Matteo Modica Strategist and Copywriter of Sublimio
CATEGORIES BrandingStrategy

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