It took me a while to process the phrase brand renewal. The first time it sunk in was sometime a number of years ago. An owner at one of my favorite local restaurants used the term while discussing their new menu and signage. I had noticed and asked what was behind their rebranding strategy (yes, my brain works that way).
What was most interesting was that there was a distinct effort to avoid the phrase “rebranding” instead opting for “brand renewal.”
The Blessing and Curse of Implementing a Rebranding Strategy
The need to rebrand is sometimes justifiable. Think about Philip Morris and the move to Altria for example.
However, more often than not, rebranding is a term you hear when there is a need to deflect – while feeling like you’re doing something about – underlying and more serious business problems.
Think about it: Sales down? Blame the brand strategy. Attendance down? The community must not be connecting with your brand. There are a multitude of sins that can be hidden by blaming the brand. And, brand building isn’t one single person’s responsibility. Therefore, blame is conveniently diffused.
There are a host of factors that impact how brand is communicated and digested. Failure in those areas can easily be confused with failure of brand. The devil will always be in the details.
Putting together and taking on a rebranding strategy feels like a productive decision. A worthy goal. But, it may in fact prove counter-productive.
So, Rebranding Or Brand Renewal?
In our restaurant example, there really hadn’t been anything “wrong.” Business was good. The product was good. Honestly, I’m not sure what signals they saw that indicated the need for a brand renewal.
In hindsight, I can see several areas of the business that benefited. The beauty of their decision is that didn’t wait for the signs of catastrophe before having that inevitable “rebranding strategy” discussion.
Many wait until that last minute when the writing is clearly on the wall. That also happens to be when human and capital resources are most stressed.
Ways You Can Decide Between Rebranding or a Brand Renewal
It might not be as tough as you think to decide if your organization needs to implement a rebranding strategy or look at it as a brand renewal. Here are some factors to consider:
- Has there been a high profile event that impacted your audience’s perception of your organization negatively?
- Are you planning – or in need of – a change to your core mission? That doesn’t mean a change to the wording of your mission statement but fundamentally changing what you do.
- Is your core offering or product changing entirely?
If you answered no (or even “kind of”) to all of the above, stop thinking about a rebranding strategy – you probably need to think in terms of brand renewal.
Rebranding or Brand Renewal . . . Does It Matter What We Call It?
Brands are the combined result of years of effort and resources. True rebranding is a major undertaking – almost a reinvention – that should touch every aspect of your business. It may free you of baggage, but you may jeopardize all your gains in goodwill as well.
The motivations and investments required in designing a proper rebranding strategy are dramatically different than refocusing your message and retooling the channels by which it is communicated.
As a result, you owe it to everyone involved to approach the problem with the right mindset, tools, and timeline.
Have you had a rebranding strategy experience you’d like to share? Need help with your brand? Reach out or comment below.
Updated April 11, 2016.