02/10/21

Your Rebrand Isn’t About You

There are many reasons companies rebrand, but not all of them are good. Often, companies rebrand because sales are lagging; thinking a new logo or a new look and feel will magically drive sales through the roof, they design to the tastes of internal decision-makers and, unsurprisingly, achieve mixed results.

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Rebranding for Sales and Membership Growth 

Rebranding can be a powerful membership and sales driver, when it’s done for the right reason and with the right audience in mind — customers. 

If you’re thinking about a rebrand, read this first to see when it makes sense to rebrand and how to keep your customers at the heart of the rebranding process.

 

When is it time to rebrand? 

On average, businesses rebrand themselves every seven to 10 years. There are plenty of good reasons to rebrand, and most of them deal with a shift in sales strategy, entry into a new market or a truly outdated brand image. Here are the top five reasons to rebrand. 

 

1: You start selling internationally. 

Sometimes, a brand name may not be understandable in the language of the country or countries a business is expanding into. When Japanese cash-back rewards brand Rakuten bought Ebates and expanded into the American market, its researched revealed prospects did not know how to pronounce its brand name. 

The first phase of its campaign featured digital, video, broadcast and search ads teaching people how to say its name. Soon, search queries for the brand revealed a shift in customer intent from pronunciation to identity. 

People wanted to know what Rakuten was. The brand responded with a campaign educating consumers about how it could make their lives better by saving them money on everyday purchases. 

The strategy worked. In one year, Rakuten secured over 80% of the brand awareness that took acquired brand Ebates 20 years to build. 

 

2: You want to expand your market. 

When a business saturates its existing markets, growth must occur through acquisition or expansion. Sometimes, expanding into a new market or tapping into a new demographic group requires rebranding. 

OBI Creative client SAC Federal Credit Union wanted to pursue aggressive growth but faced a misconception around membership requirements and saturation of existing markets. 

Research revealed the need for a new charter to expand into additional markets, a new identity and a new name — Cobalt. Importantly, the credit union tapped into its core identity, talking about it in new ways that clarified whom it sought to serve, without violating its core values or alienating existing customers. 

It would remain a trusted guide allowing people to do things they once thought impossible — encouraging, advising and helping them transform their day, their house, their family and their lives. It would not stop serving those who serve their country but rather would expand membership to anyone in its expanded geographical footprint. 

Its rebranding campaign emphasized messages of empowerment and integrity, communicating its evolved brand vision to be the most highly respected financial partner in the communities it serves. 

The new name, logo and identity was the right call for the credit union because it successfully introduced new markets and demographics to its brand, driving membership growth and assets — to the tune of $1 billion and counting. 

 

3: You’ve lost your purpose. 

Sometimes, a company loses its identity in the marketplace because competition has crowded it out. Sometimes, the company itself has outgrown its original purpose. Messaging and strategy that worked for a time no longer does. 

In this case, a rebrand can be a smart way to reinvigorate the company and breathe new life into its bottom line. Such was the case with GuideOne, an insurance company committed to social responsibility and founded to serve religious organizations. 

As competition in this niche market grew, GuideOne’s brand became fatigued. Unafraid to invest in the research necessary to reveal the right path forward, GuideOne transformed itself into a modern brand less focused on insurance products and more on the people benefiting from those products. 

If your brand no longer supports your growth strategy, it may be time to evolve into something that can. Doing so is not a mark of defeat, but growth. 

 

4: You look too much like the competition. 

When you developed your logo and brand, you may have been unique. Or you may have overlooked a competitor that now vies for market share in your industry or an unrelated one. Either way, if customers and prospects can’t tell you apart from the competition, you’re likely losing sales and members as a result. 

Such was the case for two well-known brands — PayPal and Pandora. When the latter decided to rebrand itself, the resultant logo looked eerily similar to that of the former. PayPal sued, claiming the streaming music service had “no path to profitability” and “deserted its longstanding logo and latched itself on to the increasingly popular PayPal logo as part of its efforts to catch up to its competition.” 

In effect, PayPal was charging Pandora with diluting its distinctiveness. PayPal won. 

Your rebrand effort may not involve a lawsuit, but if you’ve lost your distinctiveness in your market, a rebrand to a new identity (that doesn’t infringe on that of another brand) could give you the boost in sales and membership growth you’ve been seeking. 

That was the case for Cyclonaire. After customer journey research revealed the need for a clearer market position, the manufacturer of pneumatic conveyor systems realized the path to expanded market share was a rebrand and comprehensive strategic marketing and communications plan. 

OBI developed authentic, unique and competitive strategic positions in the market to capture market share, aiming to grow Cyclonaire from a $20 million to $50 million company in five years. In addition to strategic support, OBI successfully overhauled Cyclonaire’s brand, developing clear messaging that helped employees and customers understand its unique value proposition. 

A new logo and collateral helped the company gain ground in key verticals including rail, cement, rubber, battery and heavy materials. The innovative look and messaging led to an increase in re-engagement with current customers and beat all industry standards for clickthroughs of new and updated materials. 

5: You’ve had a lot of acquisitions. 

Heavy merger and acquisition activity can help a company grow rapidly, but it can also leave its brand identity fractured. Not only can it be difficult for employees to know how to talk about the business, customers and prospects can get confused as well. 

At the end of a period marked by acquisitions, or after a significant acquisition, a rebrand with new and relevant marketing and messaging can help new companies capitalize on growth and market share. 

Such was the case for Travel and Transport (now Corporate Travel Management). After weathering change in the travel industry for nearly 75 years, adapting along the way to stay relevant and successful, a decision to allow acquired companies to maintain their brands had led to fragmented identity and brand confusion. 

Extensive brand research revealed a need to consolidate acquired brands under one, refreshed identity that strongly conveyed the company’s point of differentiation — its people-first culture. Because a brand is only valuable if it is true, Travel and Transport needed to fully merge all acquired companies into one operational, technological, sales and brand position. While it excelled on the first three matters, it struggled, initially, to integrate the brand across acquired companies. 

The tried-and-true culture and approach to business that had made the company so successful needed to be integrated and ingrained into all locations and employees if the company was going to realize its full potential. Thankfully, the travel company acted on its research, implemented a rebrand and was able to successfully present itself to the world in an unfractured way. 

 

A final note — What is rebranding? 

As you decide whether or not a rebrand makes sense for your company, it’s helpful to remember what rebranding is and what it’s not. 

Rebranding is NOT slapping a new logo on your marketing materials. 

Rebranding is also not about you. It’s about your customers. Use a rebrand to connect with new and existing customers around their needs and wants, not your products and services. OBI Creative founder and CEO Mary Ann O’Brien describes it this way: 

“Rebranding is a marketing strategy, grounded in customer journey research, that transforms a corporate image with a new name, symbol, logo and visual assets. The goal is to create differentiated, favorable mindshare among all internal and external stakeholders. A rebrand should be accompanied by an integrated campaign targeting both consumers and employees.” 

When you’re ready to reconnect with existing customers or attract new audiences, contact OBI Creative. From customer journey research to campaign execution, our branding experts will ensure your rebranding effort is a success.