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When you think about Coca-Cola, what pops into your head — is it the taste? The fizziness? The dark caramel color? Maybe you think of a classic ad. If you're like me, it's the vivid red-and-white logo adorning the label.

Related: Is your brand outdated? When to do a brand refresh

When you think of all of these things, you're thinking of Coca-Cola's brand as a whole. If lots of different Coke-related images popped into your head just now, then Coca-Cola's marketing team has done its job.

Coca-Cola

Too many people think branding begins with choosing a name and ends with picking a logo — but it's much more than that. It affects everything.

So, when a company wants to rebrand, it's not about just changing the logo. It's also about changing goals, messaging, tone, voice, style and anything else that contributes to your image. It can be a tricky thing to get right, because ultimately, you can't control what people think. But a well thought-out and defined brand is the backbone of many successful companies.

If there's so much to it, why would anyone dream of rebranding? When is rebranding the best option?

Well, you could have gotten it wrong the first time. Many businesses overlook branding when they're starting out and later find they need to rethink it. For some, they need to appeal to a broader audience. Others need to change tack when they decide to expand into other markets.

Long-established companies aren't immune to the need to rebrand, either. It might be necessary after an acquisition or merger. Changing industries, attitudes and new competitors can also ignite the need for a fresh image. When a company needs to reposition or rejuvenate itself, rebranding makes sense.

Deeper issues, like an antiquated image or a negative reputation, can spur a rebrand. Sometimes, it can even come down to involvement in a damaging public scandal.

When you face challenges like these, you have two options. You can cling to the old branding that you had, or you can put together a rebranding strategy and work towards a new image.

Whatever the reason, make sure you have a strong case for the rebrand. Though there's a lot to it, rebranding is part of the life cycle for many growing companies. Very few of us wear the same clothes now as we did in high school — so why wouldn't a brand evolve as well? 

Reasons to do a rebrand:

  • You need to completely reposition your brand
  • You merged with another company
  • You significantly changed your product offerings
  • You have a negative reputation

Reasons to do a brand refresh instead:

  • You want to attract a new audience
  • Your messaging is inconsistent
  • Your company has evolved
  • You don’t stand out from competitors

Considering the points above, it may be that you don’t need to go through an entire rebrand: Your current brand may just need some polish, also known as a brand refresh. A refresh is a much lighter version of a rebrand, and though they both entail a lot of the same work, a refresh simply updates your current brand instead of making the sweeping changes that a rebrand does.

If you’re still not sure if rebranding is right for your company, check out our rebranding questionnaire

 

Rebranding strategy

Rebranding a company doesn’t happen overnight. You need a solid rebranding strategy, testing and approval, and then you need to roll it out internally before your big debut with your customers. 

Here's our advice on the five steps to follow to get rebranding strategies right.
 

1. Research before you rebrand

Before making any changes, you've got to do research to find out how your brand can improve. What do people like about your brand? How can it connect with modern consumers? There are endless questions to ask when building a new identity. The more knowledge you have, the more effective your rebranding strategy will be.

During this process, find out what attracted customers to your brand initially ... or why they went to a competitor instead. Figure out the problems you need to address with the rebrand.

Coca-Cola once decided to rebrand, but its New Coke campaign flopped. Coca-Cola didn't have any issues with its product's taste or image, but it decided to change both. The result wasn't an energized image but confused loyal customers. So, make sure to do your research.

Burberry's rebranding strategy is a great example of how to strike this balance. After a century-and-a-half of success, Burberry's image started to suffer when — through no efforts of its own — the brand became associated with gang wear and fashion for older generations. Thanks to this double punch, clubs in the U.K. wouldn't allow entry to anyone wearing the brand's iconic plaid.

Burberry

Faced with this unsavory situation, Burberry decided to rebrand, but it did its research first. The company hired an anthropologist to rediscover its roots so that Burberry could highlight its heritage in a way that would appeal to younger audiences (while also disassociating its name from gang wear).

 

2. Set out clear goals

From your research, you'll know what's wrong, and this should help you figure out what you want to achieve. Burberry needed to disassociate its brand from gangs and build a modern youthful image.

Knowing it needed to appeal to younger audiences, the label added more modern styles to its line and recruited well-known celebrities like Emma Watson to promote them. This led to a boost in sales and an image readjustment for the brand, which once again became a luxury name.

There's no point rebranding a business if all you change is the name. When it became The Shack, RadioShack did exactly this. The business wanted to stem the flow of losses, but a name change just didn't cut it. Maybe if it had gotten to the root of the problem and set out more strategic goals, the brand wouldn't continue to close its doors.

With thorough research and clear goals, your rebranding strategy will be well-informed and should make an impact.

 

3. Get all company stakeholders on-board

To get customers on-board with a rebrand, you'll need to get all stakeholders involved first. Your employees are the main touchpoint between your brand and the outside world, so they need to understand the importance of your new brand. You want to make sure what they say and do is in keeping with your new image.

The CEO who led Burberry's turnaround, Angela Ahrendts, knew there was a problem when she saw that none of the company's managers wore the brand. How can expect your customers to love your brand when your own staff doesn't?

If your rebranding strategy aims to address a bad rep for customer care, you'll have to invest in training and resources to deliver better customer experiences. In situations like these, it can be a good idea to rebrand internally first.

When setting out a rebranding strategy for a client in the financial sector, consultants Spyglass Creative decided to do just this. To convince the board of management of the importance of stellar customer service, waiters with silver platters served lunch to the members and introduced the idea of "sterling service." With a clear view of the vision for the rebrand, they supported the new approach.

 

4. Have a process planned out

Once you've got stakeholders on your side and know exactly what needs to be achieved, you can put together a plan of action. In the case of Burberry, the company was active on many fronts. It introduced new designs and bought back licenses for its classic plaid pattern, so it could protect the brand's image and make it exclusive once again. The company also created a brand story, which it told through videos and in-store displays.

Your rebranding strategy might require you to take up social media. Or, it could impact the networks you already advertise on.

Prior to 2010, Old Spice was seen as a retro brand for older men. While its reputation was sound, it simply didn't appeal to younger audiences. It decided to change this.

The brand set up a YouTube channel and posted dozens of fun, humorous videos featuring actor and former athlete Isaiah Mustafa.

The rebrand was a massive success, opening up the traditional product to a new demographic by making the most of new trends. Old Spice did its research, rebranded for sensible reasons and set out clear goals.

 

5. Build trust for your new brand

Once you've rebranded, don't slip backwards. Familiarize your audience with your new brand personality by staying consistent and building trust around it.

If you have a new name or logo, don't leave a trace of the old one around. Create new brand guidelines and make it easy for staff to implement them. A brand templating platform like Lucidpress can help by making brand assets easily accessible during the content creation process. When any files are updated, everyone will automatically have access to them, too.

Use your new brand in all your communications to build awareness of it. Use a link shortener like Rebrandly to create branded links for your emails and social media posts. This will build brand visibility and trust. Content marketing and native advertising can also build familiarity and trust in your new image. Be consistent with your new tone, and don't flip-flop between your old brand and the new one.

Branding is an important company asset, and it can leave a lasting image in consumers' minds. Make sure your rebranding strategy sticks, because it can rejuvenate a business and even turn it around when the chips are down.

 

How to rebrand a company

Follow these steps and plan how to successfully rebrand your business.

1. Define your audience

If your audience is 70-year-old retirees, you probably don't want to alienate them with something that feels so modern it's out of their reach. The same goes for a millennial audience. If you're rebranding, it might be because you're redefining your niche and ideal customer. Make sure your branding speaks as much to that ideal audience as your sales copy does.

2. Stay true to your mission

A rebrand should be a makeover, not a botched surgery. Before you begin, go over your mission and value statements. Come up with an idea of where you are now and where you want to go — without losing sight of who you are and what your customers have come to love. Project your mission and personality in your new branding so you feel like a refreshed company, not an unrecognizable one. If you're having trouble finding your brand's voice, try this tool.

3. Rethink your name

Name is the first and most recognizable brand element. Rebranding doesn't always involve a name change, but it can be a powerful strategy — especially if the company is looking for a fresh start. Did you know that the infamous Philip Morris company changed its name to Altria to disassociate itself from bad press and controversy? Considering how a number of journalists reported on the obvious change, it's hard to say whether it was successful, but only time will tell.

One more thing to consider is the possibility of alienating or losing older clients with a name change. A fresh start is a double-edged sword, so make sure you're ready to give up your established legacy in favor of a new brand identity.

4. Revamp your tagline

Slogans and taglines often go hand-in-hand with a brand's name. Usually, a tagline is a catchy sentence that summarizes your business and is easy to remember. If you decide to change your name, you should do the same with your tagline — especially if the business has changed. Over the years, FedEx has had several long and unmemorable taglines, so it changed to "Relax, It's FedEx" in 2004 and "The World on Time" in 2009, both of which are simple and effective.

 

Rebuild your brand identity

Your brand identity is how you present your company to the world. It’s everything that customers recognize your brand for, from visual style to voice and personality. Be sure to include these key elements of brand identity in your rebranding strategy.

Logo

Since people are visual thinkers, updating your logo is the easiest way to demonstrate change to your audience. As for the logo design, you have to follow (and subvert) trends if you want to appear fresh. But, be careful with it. You don't want to drift too far away from the original logo unless you're trying to conceal your past. You want people to acknowledge the change but also recognize the company's continuity.

Color palette

Color psychology is real — and different colors make people feel different things, so consider how you want your brand to make people feel. Blue is a calming color, pink is soft and romantic, black is bold and sophisticated, etc.

It’s best to go for a simple color palette with no more than 3 primary colors. You can also choose secondary colors to create your brand palette. You’ll be experimenting with tint, shade and saturation to get the look and feel of your brand just right.

Typography

Typography is truly an art, and choosing the right fonts for your brand can help you stand out and be easily recognizable. Just like colors, font styles can make people feel a certain way. You want to find a pair of complementary fonts that reflect your brand’s personality, whether that’s modern and youthful, bold and innovative, or however else you’d describe your brand. You’ll need to consider things like font size, kerning and line height, readability and licensing requirements.

Shapes and imagery

Along with colors and fonts, your other visual assets communicate who you are to your customers. Again, think about what visuals will communicate your brand’s identity, personality and feeling. Is your brand angular, rounded, flat, soft, natural, futuristic? Are you using animations, photographs, GIFs, videos? All design elements come into play here and there’s a lot to explore.

Brand guidelines

Once you have your new brand identity outlined, the best thing you can do for your rebranding efforts is create a clear and easy-to-access set of brand guidelines. This will ensure that your team can reference the new guidelines and keep your rebrand looking consistent. Without full compliance from your internal teams, it can be hard to have a successful rebrand.

 

Tips and tricks for a successful rebrand launch

1. Know your limit — err, budget

Creating content, running tests and paying for ads all costs money. Around 10-20% of your annual marketing budget can be spent just on rebranding efforts. Developing a well-designed content calendar will help identify where most of your money will be spent and give you an idea of when you'll need to be prepared for these expenses.


2. Testing: 1, 2, 3

Taking the time to run tests on your content will help to solidify your marketing strategy. It's not always a guarantee that a rebranding effort is going to be successful. The best way to prevent a failed rebranding is to test your assets before releasing them to the public. Study groups and A/B testing can uncover and strengthen any weak points in your rebranding strategy.


3. Demand consistency

Branding should be synonymous with "consistent messaging." When you rebrand, you need to go back through every webpage, design element and evergreen brochure to update it with your fresh look, tone and feel. Don't dilute your new branding by confusing it with the old. Get everything polished in one fell swoop. Brand consistency was important before the rebrand, and it's even more important now. Consistency establishes company-client trust, which leads to higher revenues.


A platform like Lucidpress can be a huge help in your rebranding and consistency efforts. It gives a central place to put all your brand assets and files, providing easy access for anyone who needs them. You can put all your new colors and logos in the brand assets hub, so when people are creating content, there’s no chance of them using an old logo or font, etc.

You can create a template library with all of your rebranded and updated materials, so spanking-new content is right at everyone’s fingertips. Plus, when you decide to refresh your brand again down the road, all the content will be in one easy-to-update location. A centralized platform for branded content creation will make it easier to roll out your rebrand to internal teams, so can ensure that everyone’s up to speed before your public debut.
 

Is it time to rebrand your business or organization? Learn more in our free ebook: How and why to rebrand your company

“Rebranding

Author Bio

Louisa McGrath is a content manager at Rebrandly, the link shortener empowering marketers to put their brand on their links. She can be seen blogging around Dublin's city center, except on Sundays when she stays in to pore over the newspapers.