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When is it the right time for a rebrand?

By
Jag Chohan
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Does the idea of rebranding your business make you want to break out in hives? Maybe it makes you feel a little sick just thinking about it—but only because you know that making a change will be expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining. Or maybe you’re considering rebranding but don’t know if now is the right time or how to tell when that magical moment arrives.

All of those are valid concerns, so let’s take a look at five signs that may indicate it’s time for your brand to undergo a refresh (and when not to worry).

Your Messaging Needs a Tune-Up

The most common—and most obvious—reason to rebrand is when you need a refresher on your brand messaging. Perhaps you found yourself saying something along these lines (or even thinking it): “I dislike the messages we’re sending out there now, but I can’t quite put my finger on why or how to change them.” Or maybe it was more like this: “Our message isn’t resonating with anyone and things are looking pretty dire. We need to figure out what our story is before it’s too late.” Or perhaps you reached the point where you think of your company as anything but your company: “This has nothing to do with me or my company. I am completely detached from this message, and it’s clear that no one else feels a connection to it either.”

Sometimes when messaging is flawed or out of touch with your audience, the result isn’t just some bad PR; it can be disastrous—and fast. 

Whatever brought on your brand crisis, you probably found yourself wishing you’d had time to address the problem before disaster struck. The same can be true of a brand refresh: If you have some unsettling signals that things are off track, a major rebrand could take too long and cost too much for the fix you need now . A redesign campaign may be warranted to change your messaging—but if you need proof of concept and quick turnaround, a fresh look might be just the ticket.

If your website is starting to lose traffic or sales, that’s often an indication that something needs to change. It could be a problem with your product or service, but it’s more likely related to how customers are finding you online and what they think of your brand when they get there. (If you don’t have a site yet, it may still be time for one if you haven’t been able to capture engagement on social media.)

Rebranding as Redesign

You can rebrand in pretty much any way you like (from naming changes and new taglines to an all-out rebranding), but the most common reason for a refresh is simply to give your current brand a new look. And if you do need to freshen up your image, it may be worth considering building in some design elements you can reuse in future efforts—even as far as replacing the logo itself.

Spiffy Upgrades

If your site has been looking dated and like so many others still running on last year’s software, there are any number of ways you can bring it into the 21st century with a more contemporary look without having to start from scratch. In fact, sprucing up your existing home base can help set the stage for further branding initiatives (and hopefully keep you from having to do this again anytime soon).

Long Live the New

By now, you’re probably well aware that your company is a living entity whose needs and goals change over time. And with some companies, that goes beyond just changing your logo every few years; it may mean doing so even more frequently or making other strategic changes. Sometimes the right solution involves a rebranding process that allows you to build in an element of flexibility to grow and evolve as needed.

In short, if your messaging, brand identity, overall look-and-feel—and/or website —are starting to feel outdated or out of touch and don’t have the impact they once did (especially if you find yourself saying “I don’t get it, either”), you may be ready to consider a rebrand.

The Difference Between Redesign and Refresh

So what do you do when the time comes for a brand refresh? Step one is remembering not to panic ; this is a completely normal part of business as usual. But if you want to know how to make sure your efforts will pay off, here are some easy rules:

Get your timing right

If circumstances aren’t dire (or even just unsettling), then contemplate whether or not now is the right time for a major move. A small tweak here or there may be all that’s needed—and major renovations require more planning and forethought than just about any other kind of project.

Keep it Simple

There’s no need to overdo it with the full brand refresh (or redesign) if you’re not ready. It may make sense to first take a fresh look at your messaging, tagline and/or logo, even just in isolation before weighing the overall scope of what needs to be done. After all, they are the front line of your branding efforts and play an important role in everything else you do.

Know when to bring in help

If rebranding or a redesign isn’t something you do on a regular basis, consider bringing in outside help from people who know what they’re doing—even if it means using an agency that can offer multiple services (e.g., digital marketing, branding, UX design). This can make the difference between a successful refresh and an expensive disaster.

Pay attention to the details

Just as you probably won’t want strangers (and even some friends) seeing your house in its current state before all of your major interior and exterior work is done, be mindful of how any brand refresh will look to others who aren’t paying close attention. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the excitement about change—especially if you feel like you’re overdue for it —but resist the urge to send out press releases or blast social media too soon if big changes haven’t had sufficient time to settle in with everyone who will see them.

Go big or go home

In other words, don’t try to take on a massive rebranding project in one fell swoop unless you have plenty of time, adequate resources and an extremely cohesive creative team. While it may be tempting to think about doing “all the things” all at once, this is often when mistakes are made—and the more ambitious your plan for overhauling everything at once, the greater your chances of running into something that goes horribly wrong.

This is especially important if you want to implement multiple new elements at one time (e.g., a website redesign along with updating branding across all channels). Not only could that end up looking too busy (or just plain confusing), but it may also cause you to lose sight of the bigger picture and make some critical design errors that throw off all your efforts.

Check in with your audience

As long as you’re open to input from others, don’t underestimate how valuable it can be to hear what they have to say about any plans for a brand refresh or rebrand. They won’t always be right , but their feedback could give you insights into how best to proceed that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own. You may even find out exactly which changes they want—something that will save you time later (and keep things running more smoothly).

As important as it is to get the big stuff right, it’s also wise to remember to keep the smaller details in mind as you go along. While bandied about dismissively by some, it’s true that “branding is everything .” From your website and social media presence to your packaging and how you conduct yourself on sales calls with potential clients, any brand refresh will work best if its elements are cohesive and consistent from start to finish.

So take a deep breath—and maybe even two or three—and then follow these rules for an easier transition into spring.

Additional Reading and a great resource

Rebrand Case Study: More Than Just a New Logo - https://www.toptal.com/designers/rebranding-consultants/rebrand-case-study

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