Whether it’s to establish a new direction for one’s brand, to restructure after a merger, or to distance the company from a previous mishap, rebranding a company or its products can be a great way to generate a new image in the public eye.
Sometimes, though, all it does is toss out years of goodwill in the hope of revitalizing a product that’s simply no longer what the market is looking for.
Rebrands can come in varying shapes and sizes; sometimes, companies keep their names while totally overhauling the appearance of their brand and their products. Other rebrands consist of a new spin on an old abbreviation, associating the brand with new ideas and different practices. In all cases, however, the goal is the same: to change the public perception of the company behind the brand and ultimately garner more eyes, to in turn garner more sales.
The Merger: Sometimes It’s Best To Hyphenate
One common situation wherein a rebrand often becomes necessary is a merger, and recent research shows that the best approach to a merger is to fuse elements from across brands. According to research by marketing professor Natalie Mizik, so-called “fusion branding” leads to the best results when companies come together, beating out assimilation as well as unchanged brands, coming out ahead rather than being set back by the merger. While most companies that merge fall slightly short of market return, those which use fusion branding tend to beat it by an average of three percent.
This fusion doesn’t have to involve hyphenation of the names of the companies. Some companies, after merging or acquiring another, choose to adopt elements of the other organization’s logo and presentation. By combining the two, the new company can draw on elements of both brands, which can help a company with a look that has fallen out of vogue change its style completely. It can also help companies eager to capitalize on a new market segment that was better served by the old company.
This isn’t always optimal, however, especially if one company is being acquired because it’s fallen on hard times and has lost the faith of the public. Under certain circumstances, it’s best for one of the brands to simply disappear, or live on solely through its intellectual properties.
Antiquities: Sometimes It’s Just Old
Every now and then, a brand just isn’t what it used to be and rebranding can be a great way to get out of a slump. Whether it’s a logo that doesn’t fit the expectations of modern consumers or a strong association with a specific past event, a brand image that feels old can make newer customers shy away. Likewise, an old brand image can damage your credibility if what your company does now isn’t similar enough to what it did when that image was established.
This sort of rebrand can be dangerous if you still have loyal customers, as you risk alienating them, but if you’re close to falling apart this can be a solid way to revitalize the company. Companies like Apple and Square-Enix (then Squaresoft) have saved themselves from the brink of bankruptcy through a rebranding effort coupled with new, solid products. This sort of rebrand works best with something new to offer in conjunction with the change, as the new product can cement the identity change.
Be careful not to go too far with the brand change, however, as many such changes can make a company look desperate or out of touch. Companies like Academi (formerly Blackwater, and later Xe) and Accenture have embarked on drastic rebranding campaigns that have failed to register in the public eye or seemed meaningless to consumers. Committing to a change in brand is expensive, and needs to either indicate a genuine change in the way you’ve been doing business or come with such a change, and savvy customers can tell when a rebrand is solely a change in aesthetic.
What do you think?
Whether it’s in hopes of saving your business from a drastic downturn or just to bring it in line with current market expectations, a rebrand can be both a powerful tool and a dangerous one. Don’t apply one senselessly, or if you see only minor imperfections, as such perfectionism can often harm your company. Applied correctly, however, it can turn even an ailing business into a powerful performer. Have you been involved with a rebrand? Do you have a favorite rebrand, or one that totally drove you away from a brand? Let us know in the comments.