When is the right time to rebrand?

For a customer, rebranding sucks — the app icon you’re familiar with suddenly changes, you can’t find the cereal you want because they changed the box color and the new package size doesn’t fit in the same spot in your cupboard anymore. Sure these are all #firstworldproblems, but issues like these are why rebranding can be an intimidating prospect for businesses. There’s a fear that rebranding will mean losing brand recognition, be expensive to implement and will be a decision you can’t go back on.

When it’s done right, however, rebranding is an investment that can have great positive impact on your revenue. So when is the right time to take the risk and rebrand?

Standard marketing thinking (yawn) dictates that the need for a rebrand is in reaction to an event. Perhaps you’re expanding into a new market or repairing a damaged reputation, or maybe a new, more creative competitor has come along and you need to catch up. With this approach, rebranding is a major undertaking that requires a complete overhaul of your image. A job of this size should only to be attempted every five or ten years, but it is sometimes needed.

Can you even remember what your business was like five years ago?

For many businesses though, reactionary rebranding can be too slow and cumbersome for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pace we now live in. Can you even remember what your business was like five years ago? You know, the days before Uberification and Snapchat, when people still used Internet Explorer and rented DVD’s from Netflix. If you’re like most businesses you have new competitors, your customer base has shifted, you’ve adapted to new technology and your goals and aspirations have grown.

That’s a lot of change — and the only way your brand can reflect an accurate vision of your business, is if it also evolves at the same pace. This means that most businesses benefit from taking a dynamic, proactive perspective to brand design.

With this approach the goal is not necessarily to overhaul and redesign a brand, but to keep your brand fresh and relevant by refining and adapting color palettes, copy, typography, packaging design, logos, delivery boxes, patterns, icons — every element of a brand that customers interact with. Think of it like an app that launches frequent updates to fix bugs and add features.

when you’re doing awesome stuff you can be bold with your branding

Mailchimp’s visual brand is a great example of design by iteration. According to Mailchimp’s co-founder, Ben Chestnut, the original self-designed logo, created in 2001, was “a very sloppy rush job”. Over the next five years the mascot went through several versions, each one “slightly less clumsy than the preceding version”, but customers were still complaining the logo appeared unprofessional. Ben experimented with dropping the chimp icon, but in 2008 they reintroduced it — this time with a design by a professional designer, John Hicks. Over the next few years, as Mailchimp grew, they continued to evolve their logo. In 2013 they hired typography expert, Jessica Hische, to give their wordmark an upgrade. “They didn’t want to do a massive overhaul,” said Hische, “they just wanted to give their current mark a facelift.”

As a company that continually innovates with their technology and product, branding in iterations allowed Mailchimp to also experiment and push the boundaries of their visual brand. As Ben explains, “when you’re doing awesome stuff you can be bold with your branding, and have some personality.”

The goal of a pro-active approach to rebranding is to continually improve the brand experience for your customers with multiple changes. As an added benefit, it also trains your customers to be prepared for change — so when a major overhaul of a brand is needed, it doesn’t come with a major shock factor.

A paradox that all businesses have to deal with, is that customers will complain about change, but they also demand it. A brand that is static and unchanging, therefore, can give the impression that your business is static and unchanging too — and businesses who don’t adapt to change quickly get let behind.

So when is the right time to rebrand? It’s actually ‘right now’. Your brand may not need a complete overhaul, but every brand has room for improvement. So be proactive and evolve your brand now, before you get left behind.

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Thank you for reading! Follow Brandtending for more tips and articles on how to nurture your brand and grow your business; or connect with us at www.prettylethaldesigns.com — we’re a couple of brand nerds with a couple of crazy dogs who create brands for businesses who make, bake, brew, craft, grow & create.