New Year, New Brand!

2016: New Year, New Brand!

So the new year has you in a reflective mood. As you sift through year-end filings, you think about where your company has been and where it is heading. In these moments, it’s not unusual to succumb to the temptation to shake things up with a rebranding campaign. 2016: New Year, New Brand! Or is it? While even a small brand update can breathe new life into a business, it can also be risky and require dedicating significant resources. Answer the following questions before embarking on the journey to rebrand:

Why should I rebrand?

There are many reasons to rebrand a company or a product, but not all of them are good. You’ve been exposed to your company’s brand more than anyone else, so you may have developed a false sense that it’s going stale. You might also feel pressured to update your brand because others are doing it with some success. Better reasons to rebrand a company relate to its effectiveness in the product and labor markets. There, you can see what is and isn’t working. Only then will you know what to change. For example, if you’re changing your brand because you’re having trouble attracting tech-savvy creative employees, you might consider surveying the opinions of job recruiters, others in the industry, or past applicants. If you’re contemplating the change in response to a drop in sales or interest in your product, consider surveying past and potential clients for information. This exercise will help you better understand whether you have a brand issue, and to what extent.

In turn, you’ll be able to make a better decision about whether and how to launch a rebranding campaign. More importantly, you’ll learn what brand attributes resonate most strongly with customers, so you can retain those that have traditionally made the brand relatable.

How will you implement the new brand?

Before launching a campaign, determine its scope. This will help you understand whether it will be worth the money for a website redesign, updated logo, new graphics and visuals, slogans and more. If you determine that it’s worth the investment, you next need to determine how you’ll make the announcement and whether it will confuse current customers. Does it send the message that you intend?

Next, make sure that the new brand does not infringe on an existing one. Of course, the risk that your desired mark infringes on another will depend on how drastic a change you’ve made to your own, but doing your due diligence now will spare you a lot of grief in the long run.

Finally, if you’ve made the leap, you need to train your team. Be sure to make everyone aware of the new branding. Business cards, dress styles, and customer contact should all conform with the new brand image. Anyone left inadvertently circulating old branding does your campaign a disservice.

How do you protect the new brand?

With a new branding campaign, your legal obligations start from scratch. A smart business will file all of the necessary paperwork to register the new trademark without delay. You should revisit the brand-protection strategy you had in place previously and go through all of the necessary steps to protect the new

You should also consider what you’re protecting — is this a complete overhaul? Or are you rebranding only a portion of your business? This will help you budget for the campaign and better communicate to employees the relationship between the brand identities.

In either case, don’t neglect the old brand. You will treat the old brand differently depending on the campaign strategy and the underlying reasons for the change, but in no case should you just abandon it. If your old mark is mired in bad PR, take active steps to distance yourself from it. On the other hand, if goodwill still exists, execute a plan to extract the remaining value. This could be as simple as making sure that the old URL points to the new website, or it could be as complicated as segmenting mailing campaigns to direct the old branding and new branding to different geographic or demographic groups.

Whatever you decide to do — and however you decide to do it — the rebranding process shouldn’t be taken lightly. Make sure that your entire team is fully involved and that everyone is committed to seeing the change through before launch.