To Rebrand or Not to Rebrand. 5 Warning Signals.

Before asking yourself this question, you need to make sure you have truly understood what a brand really is. First of all, it is not all about the logo. A brand goes far beyond that, and comprises everything from product packaging to print ads and social media posts. Brands should not only encompass the look and feel of a company, but also its unique value proposition. If this does not happen, it might be time for a rebranding. Below you can find some actual warning signals that you should take into consideration. But before that I suggest a brief analysis of some rebranding study cases.

Apple’s case definitely numbers among the most successful stories of our era. Take a look at the evolution of their logo:

In the early 1990s, the company was suffering from low sales, low consumer interest and many competitors that were driving clients away from Apple. The situation did not get better until Steve Job’s takeover in 1997. The visionary entrepreneur proposed a more minimalist and modern perspective. The main focus was on ideas and experiences rather than products or purchases. This way, Apple attracted a new and diversified customer base and soon became a leader in the tech industry.

Surprisingly, Apple’s success story inspired fashion brands as well. For instance, Burberry. A couple of decades ago, this brand was being inextricably linked with “chav culture”, a stereotype of the British working class. This association sent sales plummeting. In 2001, the company hired the gifted Christopher Bailey who had been key to injecting sex appeal into an otherwise conservative brand. Burberry suddenly became cool. New, unexpected products like swimwear and trench coats were introduces. Celebrity endorsements from Kate Moss or Emma Watson also helped cement the new image of Burberry, a brand that now is a symbol of high class and wealth.

Kate Moss for Burberry; Source:

On the other hand, tech firm Microsoft had been pretty slow in the area of rebranding. The company started its first rebranding process after no less than 25 years of activity. In 2012, the company logo was redesigned, whereas associated products got an identity revamp. Microsoft became more intentional in connecting the individual product logos to the parent brand. The colours of the new logo are more consistent and the new logo font (Segoe) has a modern look. It is clearer now that the Microsoft products are in the same family.

Now starting from these successful stories, we should think about whether it is time for rebranding in our company’s case. If you feel familiar with the following warning signals, the answer is definitely positive and you should rebrand.

Customer migration

If you are experiencing a significant decrease in sales and customers, consider this a dangerous situation. When more and more customers are going to your competition, your company might have a problem. Ask yourself what your visual identity is saying to people. Is it attracting new customers or repelling them? The presence of other companies on the market should force you to evolve. And rebranding is a good way of expressing this innovation.

Incompatibility between look and function

Always evaluate if your brand tells a meaningful story – if the answer is negative, then it might be time to rebrand. In many situations products and/or services become innovative and gain additional functions throughout the years, whereas the brand itself – from a cosmetic point of view – stays old. This is another case when rebranding would be recommended. It is vital to match the look of your brand with the true essence of it.

If you offer an entire array of products or services, they should be all easily identifiable as being part of the brand as a whole. The same rule applies to the situation when you have merged with or acquired another company – that means you need to update your logo (or create a new one) and build a cohesive company identity. Bottom line: a rebranding process will help you focus your company’s vision and show new and old customers who you are now as a unit.

Wrong target audience

A crisis situation also appears when a particular brand starts attracting the wrong kind of customers. Rebranding is the perfect tool for switching a brand’s target audience and start communicating with the right kind of people. For instance, premium brands should attract customers with high levels of income – the exquisiteness of the brand strategy should be made visible in each detail.

Outdated visual elements

Are any of your brand’s colors, fonts or graphics outdated? If the answer is yes, then you could definitely use a refresh to reposition yourself in the market. An outdated brand looks less professional, even if the services offered by the company remained impeccable. In order for a brand to be perceived with credibility, its visual identity should be modern and fresh. Take the example of Verizon, a brand which at some point chose to refresh their logo and update its brand message: „revitalized purpose of delivering the promise of the digital world – simply, reliably and in a way that consumers want”.

Love at first sight?

Here is an important question to ask: what information and feelings does your branding give at a first glance? If people are confused about what your visual identity is trying to portray, then it is possible they will not stay long. You need to create an emotional attachment to the visual aspect of your brand and build a strong brand recognition.

But be careful…

There are some situations when rebranding is not the solution. If your problem is not an internal one and not related to the market, it may not be time to rebrand. Because a brand makeover cannot solve internal problems in a company. Opt for rebranding after solving internal imbalances. On the other hand, it is advisable to keep in mind that (re)branding is not an overnight thing. The new brand and message need time to permeate the marketplace and conquer the minds of consumers. Rebranding every six months is definitely not a good idea, because people will get confused.