Adapt or die – keep your brand relevant

It’s tricky to rebrand an existing company because its fundamental values and existing culture must be carried through and not lost along the way.

Johannesburg, 19 Feb 2020
Read time 4min 50sec

The reasons for changing a tried and tested brand are manifold. It can merely be to freshen up an outdated look and feel, or it can be because the business is experiencing a change in direction. Helesha Moodley, Marketing Lead at Ovations, says: “Companies decide to rebrand for various reasons as they grow and evolve through the years.”

Driving forces for a brand refurbishment include:

  • Expanding to new locations, where a brand refresh is needed in order to play in certain markets;
  • Market repositioning, where a brand identity change is needed in order to connect with the right target markets; and
  • A change in philosophy, which calls for a total rejuvenation of a brand through the evolution of the company’s mission, vision and values.

This is all well and good, but when does a business know that it’s time to evaluate its brand? 

Helesha Moodley, Marketing Lead, Ovations.
Helesha Moodley, Marketing Lead, Ovations.

Moodley says: “Creating a solid brand identity should be a priority for any start-up business, although changes to the brand down the line can render that initial brand strategy obsolete. However, change is inevitable and when it occurs, a rebrand conversation becomes necessary.”

A rebrand basically entails rebuilding your business’s identity, she explains. “People often confuse this with a simple logo or slogan change, but it is so much more than that. All of the tangible elements that are used for brand communications need to be reviewed and potentially redesigned when considering a rebrand. This includes your logo, colour palettes, Web site design, value proposition and guidelines. It’s particularly tricky to rebrand an existing company, as opposed to creating a brand from scratch, because the fundamental values and existing culture of the company need to be carried through and not lost along the way.”

Rebranding tips

A rebrand has to be managed and driven by the organisation’s marketing and communications department as this is where all messaging and brand communication elements originate. 

“A rebrand requires executive involvement at every step of the process in order to be successful,” says Moodley. “This is because the brand image is repositioned, which can impact on other areas within the business.”

Any rebranding process should be done over a period of time, with elements being gradually introduced as internal testers to the company employees. This allows for the company to adjust to the revamped identity. As the process continues, feedback around the new brand should be encouraged and noted, until consensus is reached about the new look and feel.

Moodley’s best piece of advice for companies wanting to launch a new look and feel is to devise a rebranding strategy from the outset. “You will first need to identify whether your brand needs a partial or total rebrand, and provide the reasons as to why a rebrand is necessary. If you are bored of seeing your current logo, you should probably rethink your decision to rebrand. If you are considering a rebrand because your company’s value proposition is no longer reflected by your brand, then a rebrand might be a good decision.” 

She also advises companies embarking on a brand refresh to establish a new focus around the target market they’re hoping to attract with the rebrand, and that they ensure that all newly designed brand communications are focused and linked to the company’s value propositions and target markets.

Moodley highlights challenges faced by businesses around branding. “Creating a brand from scratch is generally a tough task to get right; more so for the average SME. The transition from visuals alone to understanding that your brand is everything, ie the tone, ethos and values of who you are, demands time and careful consideration.”

Some factors are beyond the business’s control, such as consumer change and new branding trends that need to be considered. “The focus needs to be on creating a brand that builds relationships and presents an exceptional chance for you to visually and beautifully tell your company story. This story will continue to improve and change, so if you really think about it, the change becomes an opportunity.”

Steps to a rebrand

“You’re only ready to start rebranding your business once you’ve established the actual market and audience that you want to connect with. It’s important to ensure that your new look and feel will reach the right customers. Clearly defining your value proposition from the outset is also important, so that you get the messaging right,” advises Moodley. 

"Something to be cognisant of is to stay simple. Focus on the message that you are trying to convey, rather than trying to achieve the impossible. Make sure that what you are creating or changing is adaptable and looks to the long term. Identify what kind of impact you are trying to make and simplify your brand so that it speaks directly to that.”

The key thing to remember is that less is more. “The lessons learnt from your rebranding journey will flow over to all future brand communication to be created and conveyed to clients. If you don’t get this right, you will not connect with the right people in the right manner,” she concludes.