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5 signs you need a rebrand

By Mark Campbell 20 Feb 2024

Overhauling your brand is no small task, and the idea can be both daunting and exciting. It can be a sign that things are going really well and you need to evolve with that, or it can be a sign that things aren’t going so well and you need a shot in the arm.

It can be hard to know when the timing is right to undertake this process, so we’ve collated a few signs we’ve seen over the years that it might be time to upgrade your brand, and even a few reasons not to rebrand.

1. Something fundamental has changed

Every company goes through twists and turns, mistakes and opportunities, and inevitably key things change in the business as you learn and grow.

So given that your brand is a reflection of who you are as a business and a team of people, there’s some changes to look out for that might signal your current brand doesn’t match where you are or where you’re wanting to go:

  • Your service offering has changed. Started as accountants but now offer a whole suite of business services?

  • You’re going after a new market. See an untapped opportunity, but the current brand doesn’t really fit this new target?

  • Your team has grown or shrunk. Do you want to be seen now as a powerhouse or a boutique team of senior advisors?

  • You want to change your pricing. If you want to charge premium prices, you’ll need a premium brand.

  • There’s a leadership change. A new CEO in town who wants to make their mark will often put the brand under the microscope.

  • Customer preferences have shifted. Do you need to take a fresh stance on something that’s important to your target market, or ditch the dated references?

  • Your competition has caught up. Is the thing that used to set you apart now commonplace in the industry? How can you keep ahead of the pack?

It’s important to note here that when we say rebrand we don’t just mean changing the logo or other parts of the visual identity. A rebrand can simply be a relook at your strategy, tweaking your positioning and rolling out some fresh messaging to your audience.

No need to throw the logo out with the bathwater. Or something like that.

2. You’ve “grown up”

We see this happen a lot with brands that have been in the market for a few years, and they’ve reached a point where the brand they started with no longer ‘fits’.

Maybe it was rushed at the start in the fervour of launching your business, or you didn’t have the budget to invest in it deeply at the time, or simply that you’ve grown as a founder and team with some experience under the belt.

The fact is, almost nothing turns out exactly how you thought it would, and you learn so much in those first few years about what your customers really want, what your strengths are, and what matters most to you. So the story you were telling as a brand new business is no longer the story you want to be telling.

You’ll recognise this feeling if any of this resonates… and the thought of updating things to really represent the brand, business and team that you’ve become excites you. It’s time to bring the brand inline with all the other great things you’ve done.

A great example of reasons 1 and 2 is our friends at businessDEPOT - where the core of the visual identity has persisted since day one, but the surrounding look and feel and their key messages have evolved over time as the business has added new services and grown from a bright new idea into an established and thriving brand.

3. Things just feel tired

Let’s face it, sometimes it’s just a passing of time. Trends and customer preferences change. What was once hip is as relevant as the word ‘hip’ now. Where you were once proud to shove your brand in everyone’s face, you’re now embarrassed if anybody visits your website.

Whilst it’s not a good idea to change your brand just because you’re bored with it… chances are if you don’t love the way your brand makes you feel, it is likely having a similar affect on your customers and even your team.

If it’s been a few years since you did a review of your brand, now’s the time to ask a few questions.

  • Does my visual identity still represent what I want to convey? What was once ‘premium’ may no longer feel that way.

  • Have our core values shifted, and how do we showcase what we really care about now?

  • Do our customers still talk and act in the same way? If not, how do we adapt to change our tone to match.

  • Does our brand presence still feel vibrant and relevant, or does it feel like it's holding us back?

We’ve seen this ourselves in branding our own business at Ply. What is premium and cool for a design agency has shifted several times over our 10 years in the industry, so we’ve had to constantly adapt our brand; not to chase a new trend every month, but to keep portraying the perception that represents us and the key principles we stand for.

4. Business isn’t great

First things first here - let’s squash the idea that simply changing your branding will fix your ailing business. It won’t.

But if you’re seeing a negative trend on the P&L, it’s worth considering what role your brand and marketing communications are playing in that.

If you take a look and find that your reputation has taken a hit, your customers are tuning you out, your team lacks enthusiasm about what the business stands for, or it’s as simple as your ads not converting the way they used to, then there’s a good chance some element of your branding stack needs a refresh.

A rebrand can definitely help turn things around when they’re not going your way - the key is to do it for the right strategic reasons, and update just the parts that are letting you down so as not to over-invest when budgets are tight.

5. You’re going through a merger

We’re ending with a really obvious one here, but if you’re going through a merger, or you’ve just purchased another business and wondering whether you should fold it under your existing brand, this is a crucial time to review your brand presence.

While there are some cases where it’s a good idea to keep one of the existing brands - e.g. if one brand has a large established presence in the market - in general we see things work out better if the new entity moves forward under a fresh and unified brand.

The main reasons are pretty straightforward - it’s an exciting fresh story to tell so you can make more noise in the market with the new brand, it marks a new chapter in the brand’s story, and it shows you’re more than the sum of the old parts.

But there’s often a deeper reason too - which is to unify the team. If you merge and keep one of the existing brands, the crew that are brought in from one of the other businesses almost always feel like they’re on the outside - creating a cultural divide that can really impact your business.

The wrong reasons to rebrand

While there’s plenty of reasons a rebrand might be needed, there’s definitely times where it won’t be the answer. Here’s a few scenarios to be wary of:

  • There’s a new leader in the business who is pushing for change but can’t give solid reasons why

  • Things are tough and you think it will magically fix everything

  • If you just “feel like a change” because you’re sick of seeing the same logo every day

  • Following trends that don’t relate to you - “I saw this cool new logo, I want one like that!”

  • If you’re not really committed to doing it well… doing a rebrand well will take time, effort and a decent budget

When you see these red flags, consider that maybe a rebrand is just a shiny distraction from what’s really needed in your business.

Did any resonate for you?

If any of these reasons struck a chord, then it could be a good time to get the team together and talk about how well your positioning, branding, visuals, and core marketing messages are serving you.

And if you feel like you could use an outside opinion, we’re always up for a chat.

By Mark Campbell Founder

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