Let’s just get straight to it. Here are some red-alert signs that you need to rebrand right now!
Weak market mindshare
When you hear the term ‘fast food’, what’s the first brand that comes to mind? How about smartphones? Or cameras? It’s likely that certain brands pop up first (and you and I probably have the same few in mind).
“Top of mind” recall is the single strongest marketing currency and it is what every marketer strives for. Simply put, it’s marketing gold. Companies that fail to have significant mindshare among their target audiences lose their competitive advantage, and this often translates to sluggish sales or even the eventual death of a brand. This does not only apply to B2C brands, but to B2B brands as well.
If you’ve realised that your brand is being drowned out by competition, rebranding may give you a chance to find a niche and dial down on it. By repositioning your product or service value, and isolating the right target audience, you can establish your own stronghold in a potentially new mind space, negating other competitors. Here’s a case in point.
Ditching its image of dated opulence, Gucci reinvented “luxury” to be more accessible, appealing, and relevant for millennials. Gucci realised quick enough that the Net Generation was fast becoming the new big spenders, spending $600 billion annually, with more than half of these purchases happening online. Moving much of its marketing efforts to the digital space, the native channel of millennials, Gucci gobbled up the mindshare through their “digital competence” and presence, having integrated e-commerce, digital advertising, social media and mobile apps seamlessly. About 50% of Gucci sales — and 65% of Saint Laurent’s sale, its sister brand — now come from millennials. Successfully cracking the luxury code with the new generation, Gucci has carved out a new mind space while other luxury powerhouses are struggling to be relevant.
Similarly, a rebrand could be the reboot that your brand requires.
People are not resonating with your messages
Continuing from the earlier point, what if people no longer vibe with your current brand? Trends come wave after wave, and peoples’ needs and opinions are ever-changing. Brands that do not continually evolve their brand positioning — and in turn brand messages — in tandem with their audiences’ progress stand to be obsolete.
If your messages are reaching your intended audiences but conversions have come to a stalemate, there’s a good chance that your messages no longer work for them. Your target audiences no longer have a strong reason to believe in what you bring to the table, and that’s dangerous.
Speaking directly to millennials, Manulife shelved all talk on the importance of planning or their product benefits, and went straight to communicating rapport. Unveiling a campaign that plays on the popular hashtag #adulting, Manulife showcased relatable, funny adulthood scenarios that spoke of the pain of everyday decisions. Anchoring on the message of “It’s time #adulting got easier”, the insurance company managed to approach the serious topic of retirement in a playful, current, and captivating manner. The campaign was so well received that it claimed the coveted “Marketer of the Year” award.
Your messages are what people feed off your brand. Regardless of how great your products are, if the messages you put out are not in taste with your target audiences, it is a missed opportunity. Don’t leave your community hungry for too long, or they may just leave for elsewhere.
Your reputation is not in a good place
You have been getting a lot of negative sentiments lately. People are talking about your brand endlessly, but not in a kind way. Regardless of whether the criticism was due or otherwise, human emotions are hard to curb and manage — tensions can soar unpredictably. The advent of social media has accelerated both positive and negative conversations online.
If your brand gets stuck in the rut for too long, and has lost all its credibility and goodwill with the public, a brand overhaul may be the only option forward. Rebranding will not solve bad business decisions — you would still have to address these issues — but it demonstrates to customers a willingness to change and do better. Many brands have turned public debacles into opportunities for uninhibited blue sky thinking and for finding a new community.
When ride-hailing company, Uber, came under the new leadership of Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, the brand decided to unveil a new logo alongside their commitment to prioritising safety. Of late, the brand has been plagued with PR nightmares due to numerous cases of alleged sexual assault, kidnapping and assault incidents by its drivers. Uber’s new brand identity and custom font type, which was rolled out together with the new safety features, is clean and easily legible, embodying the corporate’s focus on safety.
Would the brand update improve its relationships with users? Would the new brand last? Only time would tell.
If your fans did not come to your brand’s rescue when things got rough, it’s already an early sign that people no longer believe in your brand. It is timely to reconsider your brand’s purpose and cause.
The right questions to ask
If you were astute enough to notice, the indicators we chose above are also justifications to your management to treat this seriously. Draw out the relevant company data of the above and tease out some industry insights to put together a data-backed, strategically-sound proposal that addresses real businesses challenges. Here are some (tough) questions to guide you through:
- What’s your brand recall and associations?
- Who are you losing out to and why?
- Which audiences are you losing, and which new ones are you gaining?
- How are people needs and expectations changing?
Dissonance with the message:
- At which part of your ‘marketing chain’ are people dropping off?
- How accurate are people reading your messages?
- What are some sentiments towards your messages?
- What are some new trends or social tensions that threaten or support your cause?
- What are you known for online at the moment?
- What are your ranking search results?
- What are the general themes and sentiments of the criticisms?
- What are the projected outcomes (ideal, middle-ground, worst case) of this PR episode?
Before you jump on the b(r)andwagon
Branding can be dangerous business. Even big brands such as GAP and Airbnb have slipped up and faced rounds of mockery and backlash. Closer to home, our very own Mediacorp and the National Gallery also got flamed big time for their branding decisions.
Important: Rebranding should never be for vanity’s sake. It is not about designing a prettier logo or adding professionally-taken photos to your website. The impetus of a rebrand should always be about addressing business challenges. A new brand needs to be able to pull a company out of the rut or future proof their positioning to be considered a success.
Check out our earlier post on “Why Should Brands Embrace Their Humanity” for what an ideal brand should be like. You can also refer to our Human Brand Framework as a basis for your way-forward proposal.
If you are mulling on how you can future proof your brand, do schedule a sharession with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss more, or check out our blog for more as-real-as-it-gets brand and marketing help.
Written by Hanson Ng