To Rebrand or
Not to Rebrand
Sometimes you need to change course.
In this quick read, you get a fresh perspective on (re)branding and the tools to answer these three questions, which deserve more than a simple yes/no:
- What is your goal with a rebrand?
- Are you familiar with your category, consumer and culture?
- How are you going to succeed with your rebrand?
Time to Take on the Ongoing Popularity Contest of Consumer Branding?
It’s what executives ask themselves from time to time. And for good reason. But do you need to rebrand?
Grab a pen and paper and start answering these questions – truthfully. It’s the only way to truly know if your business needs a rebranding or merely focus on the small constant tweaks that will keep you ahead of the game.
Sure, these are complicated questions. But you need to be able to answer them. It’s the only way to calibrate your brand compass and win the ongoing popularity contest of branding. Start by reading the next chapter.
- What is the essence of your company? Does it add value to your customers and business?
- Are you familiar with your challenges and opportunities? Do you understand the culture and consumer landscape you work within?
- Is your category growing or declining? Are you losing or gaining market shares? Why?
- What is your aim with a rebrand? What are you looking to gain from it?
- Are you ready to commit to being brand-driven? Are you ready to take a position and not just have a positioning?
You Don’t Have
Too Many Shots
Sometimes it’s necessary to change course. Your brand could be outdated, irrelevant, or maybe even unpopular. No matter what, don’t rush the process.
It’s simple. Brands need a revisit from time to time. It might be time to shake things up, reignite the company, regain customers, seize a moment, or avoid a crisis. For some, rebranding is a complete makeover. For others, it’s a tweak in the activities, a revised portfolio structure, or a rejuvenated visual identity. Either way, it is a transformational endeavour that should add real value. Not just vanity or sugar-coating.
Take Your Time. It Will Be Worth It.
A rebrand is a significant undertaking. It takes time, resources and energy to succeed in the defining process, but even more so in the execution phase. However, it allows you to take a hard look at yourself and rethink your existence, purpose and ambition. A rebrand can renew people’s perception of your brand, ignite employees, reboot growth, enter new markets and categories, and even enable you to raise your prices. What’s not to like?
So, how do you succeed with your rebranding? It requires a solid strategic foundation, creative excellence, and a deep understanding of your context to know when and why to rebrand – and, most importantly, when not to.
Explore the Context of Your Brand
To get a fresh perspective and see your brand in a new context, it’s time to simplify and clarify your challenges and opportunities. We use one of our favourite tools: the 4Cs analysis.
Are You Relevant?
Whether you are working on a new brand, a rebrand or developing your existing brand through brand-driven innovation, you can find great use of the 4Cs. We use this valuable tool for every project, big and small, as it helps us map the context of a brand, uncover commercial opportunities, threats, past and present trends, and your core brand DNA.
The 4Cs cover the four areas your brand operates in: Company, Category, Consumer and Culture.
By exploring each C, you can systematically outline your context and define what elements and trends you can leverage to your benefit. When building strong brands, it is critical to navigating in societal shifts, seize commercial opportunities, and just stay relevant.
But enough talk; let’s get down to it. We start closest to home with the first C, Company.
Understand Your Brand
When looking closer at your Company, you investigate your existing assets, DNA and brand equity. Which elements do you have at your disposal to build on and develop? It is not a walk down memory lane but about brand legacy, your company culture, and your founding purpose.
This is especially relevant for companies that have been around for some time. One’s heritage can be redirected to regain relevance to the consumer. Over and over again, we see companies reinvigorate their brand by finding clues to the future in their own past.
That’s what we did for Danish orange soda icon Tuborg Squash. They’ve been around since 1936, becoming an icon, synonymous with thirst-quenching, delicious orange soda. But somewhere along the way, they lost some of their magic. Our job was to make them pop! once again. Part of the success in rejuvenating the brand design came from highlighting the proud iconic status and heritage in a more simple way.
By respecting the past, we induced new life into the design. The lines became playful, with soft, silky movements, and if you look closer, you can see the S-letters greeting you with a friendly smile. It’s details like this that spark the imagination and make for good storytelling and iconic design. That, and an original, refreshing taste.
Did this rebranding resonate with the new target group? Early into the new design launch, Tuborg noticed an uptick in sales – a whopping 26%, to be exact. Six months later, sales volume was up 69%! Every 4th orange soda sold in Denmark is now a Tuborg Squash. Looks like originality is back.
So, What to Do?
Look into what makes you popular. Which part of your brand resonates with your consumer, your loyal fanbase? What makes them remember you and choose you over the competition? Also, look into what builds internal pride and has achieved commercial growth in the past. How can you use this to your advantage?
Be the Opposite of the Competition
Next up, we broaden the scope a bit more. It’s time to look at the category, including your competitors. Explore the competitive landscape, trends within the category (and tangential categories), and where the market is heading.
When you look closely at the category, you get some immediate ideas as to what your brand should and shouldn’t do. Always be aware of copying your competitors. To be remembered by consumers, you need to stand out and offer something distinct.
A few years ago, we worked with Danish water brand Aqua d’Or on repositioning and redesigning their brand. We saw what the competition was doing, basically all incorporating some sort of cliches like icebergs and glaciers. Hence, we took Aqua d’Or in the opposite direction. Making it more of a lifestyle statement and a design icon in its own right.
The new brand universe targeted a younger and more urban segment that values simplicity. We emphasised the transparency through a more contemporary design that reflected the people drinking Aqua d’Or rather than the origin of the content. We also helped convert the bottles into recycled plastic and promote the return deposit service. It was a new position and design that dialled up the purity and premiumness.
Did it work? Well, within the water category, Aqua d’Or moved from number 4 to number 1 in one year, according to Nielsen. Shortly after the design was introduced, in February 2018, Aqua d’Or reached its highest ever value market share, at 13.7%.
So, What to Do?
Draw inspiration from category trends and movements. But never copy-paste. Research competitors and act so your brand stands out. Be distinct, take a position, and consumers will love you for it.
Understand the Driving Force Behind Every Purchase
Now, sit down with your consumers. Start to uncover their needs and understand the current tendencies to establish your position in a constantly changing market. And create the demand you need to gain pole position.
For the battery brand GP Recyko, we turned the tables. We made the rechargeable sub-category brand more human and relatable, rather than talking milliamperes, volts and power. This makes ReCyko more consumer-friendly and contemporary. It also makes a much better case, targeting people’s emotions instead of rational thinking. After all, 95% of all purchases are based on emotional impulses. People don’t want to be met by an engineering company when they can be greeted by something more personal.
The new design universe breaks with the standardised category language. The plain white design with an iconic green circle pops out on shelves usually covered in black, blue, and shiny gold. Even the standard copy on battery packs is boiled down to an absolute minimum, with a single sentence supporting the overall brand message. Finally, the green circle communicates sustainability in all its simplicity. Sometimes, you don’t have to shout to get your message across.
So, What to Do?
To get a better understanding of your consumers, talk to them. Be curious about life. Do research, both qualitative and quantitative. Read up on what they are reading, seeing, enjoying, consuming, and so on. Place yourself in their shoes and get beneath the surface. You’ll be amazed by what you will discover.
Take the Pulse. Get a Bigger Picture
Finally, you look at Culture. The surrounding context for both company, category, and consumer. The zeitgeist that permeates everything. Dive into the context of your brand and its relation to consumers. Where are we now, and where are we heading? Keep an eye on which social movements are growing or fading. Are there any no-nos or pitfalls regarding actions, words, and attitudes in this culture? Spoiler alert: there always is.
French meat alternative start-up La Vie is dead serious about celebrating life. This attitude is a relief to a sub-culture that is tired of compromises and hearing what they can and can’t do. La Vie unites vegans and meat lovers with products that celebrate them rather than separate them. After all, we are all humans, sharing the same planet. No need for social shaming. It’s counter-productive to sustainable solutions. Time to unite.
To stand out and seduce beet and beef lovers alike, La Vie needed a whole brand universe with a bold brand identity, a cheeky tonality, and packaging that questioned the mainstream conventions in the category. Ultimately, La Vie brings attitude and freshness to the game. Packed with emotions and positive vibes, they share smiles and cheers- essential ingredients when you want to change the world. Because you can be a rebel and change the world while still being a good sport. On top of that, La Vie won Gold at FAB Awards in 2022.
So, What to Do?
It’s all about immersing yourself in the Culture and really understanding it from the inside. Experience new stuff. Don’t hold back on connecting (new) ideas. Because when inspecting a culture, you might find new opportunities you wouldn’t have found looking at your category. And don’t think this ‘culture’ doesn’t apply to your category. It’s the trickiest and most essential part of the entire analysis, as culture is ever-evolving. How will you stay relevant if you do not change with your surroundings?
Turn Your Facts Into Insights
Now you know what it takes to become relevant and distinct. Time to make a proper synthesis. Summarise your finding in a one-pager. Where your brand needs to improve, where you already meet specific criteria, what changes you have to make, and what to do next
With a proper synthesis, you have a much better shot at interpreting your context and going from facts to insights. Finally, you can boil it down and clearly see what the very essence of your brand really is.
Find Your Brand Essence and Beat the Other 4,999 Brands
Every single day, you are exposed to 5,000 brand messages. But, we only notice about 86 of them, and from those, just 12 make a lasting impression. How do you beat the other 4,999 brands?
From time to time, brands need to push the refresh button. A new beginning, a bold move, an untrodden path, or a visual overhaul to regain the mojo. Over the years, working with hundreds of brands, we have found a simple yet highly effective formula to catch and engage the right consumers. We call it; Simplify & Amplify.
As humans (and brands), we have a lot on our minds. We want to tell the world about all the great things we do. We get caught up in our work, product, services and marketing. We fool ourselves into believing that people have the time and energy to absorb everything we throw at them when the reality is quite the opposite.
Over time, we build a plethora of things we want to share with the world. So, when it’s time for a rebrand, you get an opportunity to reassess, scrap the cr*p and keep the golden nuggets.
(Re)Distilling Your Essence
Sharpening your brand message is about helping people take easy decisions. To stand out and be remembered for the one thing that ticks the consumers. Doing so requires some effort. You need to find your brand essence.
Building on your 4C analysis, it’s about finding the core of the brand position. What do you want to be known for, what role do you play in people’s lives, and what guides you? We distil your brand into a single sentence that will define all initiatives going forward. Your core brand essence explains why you’re the only brand in the world that can claim this exact position in the market.
That is the first part. Afterwards, we start to simplify matters. It’s defining your role, what it requires, and how to cement it. When that’s in place, you’re ready for the next phase.
Turn up the Volume
Next, we amplify. We move from strategy to creative execution. It’s time to get loud. This is the phase where the creative concept is finalised. The communicative hook that designers translate into a visual experience.
A common phrase we often use is “Don’t design for designers”. Forget your personal preferences. You are already biased because of your work with design. The trick is to strike a chord with the broad population and not a small niche segment.
The design needs to help sell products (lots of them) and create preference long-term, all while being attractive to a wide and diverse audience. To achieve that, you need to tap into today’s consumers and make sure your design is contemporary – and that it will stay that way. After all, when it comes to products, it is one big popularity contest.
You need to utilise all five elements in a brand identity: logo, colours, font, pictures, plus the fifth element. Make them sing in harmony and be emotionally engaging.
“The fifth element?” you might wonder. The fifth element is often a subconscious graphic element, the thing that makes it all come together and makes it recognisable even without the right context. Think of how these examples work even without the brand name, Coca-Cola’s curve, Arla’s clouds, Heinz’s keystone label shape, and, recently, Amazon Prime’s dimple.
Tricky Yet Rewarding
It’s no easy task. It takes time to craft a design that fits the brand essence and ticks all the boxes necessary to stand out. And when it comes to design, there is no right answer. There is no formula. How does an insight or company value translate into colours? What is the fitting font for your brand promise? However, with your 4C analysis, you’re well on your way to finding the right commercial answer.
When done right, the results are outstanding. Unlike other design tasks, where taste becomes subjective, we measure sales numbers and brand recognition growth. When it works, sales increase, market share goes up, and your appeal widens. If not, well, it’s back to the drawing board.
Make It Pop!
Finally, your strategic position, brand message, creative concept and design are in place, it’s time to go live. Your product has become your brand, and your brand has become your product. Time to reap the rewards. Simplifying and amplifying your message will make your product POP! instore, on billboards, in boardrooms, and on the kitchen table in every single household. You’ve now went from ordinary to popular.
Ready to Answer This Truthfully: Is It Time for a Rebrand?
A rebrand enables you to strengthen your position in the market and regain popularity. But it’s also a major endeavour and should never be rushed.
Still, got that pen and paper by your side? Knowing what you know now, let’s go over the essential questions you need to ask yourself to figure out if it’s time for a rebrand:
- Why are you rebranding? (be honest with yourself).
- Do you fully understand your brand’s context?
- Are you willing to commit to change for good?
In Case of a Rebrand Emergency
If you’re curious whether a rebrand is right for you, we’re here to help you. Please reach out to us, and we’ll set up a meeting to discuss your opportunities.
And, as always, you can see our work and learn about our approach to consumer branding at our website, www.everland.dk
Christian Moe Halsted
Executive Strategy Director & Founding Partner