Thanks to our last article, What is Branding?, you know all about branding. While that’s fresh in your mind, now might be the perfect time to talk about rebranding—a process similar to branding in some ways, but on a different scale, with a different purpose and for different reasons.

A Rebranding Definition

Rebranding is conducted with an existing brand. It involves changing the brand name, logo, visuals, packaging, marketing materials and/or any other defining aspect of a brand’s consumer connectivity. Some corporations rebrand on a regular basis; however, the need can arise with a brand of any age, and the branding experts at How to Build a Brand recommend that businesses only rebrand when internal or external shifts require it.


Something the rebranding definition doesn't cover, however, is when the decision to rebrand is a bad one.  There are lots of poor reasons for rebranding, including to correct under-performance due to bad business practices, to detract attention from something unsavory that's happened, to fabricate news, to create a different environment for new management or new investors, or to respond to a crisis of reputation.

Too often, rebranding is seen as an escape; a reason to avoid the hard work of reputation management or to take the 'easy way out.' It's used like poorly advised bankruptcy filings; business owners think it's nothing more than a fresh start. They think it's possible to maintain all the good aspects of the brand whilst throwing away the undesirable stuff. When in reality, an unnecessary rebrand says tonnes of bad things about the brand as a whole.

So there you have it: The Rebranding Definition (with a bonus), which raises the subject of When is rebranding necessary?

Reasons Businesses Should Rebrand

There are a number of circumstances that make rebranding an option for improvement in brand performance. Here are the most common ones:

  • To Change Perceptions: As we all know, a brand isn’t what its owner says it is—it’s what the consuming public says it is. Sometimes, a brand doesn’t end up being perceived in the manner that the owner would wish. In this case, rebranding is needed to cause shifts in brand perception.
  • The Logo Looks Dated: If a logo was designed to follow a trend years ago, it may now alienate consumers and potential employees with its antiquated look. If your brand is a vintage-centred one, this may be intentional and brand-building. If it’s not, your brand’s market share will suffer.
  • Negative Cultural Connotations: Often, when a brand goes global, it’s discovered that its name, colours, or other aspects are associated with negativity or inappropriateness in the countries or cultures when the expansion is occurring. When this is the case, changes must be made in order for the brand to be accepted in the new market.
  • A Product Line Change: When products are added, removed or changed, the brand’s name or look may no longer be representative of that new line of products.
  • Competitive Difficulties: When competitors are moving ahead with market share and mind share, a brand may feel the need to further differentiate itself from that competition, in order to regain lost footing. This equates to rebranding with the purpose of attracting (or re-attracting) a larger portion of a target audience.
  • Social Awareness: Brands often feel pressure from consumers, communities, government agencies or markets to become more socially and environmentally conscious. After the appropriate changes are made, they sometimes realise that their brand no longer represents their new greener or more socially aware company. And so, rebranding is in order.
  • Mistakes in Original Branding: Maybe a brand was built without proper target audience research. Or maybe it was focussed on the wrong target audience. Perhaps the owner ‘went cheap’ with graphic design or concept development. No matter the reason, sometimes brands just aren’t representative of the needs of their ideal clients. In this case, rebranding, with extensive research and attention to the problems and needs of the ideal client, should be enacted.
  • The Customers’ Needs Change: People change, and so do their problems, their pains and their needs. When this occurs (usually due to cultural, technological or lifestyle shifts within a focussed group), then rebranding may be necessary to reach those people, meaningfully.
  • A Shift in Focus: When markets force brands to change their offerings or their audiences, their brands must follow suit in order to stay competitive. For example, a computer manufacturer may realise that more mature consumers are using computers, or a nail salon may notice that more men are becoming interested in manicures and pedicures. No matter the case, a shift should be represented with rebranding.
  • Bankruptcy: Some forms of financial restructuring will benefit from (or require) rebranding.
  • Past Transgressions: If a brand needs to recover from its reputation for poor customer service, poor quality products or slow delivery, for example, it may consider rebranding. This will say ‘fresh start, fresh brand’ to those consumers who are familiar with the brand and ‘new brand’ to those who are so-far unfamiliar with it.
  • Up-Marketing: When a utilitarian product is deemed more useful to the luxury market, or if any brand is upgraded to appeal to a more discerning audience (with a higher price point), then rebranding is needed to speak to this new market. The reverse applies, too—when a luxury product is made more accessible (and affordable) to a wider audience.

No matter the reason for rebranding, it should always be conducted with special attention to the audience and the market—with the intention of differentiation from the competition.

Rebranding can occur on a number of levels, from a logo tweak to a full overhaul. The level of impact will be in direct correlation to the level of rebranding, and special attention should be paid to existing clients whilst enacting rebranding (especially the most impactful variety).

A strategy should be in place for a systematic unveiling. Clients should be prepared for the shift so they don’t feel isolated from the brand. Furthermore, preparations should be made for the influx of new attention and new clients the rebrand will attract. Personal attention will be critical, so the brand can maintain the trust of its clients, whilst reinforcing emotional brand/client bonds.

Think your brand might benefit from a rebrand? There are lots of questions to ask (and answer) before making this significant move. A good place to start to get the advice you’ll need is with our B.R.A.N.D. Kick Starter Online One-Day Masterclass. Register today, because next week you’ll be wishing you started a week ago.

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