Your brand is your business. It’s not a logo or a colour palette. Which means the rebrand, as we’ve come to understand it, might not be the answer to the question you’re asking.
Yes, the concept of branding does make good business sense. If your logo or colour scheme is instantly recognised by customers and associated with a certain level of quality, you can charge a higher price for your products or services. It therefore matters that you ‘dress your business’ the right way. That said, there are many other factors to consider as well, and many questions to answer, long before you choose a new visual identity.
A great place to start is by asking your customers what they think. Have their behaviours signalled to you that you need to do something differently, or have you asked them as much? If so, a new strategic approach may be needed to convince them that you’re still their first choice. You’d also be wise to check in on your company culture to see if it can support this evolving strategy. Take the time to consider the points below, and you’ll gain greater clarity around the question you’re really seeking to answer with a rebrand.
1. Continuous evolution keeps customers on board
Customer needs and expectations can and do shift at a moment’s notice. If you want to keep up with this constant change, don’t go refreshing your colour palette, go out and ask your customers what they want and why instead. Ascertain if you’re still the right business to give it to them, and if you’re not, use the insight they give you to adapt your strategy.
The relationship you have with your customers requires the same level of investment as any relationship. Maintaining a consistent connection takes effort. If customers have literally fallen out of love with your product or service, you need to know why so you can win them back, and you’ll gain real advantage from getting to know them better, especially their thoughts and feelings about political, social and economic issues. People’s value systems and opinions are so much more visible now, thanks to social media, as are their responses to world issues like the current horrors unfolding in Ukraine. Businesses that want to really connect with their customers must therefore take part in these conversations too. Social media has created a world in which it’s not an option for a brand to not have an opinion.
Once you engage with customer perceptions and value systems, and also understand how these influence the way they choose products and service providers, you can use this information to drive and inform effective business strategy. You’ll need to keep it flexible too. Nothing should be set in stone as you track an ever-changing customer landscape and respond by making the requisite adjustments. Maybe you will need to update your visual identity as you adapt, evolve and grow continuously, but your brand logo won’t be the main focus of your activity. Instead, it will be one part of a much bigger strategy.
2. Business strategy precedes all branding
The decision to rebrand usually accompanies a substantive shift in business strategy. Expansion into a new market or a change in leadership, for example, will require you to reposition the way you operate. Yes, this may mean you’ll need to dress your business a different way, but you’ll still need to look more closely at customer insight before you rush to change your visual identity. Insight won’t just inform your strategy, it will ensure that it remains centred around the customer.
What’s more, when woven into your company culture, the right strategy will also inform and influence specific internal behaviours, which means your business is much more likely to do what your branding says its going to do. And when a business acts in ways that deliver on the promises its making, the customer relationship goes from strength to strength.
Strategic vision and purpose binds you together as a business. It therefore needs to be compelling enough to engage your whole team, so that they feel aligned with it. This level of engagement and alignment is what translates strategy into tangible everyday practices, such as the way your team speaks to customers on a day-to-day basis. And the happier your people are, the happier your customers will be.
3. Check your insides match your outsides
All change must start from the inside out. Your people must literally live and breathe your brand. When asked how to control what people say about their brand on social media, our friends at Lego told us they don’t because they can’t. What they can do, however, is control their own actions. Lego does live and breathe its brand values, both inside and out, meaning the business and everyone inside it all stand by them, no matter what. Customers therefore observe behaviours and attitudes that reflect the integrity of the brand. So, whatever gets shared about Lego on social media serves the business well.
Customers really are watching your every move, every second of the day. And no, you can’t control what they say about you, but you can control the actions and reactions of your business and your people, which has much more to do with business strategy – and the company culture that this creates – than it has to do with visual identity. Once you’ve cycled through all of the above, you may discover that your visual identity is fine, just as it is.
Or you may discover that a rebrand actually is the answer you’re looking for – only you now know for sure. Either way, any brand, refreshed or otherwise, should clearly articulate a customer-led strategy because, at the end of the day, it’s what you do that matters and not what you look like – which, of course, is true for every aspect of life.
Confidently predict how audiences will respond to your business initiatives.