How To Know When It’s Time to Rebrand: 9 Telltale Signs

Change is inevitable, especially in business.

Thanks to modern, data-driven business practices, it can sometimes be easy to see when change is needed. Say, when an established sales process isn’t quite getting the results it used to, or a PPC campaign isn’t garnering the same attention as it has in the past. Here, data can tell us that something needs to change.

The need for business change can also be steered by softer observations – perhaps networking is achieving diminishing returns, or perhaps some of your older IT systems are getting a little sluggish. This can also hint that change is around the corner.

However it can be even harder to identify the need to change your brand. Many business owners are quite attached to their company’s branding – it is the embodiment of their hard work over the years, after all! But often as a business evolves, those changes will eventually need to be expressed through a new look – whether that’s a small visual facelift or a total brand overhaul.

How Do You Know When It’s Time to Rebrand Your Business?

Businesses are living, ever-changing things. As your company develops over time, there will likely come a point when your old brand just doesn’t cut it anymore and you need something new to keep your audience interested.

Let’s investigate 9 factors that could mean you need a new look…

When Your Brand Looks Dated

Most commonly, the need to overhaul your brand comes with time. Just as trends come and go in fashion, interior design, and music, they do in graphic design too. What may have been on the cutting edge of graphic design 5-10 years ago will likely seem outmoded and old fashioned when viewed through a modern lens.

Objectively compare the look of your current marketing materials to your closest competitors. Do yours appear staid and old-fashioned in comparison? Ask a trusted friend or business contact to take a quick look too and ask for feedback.

Sometimes, deep down, business owners know when it’s time for a refresh. Do you wince when people have to look at your marketing materials? Do you joke that your brand is “so 2009!”? Your hunch is probably right – it’s probably high time for a fresh lick of paint.

A great example of updating a brand is the Federation of Small Businesses. Their older brand features serif fonts, muted colours, and a classic laurel wreath design. In and of itself, the design was fine, but it did seem rather stuffy and old fashioned. The new design feels a lot less formal and straight-laced, better reflecting the digital dynamism and connectivity of modern small businesses.

When You Have to Change Around Your Competition

In order to remain competitive, brands need to be unique, fresh, and distinctive in ways that appeal to their target market. What counts as “fresh” and “unique” in your niche can be heavily influenced by your competition.

Sometimes, in trying to appeal to the same markets, groups of competing companies can fall back on safe, “samey” branding. However, playing it safe can do more harm than good – when companies with a similar offering also look similar, it’s easy for prospects to confuse them. If this sounds familiar, then we’d likely advise a rebrand that breaks the mould a little – positioning you as a modern, fresh provider within your market.

But what do you do if a competitor beats you to the punch in terms of debuting a new, exciting rebrand? What do you do if other competitors start offering different complementing services that you aren’t able to offer? Rebranding can also be the answer here, giving your company a much needed memorable spin.

When Your Product or Service Range Changes

If you’ve completely reinvented your offering since your last branding exercise – or even if you’ve only made slight alterations to what you do – it may be time to reflect these changes with a new visual persona.

Any amendments you make to your offering may affect the markets you appeal to, the companies you compete with, and the appearances you generally have to keep. It makes sense to adjust your brand to suit, otherwise these new aspects of your offering may go overlooked.

Related Reading: Brand Guidelines: What They Are & Why They’re Essential

When Your Market Has Changed Substantially

Sometimes markets naturally fluctuate as demographics age or market conditions affect spending habits. Sometimes businesses see a lucrative new sideline in a market they’ve never served before. Sometimes a bit of both happens.

But when a business needs to appeal to a different market than before, their old branding may not appeal to their new demographic. For example, if you previously served older professionals and now you’re serving a younger, millennial audience, you’ll need to develop a very different brand persona to appeal to your new prospects.

Take a look at Rolls Royce’s 2020 rebrand for example. Rolls Royce is typically seen as a very “old money” brand, but its recent visual refresh helps to keep it fresh and relevant to younger, “new money” buyers. Eagle-eyed design aficionados will recognise the touch of “blanding” at play, keeping the brand looking fresh in both print and digital environments.

When Your Company Has Changed Internally

But sometimes it’s not external factors that spur on the need for a brand makeover. As your team changes, your collective attitude and ideas change too. The in-house talent you can draw upon at the drop of a hat can make the company feel very different to what it once was.

Whether it’s due to rapid growth, new leadership, a considerable restructure, or natural staff churn, your old, comfy brand may start to feel like a poor fit. The conditions that spawned your old look may feel like ancient history now, and your mission and vision may be totally different.

This exciting, fresh outlook is something you absolutely want your clients and prospects to feel too, so it should be reflected in your visual brand.

When Your Brand Just Isn’t Working Anymore

It’s rare, but sometimes brands just stop working. It’s usually for good reason, but may take some digging to find out what that is.

If your branded messaging isn’t working as well as it has in the recent past, then it may be lacking in memorability, engagement, excitement, or something else. Maybe the market has changed in a small, imperceptible way. Maybe your competitors are offering something new and tempting under the radar. Maybe your brand just doesn’t clearly convey what you do anymore.

It may be time to ask an experienced branding agency for their input. As brand experts, they may be able to identify a problem that you hadn’t thought of. Alternatively, it may be a sign that you need to start afresh with a new look!

Related Reading: What’s the Relationship Between Branding & Marketing?

When Your Business Serves New Geographic Locations

Self-aware branding can mean the difference between sinking or swimming in a new location.

For instance, if you started out providing high-level services in a very metropolitan city but eventually acquired a similar company in a rural area, your city-slicker image may not fly so well with your new rural audience (or vice versa).

Similarly, it’s important to acknowledge that simple colour and design choices can have positive and negative meanings internationally. So if your main brand colour is green and you’re considering a move to China, then be aware that green is unlucky there. Red is China’s lucky colour, so changing your colour palette may be worthwhile in situations like this.

When You Need to Cast Off a Negative Reputation

It’s not always plain sailing in business. Sometimes a previous, negative corporate image can hang around and haunt you for years to come.

Whether you’ve singlehandedly turned your own company around, or you’ve acquired/inherited a company with a tarnished reputation, keeping a hold of that company’s old visual branding is unlikely to serve you. It’s probably time to cut your losses and wipe the slate clean with a complete rebrand – possibly even a new name to boot.

However, before you rebrand, it’s important to know for certain that you’ve turned a corner in terms of customer satisfaction. Otherwise you’re just going to end up tarnishing your new brand too!

You Want More Market Share or to Charge Higher Prices

Visual branding plays a crucial part in how we see organisations. If you want to command a larger share of the market or to charge more for what you do, you’ll have to adjust how your audience sees you. This will likely involve some kind of rebranding or at least a brand refresh.

Look at it this way: when your company bears all the hallmarks of “cheap and cheerful”, people will expect nothing more than cheap and cheerful prices. However, when your branding portrays high-end dependability or luxury, buyers will naturally feel a stronger justification to pay more, seeing you as a more sophisticated, safer bet.

In Conclusion

If you’re considering a rebrand, one or more of these factors might have resonated with you. The need to rebrand usually comes quite naturally and often makes itself quite obvious.

However, remember that a rebrand doesn’t always mean destroying all of your old visuals and replacing them with something totally different. In most cases, your existing brand has served you well for a number of years, so there must be some kind of magic there. Brand designers can often distil these magic elements and subtly weave them into new designs that are unique and challenging.

If you’re considering a rebrand (or even a minor brand facelift) it’s worth familiarising yourself with the concept of “blanding”. Brands are moving away from complicated graphics and typefaces towards a more sleek, simplified look. This approach helps brands to retain a consistent, crisp visual appearance both digitally and in print.

An alternate approach to completely overhauling your brand every few years is to consistently evolve your brand in small ways, folding in new graphical aspects carefully as you go along rather than radically changing everything beyond recognition every so many years. This way, you don’t have the outlay of having to change everything in one go and you can tentatively test new approaches too.

Whether you’re considering a full-blown rebrand or a spot of light-touch brand refinement, the brand design team at OLCO Design would love to hear from you. Book your free discovery session here!

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