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Is rebranding a good idea?

We all know that there is an incredible demand for people’s attention, and it’s only getting worse. Some studies say Americans see between 4,000 and 10,000 ads a day. Regardless of the accuracy of that, and its Australian equivalent, there’s no doubt the real number is high – and getting higher. 

The question we should ask is: why should someone choose to purchase from your brand out of all the brands they will encounter today? Or, will someone even remember your brand? To even be noticed is a feat, much less to be remembered, engaged with, and ultimately, purchased from. 

There’s strong evidence that a distinct asset is a very valuable part of a brand’s identity – having highly memorable assets helps increase the efficacy of all your marketing. A distinctive asset can be a logo, a colour, a song, a tag line, a celebrity, or more. Discovering your distinctive brand assets is a really powerful thing to do – and can be quite surprising. You may find your customers think you are a lot less distinct than you do.

Unfortunately, a lot of online retailers don’t even know who they are as a brand, so they are fighting an uphill battle and remain trapped in the performance advertising drug

At the same time, amongst some marketing people, doing a re-brand seems to be the highest point on Maslow’s Hierarchy of marketing needs. Most rebrands I see are designed to satisfy an internal ego or demand from a CEO, CMO, or creative director (usually a new one). The word “fresh” is almost always used – but never the word ROI. In a world where marketing should represent the customer, be evidence based, and deliver business value, I wonder where any of these are in a rebrand. 

Several years ago, I did some work with a business that was a household name. A new creative director, determined to leave their stamp, changed the colour of the logo by half a shade and made minor changes to the logo shape. It cost millions to roll out, with absolutely no positive business impact. That brand is famously performing quite badly today. It’s been through yet another rebrand since – no doubt it needed a fresh look. 

One of my favourite examples of a well-managed brand is the iconic Golden Gaytime. A brand that was, for a while, tired, got given a fresh injection of life. But rather than rebrand, they kept the legacy name and logo (distinctive brand assets) and gave it a fresh outlook and perspective. 

By all accounts, and looking at the placements in my local supermarket (possibly some sampling of the product as well!) they are doing extremely well. A legacy brand built over decades is an incredibly powerful asset. They even re-ran one of the original 1980s TV ads. Now that would have gotten some cut through! Any of these brands would likely have massive success reviving and updating their mental associations from decades ago. 

For the young marketing exec wanting to make their mark on the world, a rebrand may look good on a resume. But for those of us wanting to build a brand that will stand the test of time and drive profitable growth, look at the assets you have and build on that.

Mark Baartse was the former CMO of Showpo and now is a marketing and e-commerce consultant.

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