OPINION: When is it time to rebrand?

Jesse Swash

By Jesse Swash, Co-Founder, Design by Structure

You might imagine that a business owner is so close to their brand, and to their business, that they will instinctively know when to change. But the reality is this isn’t always the case. Some businesses let an outdated brand continue past its ‘sell by date’ and only later realise this is part of why they are losing customers, seeing a drop off in engagement and ultimately a reduction in revenue and profit. So, the question then is one of timing.

How do you know when it’s the right moment to rebrand?

Your brand is your ambassador, your best you every day. And a brand, your brand, accompanies you on your journey. On the same lifecycle as your business. From start-up, to growing, to scaling, to maturity and onto re-invention and expansion the brand travels with you. Just as you gain experience and grow as a person, just as your business evolves, your brand needs to evolve too. It needs to adapt for different markets, it needs to flex to allow for to different types of growth and to respond to the maturity of the sector and drivers in the world around it. And a brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. When your best people are not there in person to persuade your prospect.

The point is a brand should never stand still. The most successful brands are continually refining, adapting, and enhancing the way they present themselves. This certainly doesn’t mean a new logo every year, but it does mean actively considering the brand and its relevance to its target audience. It does mean stretching the brand with campaigns and it does, at points of significant change, mean a bigger overhaul so that the business and brand are top of mind with the prospects and audiences who matter.

So, how to know when those bigger moments have arrived, when a bigger change, or when a re-brand is required. Here are some signposts that it may be time to embrace a bigger change.

We always start with the end. With the most important point. Does your audience recognise you; do they understand the value you bring and do you stand out for the right reasons? In short: is your brand helping your prospects convert and buy?

The moment you feel your business has grown, the moment you can see your business model has changed, that your market has changed and that who you thought you were selling to is not who is actually buying then you need to change too. And change fast.

Push and pull

Being aware of these changes, being aware of the drivers of these changes helps. You can broadly divide them into push and pull factors. Push factors that are forced onto you and influence your market and your business and pull factors that are opportunities for you and drivers for your business.

Push factors can include things such as someone new entering your market and your brand suddenly looks dated, a competitor innovating and you look a step behind, or when the market has changed, and you look like you haven’t.

Pull factors are usually opportunities for you to change, for you to innovate and move your market and your business on. Think Apple and spare memory sticks that became an iPod and changed the market for the Sony Walkman. So, when you make a change to the offer, make a similar change to the brand to reflect that.

When your target sees your product or service through that lens of your brand, you are positioned in the right way for them to be able to engage with you. A distinctive place in the minds of your target market (audience). A clarity of difference and value add and in how you set yourself apart from your competitors.

Driving success

The best brands, businesses and companies align their brands and the evolution of their brands to their commercial strategies. Harnessing the power of brand to support, facilitate and drive commercial success. Need to enter a new market? Let’s evolve our brand to enable that. Changed direction as a business? Let’s reposition the brand to keep up with that. Need to reach a new audience? Let’s make sure our brand connects with that challenge.

The point is when the visual and verbal representation of a business, product or service, the essential components of a brand, is seen as an integral part of the process of sales and communication, when it has attention and focus placed on it then the whole business can succeed. This means committing to spending time working on your business not just in your business. Easy to say but harder to do. It can mean hiring talent internally to focus on it and talent externally to produce it. But it will deliver results.

Timing matters too. If there is that focus then brand evolution or more significant
re-branding can happen in anticipation of, alignment to or pre-empting of change that is created or forced upon us. To be ahead of the change, to be able to become who you want to become with time to focus on it because you are in the driving seat is the ideal place to be. Playing catch up or having to re-think your brand while you are under commercial threat and losing sales is a much harder space.

Make your brand work for you

Finally, rebrands can also be forced onto companies too, through mergers and acquisitions or preparing for a sale. But ever here, there is a constant truth, namely, if you know who you are. If you know who you need to reach. And you know how to position your product, service and offer to those audiences, to those audiences that matter, that can and will buy and become advocates of your brand. Then you will succeed.

Your brand and how you manifest it is how everyone engages with you. So, spend time making sure it is doing you justice – that your brand is working for you and not against you. And when you can see that the world is changing, that the competition has raised their game and that you have changed too. Don’t delay. Go for that re-brand. Embrace it and do it with the confidence that standing still is moving backwards.

And remember, as Jeff Bezos once said, ‘Brand is what people say about you when you are not there’. That’s the conversation you want to be in charge of as much as possible.


A lateral thinking brand strategist with over 17 years of creative industry experience, Jesse Swash is a co-founder of Design by Structure, which creates highly relevant and compelling brands for companies in the financial and technology sectors, connecting to customers, driving growth, and making the opportunity presented by change pay.

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