When you hear the word “rebranding,” does it send shivers down your spine? Make your heart rate spike? Give you sweaty palms? For many businesses, a rebrand is the marketing equivalent of a horror movie. It’s not a matter of if a monster will pop out at you. It’s when — and how many teeth it will have.

What would change if you took fear out of the rebranding conversation? If it wasn’t a monster waiting for you at all, but an opportunity to drive your business to new levels of success?

Let’s remove fear and tackle rebranding from a strategic standpoint.

Why Are Brands Afraid?rebranding

Your trepidation, your anxiety, your hesitance, and your fear are all valid — we’d be worried if you weren’t worried! Rebranding is a major step: the aim is to create a new look and feel for an established business in order to change perceptions or revitalize the brand itself. It’s about relevancy.

And you may be afraid because you’ve seen it go sideways too often. Here’s a look at a rebranding effort launched by Tropicana:

100% Fail

Since its founding in 1947, customers have loved Tropicana – drinking it is like savoring an orange freshly plucked out of the Florida sunshine. (And with no pulp, if you prefer!) In 2009, the Pepsi-owned brand removed the hallmark image: an orange with a straw from its packaging and replaced it with… a glass of juice. Not exactly compelling, right?

Consumers and brand experts agreed. The nearly universal feedback was that the new design was generic and blah. It became difficult to distinguish Tropicana from non-brand competitors in grocery store coolers.

The previous — instantly recognizable — image conveyed the message that this juice came right from the fruit, that it was fresh, that it would taste like an orange should. The new lackluster image looked like OJ you’d find in refrigerators and diners anywhere.

The only ones that were happy about Tropicana’s rebrand were Minute Maid, Tree Ripe, and Florida’s Natural! These competitors enjoyed an uptick in sales while Tropicana’s dropped 20%. Dollar sales also dropped by nearly as much – 19%, or $33 million – in just two months.

Pepsi/Tropicana saw the writing on the grove and switched back to its iconic packaging design — after a lot of wasted money, opportunity, and consumer loyalty. A few years later, after learning from their mistakes, Tropicana had a more successful rebrand with updated packaging.

So yes, fear is normal. When you hear the word “rebranding,” you may think:

  • We’ll lose our identity
  • We’ll alienate our customers
  • People will be confused
  • No one will know who we are or what we do

The flip side of the fear is that by not changing or reimaging your brand, you could lose your ability to connect with today’s consumers and compete in your space.

What’s the Point of Rebranding?

Successful rebrands are built on sound strategy. Companies often opt to revamp, revise, refresh, or rebuild their brands when they need to:

  • Update a tired or irrelevant imagepintrest
  • Overcome negative perceptions
  • Rebuild after a bankruptcy or merger
  • Counter competitive pressure
  • Battle decreased sales
  • Account for an ownership change or shift in philosophy/values/culture
  • Align image and function
  • Attract the right customers

A Quick Rebranding Case Study

Domino’s struggled through years of negative press and poor public perception. The truth was simple: people just didn’t like the food. In fact, in taste tests people liked the pizza less if they knew it was Domino’s instead of an unbranded pie.

The audience clearly had a strong distaste for the brand — and it showed in their bottom line. In 2009, Domino’s slice of the delivery pizza market was just 9 percent.

Domino’s was contending with negative perceptions, competitive pressures, decreasing sales … and, frankly, a bad recipe! They launched a massive rebrand, and the key ingredient was honesty. Brutal, unflinching honesty.

Using customer comments as a guide — our favorite: “Domino’s tastes like cardboard. Microwave pizza is far superior.” — Dominos worked to improve their core offering. They also acknowledged the bad press and leveraged it into a brilliant rebranding campaign. The message was, “We know, we’re sorry, we’re changing, and we’re committed. Give us another try.” Completely earnest and often hilarious, the message was well-received.

The chain saw their market share grow from 9 to 15% between 2009 and 2016, and their stock price is up 5000% since 2008.

As Domino’s “Turnaround CEO” Patrick Doyle said, “There comes a time when you know you’ve got to make a change.”

Has that time come for your brand?

Is It Time to Rebrand?

Brands cannot afford to remain static. If you compete long enough, rebranding is an essential step in remaining relevant and fresh. Major brands like Starbuck, McDonalds, Pepsi, Apple, and Microsoft, for example, have all undergone several rebrands.

How do you know it’s the right time?rebranding

  • Your logo, colors, and fonts are outdated.
  • You are dealing with negative press and perceptions (Hello, Domino’s!).
  • You are fading into the competitive woodwork and need to stand out.
  • You’re not reaching your target audience.
  • You need to reach a new audience or expand into new territory.

Just as important is knowing when it’s not time. For example, if your company has a change in leadership but everything else remains the same, a rebrand can be detrimental. Likewise, if you cannot carry out an effective effort because of budgetary restrictions, it may be advisable to hold off until you have the funds you need.

What to Expect From a Strategic Rebrand

When well-executed, rebranding empowers your brand to move towards key business-building goals. You can:

  • Reposition yourself in the market. Give new life to an “old” business and change how your audience views you. You can add the spark back to a tepid brand and generate buzz — and leads.
  • Remind your audience of who you are. As mentioned earlier, one of the fears around rebranding is that you will lose your identity. But it can be an opportunity to remind your customers who you really are and why you do what you do. To use Domino’s as an example again: they went back to their roots. Good food, delivered fast.
  • Gain a competitive edge. This is the time to elevate your image in the marketplace and remind stakeholders of your value.
  • Recruit talent. Rebranding not only works to improve your reputation with consumers, it can position you as a sought-after employer. Given the raging war for talent, this is an advantage you cannot afford to pass up.
  • Over time, a company can become bogged down with history, expansion, and an amalgamation of new and outdated processes, policies, and campaigns. A sleek rebrand strips away the clutter and allows you to focus on your core values and goals.

Fear has a purpose; it reinforces the need for caution. When it comes to rebranding, this is a healthy response. But rather than letting it stop you, use it. Plan. Strategize. Make sure you’re ready. Then, you can move forward with both caution and confidence. Find ideas and strategies you can implement to build your brand and tell your story to the right clients in our eBook, 9 Steps to Effective Marketing in the Design and Construction Industry eBook.