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Why Is Everyone Rebranding?

company rebranding

Jim Heininger's story originally appeared in Forbes.

Business runs at the speed of change in today's marketplace. And an increasing number of companies, organizations and institutions are changing up their brands to gain a competitive advantage. They are showing a greater willingness to rebrand, embrace a new name, and take on the work of communicating the change to build stronger relationships with their customers or stakeholders.

Perhaps the most visible brand change in recent times is Facebook's rebrand to a new corporate entity called Meta, which allows the company to aggressively pursue the virtual reality industry. But company and product rebranding announcements are a daily occurrence:

  • New corporate entities launched in the last year include Kellanova, the snack division of Kellogg's. And Johnson & Johnson created Kenvue as the new home for its consumer health products.

  • Nine U.S. military bases that were named after Confederate officers were renamed. Fort Bragg, for example, is now Fort Liberty.

  • Quidditch, the sport created in the infamous Harry Potter book series, was rebranded as quadball to distance it from author J.K. Rowling and the controversy about her views on transgender issues.

  • The dastardly Asian carp, which is a threat to the Great Lakes, was rebranded to Copi to make the fish more appealing as a dinner dish. Increased fishing for human consumption will reduce their numbers and thus the threat.

  • Insurance provider Anthem rebranded its parent company to Elevance Health to better position itself as a lifelong health partner.

And this doesn't include the many brand "refreshes" by Pepsi and other soft drinks where a new logo and visual identity have been launched to bring a more modern look and feel to their products.

Why Rebrand?

With billions of dollars invested in strengthening brands each year, why would a company rebrand in the first place? In my daily observation of rebranding announcements, I've noticed that there are two buckets of reasons an organization rebrands: need or opportunity. Oftentimes, it is a combination of both.

Whatever the reason, rebranding demands resources, energy, and engagement of your leadership and employees to deliver a new brand promise to customers. It is not a journey to embark upon without good reason.

Executives Increasingly Support Rebranding When Needed

Certainly, the pandemic and the many pressures it put on business nudged organizations closer to taking the first step in a brand change journey. A Hanover Research study found that 75% of companies did work on their brand between 2020 and 2021. A 2022 UpCity survey found that 51% of businesses had changed their branding since Covid-19 began. Forrester Research documented a rise in rebranding among B2B companies.

So why are we seeing this growing willingness of leaders to pursue the consequential decision to rebrand? Just a few thoughts we hear from organizations seeking our support include:

  • The financial power of brands: There's a growing acceptance among leadership that their brand is one of their most valuable assets and an effective lever to driving future growth. If their assertive leadership is transforming to change the organization's future, the brand must lead the way.

  • Rebranding signals change: The growing pressure to better meet customers' and shareholders' expectations often needs a visual component to crystalize and reinforce the organizational transformation. Rebranding can provide that connection.

  • The cost of not rebranding: Many organizations are accepting that the cost of not rebranding is often more than the investment it requires. Customers are changing and want their favorite brands to keep up or lead the way. Newer brand assessment tools help the development of a solid rebranding business case and outline the risks and opportunities.

  • Reduced fear: The growing number of visible organizations and even their peers embracing brand changes are bolstering their confidence.

  • Customer acceptance: Brands should emotionally connect with customers. But the public is more resilient, understanding that brands and companies sometimes need to change. As long as the rebrand benefits them and doesn't require work on their part, they more willingly onboard.

  • Confidence in execution: There is a growing understanding that rebranding requires thoughtful strategy, dynamic creativity and exceptional execution. Organizations are aligning necessary capabilities like change management, employee training and engagement, and HR-led culture change to support the new brand.

So How Can You Start To Rebrand Your Business?

For those leaders considering a rebrand, I suggest these steps to start:

  • Focus on growth. Branding is about differentiating yourself from competitors; rebranding is about re-creating your brand to work harder in the marketplace and give you that growth accelerant. There are many ways to spur growth. Make sure standing up a new brand is the right choice for your company.

  • Understand the necessary process and costs. Rebranding is a heavy lift that requires, time, energy and resources to be successful. Educate yourself on the essentials of a successful rebrand and commit to doing it right.

  • Build a rebrand business case. Ask the necessary questions to discern whether this business strategy is the correct step forward. The proof this delivers will help you in gaining support among your leadership, employees, partners and eventually customers.

Rebranding an organization takes time to put in place plus a runway to show its effectiveness in the marketplace. While the process can deliver new alignment and energy within the company, it likely won't deliver short-term financial results; it is about building toward a better future.


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