Thinking of rebranding? Think again

First published in Startup Smart 11 July 2013

When it comes to rebranding I have one word for you. Monday.

It was in fact a Monday in 2002 that the (then) PricewaterhouseCoopers spun off its consultancy arm under a new brand, the aforementioned ‘Monday’.

The jokes wrote themselves then as they do now and as the BBC news website announced in its obituary on 31 July 2002:

MONDAY passed away quietly on Tuesday after a short but controversial life.

It was a terrible name and a silly concept for a reputable accountancy firm with such a strong history. What were they thinking?

I can only imagine what the first brand presentation looked like:

As branding firm (Wolf Olins in this case) whipped the sheet off the easel with great fanfare, everyone sniggered. Then they thought no, no, lets hear this out and so they heard about how cutting edge this really was, how ahead of the curve, how they would be seen as the most innovative accountants on the block.

They started to question their gut feel, suppress it a little more. And *poof* before you know it the virus has spread and the Emperor has new clothes.

(Don’t even talk to me about iSnack 2.0. RIDICULOUS.)

The point is that even for a start up, think twice before you undertake a rebrand, consider the value of the business you have already created and the reputation you’ve built in your market. Can you afford to throw all that away because someone suggested you could do with a better name and logo?

Very often when I speak with companies the conversation leads to rebranding. It’s usually coming from another place and actually they don’t mean rebranding at all.

What they’re looking for – or just what they could do with –  is a brand revitalisation. Breathing a new lease of life into the business without changing everything that made it unique in the first place. For your company to have reached this point of growth, you must have done something right so why get rid of all that?

When I first started in marketing, I was one of those design-led marketers too and will put up my hand and admit I talked excitedly about redoing logos as an Absolute. Business. Imperative. How wrong was I.

Your business imperative is to build on the things that sold your customers on your brand in the first place. Always be better at them than the competition and communicate that through your marketing strategy.

I love great design and I love working with great designers, but great companies are not built on visual creative alone and certainly not as a priority to real business and marketing issues.

By all means, strive to improve the look and feel of your company. Don’t look like a startup whose teenage nephew built your website. Especially when you’re trying to tell the market you’re a cut above the rest. But before making cosmetic changes, ensure they come from a place that is bang on target with who you are as a company.

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