When sales are down or a company feels that their competitors are outpacing them, the marketing department often ends up being assigned a job. They are generally told that things need to change and that they need to figure out how the change will come. One of the more common answers is rebranding. It makes sense, if what you are doing isn’t working then reinvent yourself and show everyone how much you have changed.
While rebranding has been implemented successfully in some cases, it must be done with care. One of the most common things that a brand will change is its outward appearance. An easy way to let the public know you are changing is to switch up your logo. Recently The Gap made headlines for their new logo. They unveiled it via Facebook in order to gauge sentiment from people whom they could obviously consider to be their core brand supporters. Scrolling down the comments section of the crowd sourcing venture, you’d be hard pressed to find a single positive bit of feedback. In fact most seemed to feel that the new logo is so bad that it must be a publicity stunt, as opposed to an actual change.
Yet a trip to The Gap’s website confirms that they do in fact seem to be going with this new logo. At the very least, The Gap might have saved some money on design as the new logo could have easily been developed by anyone with novice level experience using Photoshop. In short the clothes are the same and the stores still look like they did in 1991, so it appears that The Gap did not entirely plan out this rebranding. Unless everyone is playing into their hands; to be logical it must be pointed out that this article itself is free publicity.
So what should a company be doing to reinvent itself? First it’s important to consider motivations. Okay, maybe sales are down, but what is it about your brand that is making sales drop. Are competitors more up to date in their marketing communications? Has your product line become obsolete? Figuring out what the actual ailment is and addressing that (or those) issues through rebranding should be the focus. Changing logos and rolling out a “cool” new ad campaign around the same products and operational methods is a lot like rewrapping a present that wasn’t any good the first time in shinier wrapping paper.
If your image is dated, then decide what modern factors can best be applied to your brand. Do not force fit something because it seems to have good buzz right now–after all, the buzz might wear off by the end of the quarter. If others seem to be communicating better with customers, then first look at your communications. Are they honest? Do they make promises that speak to your core competencies? Is what you are saying relevant to consumer interests and current trends?
If you seem to think that the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “Yes,” don’t get frustrated. Maybe the problem is that your communication outlets aren’t effective. Feel out the ad market and look for other platforms to reach people. It’s 2010 you can put a brand in front of customers by product placement, blogging or even paying a boutique ad agency to come up with a guerilla marketing plan for you.
If you evaluate yourself and decide that it is indeed time to rebrand, then go about it in a straightforward manner. Listen to customers (both the happy and the disgruntled ones) and see what you do best and what you need to improve . If you are making changes to increase affinity, then gear marketing communications towards that. Don’t be afraid to admit that you had flaws. It seems to be working for Domino’s. The company was losing ground in the pizza market and stepped back and to reassess its approach. The company kept its logo and infrastructure but switched up the recipes and price structure (which is clearly promotional and temporary). They also came clean with customers about the fact that they needed to adapt to regain ground in a food market that is becoming fresher and better tasting every day. While it’s too early to say for sure whether or not Domino’s saved itself, it definitely looks like that rebranding strategy is taking them in the right direction, because it is addressing problems and not symptoms.