Rebranding a business often comes with risks, but the rewards make it well worth the effort.

Businesses kickstart rebranding efforts for a number of reasons, such as a change in location, a shifting market, the need for new consumer perception, an outdated feeling to the brand, or a company merger. While rebranding adds marketing expenses, it’s often necessary to move to the next level of success with consumers.

For anyone living in the vicinity of a real pizza joint, Domino’s ranks low on the list of slices. Plenty of people have a nostalgic soft spot for the delivery chain, but that can likely be attributed to a lack of late-night pizza options and a good amount of mind-altering substances.

For all the flack it receives from pizza purists, Domino’s isn’t bad. Even without the aid of liquid courage and other recreational substances, the company’s pizza presents a solid option, especially when put up against the chain’s major competitors.

Domino’s uptick in quality can be attributed to a 2010 rebranding kicked off by CEO Patrick Doyle and his team. When Doyle took over as CEO, the company’s profits were as flimsy as its pizza crust, stock prices were stuck at $8.76 per share, and the pizza—generally considered to be some of the worst one could imagine choking down—wasn’t faring any better.

Doyle’s rebranding of Domino’s constituted a two-pronged approach: Improve the product and embrace technology. First, Doyle himself appeared in commercials. He essentially apologized to consumers for the terrible product and promised to “work days, nights, and weekends” until the pizza improved. As for technology, Doyle recognized that Domino’s isn’t just a pizza-making business, it’s also a pizza-delivery business. With that in mind, the company drastically improved its online ordering system, complete with a state-of-the-art app.

The turnaround was immediate and remarkable. Customers embraced the boldness of the ad campaign and the new ordering technology. In 2016, less than six years after rebranding, the share price for Domino’s skyrocketed to nearly $160.

What Is a Rebrand?

The Domino’s rebrand centered around Doyle’s rallying cry that “Failure IS an option.” Essentially, Doyle and Domino’s at large took a chance and sought to transform a legacy company into a technology-enhanced, nimble, category-disrupting machine. The gamble clearly paid off.

That’s the essence of a rebrand. When a company rebrands, changes to logo, slogan, mission, vision, values, name, market, or target audience are all on the table. Rebranding builds a new brand identity and changes how the brand is perceived among customers, competitors, and collaborators. It’s all in the interest of attracting a new audience, bringing old customers back into the fold, staying relevant, standing out among competitors, and improving overall brand awareness.

When Should You Rebrand a Business?

With the ability to influence action, your brand is your company’s most valuable asset. Customers gleefully show loyalty toward one brand over another on a regular basis. Just ask people why they prefer Heinz ketchup over Hunt’s; more often than not, it’s because they grew up with Heinz.

In 2000, when the iconic American ketchup brand suddenly pivoted and released a line of absurd ketchup colors in sleek squeeze bottles, consumers were baffled. Heinz EZ Squirt featured colorful entries like “Funky Purple” and “Blastin’ Green.” While the company enjoyed an initial sales boost, the novelty wore off quickly, and the EZ Squirt brand was pulled from the shelves by 2006.

The short shelf life of Heinz’s rebrand demonstrates that there’s a wrong time for a rebrand. So, is there a right time?

Hand holding blocks that spell out Rebrand - Rethink

If your brand no longer reflects the company’s vision, values, and mission, then it might be the right time for a rebrand.

Other reasons to rebrand include:

  • Expansion into new locations: A brand refresh could be in order if you’re expanding to international markets where your current logo or messaging doesn’t translate.
  • Entering into new markets: Repositioning your business to target new customers might require a rebrand, as you’ll need to connect with a new audience.
  • Mergers and acquisitions: When two brands come together, it makes sense to find a fresh brand for the new entity rather than making two previous brands duke it out. 

  • Outgrowing your old brand: A proper rebranding injects new energy into your business, your people, and, perhaps most importantly, your customers.
  • The need to overcome negative perception: The previously mentioned Domino’s rebranding illustrates this best. A strong rebrand can act as a consumer palate cleanser.

Since Heinz maintained their flagship product while they maneuvered toward the technicolor nightmare of EZ Squirt, they only partially rebranded; however, it remains a stark reminder that novelty should never be a reason to rebrand. The capital required is far too high! It would have been wiser to conduct some market research instead.

How Common Is Rebranding?

The general consensus is that even companies that are household names will go through a rebranding every 7-10 years. One incredible example of this cadence is Pepsi, which has experienced a major rebranding 11 times in its 122 year history, and that doesn’t count the company’s minor brand shifts, such as Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Zero.

Similar storylines have played out with other companies like Starbucks and Apple, two highly recognizable names that have rebranded numerous times.

How Long Does It Take To Rebrand a Company?

“Patience is a virtue.” That’s one oft-used phrase that won’t be rebranded anytime soon. According to rebranding experts, the average rebranding process takes 12 to 18 months to complete from beginning to end.

The process requires more than shifting color patterns. You need to dive into a protracted timeline, complete with upfront research, design conceptualization, brand identity design, engagement campaign implementation, trademark approval, and launch. 

What Are the Risks of Rebranding?

Change can be terrifying, and with good reason! When you’ve established your brand over many successful years, the mere thought of scraping what you’ve built in favor of a new approach can be excruciating. There’s no guarantee the shift in focus will work, and if it doesn’t work, your previously loyal audience might just move on.

The Risks of Rebranding:

  • It will cost money: Rebranding is an investment in your company’s future. As with any investment, you need to drop some cash in order to make it happen. Depending on the type of rebranding—brand refresh, brand reboot, brand overhaul—it could cost anywhere from $30,000 to $250,000. 
  • You might lose customers: Not all of our current customers will be on board with a rebranding strategy. Some might even feel insulted that a brand they’ve come to know and love has altered its appearance and/or approach. But you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. The hope is that the rebranding effort will attract new customers and a wider audience.
  • It might be a tad chaotic for a while: Customers, and even team members, could express confusion or frustration as the change is taking place. Internally, you can get ahead of the chaos by constantly communicating with the team your intentions and reasoning behind the rebranding effort. On the external side of the equation, issue press releases, social media campaigns, and newsletters to keep the public aware of what’s going on.

Why Is Rebranding Not Always Successful?

It’s easy to say that the previously mentioned Heinz rebranding ultimately failed because no one wanted purple ketchup. But in truth, unsuccessful rebranding efforts meet their doom because of an array of problems.

One of the main reasons a rebranding will fail is the company in question not conducting enough market research.

Before taking the plunge with a total or even a partial rebrand, it’s a good idea to dip your toe into the market and find out what might work and what might not work for your company. One of the greatest rebranding miscalculations of all time occurred when Coca-Cola switched to New Coke in 1985. Consumers responded with swift anger, pouring New Coke down sewer drains, while one consumer even filed suit against the company. After 77 days, the previous version of Coke was brought back as “Coca-Cola Classic,” a genius rebranding and marketing spin in its own right.

A modern day approach to market research would have saved the soft drink company a lot of money. Analyze the industry, target markets, and the competition, and run focus groups or brand monitoring software to measure brand perception and the potential impact of a rebrand.

Market research provides invaluable insight into all of the factors that could potentially impact your bottom line after a rebrand.

  • What tools does your target audience use to find products and services?
  • Which competitor is most able to answer your target audience’s questions?
  • What does your buyer see as trending in your industry?
  • What influences purchases from your target audience?
  • What is the overall feeling about your particular brand as it’s currently constituted?
  • Is there a demand for the type of rebranding you’re targeting?

4B Marketing is a Hubspot Platinum Partner. As such we have access to a wealth of marketing research tools that can help you read your target audience.

Most Successful Company Rebrands

There are plenty of rebranding success stories to counter the corporate hiccups that were Heinz EZ Squirt and New Coke. Along with Domino’s, many different companies kicked off rebranding campaigns to rousing success. Here are a few of the most noteworthy:

LEGO

Everyone remembers playing with LEGO as children, and that was the company’s problem. In the eyes of consumers, LEGO was an outdated toy of a bygone era. At one point in 2003, the company was $800 million in debt. But then in the mid 2000s, the company rebuilt itself and diversified its products. It culminated with “The Lego Movie” in 2014 and “The Lego Batman Movie” in 2017. Thanks to its constant innovation, the LEGO brand could now be considered the “Apple of toys.” 

Dunkin’

Some rebrandings just make sense. When you hear the word “Dunkin’,” sure you think donuts, but you also think coffee, sandwiches, avocado toast, and an entire lifestyle. As such, the company dropped “Donuts” from its name in 2018 and rolled out new logos, brand messaging, and ad campaigns. Now, when a consumer says “I’m going to Dunkin’,” it’s no longer a colloquial shorthand, it’s the actual company name.

Old Spice

Before rebranding as the company we know today, Old Spice truly lived up to the “old” in its moniker. Consumers viewed the company as stuck in the past, offering an odor that reminded them of their grandparents. That wasn’t what any company would want to be known for. It all changed with a rebranding effort that spun Old Spice into something sensual and alluring. Without changing its logo, Old Spice changed public perception through a clever ad campaign

How To Rebrand a Company: 4B Marketing, Your Digital Rebranding Agency

The first step to rebranding your company is to stop and consider your options. With all the pitfalls associated with a rebrand, it’s crucial you start on the right foot. As we’ve seen in this article, rebranding is expensive and can change your audience’s perception of you, often for the worse. That’s why it’s incredibly important to talk to a trusted partner first. A skilled marketing company can help you outline your brand’s needs and collaborate with you on a plan of action.

4B Marketing will walk you through your rebranding strategy step by step, offering counsel and reasons for every decision we recommend along the way.

We specialize in:

  • Developing your business reason for rebranding. Are you trying to accelerate growth? Has your brand grown stale in the eyes of consumers? Pinpointing the reason for the rebranding can help inform decisions moving forward.
  • Researching your target audience. It’s hard to overstate how important solid market research is. The information you glean from market research tells you everything you need to know about why and how one rebrands. As a Hubspot Premium Partner, we have access to a wealth of research tools.
  • Developing messaging around your brand strategy. The right kind of messaging conveys your brand’s mission to consumers, informing them of your intentions and the reasoning behind the rebranding effort. 

  • Building your brand identity. Our content creators and designers will develop the visual elements and storytelling of your brand.
  • Building your website and deploying marketing collateral. Your website must immediately match your new branding, as should all marketing material going forward.
  • Maintaining consistent visibility in the marketplace. A rebranding effort that doesn’t meet your audience where they are is a wasted rebranding effort. We keep your new message moving with consistent attention and extensive marketing campaigns. 

Rebranding cannot happen in a vacuum. Connect with 4B Marketing for a full examination of what you need to alter your brand.