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Companies should give careful consideration before rebranding
Mar. 20, 2011 12:02 am
Just as you would give careful consideration before changing your name, businesses should think long and hard before deciding to rebrand.
“Your brand is not just your logo or your letterhead,” advised Chris Weaver, senior art director at Marketing and Communication Strategies in Cedar Rapids. “Your logo is the public face of your brand that greets people. It's also how you answer the phone and what people say about you and your company down at the local coffee shop.
“It's the public perception of your organization and how your products and services are perceived.”
Dave Morton, president of marketing services with J.W. Morton & Associates in Cedar Rapids, takes it a step further.
“A brand is really a promise. There's an inherent promise in a good brand,” Morton said. “The apple logo of Apple Computer carries the promise of quality computers and software.”
Customer service and public image is critical to a brand, Weaver added, regardless of whether you're engaged in bricks-and-mortar or online commerce.
Moreover, he noted, “You represent your company whether you're on the job or shopping on the weekend. When you're wearing a shirt or jacket with the company logo, you are the public image of your company.
“Conversely, if a loud-mouth guy is wearing a torn shirt with your logo and he's yelling at his children in a supermarket, that can affect perception of your brand.”
Sometimes when business isn't going as well as expected, it pays to consider changing your image. Giving your business a fresh appearance can be successful in attracting new customers.
But Morton cautions that you take into account the perceptions of your existing customers. He cites the example of US Airways as it made a gradual transition from its former Allegheny Airlines brand.
“Allegheny Airlines very methodically evolved their brand so that it wasn't just one day, ‘boom,' wholesale change,” Morton said. “They started by modifying Allegheny Airlines, changed the colors, changed some graphic elements, and finally they became US Airways.
“By making changes over a period of time, it wasn't jarring to their existing customers.”
Existing customer rejection of a new brand proved costly for the University of Iowa Community Credit Union in 2007. Iowa's second-largest credit union announced that it would become Optiva Credit Union on March 1, 2008, after members had narrowly voted to approve changing the organization's name to distance it from the university in potential customers' eyes.
A group of credit union members petitioned for a second vote, claiming irregularities in the previous vote, and asked state regulators to oversee it. On Feb. 28, 2008, the change to Optiva, which had cost UICCU about $250,000 for stationary and marketing materials, was rejected by a vote of 806 to 631.
Apparently retaining the UICCU brand has not hampered the credit union's growth. From assets of about $515 million at the time of the rejection, UICCU has grown to more than $1 billion in assets.
If you're considering rebranding your company, Shelby Kraus, vice president of public relations and relationship manager for Henry Russell Bruce in Cedar Rapids, recommends that you find out what the public thinks about your company, products and services.
“You should be making a decision on rebranding based on data,” Kraus said. “Rebranding just because your competitor has rebranded is not a good reason to make a change.”
Weaver recommends starting the rebranding process with your employees.
“The rebranding process needs to be driven from the top down within an organization,” Weaver said. “Employees need to understand why you are changing the brand and why it's important that everyone makes the transition.
“Someone within your company or organization needs to ‘own' the brand and take responsibility for making sure that new business cards and stationery are used and the new style manual is followed by everyone.”
Making the transition to a new brand is not something that happens overnight.
“It's a marathon that will take years,” Weaver said. “It's really an ongoing process.”