By Cecy Shveid
With countless industries getting more complicated every year, brands need to constantly evolve to match ever-changing customer needs. In certain cases, this means completely reinventing the way you present your brand to the world.
A rebranding initiative is a powerful declaration of a company’s desire to establish a new way of connecting with its audience. But a radical rebranding and repositioning exercise can be intimidating because of the risk of alienating current loyal customers without guarantees of appealing to new ones.
Putting Theory Into Practice
Brands today need to maintain relevance across numerous and diverse audiences simultaneously. Especially in the B2B sphere, decisions are often made by committees of stakeholders from various areas of the organization who naturally tend to have different needs, goals, and agendas. Messaging or logo refreshes simply won’t address the agendas of those internal and external players.
Rebranding exercises should always start with a thorough analysis of the people most critical to the company’s success — both prospects and existing customers.
To achieve this, brands must understand the entire customer journey as new barriers and needs arise and old ones evaporate. A compelling message that drives awareness might not be as effective after customers have bought into the brand and at that point might be more concerned about reliability, consistency, and customer service.
While considering the evolving customer journey, it’s important for brands to also map the path forward to achieve the rebrands’ long- and short-term end goals. Both mapping exercises should be done in concert, as their beginnings and endings are interdependent.
Rebranding a B2B brand is a balancing act. You want to create positioning that is powerful and focused, elastic enough to have appeal among several equally important target audiences, adaptable to evolving customer journey requirements, and in some cases inclusive of the business’ future evolution.
If you’re not sure where to start, make sure you do plenty of research, following a few key steps to determine the right path:
- Utilize data to dig deep. Data is a tool for giving your customers’ individual actions more big-picture significance. Examine the results of your past engagements and dig into what worked — and what didn’t. Use this data to help inform the steps of your brand evolution. Even consumers within the same sector may have different reactions, so taking the time to examine and understand the data you’ve collected is crucial. Doing so will help your brand establish processes as you’re developing an evolved customer journey that ensures your new messaging, touchpoints, or experiences resonate with consumers.
When security technology company Zix came to us for help on a rebrand, RAPP conducted extensive research to determine why barriers kept consumers, companies, and governments from taking action to protect their data — even though they all shared a rational desire to do so. What we found were very different emotional motivators in each group, with various fears and concerns that hampered their abilities to align and act.
We also learned that there was no direct correlation between popularity and persuasiveness and that being friendly and approachable wasn’t the best strategy for a company promising powerful protection in a dangerous world. Using data analytics, we segmented potential clients and their priorities, allowing for more meaningful communication with each population.
- Look at the people behind the numbers. Data is invaluable, but your customers are your business’s greatest resource. Get to know them, and figure out what they care about the most so you can make sure your brand cares, too. After all,95 percent of businessesprioritize customer experience, and you don’t want to be in the 5 percent that don’t.
While not B2B, food brands have dealt with this truth for years. In 2009, Domino’s Pizza promised to deliver pizzas within 30 minutes. Unfortunately for the brand, customers cared less about efficiency and more about taste, and the franchise typically ranked dead last in that department. To fix its perception and rebuild its brand, Domino’s resorted to an oft-forgotten tactic: honesty. The company conducted research and enlisted consumer tasting groups, applying a bold strategy of honest self-assessment to improving the quality of its pizza. About two years after the campaign’s launch, Domino’s stock value had risen 233 percent.
- Decide where the brand fits among the competition. Once you’ve taken the time to thoroughly understand your consumer, spend just as much time understanding your competitors. This is the only way to truly analyze the landscape and determine how your product, service, or journey can break through the noise and attract loyal customers. What’s more, understanding your competitors will better help you crystallize your own brand identity — a step that cannot be overlooked during rebranding.
B2C brands face this all the time: Ford trucks are tough, Wrangler jeans are comfortable, and Johnson & Johnson brands are safe for families. It’s important to remember that these aren’t the only qualities that can be associated with these brands — they’re just emphasized above all else, creating an identity. Wranglers might be considered stylish or durable, but more than anything they carry the reputation of being built for the wearer’s comfort: Real. Comfortable. Jeans. A great way to distill the essence of the brand and determine where it fits is by describing it in just a few words. But that’s just a starting point.
Rebranding usually involves taking a leap. In the midst of a challenging rebranding effort, keep in mind that it’s not only necessary, but it’s also worth it. Stagnation can and will negatively affect a company. When the time comes, tackle the challenges head-on, and view the rebrand as an opportunity to lay the foundation for long-term success.
Cecy Shveid is senior vice president of planning for RAPP Dallas, with 25 years of experience building global brands and business through heart-opening insights and data-driven strategy. She brings a broad range of experience in multichannel marketing communications, applying qualitative and quantitative research and proven methodologies to drive perception, engagement and behavior to transform brand experiences. Clients include Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Diageo, Samsung, HP, Citibank, Chase, Walmart, Sears, AFI, and Cinemark.