For some organisations there might be reasons to postpone brand change, due to the challenging situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Budgets could be cut or the risk of being criticised by the media for ‘unnecessary’ spending is just too high. However, the fast-moving changes that are happening globally at the moment, also emphasise the urgency to reposition and rebrand. Think about retailers and the catering industry that have been forced to become ‘online-focused’ brands and sometimes have to invent a complete new category of business, but also the number of mergers and acquisitions that are occurring. Let’s not forget that a rebrand is not only an investment – when done well it can have a very positive outcome for your short-term and long-term business results.
The brand has become a business’ key intangible asset
Before elaborating on the most important reasons for rebranding in these turbulent times, let me sketch why branding has become more relevant in the last decade. The intangible value of brands has risen significantly over the last fifteen years and is increasingly seen by investors and stakeholders as a key strategic driver for future success. A few changes that are influencing the way we assign value to our brand:
- The brand function’s focus is increasingly seen as a way to orchestrate the intangible relationship between an organisation and its ecosystem, across stakeholder groups.
- Over the past few years, corporate citizenship across environmental, societal, and governmental (ESG) domains is being incorporated in how investors value stock, and consequently new reporting frameworks for non-financial performance are emerging.
- At the same time, and as a result, purpose-thinking is massively on the rise, and more highly valued by younger generations.
- Digitalisation is driving transparency and consequently the need for better orchestration and simplification of communication, increasingly with and through employees due to the rise of social media (according to McKinsey, companies have accelerated the digitalisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years).
These factors combine to show that the landscape for companies has become more complicated and cluttered, and brand is the key business asset that helps companies to lead the way in navigating these developments.
The 8 most important reasons for rebranding
It would be great if you only had to work to keep your brand on track. There are however a variety of reasons that persuade organisations to change their brand. Although there is usually one main reason for making a change, the motivation behind a rebrand project can come from a combination of several factors. Here is an overview of the eight most important reasons to consider a corporate rebrand during turbulent times, accompanied by some well-known examples.
1. Repositioning due to changing market needs
For lots of companies, market changes mean that their very existence comes under threat. The digitalisation of society, in particular, is making it necessary for certain sectors to reinvent themselves. Different needs call for different products and services. For example, some fashion brands have closed their physical stores to only sell direct to consumers online, and companies like Amazon have evolved incredibly over the last few years to become a one-stop digital department store. When changing your portfolio drastically, repositioning your brand is the right way to go. In most cases, the old brand doesn’t really fit the new strategy and changing your brand gives you the chance to start with a clean slate letting your audience know you are adapting to fit their needs.
A good example is the German brand Merck. They transformed from a pharmaceutical company to a global player with a unique combination of expertise in science and technology. It was important that the company was perceived as one company, despite not being able to use its brand name in the US and Canada for legal reasons. In addition, the company wanted to unite its heterogeneous business brand portfolio under one memorable brand, enhance its appeal in the employer market, and drive cultural change within the company to become a modern, more agile organisation. The rebrand was a perfect opportunity to bring out the new vibrant brand experience.