Strategy, Design

The Ultimate Guide To Successful Rebranding.

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The Ultimate Guide To Successful Rebranding

Whether as a proactive initiative or reactive response, brands constantly give their images a facelift, hoping to stay fresh and relevant in the marketplace. Unfortunately, many treat the process of creating a “new you” like a wardrobe change where they base styles on subjective opinions from friends and “fashion experts.” However, the rebranding strategy for businesses is significantly more complex (and important) than simply changing your style; it requires research and development to find the best visuals and messages that resonate with the target audience. 

This how-to guide provides best practices and the latest insights into rebranding your company and the products you sell. You will see why companies go through a rebrand and the benefits and risks of creating an updated look for your brand. 

What is Rebranding?

Rebranding changes or updates a company’s image, messaging, or identity. It can involve modifying elements like the logo, name, packaging design, or marketing strategy to reflect better the company’s vision and appeal to its target audience. Companies use rebranding strategies for various reasons, from adapting to market changes to repairing a damaged reputation.

Like branding for a new company, a rebrand requires the company to perform consumer research, strategy, and brand testing to identify the best possible presentation for the brand. There are two ways in which existing brands engage in a rebrand. 

Partial Rebrand

Complete Rebrand

Involves making tweaks or adjustments to certain elements of a brand’s identity, like its logo or color scheme, without completely changing its core identity and values.

A total makeover of a brand where almost every element, from logo to brand messaging, is revamped or replaced to present an entirely new identity to the market.

Rebranding vs. Refreshing

Media throws the terms brand refresh and rebrand around in the same conversations, but each approach has significant differences. A refresh is a touch-up or fine-tuning element of the company to keep it relevant or adjust it to align with a brand repositioning effort. A rebrand is a more comprehensive transformation encompassing change to the entire brand identity, values, and positioning

Understanding these differences is why rebranding agencies are pivotal to this process to ensure a company creates the right strategy to optimize its branding for peak performance.

Read More: Rebranding vs Repositioning

Rebrand vs Refresh




Why Rebranding is Important? 

Consumers are a moving target; even if your brand consistency is stronger than the competition, eventually, you will need to adapt to their updated interests and preferences. A rebrand is how you strategically enter this process, ensuring your brand identity doesn’t dissolve over time. 

But rebranding is also necessary to help correct any problems the brand creates through its mistakes or opportunities. By updating branding to align with a new company mission or position, you can re-engage existing customers or draw in a new target audience. 

Read More: When To Rebrand A Company And Its Products.

Reasons For Rebranding

We’ve touched on companies proactively or reactively needing a rebrand, but now, let’s look at each of the main reasons for rebranding a company

Rebranding Reasons


Outdated Image

The most common reason brands go through the rebranding process is because they “feel” their image is outdated. However, to accurately determine whether or not the brand image is obsolete, perform consumer testing to determine how well it resonates with the target audience. 


Poor Reception Or Performance

At SmashBrand, much of our work is with existing brands struggling to succeed in retail. Whether it’s a recent launch or a slow decline in performance, optimizing branding to find a competitive advantage through brand positioning is necessary to prevent delisting and losing customers. 


Business Evolution And Pivot

Businesses, categories, and sales channels inevitably change, and your branding often requires a change to maintain relevance with existing customers. At some point in every business’s lifecycle, a pivot strategy will be necessary if their goal is continuous growth. 


Mergers And Acquisitions 

Changes in ownership often create misalignment between the previous brand and its new ownership branding. Finding a way to bring the two together where you retain your existing customer base while capturing a new audience is pivotal to ensuring the acquisition doesn’t hurt the brand’s performance. 


Damage Control 

There may be a need to change the identity to ensure brand loyalty, whether due to a company decision or a changing social climate. Here is where working with an experienced brand strategist and rebranding agency comes into play. Their expertise will help alleviate the stress of the situation so that the brand can focus on getting in front of the problem with their PR team. 


Targeting New Audiences

To prevent brand dilution, a company may change its image in the same or separate category to attract a new customer profile. Rebranding, where you consider the new target audience, can help you attract new customers while maintaining appeal for your existing audience. 

Questions to Ask When Rebranding

Before diving into this initiative, there are essential rebranding questions to ask before you begin. These questions may lead to preliminary steps necessary for a successful rebranding. Here’s a look at three pivotal questions to ask.

Rebranding Questions

Do I Have Enough Capital? 

Rebranding isn’t as simple as packaging redesign. From the website design to in-store displays, changing the branding across your entire company will cost significant money for labor and materials. Ensuring you have a large enough budget is necessary to ensure the campaign is a success, and it may require you to seek additional investment to overhaul the entire brand identity.

Do I Have The Resources?

A rebrand might be an opportunity for your company, but it will likely burden your team. So before overfilling their plates with tasks and responsibilities, recognize the damage this strategy will have on the success of your rebranding strategy. In this situation, leverage a brand development agency with a team that can efficiently handle the scope of work without slowing down company operations. 

What Does The Company’s Future Look Like? 

Futurecasting your company is a critical step before the rebrand. While you may have immediate needs to adjust the branding, you need to think through what the brand will look like in 3-5 years; otherwise, short-term thinking will require the brand to repeat the process in a shorter time than it should. Think about how the current brand will operate, where it will operate, and who it will serve. 

The Benefits of Rebranding

While stakeholders and the sales department may primarily care about the immediate change in revenues, a rebrand can have a host of long-term benefits for the company in its performance and the perception of customers. 


Competitor Differentiation

Whether through an ineffective initial strategy or a changing competitive landscape, a strategic rebrand performed correctly will change your brand positioning so that it differs from other brands and products within the same category. When you find white space in a category, you experience a positive impact in everything from product trial to brand recall, where consumers better recognize your brand voice.


Increase Brand Recognition

A rebrand that sets itself apart encourages greater brand equity that can carry over to a new category (with a line extension) or an entirely new market. For companies looking to scale past their current product offering, increasing brand recognition gives them significant leverage for future brand stretching

exceed expectations

Optimize For Purchase Intent

Successful rebranding isn’t just about the image where you increase brand awareness through repetitive touchpoints. Creating a solid visual representation alongside strategic messaging increases the likelihood of consumers purchasing during their initial engagement. Purchase intent is important because it can significantly lower each product’s CAC (customer acquisition cost). 

The Risks
of Rebranding

There are inherent risks with every brand strategy, but because the cost of rebranding can be so high, brands should be fully aware of what can go wrong when they don’t have the correct strategy. However, we will say that you can mitigate, if not eliminate, these risks when consumer research and brand testing (which will be discussed later in the article) are employed. 

Rebranding Risks
Alienating Existing Customers

Alienating Existing Customers

Many assume that we retain customers as long as we refrain from offending them with our new branding. Unfortunately, subtle changes can change consumer perception by a significant amount. In an apparent example, a visual change will make it harder for consumers to find your product on the shelf, and if they struggle for long enough, they will try another brand. 

In a less obvious case, a color change may elicit a different emotion, which may cause them to rethink what the product means to them, causing them to look for a product that evokes a familiar feeling. 

Loss Of Brand Equity

Loss Of Brand Equity

Perhaps more dangerous than slowly becoming a forgettable brand is making a decision that expedites the loss of memorability. Even when you rebrand in a way that garners more attention, this doesn’t always translate to consistent brand equity. The test determines how memorable the company is after the dust has settled on your rebrand and consumers are more familiar with the branding. 

High Costs With Minimal

High Costs With Minimal ROI

It isn’t just the P&L and balance sheet that suffer when the needle doesn’t move on a mediocre rebrand. A minimal return on investment causes morale to suffer and causes the company to begin questioning whether future redesign or brand positioning changes are worth the risk. It’s paramount that every brand strategy lead to a successful ROI, even if we need to measure it in more ways than financial gain.  

Negative Public Reaction

Negative Public Reaction

Negative PR is one of a rebrand’s least respected and understood risks. Negative media and public reaction can create a snowball effect where it builds upon itself, bringing more attention over time. The compounding impact of negative PR is especially true in a social media-driven world. 

Brand Confusion

Brand Confusion

Confusion surfaces when a rebranding effort muddles a company’s identity, leading the target market to associate it with other brands. Confusion also occurs when customers become unclear about its core values and offerings. These misalignments dilute the brand’s strength, jeopardize customer loyalty, and diminish its distinct market presence.

The Rebranding Process

Successful rebranding doesn’t happen by chance. Like a new branding strategy, a winning rebrand occurs when implementing a systematic process. Here’s a high-level look at the SmashBrand rebranding approach.

Read More: The Ultimate Rebranding Checklist And Success Roadmap

Rebranding Process

Internal Audit And Analysis

The first step to a successful rebrand is thoroughly reviewing the brand assets, documentation, and history. All brand elements and their previous iterations, including the logo design, website design, social media, and all forms of marketing, are carefully considered to establish complete brand understanding. Unlike new branding, the creative process must consider everything from the brand name to customer service communications to understand what consumers have seen or heard over previous years. 

External Market Research

The next step in the rebranding campaign is understanding what the consumer thinks, understands, and feels about the brand. The brand development team identifies everything from the brand image to its essence through market research, including surveys, panels, and social listening. 

Strategy Exploration 

With a complete brand understanding, the next step is to explore multiple strategies to present the brand best. The internal team and the branding agency in charge of the strategy review these strategies. Collectively, we curate a more narrow group of strategies before the creative process and testing begins.

Create A Messaging Hierarchy

Before we create any visuals, a brand must develop branches from their positioning and put them in order of most to least impactful. We explore these messages to determine the best ways to articulate them distinctly. From short phrases to the brand story, rebranding requires careful consideration for each statement that represents the brand. 

Design Visual Concepts

With an understanding of the words that matter most, the next step is to create a visual representation of these words. These visuals must evoke emotions that match the company’s hopes for its target audience. 

Update Brand Guidelines

The rebrand isn’t complete until you update every aspect of your previous branding to meet the new direction and standards. To establish brand consistency and minimize potential mistakes, all company and marketing touchpoints will need a single resource to reference.

Revise The Marketing Campaign

As much as we would like implementation to occur through a single email where you attach a PDF copy of the brand guidelines, consistent execution will require an upfront meeting where you review all marketing collateral to identify ways to incorporate the new identity into this format. Then, you must continuously monitor these marketing strategy changes, ensuring all internal and external individuals do not revert to any aspect of the previous branding. 

How To Announce Rebranding

How you broadcast a rebrand is nearly as significant as the change itself. A company brand strategist or manager must create a well-developed PR campaign that brings substantial awareness to the new look. The marketing department will also need to step in and make a specific launch campaign published through social media, email, and digital or in-store marketing. 

But you can’t just say, “Hey, check out our new look.” No, it needs to be a much more creative process where you can cut through the noise and create memorability so that this new look generates enhanced demand for the brand and its products. Begin by creating a rebrand presentation deck that shows your data-driven approach to improving your brand positioning and identity.

Measuring Rebranding Success 

Once you’ve executed the go-to-market strategy and the dust has settled with the changes, it’s time to start measuring this overhaul’s impact on your brand. Here’s a sample of what you should measure with a start date that begins when you begin marketing and promoting the rebrand.

Rebranding Success
Measurement AspectDescription
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)Monitor a range of KPIs, including website traffic, social media engagement, and customer retention rates, to gauge the success of the rebranding effort.
Analyzing Customer Feedback and SentimentUtilize customer surveys, online reviews, and social media comments to understand how your audience feels about the rebrand.
Sales and Revenue MetricsExamine sales data and revenue streams before and after the rebrand to determine any positive or negative impact.
Brand Recognition and Recall MetricsConduct brand recognition and recall studies to see how effectively the new brand identity sticks in the minds of consumers.
Future Brand StrategyEvaluate the rebrand’s impact on your long-term brand strategy, ensuring it aligns with company goals and market trends.

Rebranding Examples

Caprisun was long overdue for a rebrand as competitors like Honest and TreeTop continued to capture market share from this historic brand. Caprisun takes a flavor-forward approach, emphasizing taste and hydration in this successful rebrand. Here, we have a rebranding example teaching us how to take an existing brand and enhance the emotional response by enhancing the look to reintroduce the consumer looking for a delicious drink to this iconic brand. 


Rebranding Case Study

We partnered with Ollie, a brand renowned for its DTC model, to prepare them to transition into the retail landscape. Our comprehensive rebranding effort included:


The efforts bore fruit when Ollie partnered with Petco, the leading name in pet retail. This alliance validated the efficacy of our rebranding strategy and gave Ollie the platform to significantly disrupt the pet food category, adding a new dimension to their already successful brand.

Data-Driven Brand Development That Can Guarantee Sales Performance.

If you need a rebrand with performance predictability, we can help. SmashBrand is a brand development agency that researches, designs, and tests all products to ensure peak shelf performance. Book a time to discuss your project with our team.

The Only Agency To Guarantee A Retail Performance Lift.

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