Even the most successful companies, with strong brands, can
benefit from giving their logos and imaging a makeover now and then. An updated
aesthetic or style guide can help buyers see the business in a new light, or
give it a fresher appeal.
However, making changes to a successful brand can be a
tricky proposition. When no one knows a company, and there is no substantial
brand presence, this isn’t a concern. You can simply start from scratch. When
there are already well-known and recognized elements in place, though, a more
subtle approach is called for. In those situations it’s important for marketers
to maintain pieces of the brand that help sales and communication while still
getting the benefits of a rebranding effort.
The result is what we call a soft rebrand – it’s a more gentle shaping or update of a company’s
image. Done right, it can help keep the business relevant and maintain a good
balance between continuity and innovation. When it’s not handled quite right,
it can confuse buyers or take away their previously positive impressions.
Given the unique way in which these concerns have to be
juggled, and with our long history of helping companies in Arizona and beyond
to build their brands, we wanted to share some insights you can use to make
this process easier. Here are our seven keys to a successful soft rebranding
#1 Know Where You’re
Sometimes, business owners and executives decide to
undertake a rebranding effort simply because “it’s time.” That’s not
necessarily a bad thing; recognizing that your branding has become a little bit
tired is a first step towards giving your company the fresh approach it needs.
At the same time, branding is only effective when you have a new target or
vision in mind.
Ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish with your new
branding campaign, beyond simply gain more sales or market share. Ask yourself
how you’d like customers to think about your company, and the ways in which
that impression differs from what they thought before. Think about how your new
brand could align with other plans you have in place for your company.
In other words, don’t simply decide to create a new brand
because it seems like the thing to do in the moment. Consider the way it might
impact your overall business, and where you hope to end up once you’re
#2 Balance Both Sides
of the Branding Equation
A lot of businesspeople think of branding as being about
what sort of image they want to project into the world. That’s certainly a big
part of it, but there is also another piece the equation: the segment of the
market you need to appeal to.
Just as you have a certain style or personality you want
customers to associate with your products or services, you also have a certain
subset of buyers (identified by their location, budget, preferences, etc.) who
are a good fit for what you have to offer.
The combination of imaging and messaging that creates an
overlap – the branding that lets you meet your marketing goals while also
grabbing the attention of your target market – is what you need to find if
you’re going to build the perfect brand.
#3 Keep What Works
The hardest part about a soft rebranding effort is figuring
out what you can keep from your current branding and which elements have to go.
This doesn’t have to be an “either/or” proposition. For example, you might want
to keep your current logo largely intact, but with a more modern look.
Choices also have to be made with regards to colors, fonts,
and visuals. There is a lot of merit to keeping the successful parts of your
brand in place, or at least holding on to close versions of what you already
have. This is key for maintaining continuity with customers, whom may have come
to expect a certain look or style for your business.
If you aren’t sure what’s working with your brand now, don’t
be afraid to ask customers, or to get a professional opinion. The worst thing
you can do at this stage is get rid of branding that’s helping you to separate
yourself from the competition.
#4 Don’t Be Afraid of
As important as it is to keep parts of your existing brand
that are getting the job done, you also have to be open to making changes and
improvements. After all, what’s the point of a soft rebranding campaign if no
one can tell the difference between your new brand and your old one?
Sometimes, we work with clients who are very open to the
results of a new branding campaign, but will fight every idea or inspiration
that runs contrary to tradition. In other words, they want to feel like they’re
launching a fresh brand, but cling to the marketing and visuals that have
always worked for them in the past.
There is always a sense of balance and compromise that have
to be at play here. The best answer is to hire a great creative team and then
let them bring you lots of ideas. Be open to considering some fresh thoughts,
even if they take you a little bit outside your comfort zone.
#5 Go Beyond Simple
Logos are important to businesses and organizations for a
lot of reasons. They create an instant visual identity and can tell a story
about a company’s focus, history, or personality better than hundreds of words
However, your brand is so much bigger than a logo or visual.
As part of your soft rebranding campaign, you should create a stylesheet that
covers colors, fonts, and messaging guidelines to be used in the future. That
way, every communication you send out – whether it’s a billboard, email
newsletter, or blog post – can be consistent with your brand and goals.
Branding stylesheets don’t have to be complicated, but they
are important. This is an area where a good creative team can help with the
heavy lifting and point you in the right direction.
#6 Bring Your Team On
You shouldn’t be building your brand on your own, and you
certainly can’t grow one without a little bit of assistance, both internally
We highly recommend you retain a great creative team to help
you with your soft rebranding campaign. You could say that we’re biased, of
course, but having a team of professionals on your side is going to stop you
from making obvious mistakes, giving yourself headaches over copyright issues,
etc. At the same time, you’ll want your internal staff to be aware of the
changes to your brand (so they can follow through with your vision), and
possibly be involved in the brainstorming effort.
The more people you have on your side who know branding,
along with your business and customers, the easier it’s going to be to get the
#7 Get Your New Brand
Out Into the World
Once you have finished all the creative and messaging
elements of your soft rebranding campaign, it’s time to share your new look and
vision with the world.
Some companies will make a big deal of their new branding, while
others will take advantage of the fact that they’ve used the soft approach and
integrate the updates quietly. Either can work, provided that you know what
you’re trying to accomplish and have the right plans and resources in place.
What really matters here is that you roll out your new brand
comprehensively. You’ll want to use your fresh visuals and style guide in all
communications going forward, and find places where you can replace your old
branding immediately. It’s best to have a written strategy in place that will
help you to make this transition as seamless as possible. Otherwise, you could
find yourself accidentally promoting a couple of brand ideas at once, diluting
the effect of both.
Is It Time for Your
Soft Rebranding Campaign?
Soft rebranding campaigns work because they let you keep the
best parts of your public image while still getting the boost of energy,
enthusiasm, and attention that comes with establishing a new brand. Just be
sure you follow the tips we’ve laid out in this guide so you can get your new
brand and identity off to a flying start with customers and colleagues.
Need help turning
your strengths into an enduring brand, or putting together a marketing plan
that works in the real world? Contact the Kinetik IT team today and let us put
our expertise to work for you!