Brainfood: Crash course in ... Rebranding your business

Your company's branding isn't what it used to be. The world has moved on, your use of design looks tired and the organisation itself is completely different from what it was five years ago. It's time to call in the brand doctors. But is it just about refreshing your logo, a change of name, or perhaps something more fundamental?

by Alexander Garrett
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Branding has moved on. 'It's the behaviours of your company and its people that form your reputation, and your reputation is your brand,' says Dave Allen, CEO of global brand agency Enterprise IG. What you're looking for, he argues, is a simple idea - a brand essence or positioning - that expresses what the company is trying to do. Taglines, idents and the like will spring out of this - 'the tip of the iceberg', as Chris Wood, chairman of branding, design and communications consultancy The Corporate Edge, puts it.

Look in the mirror. 'You need to measure where you are at the moment, where you want to get to, and work out how you are going to bring it to life,' says Graham Hales, executive director of consultancy Interbrand. 'What does your audience think of your corporate brand, and do they give you a licence to be what you want to become?'

Take a reality check. 'It's important to balance aspiration and reality,' says Wood. 'If you say you're number one and you're not, you'll double the opprobrium you attract.'

Pull back the curtains. The days when corporate branding strategy was dreamt up by three men in a darkened room are receding. Involve staff and they will buy into it; consult with stakeholders and they will tell you if you're off the rails. 'The days of unveiling a new branding in a Big Bang are pretty much dead,' says Allen. 'These days, it's a more gradual and pragmatic process.'

Symbols are emotive - as British Airways discovered when it removed the Union Jack from its tail-fins. You can change the positioning of your brand without destroying the imagery people associate you with. However, refreshing your visual look to keep up with the times is a must every 10 to 15 years.

Orchestrate from the top. 'It needs to come from the leadership of the organisation, because they have to model the brand behaviours,' says Hales.

Ensure success. 'Make sure that the business strategy is well understood when your rebranding becomes public, and ensure that other aspects of communication such as advertising are consistent,' says Hales. 'Lastly, have the courage to con-tinue with it if you know your brand is based on a fundamental truth and you have done your homework.'

Do say: 'By articulating the values and behaviours that will make us a competitive success in the future, we can translate those into the elements of identity.'

Don't say: 'Maverick has got a good ring to it.'

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