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Sometimes even successful firms feel the need to rebrand. For struggling companies, rebranding can provide a new lease on life.
However, the process is not without dangers. If you are thinking about changing your business identity — whether it’s just a logo switch or a full-blooded reorganization — customers can run scared if they feel your products or services will suffer.
Here’s how to rebrand without alienating your audience and come out stronger on the other side.
This is vital. During the rebranding process, you need to have a communications strategy in place to reassure customers. From the start, inform your customers about what you are changing — and what you aren’t changing. This will reduce their uncertainty and may even excite their curiosity about how your business will develop in the future.
Whatever you do, don’t just impose big changes upon loyal customers. Treat them as partners in the rebrand, not as a resource to be exploited. They will repay you with their business when the process is over.
Tell your audience why rebranding is in its best interests, not just the interests of your company. Try to spin a positive narrative about improving your service and stress how the service they have used in the past will be even better.
At the same time, bear in mind that you may be looking for new customers. Many companies rebrand to position themselves in new markets, so invest in content that will appeal to your target audience. However, don’t give the impression that you are moving away from your old audience. Stress how the rebrand will deliver benefits for all customers, old and new alike.
Focusing on the benefits during rebranding is really important for other reasons as well. When people notice that companies have changed their public profile, they are often suspicious. After all, why would a company need to rebrand if nothing was wrong? Perhaps they have a terrible customer service record? Maybe their products are garbage? All of these questions circulate in the minds of customers when businesses rebrand. Neutralize those notions with a positive narrative.
One great way to do so is by creating inspirational content showing how the rebranding exercise is a personal or family “journey” for you as the owner. People love to feel inspired, and they respond to people who are trying to expand their horizons. They also love to feel included, so make sure that your videos or blogs reach out to loyal customers as well.
Reaching people is a challenge, particularly for small businesses that rely on the web to generate leads. If you are a small-town store, changing your sign or name might surprise some folks, but you’ll still be there behind the counter to reassure them. That doesn’t apply so much on the web where your identity is tied to less personal web pages and social media accounts.
When you rebrand, try to use all of your communication channels to explain what’s happening and how things are changing. Use your blog, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook — whatever means you have at your disposal to prepare customers for those changes.
If customers aren’t primed for change, they may simply unfollow you or forget about your business. Even a slight logo or name change can give them the impression that they mistakenly followed you, undoing all of your marketing efforts.
Change is dangerous. Change is something that alarms customers and arouses their suspicion. But sometimes change is essential. If you are thinking about rebranding, go back to your stakeholders and staff and discuss the implications.
Maybe your brand just needs a few tweaks here and there, not a wholesale do-over. There is always a temptation to overreach when changes are required. Do you actually need to rebrand?
If the answer is “yes!” then go ahead and dive into the process wholeheartedly. By communicating well with customers, stressing the positives of rebranding, offering discounts and mobilizing social media, you will come through the process unscathed.
Dan Natividad, a Stockton native, is a partner at Port City Marketing Solutions along with Kristen Dyke and Erin Diego. Dan can be reached at [email protected]