Rebranding 101: Give your company a facelift while maintaining brand identity
Last updated on 1 November 2023
Changing how an iconic brand looks can be fraught with danger, and a name change can be even riskier. Consumer sentiment has a huge influence and any alterations to a much-loved brand could see loyalties tested.
The aged care sector has seen several success stories over the years, with Bolton Clarke (formerly RSL Life Care and RDNS) and Silverchain (Silver Chain Group) the most impactful rebrands. But it’s not all smooth sailing. While some of these changes were subtle, they had their own fair share of pitfalls. hello leaders spoke to Rubina Carlson, Digital Marketing Manager at Refuel Creative, to understand the importance of the dos and don’ts of rebranding.
DO: Understand current brand perception
The aged care industry has a diverse target audience, from the consumers themselves to family members, formal and informal carers, and even staff members. Their perceptions must be considered when reflecting on brand recognition, according to Ms Carlson.
“With an established brand, it’s about understanding what it means to existing consumers and whether that aligns with the future direction of the business or the brand. Because if you don’t understand it, then you don’t know how to shift the perception,” Ms Carlson said.
“Then, more broadly, how well do people know that brand? For large players in the aged care market, brand recognition is very strong. So doing a rebrand involving a name change would be a far bigger project.”
Well-known providers and organisations might find it’s not worth a full rebranding because of existing brand recognition and loyalty. A logo refresh could suffice. But a strategic approach to investigating how the existing brand supports long-term aspirations is the best step here.
DO: Conduct plenty of research
A major overhaul of an existing brand is no easy feat. The process itself will take at least 3-6 months, if not more for larger companies, so it’s essential to conduct thorough market research. Start with face-to-face interviews, group workshops and consumer surveys to collect qualitative and quantitative data. This is the information that will reinforce the entire process and influence the overall strategy.
DON’T: Forget the widespread impact
Rebranding is about more than just a logo and company values. Far reaching implications
Include signage, social media accounts, legal documents, websites, email signatures… the list goes on. It’s a big task to undertake and all facets need to be explored and planned out during the planning, research and conception phases.
“A rebrand is ultimately a change management project internally, particularly if you are going to be changing things like how we refer to ourselves [in documents or marketing]. So instead of saying patient, for example, the company now refers to people as guests or care recipients,” Mr Carlson explained.
“The main thing is really to get the concept down, and once the concept is in place, then it’s very easy to move into the rollout phase [but] do have a list of everything that has the brand on it.”
DO: Focus on your strengths
Ms Carlson said most marketing challenges occur when companies step away from their strengths – that is brand recognition – and they try to modernise a heritage/legacy brand too much. Her advice for those taking on necessary rebranding? Stand by what matters the most.
“Sometimes when you have so many people providing their import, it is difficult. You might end up with something that looks quite vanilla and it doesn’t really stand out,” she said.
“Stay true to the things that make you stand out from the competitors, your unique selling propositions. What are the core points of difference that you can say you do better or no one else does?”
DON’T: Hard launch the new look
Give consumers and staff time to learn about the changes before thrusting them into a new era through a soft launch. For example, consider teasing elements of a new logo, such as colours or fonts, or simply announce a set date for the change ahead of time. However it’s done, having an established marketing strategy will pay off.
“Go back to [your stakeholders] and keep them in the loop on progress. For everyone else, let them know the new look and new brand is coming at the final stages, so ‘Please keep an eye out for new flyers that will be dropped, a new look on socials, and a new email signature. Letting people know in advance is helpful,” Ms Carlson said.
This will also help prepare staff and consumers for potential backlash. Brands with well-known identities often cop criticism from the public for unannounced changes.
“Depending on how strong your brand is, some people feel ownership over it. And if you’re taking a well-loved brand, any changes are going to result in some negativity. It’s something you’ll have to accept and prepare yourself for.”
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is plan when rebranding. Don’t rush into it, and do take your time identifying strengths and weaknesses. There’s no point in rebranding for the sake of change.