The term rebranding is thrown around in the business world, but what does it really mean? Let’s start with what a brand is – a company’s brand is not what it does, sells or even what it looks like. Your brand is what people believe you do and how they feel about it. Therefore, the goal of every company should be to create a perception of their company and its products and/or services. A perception that is valuablemeaningful, and different from your competitors. Brand is everything that is said or done by the entire company and therefore shapes how the consumer feels about your organization.

In other words, consumers buy products because of the visual associations or features they have.  Consumers become loyal however because of the way they feel about that company.  For example, Hermes and Mercedes Benz are valued because of what their brand represents – the very best, sophistication, exclusivity, luxury and performance.  The features are ever changing – ultimately a purse is a purse and a car gets you from point A to point B. But these brands have amped up the perception of what they provide – to make you feel as though you’re getting more.

So, if a brand is the perception consumers have about your company, then rebranding is about changing that perception. Simply changing your look, logo or  even your name is not rebranding.

A name change is a new identity.

A logo change is a visual refresh of your brand’s appearance.

A new look is just a visual redesign.

None of these on their own will change the perception of your organization.

If you are considering a rebrand, ask yourself: how do you want your consumer to feel when they use or see your product? And why is it different than how you currently present yourself?

There are two main reasons why a company might rebrand.

1. Proactive rebranding

This is done when a company sees an opportunity to grow, innovate, tap into new business/customers, or reconnect with its customers – making it more modern and relevant to the customers’ needs. They make a strategic decision to ‘upgrade’ their brand and therefore change how the outside world views their products or services.

2. Reactive rebranding

This is done when a company is reacting to events that have taken place in their organization, the industry as a whole, or in the world as we know it. Existing brands are often discontinued or changed, or they are losing customers to their competition. Mergers, acquisitions, legal issues or negative publicity can also drive a reactive rebrand.

The important thing to remember is that any sort of rebranding is not a Band-Aid. Companies need to get to the root of their goals or problems and develop their approach from there.  Rebranding should have a purpose – to change the emotional and mental associations consumers have with that company.  It is not an overnight process or something you do just for fun. It requires in depth analysis and a lot of strategy.