The Purpose of Rebranding: Do You Need to Make the Shift?

Post by Alison Knott | Last Updated: June 25, 2021

Wondering about the purpose of rebranding and if it’s right for your business?

Rebranding is about re-defining the visual and communicative components of your company. A brand goes deeper than just logo and colours! It’s about how your company engages with clients, other brands and your community. So do you need to rebrand, or would a refresh or repositioning be your best bet? This guide can help you decide which is the right business move for you.

The difference between a brand refresh, rebranding and repositioning

There’s two key differences between a brand refresh, rebranding and repositioning. There’s level of involvement required, and who you have to hire to execute it. Which you will go with depends on how much change you need to make to your existing brand, services and messaging.

When to refresh your brand, and who to hire

A brand refresh centers around a shift in the visual elements that make up your brand. Think of it like “tweaking” instead of a complete overhaul. Consider refreshing your brand if:

  • You will not be changing the name of your company.
  • You’re generally happy with your logo but you want it tweaked or modernized, not overhauled.
  • You only want to change your colour palette, tagline/slogan or typography choices.
  • You want to add or update the visuals of your marketing materials, but the messaging is the same.
  • You’ve been inconsistent with how you’ve applied your branding in the past and want a cohesive system.
  • You are not pivoting services or ideal clients.

For a brand refresh, hire a graphic designer. Ultimately, a refresh is about aesthetics and their application on existing messaging. The designer will ask questions about your business and goals. But the main focus is tidying up what you already have. Once the refresh is complete, consider hiring a copywriter. They should have a small ‘refresh’ package to help with your key messaging. Your Homepage, About page and welcome email in a newsletter sequence is ideal.

Compairison of old Techmania logo and it's refresh. Below is a diagram showing all the parts of the logo updated.
Here is an example of a brand refresh for Techmania’s logo. They wanted to make the logo more legible in smaller application. This tweak resulted in picking new fonts for their website, and updating marketing materials to match.

When to rebrand, and who to hire

Rebranding requires a deep analysis of the shift of business goals. And, how your brand stacks up against them. You should consider rebranding your business when:

  • Your current brand and messaging no longer represent who you are, what you do, and/or who you serve.
  • You’re keeping your company name but your logo and messaging need to change substantially.
  • You will be changing your company name.
  • You’re niching down or changing your core services.
  • You no longer attract the ‘right’ clients, despite changing how you do sales and marketing.
  • You have your eyes on a new market or ideal client.

If you want to rebrand, invest in a rebranding consultant, not a graphic designer. You need a specialist who will approach the project as a business strategy. First of all, a consultant can quickly tell you if you need a rebrand or if there are other issues holding you back. That can save a ton of time and energy! If rebranding is the best solution for your goals, you’ll dive right into strategy. They will audit everything from your visuals to how to talk to clients. This is because the bulk of rebranding is about repositioning.

Repositioning: part of the rebrand strategy

Repositiong a brand is something that happens internally. First you must clarify purpose, mandate, and goals. Then, the consultant will help you refine your ideal audience, and what you offer to them. A rebrand strategist will support you in repositioning by:

  • Insure keeping your name or selecting a new one is in the best interest of your business goals.
  • Auditing your existing business functions and clients against your goals.
  • Compare you to other brands in the sphere you wish to move into (known as market positioning).
  • Refining and restructuring pricing and services.
  • Creating a game plan for how the rebrand affects your website and SEO.

Once repositioning has been defined, you move onto visual assets. A copywriter should also be brought on to match messaging to the rebrand. I don’t recommend doing your own copy writing. It’s better to work with a neutral 3rd party to avoid bias messaging and stay on schedule.

The purpose of rebranding worked for Social Media Day Halifax. Image Shows old Social Media Day Halifax logo and new rebrand differences
Social Media Day Halifax was a complete rebrand. Not only was there a complete revamp of their visual needs, but a shift in how to attract to their ideal conference attendees as well. Read about the full rebrand project.

Is rebranding a good idea? What are the risks?

Rebranding is best for companies who have a shift in their business that the current brand can’t support. Rebranding is not only a time and budget investment, it can also become very personal! For most SMB service-based businesses (myself included), we are our brand so letting go is hard. The results of a thoughtful, robust rebranding strategy are worth this initial challenge. However, like any other ambitious business undertaking, there are risks.

You may lose or alienate existing clients.

This is every service-based provider’s fear when I work with them: what if we lose clients!? Here’s the thing: I don’t consider this a risk. You do your best work for ideal clients, not those that no longer fit. What IS risky is rolling out a rebrand without a thoughtful relaunch strategy. You should transition out mismatched clients with professionalism and care. Give yourself enough leeway (and marketing budget) to announce the changes proactively. If you anticipate public push back, consult with a PR specialist.

You could miss the mark with the rebrand.

“Every interaction, in any form, is branding” says Seth Godin. The best way to minimize this risk is to own your rebrand. Your rebrand strategy should have started with customer research and market positioning. When it’s time to make the switch, you should have a plan for announcing it publicly in an authentic and engaging way.

Screenshot of repositioning document for the Creative Kick Rebrand. Shows three examples of the new ideal attendee.
The East Coast Creative Collective rebranded into the Creative Kick. Part of the rebrand focused on repositioning the Kick to better serve it’s new ideal attendees: commercial artists with specific needs. This is a page from the larger rebrand document, which the Kick team uses to make decisions inline with their goals and brand.

Launch could be delayed due to legal and other obligations.

If you are changing your name, check in with the Joint Stock of your province/territory and CRA. Consult with your attorney and accountant, too. There could be legal paperwork you need to fill out to confirm change of a company name. Don’t forget bank accounts, credit cards, utility bills and other suppliers. You don’t want to set a date to publicly flip everything over if these things aren’t finalized first.

Missing, broken or mismatched content on your website.

Despite best intentions, there’s always one or two remnants of old branding. However, if your website is critical to your business: don’t wing this. Redesigning a website for a rebrand is a massive project unto itself. Minimize the risk by hiring someone that specializes in SEO and you platform.

Pro-tip: apply for funding! See if your local business association offers grants for export or scaling. This isn’t a design project: it’s a business strategy! That way you can be sure you’ll have end-to-end support to avoid gaps and save your sanity.

Related: Fiddling with your website is ruining your chance of success

Making the right branding choice for your business

Adapting to change is part of being a successful business. Those changes could be external such as trends, client expectations or industry shifts. Or, there could be an internal change with your business goals or direction you want to head in.

Now that you understand of the purpose of rebranding, you can move ahead with confidence. Before you do a lick of work, be sure to consult with a rebranding specialist to have the support you need. Rebranding is a lot of work, but also an incredible investment in your company. Your brand is what you make of it – lean into it with confidence and enthusiasm!

Interested in building brand awareness through SEO? Check out my Link Building Strategy Workshop.