Whilst not as certain as taxes and death, it’s likely some companies will reach a turning point where they need to rebrand. For many businesses, they simply have outgrown their brand identity, whereas for others the catalyst might be negative publicity or legal issues.
I recently took on the challenge of transforming a nearly thirty-year-old brand, Augen Software Group to CodeHQ, to better reflect its identity, values, and service offering.
If anything, the exercise has reconfirmed that – when done right - marketing can make a phenomenal difference in driving business outcomes. To really drive growth and sales, your brand needs to align with your DNA and your customers’ needs. If not, a rebrand may be necessary, and here are some things to consider if you embark on that journey.
Do your research
Before you make any significant changes, you need to research.
Understand what drives profitability in your business and how to ensure that creates value for your customers.
Who is your ideal customer? At Augen, we interviewed our current customers, former clients, and failed prospects to determine what they thought of the business and what they wanted from a partner.
Once we figured out our value proposition and our ideal customer, we assessed whether that fitted our branding strategy.
As we all know, a brand is more than just a logo. It’s the sum total of all the touchpoints your business has with any audience. Audit the assets and activities that comprise your brand. Think about pricing, imagery, tone, and manner. Who are you as a brand? What is resonating with your customers and what isn’t?
Understand the risks
If you can, refresh your current brand rather than throwing it all out – there’s a lot of effort and risk involved in a rebrand given the equity and goodwill you’ve invested in, over the years.
Sometimes, however, a refresh just won’t cut it. From an Augen perspective, we quickly realized we faced a number of challenges that only a rebrand would overcome. For example, our brand wasn’t really articulating our offering, we weren’t standing out from our competitors, and many people just couldn’t pronounce or spell our name. While our original intention was to refresh the brand, through validating our position in the market we realised we needed to do more than just updating our visual branding to succeed long-term.
Once you’ve decided on a rebrand, be aware of the danger of alienating your current customers and, most importantly, your teams. It’s your people who will make the difference between successfully embodying and communicating your new brand so their support is critical.
If you’re a well-established brand, like Augen was, a major challenge may be overcoming the fear of losing support of staff and stakeholders, compared to the gains made through rebranding. This is because your people and customers will have lived with the brand for many years and attached their own emotions to it. Taking that away without taking them on the journey can be damaging.
Clearly, your stakeholders need to be onboard to succeed, so involving them in the brand development process can often help increasing understanding and trust.
At Augen, we completed James Hurman’s Storytech workshop with our team to get input across different levels of the organisation on our brand position and tone personality.
We also knew we needed to retain and enhance the secret sauce that made our business successful. Marketers tend to be obsessed with seeking shiny new things, but it’s important to figure out what makes your organisation special and harness the power of that insight in your new brand. Don’t lose what makes you special.
For a raft of reasons, B2B marketing can often end up being very same-y, somewhat conservative and, on occasion, a bit dull. But just because a human being is wearing a lanyard around their neck, it doesn’t mean they stop being a human being. Treat B2B audiences with the same respect and attention that B2C is known for. You should do everything you can to stand out in a sea of sameness.
The Augen team worked with a graphic designer to identify a colour palette and style that would suit our category. Our name had to be clear that we create software, reflect our brand disposition, have no IP conflict and an available URL, and be easy to pronounce. At one point, our list of potential names was over 150!
We took our time developing the CodeHQ brand and once it was ready, we carefully orchestrated a phased launch internally, then to customers and lastly partners. We knew how important it was to communicate the rebrand to ensure there was no confusion among our stakeholders.
A rebrand can take either add or erode value from your business. Make it the former, and make it count.