Mirror_Rebranding

There’s nothing more exciting to me than a rebranding project.

I have to admit – having worked on several brand overhauls over the years, I’m a bit bias on the subject. Truth be told, I’m a sucker for change, especially the kind that moves you forward. And that, charged with the stimulating thrill of discovery, inspiration, and new opportunities, is the driving force behind every rebranding effort.

But not everyone feels the same way I do. As a matter of fact, rebranding can be a terrifying thought for many organizations. But why is that? In my opinion, it has to do with the strategy behind the creative, the part that requires some serious self examination. Think of it as looking at yourself in the mirror. And I’m not talking about a quick glance to make sure you don’t look totally crazy before heading out the door in the morning. I’m talking about a really hard look at your image in a magnifying mirror, with bright lights to reveal every wrinkle and imperfection. No one likes that – ok, maybe Rob Lowe and a handful of others – but most of us simply cringe at the idea of what we would discover.

Corporations are no exceptions. Especially those who haven’t looked at their own image in years. What does your brand really look like? Does your target audience still find it attractive? And don’t forget about your competitive landscape. Because – brace yourself – your competition will almost always look younger, sexier and better dressed for the part.

So if the rebranding process is such a whirlwind of painful emotions, why bother? Well, you may not have much of a choice if you wish to survive in today’s marketing landscape that moves a thousands miles a second and takes no prisoners. You should conduct an audit of your corporate brand at least every seven to ten years, more often depending on how volatile your four P’s are (Product, Price, Place, Promotion). The reason for a rebrand is also a determining factor when it comes to timing. And there are as many reasons to rebrand as there are reasons not to work out at 5 o’clock in the morning. Here are the most common reasons to rebrand (and perhaps also to start going to the gym):

#1. Your Brand Is Old.

And I don’t mean “aged” as in good cheese or wine, nor “vintage” like a Chanel clutch from the 50’s. I mean “old” as in “no longer relevant.” Yup, harsh I know. But if it’s any consolation, it happens all the time and it happens to the best of us. Take the Yellow Pages. Just a few years ago that bright yellow book was on top of every refrigerator in every household across the country. Who would have ever imagined a world without it? Then the digital era happened, and the Yellow Pages had to rebrand to stay relevant to consumers, aka “doers,” who like to get things done and have no time to flip through pages, yellow or any other color for that matter.

#2. Marriage, Divorce, Make Ups And Break Ups.

Organizations are just like the rest of us. They fall in love and fall out of it, except they call the former “mergers & acquisitions” and the latter “corporate restructuring.” The most notorious rebranding due to a corporate make up was when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997 after a 12-year split. Jobs and Apple realized they simply couldn’t live without each other. Isn’t that sweet? The truth is that Apple was bleeding money and was desperate for survival. To save Apple, Jobs had the simple, yet brilliant, idea to make their universally recognized mark bigger and put it literally everywhere. Here’s the thing, a large rainbow apple would have looked silly on the original Bondi Blue iMac, and that’s how the new monochromatic version of the proverbial “forbidden fruit” was born. Forgive my biblical reference, there’s nothing biblical about Apple’s apple which was actually inspired by the fruit that bonked Newton in the head. Except maybe that the year following the rebranding, Apple turned a $309 million profit. Now, that’s biblical.

steve-jobs Your Brand In The Mirror

#3. Lawyers And Bad Reputation.

Did I just mention lawyers and bad reputation together? Just kidding, I love lawyers. My best friend is a lawyer, but I digress. Legal issues are a common reason to rebrand and trademarks are often at the root of these efforts. That’s why it’s so important to conduct a trademark search and obtain the trademark rights to your brand assets before launch. Another reason to rebrand is to restore a good reputation gone bad, because – let’s face it – unlike Joan Jett, some of us have to give a damn. A brand’s reputation can often go bad overnight. You may wake up one day and learn from the morning news that this new terrorist group’s name is pronounced just like – you guessed it – your company name. Other times, brands bring bad reputation upon themselves through well-planned scams, frauds and all sorts of wrong doings (courtesy of the people behind them, of course). Here’s to rebranding and starting fresh. After all, everyone deserves a second chance, right? Or do they? Hmm.

dilbert2 Your Brand In The Mirror

#4. You Don’t Really Have To. But You Still Should.

This is by far my favorite reason to rebrand. It’s for the visionaries, the progressive, the forward thinkers, those who are never satisfied with the status quo and are always one step ahead of everyone else. Not only do they look at themselves in the mirror while thinking “bring it on,” but they also see their future selves staring back at them. These brands are often referred to as “disruptors” because they take on principles, personalities and voices that disrupt their marketing landscape. Take Uber, for example, whose rebranding last year was led by controversial founder and CEO, Travis Kalanick. He admittedly embarked in the rebranding effort without fully understanding why. But he knew he needed to understand two things: what Uber no longer was, and what it was going to become. It took Kalanick 18 months just to finalize Uber’s five new branding pillars. That’s a long time spent looking in the mirror, isn’t it? “The warmth, the colors, those things…” he said “only happen when you start to know who you are.” And that’s what some brands do, even when business is already pretty darn good in more than 400 cities across 65 countries. But here’s the thing: why settle for good when it can be great?

At The End Of The Day…

Whatever the reason – or reasons – for rebranding your organization, my advice to you is to partner with a marketing agency that’s passionate about the process and understands its complexity. And, most importantly, one that understands the emotional whirlwind involved. Here at Davidson Belluso we’re pretty good at that, actually we are pretty great. Ok, I may be a bit bias on the subject, but I did warn you about that from the very beginning, didn’t I?

Michela Belluso

Born in West Africa from Italian parents, Michela traveled the world before settling in the United States. After graduating from the University of Miami and The Miami Ad School, Michela freelanced as an art director in various cities across the nation, including Miami, Minneapolis and New York. Here she worked under creative leaders at renowned agencies such as Fallon, Crispin & Porter and Carmichael Lynch. Prior to starting Davidson Belluso, Michela was an art director at E.B. Lane Marketing Communications in Phoenix, Arizona, where she met her husband and business partner, Rob Davidson. At Davidson Belluso, Michela has been instrumental in the creative development of successful rebranding campaigns for Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the City of Phoenix Community and Economic Development Office, Tempe Tourism Office, Tempe Parks and Recreation and the Scottsdale Culinary Festival. Michela has served on many nonprofit boards and marketing committees, including The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, The Arts & Business Council of Greater Phoenix, and more recently, The Arizona Pet Project (formerly Friends of Animal Care & Control) whose mission is to reduce, and one day eliminate, the euthanasia of homeless pets.