The answer should often be… ‘Indeed?’. How often have we seen apparently pointless yet costly rebrands lambasted by the media. The Royal Mail rebrand to Consignia was reversed. The BP rebrand away from the shield was widely slated. People still cringe at Aviva – Norwich Union as was.
How much of this criticism is justified? How much is supported by damage to business performance? How much of it is a matter of taste or a resistance to change?
We ask ‘Does a rebrand in and of itself make any difference?’. Our belief is that unless it is to symbolise changes that have occurred, are occurring or are planned to occur then a rebrand is nothing more than cosmetic. And will be seen as such internally and externally, which inevitably leads to cynicism.
The changes we are referring are not ones of structure and titles. In order for a rebrand to be considered credible customers, staff, suppliers and stakeholders need to experience as well as see a change. Which means change in the behaviour of staff.
Admittedly there are rebrands in the consumer marketplace that have been solely cosmetic, or appear so. Rebrands to simply refresh consumer perceptions. For instance the change of Marathon to Snickers. But even here there was a change to symbolise – the global alignment of the product name presumably brings savings in packaging and marketing.
Nevertheless powerful people joining organisations understandably want to make their mark. One of the most striking ways to do so is by conducting a re-brand, Why? Well it makes a strong statement internally and externally. Internally it’s a way to have an impact on everyone in the organisation. Externally it is a statement of intent to competitors and the market.
Thankfully away from consumer gaze, in the business-to-business field the answer to ‘whether to rebrand or not to rebrand’ needn’t be politically charged. Has anything of substance changed? Is or will your employee or customer experience be any different? Will you gain more customers than you lose? Will you alienate loyal and valuable customers? Is customer or prospect perception misaligned?