Rebranding: Our Extra-gutsy Overview!
Before I even knew what rebranding was, I knew it was a pain in the ass.
Years ago, before Vanessa and I started working together, my dad and I had a chat. You see, we lived in Jackson, MI – a town that, at the time, had an underwhelming art culture, to say the least. As a graphic designer and illustrator who had a degree in painting and drawing, yours truly was a bit more annoyed with the town than the average Jacksonian.
So, there Dad and I were, seated comfortably in the living room – waxing philosophically as we were prone to do, when I brought up my frustration at the lack of Jackson’s art culture. Dad thought for a second, and said something so simple, and so prudent, I’ll never forget it: “You can either stay here and try to change it, or go somewhere else.”
I somehow knew there was no way I could change that culture as fast as I’d like. I instinctively knew rebranding Jackson’s art scene – before I even knew what rebranding was – would take forever.
Rebranding, the Wiki Definition
Oh man, I hate using Wiki definitions, but the Merriam Webster doesn’t have “rebrand” on its site. Anyway, here’s what Wiki has to say: “Rebranding is a marketing strategy in which a new name, term, symbol, design, or combination thereof is created for an established brand with the intention of developing a new, differentiated identity in the minds of consumers, investors, competitors, and other stakeholders.”
As usual, Wiki – or whomever wrote this for Wiki – missed the boat.
Rebranding, the Mayniax Branding Definition
“Rebranding is changing the culture, the focus, and sometimes the name and / or look, of an existing brand.”
I may be biased, but I like our definition better. And if you use our definition of rebranding, you’ll be able to predict which brands do it right, and which brands kinda go the other way.
Rebranding: The Good, The Bad, and the WTF?
Good Rebranding: Apple
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, one of the first things he did was focus the product line. We wrote about that some here.
But he also fixed the culture.
A couple months ago, I came across a clip of an internal meeting at Apple. It was shortly after Steve Jobs returned, and he was preparing to unveil the “Think Different” ad campaign to his team.
In that meeting, Jobs looked at his team and told them that it’s not about speeds and fees, it’s not about bits and megahertz, and it’s not about why they were better than Windows. Instead he said, “Apple, at the core, its core value, is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better.”
With those words, and the “Think Different” campaign, he not only changed the culture, but he started Apple on the path that would make it the number one company in the world.
That’s the way to rebrand.
Another great rebranding story is LEGO. I typed all about it, here.
Bad Rebranding: Xfinity
This is not only a terrible attempt at rebranding, but it’s an insulting one, as well.
In several of its markets, Comcast renamed itself Xfinity. We saw no attempt at a culture change. There was no shift in focus. All they did was create a new name and logo. You would think, if any company needed a culture change – using the Mayniax Branding definition – it would be Comcast.
In fact, in case you missed this, there’s actually a company out there that will call Comcast for you, since their customer service is just a touch worse than abysmal.
What’s scary is that, way back when, you could actually get away with a simple name change. But today, with social media and a whole lot of other forms of instant communication, we’re all well aware Xfinity is the same old Comcast. That’s why I find it insulting.
So, obviously Xfinity is a text book example of bad branding.
WTF Rebranding: RadioShack
RadioShack is a prime WTF example. Also, it’s late, so I needed an easy target to pick on.
In 2009, RadioShack decided to rename itself “The Shack,” which it hoped would make it sound cool. Instead, people had visions of a weirdo saying to them, “You sure got a purty mouth.” Frankly, it was a desperation move on RadioShack’s part. Considering it filed for bankruptcy last year, the desperation move didn’t work.
“So, When Should I Rebrand?”
If you’re reading this blog, my guess is you’re an entrepreneur. So, this answer’s with that in mind: the absolute best time to rebrand is when your company’s still small enough for the rebrand to be under the radar – and you realize it needs to be done. You may realize it because you notice no one’s remembering you, or because your sales have been stagnant for a while.
You may even need a rebrand because your work is making you miserable. Vanessa and I got to a point where we were miserable with our old business, because we weren’t able to truly help people. It’s even part of our story on the Mayniax Branding About page.
You shouldn’t rebrand, however, when you’re desperate for money, because like anything else in branding, it’s usually quite a while before it takes.
Rebranding is a tricky thing to pull off well. Even large corporations fail at it because they don’t understand a huge cultural revamp and a shift in focus are essential to a quality rebrand. But it can be done.
We’re here to answer any questions you have about that, and any other branding topic, so shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
And that’s all I gotta say ’bout that!