Taking the Right Steps To Rebrand a Company
Re-branding a business is one of the hardest things to do in marketing and branding. Sometimes there is a lot going against you, and most of the time it’s the stuff you don’t see upfront. There is almost no way to know what the previous owners have done to include destroying customer relations or perhaps nothing at all. If they didn’t do anything then you might be safe. Normally, when a business sells, it’s either that it was offered too much money or things weren’t going well.
In this post, I will take the scenario of “the business was going down in flames and you picked it up for better or worse”. In this case, you have a big climb to get back to the top. Businesses that sell in bad times usually owe a lot of money, ruined all customer relations which then leads to countless negative review online and offline, and possibly dealing with an image that no one wants to ever see again.
Let’s run through some of the areas to see if you can take use them as you rebuild your newly found or purchased brand. This isn’t going to be easy, but at least you cared enough to find this post.
Items to Address
This is the first step in reclaiming your brand. You will need to create new digital inventories such as a new logo (in most cases), banners, splash pages, social media banners, and other visual items. You may need to consider a different color set unless you are in a specific industry such as the food sector. Red and yellow is a difficult set to pass up. It’s important to note that if you bought a failing franchise or something that is bigger and well branded, you would skip the logo, colors, and the more entrenched visuals. If this fits your situation you would focus more on the message of new management and not recreating the entire presence.
People are going to remember the name if they had a bad experience, but seeing a new look might be enough to make them reconsider the brand since it’s visually different, therefore the management/ownership must be different as well. I have seen businesses get bought and the only change was a banner saying “Under New Management”. If you do this then your chances of making it has dramatically lessened. Your imagery is the first thing that a customer sees. Try to focus on getting people back to the business and listen to feedback about the transition from people who offer.
Visual Branding Considerations:
- Logo, banners, social media profiles/pages, splash pages, signs, ID cards, app media properties.
- Color combinations, typography, visual message, styles, new mascot, new emblems for merchandise, or even the new spokesperson.
All companies have a story to tell or at least a product to talk about. You need to nail down why the company exists besides for the sake of making money. People will connect with a new message that connects them with your product. Part of your re-branding strategy is finding that “thing” you do that the previous owners didn’t do. It should blend with what your company sells or provides as a service. More and more people around the world are looking at the ways businesses interact with the community and their effects on mother Earth. Here is just a sliver of questions you can ask yourself.
- Are you a green company?
- Do you support a charity?
- Are you a publisher for women (or fill in whatever segment)?
- Do you provide an easy access for students to publish?
- Are you veteran-owned?
These are the types of stories that consumers relate to. They want to know that your company is good and contributes back. This is how Apple has been enormously successful. They know how to craft the story piece better than anyone. They are also an eco-friendly business. Facebook is another shining example of going green with their datacenters. That was a huge story and a lot of great press…for free!
You, however, are not Apple (at least I assume so), so crafting your unique story about “How 5 guys overcame diversity in a world of ….” or whatever it is, is a vital piece to the puzzle. While thinking about crafting this story, you need to make sure your social strategy piece is developed alongside this. They go hand and hand. People need a reason to share your story, like your brand, and so forth.
This may or may not apply, but if the previous team made enemies then you may need to prepare for that. People can be angry for a long time, so they may come to you for resolution about something that happened before your ownership. Perhaps it was orders not fulfilled, or a warranty issue. You need to be prepared to resolve this or take a stance that you can stand behind that doesn’t make matters worse. Perhaps you could meet the upset customer halfway and find a resolution. They more than likely will take into consideration that you are not the one that did them wrong, but that doesn’t mean it will be an easy out.
When a company I had started was going out of business due to financial strain, it was extremely difficult to see it fail. I had left the company and stayed on remotely to help with the digital assets. When I was told by the person that took the company over for me, I jumped in and tried saving it with other professionals I had connected with over the years. We were going to liquidate all the assets and pay customers back with the proceeds. We tried for about 8 months and over the course of that attempt I received many angry calls from customers that lost money, collection agencies for the company’s debt, and even law enforcement trying to find information out.
No matter the call, I always stayed level-headed and tried working through each situation. My goal was to turn this around and then close it. I was trying to re-brand something that was very far gone, but in the 8 months we completed a good portion of unresolved orders and returned money to some. My customer relation skills were as sharp as a sushi chef’s knife after that experience. Even typing this story brings back some unpleasant memories of wanting to resolve 100% of all outstanding debts. I couldn’t, and sometimes you won’t be able to as well. I didn’t know how bad the finances were once the company was dropped in my lap. You might not know how deep some of the issues are either but you can prepare yourself for the worst.
The bigger point is to dive in and understand that the customer service piece is a truly larger aspect of turning a company around. If you are bad at it, then you are going to have to consider searching for your company’s mouthpiece.
Social is where it’s happening these days. You are well aware of this I am sure, but picking the right platforms can help you brand faster. If you can score big points in visual then Instagram and Pinterest are your friends. If you have a team to manage your social then even better. You may have to fight to win over the negative social attention the business has received. Negatives always outweigh the positives on any platform. People love venting and building an army to come after businesses that have done wrong to them. By recognizing that you have to do more than just post once in a while, you will need to connect, discuss, and resolve issues through platforms. This is also part of that customer service piece, but social talks a slightly different language.
This is where I would highly recommend Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. It will help you get out in front of the social backlash and start off on the right foot. Nothing is worse than a business entering the space and stumbling to achieve any success. There is no reason to be doing social media wrong when you have tools like GaryVee to assist you.
I would work hard in this sector. You brand can and will live and die by how you brand on social. I would dedicate someone to do nothing but social outreach and start connecting with people who fit the demographic. Don’t automate this piece and make only human-to-human connections because people will know that you’re not being genuine and will react to it negatively. I used to automate Tumblr, twitter, and facebook and got absolutely nowhere for years. As soon as I started doing it manually, my presence grew quick and continues to because I am putting in the hustle it requires.
Managing Bad SEO
I don’t normally discuss SEO, but sometimes there are some really bad blog posts/forum posts/new articles…etc, that new management doesn’t want on the front page of Google when a search for your business is done. You need to work on getting the good stories lifted above the bad ones. I am not going to detail how to do link management or content marketing, but if you ask that question in the future I will try to address that if need be. Just be mindful that with the right actions, positive articles will hopefully rise above the bad ones in time.
Coping With Previous Issues
This area of rebranding can be important if you have to deal with this. The last thing you want to do is take over a brand and blame all issues on the last crew. Avoid reliving the issues from the last business owners so you can move forward and make better inroads. You want to establish a fresh start and keep moving forward. Keeping negativity around is the quickest way to destroy what you are attempting to build. Looking at a partnership that I had from 2011-2014, it was difficult to sustain due to a massive failure of a previous partner. Every time we had a discussion about something that wasn’t going as planned the previous partner was brought up as an issue. I already understood that, but as I wanted to focus on the future, he couldn’t let go of the past. Eventually, I knew it was time to split and move on.
If consumers ask or take note that something changed and it doesn’t seem to go away, address it once and move on. If you do have to address the issue then don’t bad mouth and point blame. Try to resolve it in a very HR’ish kind of way and once that has been completed, bury it, and move forward. Some people hold grudges or never accept resolution. It’s OK, and you don’t have to keep trying to fix each issue beyond what is necessary.
Treat new branding as new branding. There should be no leftovers from the past in the office, on the packaging, or even in the PBX call tree. You are a new company so treat it as such. Branding is huge and there are many books on it, but if you get it right you will reap huge benefits.
Sometimes it can be a challenge, but with fresh ideas and a fresh crew, you could make a mountain out of a molehill…in a great way!