When considering a re-branding activity, the first question that the brand custodian should ask is “does the brand require a re-launch at all”. If yes then what is/are one or more compelling reasons for the re-launch?
Stating the objectives for re-launch before hand is very important and needs to be kept in mind throughout the process of redesigning. Also, every identity has certain key elements which are central to the core brand idea. It is important to identify and preserve the same to ensure that the connect, especially with core consumers remains intact.
The first thing to identify while re-branding, is the new brand goal and identity. Every brand has certain relationship with the consumer and it has often many alternatives within and outside the category. The world of the consumer is constantly changing. Their beliefs, their thoughts, their preferences, their lifestyle is constantly evolving. Any deep rooted brand has to keep a constant tab on these aspects and has to adapt itself and be in sync with these changes.
Time and again there are changes in the competitive scenario, which requires repositioning. There are changes in the way the category is consumed and these changes can be cosmetic or sweeping. For example, in one of the soap brands I handled earlier, the ingredients and their goodness on skin after using it over a long period of time was the key story. As times evolved, we realised that the horizon of consumers has reduced and they want benefits ‘here and now’. The new identity had to add these ‘here and now’ benefits in its messaging. Also, a brand of soap was always in the colour pink. For its metro consumer who wanted to experience ‘a new’ to break the boredom of the daily chores, the brand had to launch new variants and new colours frequently. In such cases the identity has to be such that it allows variants. Most often for large iconic brand the key agenda is always to connect with the new generation.
In the process of re-branding, one has to ensure a smooth transition from the current identity to the new one. As I mentioned earlier, there are certain critical elements expressing the core idea of the brand, because of which the brand has clicked with a certain segment of the market. It is important to ruthlessly protect and preserve them. Sometimes we see brand managers not ensuring this and consumers getting disillusioned. This has to be the key control element for heads of the company. You will always see the brand owners or CEO very religiously protecting some very minute elements of the identity. Most of the times, this does not make sense to the young brand manager, who wants to do something new and leave behind his/her impression. The design and marketing teams need to know every nuance of the brand, its interaction with the consumers, and the historical journey of the brand. While some companies are very scientific in these and have elaborate processes, in some companies the continuity of key decision makers/owners ensures no handover losses occur.
It is very important to ensure that we do not alienate the core consumers of the brand and at the same time appeal to the desirable non users and thus convert them. Regular validation with consumers is crucial. The new identity while preserving the core message, should be distinct and yet relevant. Regular review with all stakeholders throughout the process is important. Often big creative egos of famed (and high cost) designers need to be managed to ensure the core brand values are not compromised for the sake of creativity. At the end of the re-branding process, the core values of the brand have to remain intact with the new identity.
The author is VP Marketing, VIP Industries