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When should a business rebrand itself?

Ronnie Gunn | 02 Aug, 2023 | Return|

Website rebrand

As we discussed in a previous article on this website, Elon Musk has taken the bold step of renaming and rebranding Twitter as X. Time will tell how effective this transformation that was unveiled to Twitter users may be, because there has been some disappointment voiced about the new format, particularly relating to the departure of the familiar Blue Bird.

The BBC reported that Linda Yaccarino, the platform’s new chief executive, had claimed the rebrand was “an exciting new opportunity.

"Twitter made one massive impression and changed the way we communicate. Now, X will go further, transforming the global town square."

This is an ambitious project and we look forward to seeing how it develops. But for the present, from a social media marketing perspective, X has a modern looking logo that might bring the channel more into the perception of being a news and information platform, which could be attractive to business users with serious messages to communicate to target audiences.

Identifying Rebranding Opportunities

In October 2021, the New York Times (NYT) published an article titled “Companies That Changed Their Names to Signal a Strategy Shift.” 

The article quotes Jill Avery, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School specialising in brand management as explaining that: 

“The success of a name change depends upon companies educating existing customers about the rationale for the name change in a way that is compelling. If the name change appears illegitimate, inauthentic or done for the wrong reasons, firms risk injuring their relationships with consumers.”

She also stated that: “In the case of Facebook, which said on Thursday that it was changing its corporate name to Meta, the downside risk was minimal for the company, since it changed its corporate brand and not its product brand.” 

Rebranding opportunities

The same could be said about Google’s decision to shelter under the umbrella of the Alphabet brand. The identity of the search engine, as with the Facebook social media channel, remains intact.

However, the NYT article cited other examples where name changes had more of a direct effect on branding. For example:

  1. “In 2001, Philip Morris announced it was changing the name of its parent company to Altria Group, part of an effort to shake negative associations with the lawsuits against its cigarette brands.”
  2. “Weight Watchers changed its name to WW in 2018 as it announced a major effort to turn the weight-loss company into a wellness company. It came at a time when the body-positivity movement was gaining steam, and the company faced increased competition from companies focused on self-care and nutrition.”

Two reasons for disassociating a brand from its previous course. But there are others, like the decision to change the direction of Twitter that can herald their journey on a new positive path to progress.

Challenges and Pitfalls of Rebranding

Companies, as well as public and private sector organisations, are rightly determined to guard and maintain their identity which has founded their reputation and the public awareness of what they are and what they do. 

Corporate style guidelines are normally rigorously adhered to relating to exact logo configuration, font styles and text and visual content are subject to careful management.

Challenges and Pitfalls of Rebranding

The public may barely take notice of guidelines that are followed correctly, but they will undoubtedly notice when things go wrong. An unexpected alteration to a familiar logo or messaging can create confusion and possible doubt about the quality of a company’s products and services.

So changes to branding have to be carefully and strategically handled and communicated. Attention needs to be applied not only to major revisions of business direction but also relatively minor changes to messaging and communication that can be very important in the competitive online environment.

So, whatever the scale of your requirement to communicate through online and social channels, please contact us now

About the Author

Ronnie Gunn

Ronnie Gunn

As Head of Communications, Ronnie focuses on content writing, PR and media relations. Throughout a long journalistic and business career, he has developed an exceptional talent for spotting a good story and knowing how to tell it. His varied experience allows him to understand complex technical subjects like precision engineering and appreciate the key selling points of consumer markets such as travel.

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