Rebranding is difficult regardless of whether you plan to go international or simply reposition your brand in an existing market. It’s easy to alienate your customers by making too many changes. If you’re too cautious, though, your rebranding exercise might not end up having the expected impact.
You are about to learn the right way of going through a rebranding exercise — one that will make an impact without alienating your customers or target audience. The approach, crucially, involves considering and incorporating customer feedback into your rebranding strategy.
Let’s get down to business.
The importance of customer perceptions
For your rebranding campaign to be successful, you need to change perceptions of customers through your rebrand. Do you believe that?
Let me prove it to you.
In 2008, Walmart made one of the most successful rebrands in the history of rebranding.
Company sales were dropping. Walmart figured it needed to change customer perception. They implemented changes across the company. They:
- Changed their logo to a brighter and sunnier one across marketing platforms, including their landing pages and homepage
- Changed the tagline. The new focus was the pricing and an emphasis on better living
- Ramped up their advertising
- Changed the interior decor across stores to welcome customers with a fresh look
The result? Walmart became America’s #1 retailer and World’s #1 corporation in terms of revenue. It bagged a Rebrand 100 Global Award of distinction for its stellar rebranding campaign.
The rebranding campaign impacted multiple elements of the business.
Depending on what kind of business you are running, your rebrand may look completely different. A tagline or a logo may or may not be the central theme.
What I am saying is, your rebrand needs to change customer perception positively.
Customer perception is your fundamental connection with your customer. You need to understand how your audience perceives your company. You then need a plan to shift those perceptions, if needed, to align with your brand vision.
So, how to get the perception right? More on that later. First, let’s get to the basics.
The fundamentals of rebranding
The right approach to a rebranding campaign can make or break your business. It is essential to understand the fundamentals of the exercise you are embarking on. Any branding exercise comprises two things: How you want your customers to see you and how your customers see you.
Branding is your effort towards projecting an image. Brand identity is the image that reflects and eventually solidifies in a customer’s mind.
There’s certainly an overlap here, so let me explain.
In the words of Jonah Sachs, ‘Your brand is a story unfolding across all customer touchpoints.’
That is precisely it.
From the story that your brand tells of how it will make a difference in the customer’s life, to the actual product itself and its appearance, to the way the customer is treated after the service is bought. Branding can include but is not limited to:
- The physical appearance of the product
- The story your brand tells
- The expectations you set
- The excitement you create
- The way you give service and handle customer feedback
Branding is a string of events and experiences you deliver to your customers, mentally and physically.
All focused on how you want them to know you, like you, and trust you.
So, what is brand identity?
2. Brand identity
Brand identity is the sum-total of everything a company creates and does to impress a psychological image of the brand in the consumer’s mind. What do you think of a certain brand when you think about it? Quality? Price? Class? Consistency?
Beyond visuals, brand identity is the reputation a business succeeds in building and can thrive on for years and sometimes decades! Consistency defines brand identity. Therefore, it is the strongest memory you create in a customer’s mind. It starts with brand positioning and goes all the way to how you actually conduct business.
For example, Apple stands for a brand that doesn’t just represent cutting-edge technology or ease of use. It also represents being ‘cool’ and ‘different’. Using an Apple product makes you a part of an insider community. That is the power of positioning and growing a brand identity, think:
So, now let’s go back to our main subject — how to do a successful rebranding campaign.
Here we go —
What role do consumer insights play in rebranding?
Let’s face it.
Performing a successful rebranding campaign is not easy. It can be heavy on your pockets, too, depending on the size of your company.
So, if you are a big company and the cost of a rebranding exercise is proportionally expensive, you need to make sure you get it right. Before you push a major change, you need to get feedback from your customers. That’s where customer insights come in.
From your network provider to your airline, businesses seek consumer feedback. Before the digital age, gathering consumer feedback was a time-consuming process. It often involved focus groups and surveys. The shift to a digital economy has made it easier to gather consumer feedback.
Online giants like Facebook and Google have mastered the art of generating those insights. They gather live customer behavior tracking, which is much like a ‘live’ customer survey.
Thanks to technology, you too have various ways to hear what your precious customers have to say. Let us break them down into two groups:
Traditional sources of consumer insight
- Focus groups
- Face-to-face interviews
Digital sources of consumer insight
- Website behavior
- Web search patterns
- CRMs and databases
- Social media conversations
- Forums, blogs, and online reviews
Customer insights are where things get real.
Now, remember that your focus is rebranding. How do you make the optimum use of customer insights?
Let’s talk about that.
1. Understand your customers
Any rebranding exercise requires an understanding of your existing customers and the target market. You need to be able to answer the most basic questions like:
- Where do they live
- What is their age
- Their income bracket
- Solutions they are looking for
- Things they care about
- Values they stand for
In addition to general information about the consumer persona, you also need relevant insights pertinent to your rebranding campaign. For example, you should know the brands they like amongst your competition and what they like about your brand.
You want to have a beginner to end-user point of view to get to the whole perspective.
Continue doing what is working for the business, and also use the new information to add elements that create new value.
From here, move on to exploring what is not working.
2. Identifying the pain points
You will likely have a level of attachment to your existing branding. However, the way you brand your e-commerce business should evolve to meet customer expectations and give your business a clear identity. Part of this process involves identifying common customer pain points and packaging your business as the solution for them.
Here are some ways your customers’ pain points with your product can influence your rebranding campaign:
- Change in the relevance of the product or service over time.
- Identify gaps in the before or after journey. For example, delayed deliveries, complicated installation, lousy customer support or service, among others.
- A more fundamental problem with how they perceive your product or brand identity. Do they relate to it anymore or find problems with its personality?
- A shift in their financial priorities or other more competitive products coming into the market
By utilizing the consumer insights gathered through different sources, you can improve the offering and the experience. Sometimes it can even open doors to innovation and new markets.
Once you have figured it all out, it is time to test the waters.
3. Putting your new brand to the test
After you’ve assimilated all the feedback, you need to develop a rebranding strategy. You should then test how people would receive your rebrand before rolling out all the changes.
Enter, ‘Brand Effectiveness Survey’ or ‘Brand Perception Survey’.
A brand perception survey gives you a preview of how customers perceive your new brand mentally. But don’t just focus on what customers think. This time, you must also see how your brand is perceived in the mind of prospects, employees, and your business stakeholders.
Once you have this insight, digest it as well as you did everything else and then make the necessary changes. Now you are all buckled up to hit the ground.
But before you go, let me inspire you with some powerful examples from the landscape of rebranding. Here they are.
Rebranding to address consumer and business issues
Depending on the reason you are rebranding (hoping you have figured that out accurately), why not learn from some successful rebranding stories?
Here are some great ones.
1. Changing preferences and attitudes
Target was a parallel store to Walmart and K-Mart in the 90s, frequented for low prices, more than anything else.
However, with Walmart rebranding itself to become America’s go-to store and losing market to K-Mart, it needed a rebrand. Target took the challenge head-on and had a complete range of Italian luxury apparel designed by the fashion house of Missoni exclusively sold at their stores.
The result? Americans rendered the collection sold out before they finished their morning coffee.
The store continues the strategy by collaborating with various design houses, and their latest collection features names like Christopher John Rogers, ALEXIS, and RIXO. It also is the second-largest discount retailer in America, second only to Walmart. It has 100 plus stores in Canada.
2. Meeting the needs of emerging markets
Cheap in one market and luxury in another? It is possible. With the right rebranding campaign, it’s an option.
Local for a long time (it was only available in the town it is named after), Milwaukee’s PBR is now more than 120 years old. It went through some minor brand refreshes along the course and some major changes. For instance, it moved out of its hometown to first become a working man’s beer. It then became a go-to drink for college students and urban hipsters.
Its epic rebrand, though, was when it reached out to a new market altogether — China.
The Blue Ribbon PBR was launched in China, the world’s biggest beer market, in 2010. A large Chinese population wanting to go for luxury alcoholic beverages welcomed the good old American lager in luxury packaging and an upmarket price of USD 44.
PBR identified the right market and met its need while transitioning from a common brand to a luxury one.
3. Recovering from reputational harm
Innumerable brands have suffered reputational hazards and succumbed to the blow, but one brand handled it like no other — by agreeing to its customers. Patrick Doyle, Domino’s Pizza’s president, knew he was in for a tough one, so he just went ahead and took honesty as the best policy to a new level — by accepting that Domino’s Pizza was horrible.
There comes a time when you know you’ve got to make a change, he says. That is what he focused on.
Dominos used both technology and personal attention to recover from reputational damage and become one of the top pizza names in the world. From obvious changes like logo and packaging, they radicalized the rebranding by:
- Beating Papa John’s and Pizza Hut’s Pizza in a national taste test.
- Setting a record delivery time for its Pizza, beating its competitors on convenience.
- Listening to the customers rather than arguing with them and turning feedback into action.
From a stock price of USD 8.76 per share to USD 500 plus, this is how Dominos turned their story from a loser to a winner.
Don’t believe me? Look at the proof in numbers.
Changes are difficult and sometimes awkward. But when it is time, you have all the tools in your hands to make a successful one.
Customer insights play a vital role in understanding the basics. They also play a role in eventually transforming the customer perception and building a new brand. Invest in various channels to get the necessary feedback and deploy all tools to understand and convert the information to action. Make a rebrand that is sizable and perceptible.
Also, don’t forget to use the latest technology and the power of social media for your rebranding campaign. Make use of high converting landing pages to use your website like a magnet for your new brand. Foster your brand by systematically strategizing for customer loyalties as well.
Give yourself a pat on the back once finished!