If you are reading our blog, you’re more than likely a part of the service economy; an economy of increasing economic importance in recent years. An economy, which in the US accounted for 78.9% of GDP in 2015*. The numbers are similar in the UK.
All businesses, service focused or not, are in a continual state of reflection as to how they are performing, and at various times will reach points where they consider what role their brand is playing in this performance. Many businesses, dissatisfied by what they see, leap to/or are sold on the idea that their brand is a root cause.
We hear things like:
“We’re not different enough from competitors.”
“Our market share is dipping.”
“Our people can’t explain how we are different to clients.”
“Our website looks old and tired.”
“Upstarts are disrupting our market.”
“We’re losing our good people to the competition!”
Any and all of these are good prompts to take a look at your brand, but not necessarily reasons to change it.
Indeed, a recent Financial Times article suggested that many rebranding projects delivered little or no positive financial impact to the performance of the business.
More starkly, consider whether, instead of being a progressive move, tearing up the brand blueprints is actually a step backwards. For instance, replacing heritage and longevity with something new and shiny might feel exciting - to you - but are you sacrificing the recognition and brand capital that has been accrued over many years of hard work? This risk is particularly true for businesses whose rebrand involves a wholesale name-change (which not every rebrand must, it has to be said).
We work with many service-led businesses and see how many often have strong market propositions and brands but are actually just poor at bringing these to life and actually demonstrating their difference to clients and employees alike. Seems contradictory for a service-led organisation, doesn’t it?
However, this is a very common problem across brands where people are delivering the brand experiences on behalf of the company. A principal problem being that people are inherently individual, and typically flawed or obstinate, or just poorly motivated. This flies in the face of a company’s brand aspirations of consistency and continual delight in the service of clients. Perhaps artificial intelligence and robots will help, but until they do we’d like you to consider this...
Is a rebrand right for you?
Of course sometimes a rebrand can be the best solution to a strategic problem, or even just a logistical necessity. For example, two professional services firms going through a merger may very well require a newly minted identity to better present the shared vision and values of the combined business. Alternatively, if there is a significant change in a business’s corporate or commercial strategy - such as a growth business gearing up for an IPO - a rebrand can provide much needed rejuvenation and energy.
For many, though, there is a big BUT. Rebranding is expensive.
Just picture for a second all the meetings you would have to attend (and lost ‘billable hours’), the wasted brochures, letterheads, business cards all headed for the bin, and the signage! Oh, the expensive signage torn from the walls only to end up in a dumpster.
Then think about the resources and hours it will take to firstly agree on the new brand, let alone replace the old one.
Now ask yourself if you really believe whether clients, or indeed employees, will actually notice...
An alternative view: Seize the moment
Let’s assume that we’ve looked at your proposition into your markets, and the audiences you’re appealing to. Let’s agree that the existing proposition is still timely, relevant and in theory beneficial to these people.
So, perhaps what’s actually not working is how your existing brand is delivered…
Google and Accenture frequently refer to ‘moments’ as the key interactions that clients have with brands. For instance: your website when prospects are researching their options for a service; or your first meeting; or how about when something goes wrong and expectations are for you to fix it. These are just a few of those moments.
We consult on identifying these moments, considering their importance to the client, and how you might do them differently, and better, leaving clients with a more positive view of your brand. The effort and resources this approach takes is far less disruptive and costly than a root and branch rebrand.
Indeed, even if you did do the latter, you’re still left with the same problem. Activation.
Think about it.
*Source: World Bank national accounts data, OECD national accounts data files, 2017, https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/.