Rebranding: The major challenge (and what to do when you need to do it)

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acoustic dimensions/idibri
The flash page showing the Acoustic Dimensions rebranding to Idibri

What if you only had eight weeks to rebrand?

The headline for the story by Josh Miles in the most recent issue of the SMPS Marketer magazine caught my attention, because it invites several other questions, like:

  • Who would need to do anything like this?
  • Is the name/identity for a business really important?
  • How do you get it right?

First, the reason.

“We just lost a project due in part to our name. We want to rebrand and relaunch our new materials at a tradeshow in 12 weeks, but we need the work to be finished in eight.”

The rebranded business name: Idirbi. The previous name/identity: Acoustic Dimensions. (And when you have a well-established brand/identity, you don’t leave people who might know you by your old name in the lurch — the Acousticdimensions.com website leads to a flash page where the old name lives on in the reference to Acoustic Distinctions in New York, with the rebranded identity/logo applying for the company’s Texas and UK branches.)

While the SMPS article doesn’t explain why a business would lose opportunities because of its name, I can reasonably conceive that if the project is more than “acoustic” in nature, there might be problems (and equally, having a clear “acoustic” focus could be relevant where that is the key element in the decision.)

As for the trade show deadline, it certainly provides a fixed, and specific time-sensitive target (useful as a motivator and call to action). Undoubtedly trade shows and events have value in the increasingly digitized world, bringing businesses and clients together in a tactile environment.

Miles suggests in his article that a full brand relaunch usually takes between six and 18 months, though — so there would undoubtedly need to be extensive co-ordination and urgency to pull the whole thing off in two months.

Is the rebranding necessary and worth the money?

Here, I think we come to the question of necessity and perhaps understanding the question that really needs to be asked: Does the underlying circumstance/culture of the business need to change — or has it changed radically — and a new brand identity really is needed?

Or do you need to make a big change in the underlying character of the business, and the rebranding serves as a catalyst for the change you need to make? And sometimes the answers to these questions indicate urgency, and in these situations, a really fast rebrand could be quite reasonable to implement.

Miles writes:

Half of the reason that rebranding can be so time-consuming is company buy-in. If you hae a culture that’s not able to adapt to change or that likes to second guess its decisions, it will be extremely difficult for you to make fast changes.

In our experience, your ability to make a good decision is not time-dependent. But your commitment to a “no U-turn mentality has the potential to make all the difference in the world.

Is there a sense of urgency? If not, I’d suggest you turn back before you get started.

But if you and your team are prepared to iterate and make decisions quickly, you’ll be off to the races. So put away that rearview mirror, and let’s go!

A rebranding exercise is more than a new name, logo and corporate identity — it reflects a potentially major shift in the business values, relationships, and focus (or it may be a catch-up to changes which have already happened, and leave the existing brand out of alignment with the business itself.)

It’s a big task, and not something to be done lightly. But sometimes it is necessary, and when done right, a solid rebranding can certainly be the right thing to do.

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