The pros and cons of rebranding

Have you ever had to rebrand your company, toss out a big idea or do other important work to help your company grow?

Then you know that it is tough.

Other companies have struggled through. For instance, for most of its history since being founded in 1963, Weight Watchers primary service has been helping clients lose weight. Dieters meet up, get weighed, and discuss their successes and failures in succeeding at the program.

Some have suggested that given that history, it seems a no-brainer that Weight Watchers was eager to rebrand itself as WW.

This is another case analysis from the trenches that illustrates how some great ideas work out and others fail miserably – brand equity is destroyed much faster than it can ever be built.

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1. SWOT analysis helps

Doing a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of your company should reveal a few interesting things to any manager. It could tell you where there are opportunities to build on your strengths or better exploit your advantages. Or, it could show weaknesses that need fixing.

In our case, we had established a brand called DrKPI (Key Performance Indicators), meaning our core business had less to do with our business’ original focus on Cyber Threat Reduction and Prevention (CyTRAP Labs GmbH). All important to know when you want to grow a company or strengthen a brand.

As the set of slides below illustrates, you need to analyse what your brand or corporate name stands for. It requires that your team talks it through. And yes, there will be some disagreements, tears, frustration, and anger.

Everybody wants to focus on brand building, but if you fail the exercise, you will have wasted a lot of time and money. Weight Watchers is an example where it would have been much easier if the company had stuck to its original name instead of changing it to WW.

DrKPI GmbH führt qualitative und quantitative Analysen durch.

Wir optimieren Unternehmen in den Bereichen Unternehmens-kommunikation, Digital- und Content-Marketing sowie Compliance, Datenschutz und Datensicherheit.

Darüber hinaus bietet DrKPI Schulungen, Kurse und Audits.

DrKPI GmbH conducts qualitative and quantitative analyses.

We optimise companies in the areas of Corporate Communications, Digital- and Content-Marketing, as well as Compliance, Data Protection, and Data Security.

In addition, DrKPI offers Training, Seminars, and Audits.

The above was one attempt to get it right. Below you see the next, just to show how tough a time we had.

Wir optimieren Unternehmen in den Bereichen Unternehmens-kommunikation, Digital-, Content- und Impact-Marketing sowie Compliance, Datenschutz und Datensicherheit.

DrKPI GmbH analysiert inwiefern eine definierbare und messbare Wirkung erzielt wurde.

Darüber hinaus bietet DrKPI Schulungen, Kurse und Audits.

We optimise companies in the areas of Corporate Communications, Digital-, Content- and Impact-Marketing, as well as Compliance, Data Protection, and Data Security.

DrKPI GmbH analyses the extent to which a definable and measurable effect has been achieved.

In addition, DrKPI offers Training, Seminars, and Audits.

This was our second attempt, and still, the elevator pitch is not as good as it must be. More work is needed.

Rebranding

Jean Nidetch founded Weight Watchers, in 1963. In 2018, the company rebranded as WW, but it was a much-mocked effort.

Rebranding is a costly exercise. Using US data, researchers checked 200 rebranding announcements across 101 industries. They reported in their paper that news of a rebrand was linked to an average 2.46% rise in stock prices. Unfortunately, in more than 40% of the cases investigated, the announcements were followed by “negative abnormal returns”.

Hence, we decided to stick with DrKPI. Or in a more colloquial but succinct way, Pilita Clark points out:

“… any company that sticks to a name that is meaningful, legible and simple will always have my vote.”

So the brand stays. Conveying succinctly what we do – research, digital marketing, social media marketing, GDPR and compliance work – is a must. Of course, our own analysis tool helps, but it is not centre stage in our message, just added value for clients.

Administration needs streamlining

Figuring out that we did not want to rebrand, but needed to change our elevator pitch is a first important step. Additional organisation was needed to assure that we would grow while making a sizeable profit.

So we decided to improve our bottom line. This required that we submit tenders that are built upon much better project management and cost accounting than we had used until now. In turn, this would empower the project manager to keep abreast of progress in both tasks and costs.

Of course, there are tons of tools to choose from. Our team decided on one, but we are still trying to get our head around the online office suite from Zoho. Even signing up requires patience… the process is not that smooth. Moreover, the promised 30-day trial fails if you need to test it with colleagues. I was definitely not amused…

Even though the company provides support, the staff seems to forget that the UK is not in the same time zone as the rest of Europe. They call after work hours or else during lunch. After trying twice they do not try a third time at the time slot suggested. What a case of wasted resources on their end, and a cumbersome experience for any client trying to figure things out.

Zoho is a web-based online office suite. We use Projects and Invoice to streamline things. But it is not easy...



Zoho is a web-based online office suite. We use Projects and Invoice to streamline things, but it’s easier said than done.

But in the larger scheme of things… these difficulties are manageable.

Website pruning or reform is needed

Incidentally we discovered that we needed to restructure or at least archive some of our webpages. In addition to this site, we have far too many sites, such as http://university.commetrics.com.

When you visit http://drkpi.com, the design differs and visitors do not feel they have a unified experience across sections of the site. And now we are in midst of this work… and there is still sooooo much to do.

But our readers will be the first to know when exciting new things happen that improve your user experience and, most importantly, give you a chance to benchmark your marketing efforts using our tools.

What is your opinion?

When Jean Nidetch founded her company, she chose the name Weight Watchers, but the company rebranded as WW 45 years later. An unfortunate choice, because pronouncing the two letters takes twice as long as the old name does. Moreover, WW is widely understood to mean World War.

The corporate makeover is almost always baffling. This is evidenced by a number of rebranding announcements in the past couple of years including Weight Watchers, Dunkin’ Donuts, and even Pizza Hut, which tried to rebrand itself as ‘The Hut’ in an apparent attempt to appeal to a younger demographic. The rebrand got cancelled before it went live.

We knew that the only thing a rebrand absolutely guarantees is that money will be spent, but the result of the rebrand must always lead to an improved bottom line.

In our case, we had neither a longstanding brand name nor logo, but we needed to improve our focus. And the rebranding was the easy part that followed a long, painful process completed ahead of the launch. Nor did we want to destroy the brand equity we had already built.

Safeguarding brand equity

The why, when, and how of effective rebranding means that brand equity must be protected. Otherwise, the rebuilding is costly.

According to David A. Aaker, brand equity is like a chest of drawers with the following:

  1. Awareness of the brand, meaning our target audience knows about our brand – or not.
  2. Associations with, and beliefs about the brand (e.g., associating the brand with sustainability).
  3. Attitude towards the brand (i.e. positive, negative or no opinion).

And while a rebrand may or may not help financially, the second possibility was not an option for us. Time will tell and yes, our readers will be the first to see the results here in a few weeks.

What do you think?

  • Do you have an example where rebranding or changing a logo was a success with customers?
  • Have you ever gone through a rebranding exercise at your job. How would you rate it, success or flop?
  • Do you have an example of an appalling rebranding announcement? Please let us know below.

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Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Urs E. Gattiker

Professor Urs E. Gattiker, Ph.D., is CEO of CyTRAP Labs that provides smart data, training and solutions to optimize content strategy, increase reach, strengthen your brand and secure GDPR compliance). He also is COO of iVAULT that provides multi-purpose blockchain solutions, safeguarding supply chains against fraud and counterfeit (see his books).

2 thoughts on “The pros and cons of rebranding

  • 14. June 2019 at 16:37
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    Rebranding is also significantly impacted by how companies manage the change internally. Employees are a key part of the success not only for their individual contribution but if they don’t buy in to the new brand, their interactions with external stakeholders, the communities in which they live and of course customers will negatively affect the change process. Companies with a good level of employee engagement as a rule, will find the rebranding process easier.

    Reply
    • 14. June 2019 at 16:55
      Permalink

      Dear Bryan
      Thanks so much for your comment. Two quotes come to mind:

      However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results. — Sir Winston Churchill

      Culture eats strategy for breakfast. — Peter F. Drucker

      So you point out that employees are the key. If they do not know what the brand stands for, how can they follow the mantra “We provide customer service beyond the usual lip service.”
      In other words, culture eats your brand strategy for breakfast and can make sure your rebranding efforts fail miserably.

      In our case, the employee engagement level is just fine but it also means that many things have to be clarified. Most interesting is that during this process, I learnt, what was clear for me, fails to convince many other people. Hence, back to the drawing board.

      Stay tuned, we are working on it… and the “simple rebranding” exercise has resulted in a major overhaul of our processes – streamlining things, getting better control while getting rid of unnecessary “keep peole busy” work.

      Have a great weekend.
      Cordially
      Urs

      Reply

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