Rebranding for style AND substance

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Rebranding takes more than just a new look
Rebranding takes more than just a new look

When rebranding, take care not to slap a sparkling new label on a tiresome old product.

Changing the look of your brand can be exciting and invigorating—and can help change the way the market views your product. The problem is, rebranding doesn't start and end with just a look.

Consider the University of Maryland Terrapins, a college football team that recently attracted national attention by switching to new uniforms, sporting matching helmets and cleats whose vivid colors were modeled on the state flag.

The Terps had the right idea: to cultivate a unique and powerful look that exuded Turtle (and state) pride on the field. Unfortunately, the team's new look didn't help win games. When the losses began to mount, the Terps soon discovered they were no longer a topic of favorable discussion.

When rebranding your product, there are certain outcomes you'll want to improve. You'll want an upgrade in sales metrics, an increase in brand recognition and prevalence in the marketplace. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Perfect your image. The look of your brand will get the ball rolling, but it's not everything. Be sure to give the concept stopping power, but be prepared to back it up with the other brand attributes. 
  2. Embrace change. In a successful rebranding effort, change is inevitable. You'll have to make sure that you and your team are ready to let go of things that might have worked well in the past but are holding you back now. As your brand changes, some of your goals and tactics—and even your teammates—will change as well.
  3. Have a game plan. Take time before the launch of your new campaign to plan each step, each tactic and each move you will need to execute. 
  4. Do your research. Relearn your market. Investigate your competitors, your audience, your product. The more you know, the better position you will be in to move forward with your rebranding effort.
  5. Be clear. Don't let there be any reason to doubt why your brand is the best option on the market. This means keeping your message in its most basic and understandable form for your audience. Don't lose your audience in convoluted messaging.

Rebranding anything—whether a college football team or a biotech brand—requires dexterity, appropriate execution and, perhaps most important, substance as well as style. So, suit up, brand managers. It's game time.

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