Is Your Brand Going Through an Identity Crisis? 5 Signs It’s Time To Rebrand

When you first started your business, you probably had other things on your mind besides sitting down with a pen and paper and defining what your brand means and what it stands for. If you’re like most people, branding, in general, was likely at the bottom of your priority list.

But whether you’ve DIY-ed your brand or you’ve hired a pro designer, there always comes the point when you realize that your brand is just not working for you anymore.

That’s the circle of a brand’s life.

Your brand is not a theory — it is a living being present in everything you do, no matter if you purposefully defined the way it looks and behaves or if it just happened. Like any living organism, your brand grows, evolves, or fades away. And when that happens, it needs to go through the rebranding process.

Are you unhappy with your brand identity and considering changing it? Learn what the most common reasons for rebranding are and how to prepare for such an important step.

Why do businesses rebrand?

Have you ever wondered if there are ways to tell if rebranding is a good idea for your business? Or why would a company want to rebrand in the first place? And is there a list of reasons to help you determine if it’s a good time for such a step?

The short answer is, yes, there are.

The longer answer?

Yes, again, but there’s more to consider before taking the plunge. Which is why I will share the 5 most common reasons why my clients choose a complete brand overhaul and my tips on what to focus on if you deal with the same struggles. Read below to understand the challenges of the rebranding process.

Reason #1: Your name has changed

👉 Symptoms: 

  • Your company merged
  • Your company had some bad press
  • The name is outdated or doesn’t convey your mission anymore

👉 When to look for professional help?

A rebrand doesn’t require a name change, but a name change usually means a rebrand. Read that again.

It makes sense; sometimes, your name is still on point while the visuals and messaging need an update. But if you are changing your brand’s name, chances are, you will also need a new logo, visuals, and probably a new brand messaging.

And in a few rare cases, a rebrand might be the only way to save the company.

Example:
For example, when the Target brand was born back in 1962, it wasn’t a new company. In fact, it was a big rebrand that included renaming from the original Dayton’s – one of the largest discount retail stores in the United States of America. And while one of the largest companies, the brand itself was blending in with other department stores such as Kresge’s (later K-mart) or Walmart.


The rebrand (including brand name and early days of the visuals you know) happened out of the need to bring in customers interested more than discounts, customers who appreciate the value of customer’s experience.

That’s how the name itself came to be, as it represents “the marksman’s goal to hit the center bulls-eye by providing quality goods, services, commitment to the community, price, value, and overall experience.

The target symbol, one of the most recognized logos of all time, was a clever way to use symbolism in branding. And they perfected the visuals by simplifying the logo even more in the next years.

Image source: LogoMyWay

Reason #2:
Your brand is confusing or even distracting

👉 Symptoms: 

  • You have a hard time explaining to people what your brand is and why they should care
  • Your brand doesn’t connect with your customers the way you would want
  • You have minimal knowledge of your audience and their pain points
  • People are not buying your products or services
  • Your visuals are all over the place

👉 When to look for professional help?

Your brand no longer reflects your brand vision.

The importance of brand consistency cannot be stressed enough. Your message travels through emails, presentations, phone calls, networking events, ads, social media—you name it.

It is just as important for small businesses to maintain a consistent brand message for large companies.

Why?
It creates
clarity and memory.

Whether it’s the person who answers the phone, posts pictures on Instagram, or represents the company in networking events, everyone in your business tells your brand story in every piece of communication.

Keeping a brand message and vision focused over time is challenging – especially for large organizations that have many stakeholders with competing interests. Whether the result of unchecked growth or even mismanagement, a lack of brand focus poses serious risks to your brand’s effectiveness.

When rebranding to accelerate growth, you don’t have to leave all of your old brand behind. Sure, there may be weaknesses in your brand, but there are just as many strengths you’ll want to continue to leverage moving forward.

Unfocused brands often resort to diversifying their offerings or outright copying the competition.

You can recognize an unfocused brand by weak or undefined value propositions and a general lack of relevance.

The more complex your brand, the harder it is for customers to understand. If your brand’s complexity is making your audience’s eyes glaze over, it’s probably time to take a step back to simplify and focus. And a rebrand is the only way to get this type of perspective.

Example:
In 2015, Google stunned the tech world when it announced a surprise restructuring of the company. Founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page formed a new parent company, called Alphabet, with the core Google brand falling under its umbrella.

But why?

The company had grown considerably since it was founded in 1998 and had acquired over 200 companies such as YouTube, Motorola Mobility, Waze, and Fitbit. It had also acquired businesses unrelated to its Internet search engine, such as health research firm Calico. By the mid-2010s, it was clear that Google was becoming too big. 

The solution? A new company.

The new slimmed-down Google became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alphabet, alongside others previously under the Google umbrella. According to CEO Larry Page, the new structure allowed more independence and accountability. Google could now focus on innovation within its core niches by spinning off unrelated businesses.

Image: The Street

Reason #3:
You feel embarrassed to share your brand

👉 Symptoms:

  • Your brand looks cheap or unprofessional compared to competitors
  • You DIY-ed the visuals without a plan
  • Your brand is simply outdated

👉 When to look for professional help?

I hear this reason a lot during the Discovery calls with new potential clients. If you cringe a little when you reach for your business card, or if sharing your website comes with a disclaimer about needing to be updated, it’s probably time for a rebrand.

The reason why you may feel a bit tentative about your current branding is probably that you simply outgrew it. And that’s good! It means you’ve progressed, become better, and you know your business deserves more.

After all, if you’re not feeling confident about your brand, it’s likely others in your organization are embarrassed as well, and this can be a major drag on both external promotion and internal morale.

One of my clients had the same branding for over 12 years – and I remember her telling me on our first call together – “Honestly, I’m just so ashamed of my brand that I was even too nervous to contact you!”

Can you imagine that? Feeling stuck with a misaligned brand for that long and not reaching out to someone to make a change?

I don’t want you to wait this long. There’s no shame in outgrowing your brand.

Today’s online business landscape is rapidly evolving, and you need to keep up with trends to maintain credibility in your niche.

If you’ve had the same branding for decades or simply feel embarrassed to share it with others, it sounds like a time to explore a new direction.

Example:
CVS once had an outdated brand that felt stale and even unfriendly. A new take on “health first” with a new heart icon allowed for a fresh facelift to the brand that helped encompass their values while appealing to more people in their audience. 

By putting the focus on “health” rather than on “pharmacy,” consumers would associate the company with more of a positive emotions connected to being healthy rather than sick (and picking up medication from a pharmacy).

Image: Ignyte

Reason #4:
Your brand looks like everyone else’s

👉 Symptoms:

  • You don’t think there’s anything unique
  • People confuse your brand for a competitor

👉 When to look for professional help?

Another way to know when to rebrand is when your brand starts to look like every other brand in your industry.

Branding is all about competitive differentiation. But you’d be surprised how many companies cannot communicate—or even identify—their key differentiators.

Sales and business growth can be extremely challenging when you don’t have clearly articulated differentiators. Your employees and your customers must understand why your brand is superior to the competition.

If you’re looking like or speaking like everyone else in your industry, it could be time for a change. You can also read more about how to define what’s unique about your brand.

Example:
Take my client Ken as an example. His company called Tax Recovery helps Canadian citizens uncover overlooked tax credits and benefits by analyzing up to 10 years of their past taxes. But guess what, so does other Canadian companies with very similar names AND very similar visual identities. 

It seems like most of his competitors (and himself before he approached me) use the typical most basic version of a maple leaf as the brand icon, and red and white color scheme. Both of these choices clearly serve one purpose – to evoke government website.

And while it does help them build some immediate credibility and evokes trust (by deceiving the audience), it also confuses the hell out of the visitor. Just imagine 5+ companies doing the same thing, all named using keywords such as tax recovery/review, and all sporting the exact same icon and colors…

That’s why we wanted to build a brand that stands out from this “samey samey” crowd, and evokes trust in a different way. By showing the audience our company is all about personal approach, cares about the people not just the numbers, and is dedicated to help their customers bring their hard earned money back into their hands.

Reason #5:
Your brand positioning has changed

👉 Symptoms:

  • Your mission and vision changed drastically
  • You changed your niche/industry
  • You want to target a new audience
  • You want to change your offer/price significantly

👉 When to look for professional help?

You and your business evolve. It’s inevitable. 

Your business goals, vision, values, offerings, and even your audience may change over time, and while that’s natural, you may need to go through a proper rebranding because of that.

Example:
I had a client known for teaching yoga and manifestation but also offered consulting services and business coaching on the side. They wanted to pivot to embrace this new niche and target higher-paying customers. 

She has a financial background, and so while this new direction made sense for her, it looked like out of a blue change to her old audience. Her old brand was very colorful, fun, and playful, but it’s clear that she had outgrown this look and needed to rebrand into something more sophisticated, elevated, and professional-looking. Something that showed her expertise and evoked a money-making mindset.

Because let’s be honest about one thing: Branding is all about customer perception. The value of your offerings is directly connected to how your audience sees you and how you present yourself to them. Rebranding gives you the power to define your offerings’ value by guiding the direction of your customer perception.

It also allows you to raise prices.

Your Next Steps

Did any of these 5 signs resonate with you? Then you know in your heart that it’s time to invest in a rebrand!

Because by not rebranding your business right now, believe it or not, you may be actually hurting it.

Your business is a reflection of you, and if you continually operate from a place of “brand shame,” your prospects will feel it because you’re unknowingly putting out that energy when you speak with them.

Do you need help with rebranding your business?
Hop on a
discovery call with me to get started!

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Is Your Brand Going Through an Identity Crisis? 5 Signs It’s Time To Rebrand

Zuzana Zapletal

Brand Strategist, Creative Designer & Recovering Perfectionist on a mission to help you become more confident about your brand.

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