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Brand Reinvention: How You Know It’s Time to Rebrand

John Boitnott

Feb 3, 2020

It can be hard to know when it's time for a change. After all, rebranding is a risk. It takes research, creativity, and often outside resources. When is it worth the effort? Here are 3 examples to get you started thinking about the pros and cons. Your next step will be to take a hard look at where you stand in your industry and assess whether a rebrand will lead to competitive advantage. Read the tipsheet from Meltwater and Regan on benchmarking your brand to better understand your strengths, weaknesses, and market opportunities.

Whether your company is a long-standing consumer business, B2B enterprise, or nonprofit, there may come a time to reinvent its public image. Knowing when and how to rebrand, however, is a challenge. Wait too long and your brand may already be irrelevant to current audiences. Do it too soon and the new brand image may not resonate with customers or prospects. 

Let’s look at three companies that took the plunge, why they knew it was time, and how they made their rebrands a success.

3 Examples of Rebrands Done Right

1. Reed Elsevier Becomes RELX Group

Brand reinvention RELX

As a B2B organization, Reed Elsevier has always been known as an academic publisher. For nearly 120 years, the company focused on providing research material and content analysis for clients like physicians, scientists, lawyers, and insurers.

However, in 2015, executives decided it was time to rebrand. They changed the name to RELX Group. CEO Erik Engstrom said in The Financial Times that the business “had chosen a ‘shorter and more modern name’ to reflect the company’s transformation to a ‘technology, content, and analytics driven business.’”

The leadership team also simplified the company’s corporate structure and worked on delivering clearer messages about what the business offered stakeholders. The brand soon transformed from stuffy academic organization to cutting-edge media and analytics company. 

2. The ACLU Changes Its Visual Identity

Brand reinvention ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a non-profit organization that has been around since 1920. It’s a public interest law firm dedicated to preserving and defending individual rights and freedom. 

Although its previous visual identity, including its logo, was recognizable and admired, in 2017, ACLU leaders felt it was time for a change. They saw more and more young people using their voices as a call to action and an American society becoming highly diverse. This political and social climate spurred the ACLU to create a bolder look for new generations who could embrace and support what the organization stands for. 

Leaders wanted to avoid alienating older constituents who still looked to the ACLU for its expertise. So, they decided to work with a design agency to help visually maintain some of the previous look while updating it for newer generations of advocates.

3. Domino’s Pizza Becomes Domino’s and Reaps Success

Brand reinvention Dominoes

The rebranding effort went deep and took years. Executives knew they needed a total overhaul, much more than just a new name and logo. They transformed the company completely, from upgrades to the quality of the food, to menu expansion. Domino’s actually took “pizza” out of the name, to be seen as more of a food delivery company than a pizza maker. 

Leaders invested more in technology that appealed to customers and improved operations. They launched new apps and delivery options. The marketing team made visual branding changes to reflect the new focus on good food, service, and value. Domino’s simplified its logo, redesigned stores, and altered the packaging. 

As part of the massive brand rebuild, Domino’s also made a bold move to acknowledge past failures, including pizza quality. The company went as far as making fun of itself in its own national ads to highlight its improvements.

Amazingly, these efforts paid off and the company made a big comeback. Bloomberg reported that Domino’s went from a nine percent share of the market in 2009 to a 15 percent share in 2016.

Lessons Learned

So how do you know if it’s time for your company to rebrand? As we’ve seen, even perennially well-respected organizations, like the ACLU, have found the need to rebrand and connect to new audiences.

One of the best ways to keep track of your brand perception—and your competitors—is to actively listen to your audience on social media. Perhaps your company needs a name or visual change, or dramatic operational improvements. You won’t know unless you’re in tune with your audience. Paying attention to what people say about your company and its products not only gives you insight into their feelings, but reveals areas where improvement is needed. Social listening also helps you learn where your company is facing irrelevance. Knowing these things about your customers, competitors, and industry helps you create a roadmap for what a significant rebranding may look like.

Where does your brand stand within your industry? Read the tipsheet from Meltwater and Regan on benchmarking your brand to better understand your strengths, weaknesses, and market opportunities.