July 11, 2006
How To

How to Effectively Rebrand -- Before & After Looks at 5 Award-Winning Rebranding Efforts

SUMMARY: If you think branding is an all-too-mushy art, consider rebranding. That’s why MarketingSherpa is delighted to bring you an exclusive interview with experts about recent rebranding efforts and their successes based on actual results.

See horrible mistakes as well as real-life stories about what really works from organizations, including:

o Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts

o Baylor University

o Neenah Paper

o Prostate Cancer Foundation

o Cambridge Architecture Mesh

Plus, a link to creative samples of 100 before and after
rebranding efforts.

Rebranding mistakes can occur all too easily because marketers get caught up in visuals and other issues. But rebranding is more than a logo change or bolder images.

If you’re about to embark upon a rebranding effort, here are five really frequent mistakes to avoid:

-> Mistake #1. Rebranding without research.
Current and prospective customers should be front and center when creating solutions, says Anaezi Modu, founder of ReBrand, a source for case studies and programs focusing on rebrands. After all, your customer is the ultimate test. Base your research on your audience, not your product.

“Sometimes, people think erroneously that you have to add pizzazz when it’s not about you and you wanting to make a statement,” Modu says.

-> Mistake #2. Your brand is just your logo.
The brand is more than your logo or corporate colors. Brands encompass everything from customer perception and experience to quality, look and feel, customer care and retail and Web environments.

-> Mistake #3. Navigating without a plan.
Effective rebrands rely on a creative brief to keep everyone focused. Modu suggests including sections for a situation analysis, objectives, target markets, budgets and resources, timeframe, point person and metrics for assessing results.

-> Mistake #4. Not leveraging existing brand equity and goodwill.
Dismissing brand equity when rebranding can alienate your existing customers, while unnecessary changes can damage a brand’s perception. Sometimes a small evolution -- what Modu calls a “new coat of paint” -- is all that’s needed to rejuvenate a brand.

-> Mistake #5. Clinging to history.
Assumptions made when your brand was established might not be true anymore. Analyze changes in target markets when exploring opportunities for brand expansion or repositioning.

ReBrand, the Center for Design & Business at Rhode Island School of Design and partners recently finished their second annual rebranding awards. All of the awards were based on results and real solutions to rebranding challenges. The judges reviewed every entry and came up with winners based on actual real-life results from 100 major brands.

We’ve singled out five rebranding challenges and the resulting efforts. (See link to before and after creative samples below.)

Four Seasons: Subtle rebranding

Like successful Web site revamps, you don’t have to completely overhaul your brand image to achieve a successful rebrand. Example: The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts went with subtle moves -- such as increasing the size and quality of the images shown on the site and creating a more organized contact page -- to better connect with customers.

“They stayed within the defined brand feel and very subtly improved the usability,” says Modu. “At times, people are so busy trying to fix the grandiose things. It’s really the very small, usable, tactical changes that matter.”

Result: Usability research conducted after the redesign revealed that the new site was preferred by 90% of users.

Baylor University: Revamping an old campaign

Referring to your market competitors can be a dangerous thing, but it can be done if you really know your audience. When the marketing folks at Baylor University embarked on their new integrated marketing campaign, they took the chancy route.

“They know what would resonate with their market,” Modu explains. “It focuses on the students … and it compares them.”

Example: One student photographed says, “I got calls from UNC, Emory and George Washington. But I found my calling at Baylor.” Another says, “I looked at Rice and William & Mary. But I found myself at Baylor.”

The team also used larger graphic images than in previous brochures to showcase the virtues of the university and introduced prospective students to the school through these images of current students to whom they could most likely relate.

Result: The number of applications for the freshman class in August 2005 represented a 300% increase from the previous year. The class was the largest in school history and posted the highest-ever SAT score.

Neenah Paper: Umbrella rebrand

Because of a changing marketplace, Neenah Paper realized that its marketplace was changing and that it needed to rebrand its products to more effectively market to a wider audience. The old package styles highlighted individual brands, such as Environment and Classic Laid, instead of the Neenah name. As a result, the company was missing out on potential cross-selling opportunities.

In their newly designed packaging, the Neenah name is more prominently displayed (at the top in larger letters) on each product line, enabling consumers to realize that connection among the products and perhaps be more likely to choose an additional product.

Result: In one year, sales of Neenah’s Environment product line increased 30%.

“The imagery is strong, cleaner, and there is uniformity across the board,” says Modu. “They were able to clarify what the different lines offered.”

Prostate Cancer Foundation. Renaming a brand

Increasing its prominence was the main reason for the Prostate Cancer Foundation’s makeover, which included an overhaul of the look of its promotional materials, as well as a name change from the Association for the Cure of Cancer of the Prostate.

The effort also included a new logo and accompanying printed materials as well as a redesigned Web site. The new site and marketing materials include photos that show men of various ages and races (reflecting those who are typically stricken with the disease).

Result: Within the last year, the foundation increased its donor base 35%. And larger donors noted that the newly designed marketing materials made a strong influence on their decision to donate.

The name change worked, Modu says, because “you spend a lot less time and energy trying to explain what you are if you are as direct as possible with the name.”

Cambridge Architecture Mesh: Demographic-focused rebrand

Cambridge Architecture Mesh certainly took a chance by creating a bold and lively rebranding campaign that signifies the opposite of its less-than-glamorous product: industrial woven wire.

The goal was to better appeal to a design-intense architectural market who feel passionate about their product as the company expanded their industrial woven wire into the rapidly-growing and design-savvy architectural and interior design markets. (Note: This approach might backfire for an engineering audience just wanting the facts.)

The company replaced plain brochures with colorful, easier-to-read materials that combine images of the wire with a vibrant red background. The rebranding effort also included business cards and a redesigned Web site.

Result: Information and sample requests increased over 500%. “They have competitors, but this one is taking the lead because they get it -- they get the application, they get the target audience,” Modu says. “This is very design oriented.”

Useful links related to this article:

Creative samples from successful rebrands

Full List of 2006 ReBrand Winners and Before & After Images


Sponsor: Get $300.00 off MarketingSherpa B-to-B Summit:
Network with your peers in Boston, Oct. 23-24,
or San Fran, Nov. 13-14:

Case studies from:
B & B Electronics
Everon Technology Services

Learn more:
Or call 877-895-1717

Improve Your Marketing

Join our thousands of weekly case study readers.

Enter your email below to receive MarketingSherpa news, updates, and promotions:

Note: Already a subscriber? Want to add a subscription?
Click Here to Manage Subscriptions