Is it time for a brand update?

Lynn Manternach/Tree Full of Owls

When was the last time you took a serious look at your brand? Do you wonder if it’s time for an update?

Every company needs to re-assess its situation periodically to thrive in a constantly changing marketplace.

The most common reasons to reassess a company’s brand include:

–Changing market demand
–Need to differentiate from competitors
–New product/service offerings
–Company mergers, acquisitions or reorganizations
–Reputational concerns

Reassessing the brand allows companies to re-evaluate their core offerings, target audiences, message strategies and service delivery options.

Consumers are more mobile and fickle than ever. When you combine that with the fiscal restraint consumers are showing across the board, the stakes are even higher. Brands need a clear understanding of their differentiators and advantages from the perspective of consumers, and they have to communicate them effectively.

Any brand adjustment is a big deal, and should be treated as such. As with most complicated processes, there are lots of mistakes you can make along the way. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

Your brand is more than your logo, stationery or corporate colors. Your brand is your promise to your consumer, it’s your reputation. It’s about the experience, and how your customers feel about that experience. Your logo is the most visible representation of your brand and everything it stands for, but your brand is much larger than your logo and graphic look.

Consider the perceptions of your customer. It’s all about the customer, so including the voice of the customer in your rebranding efforts is critical. Use formal or informal research to determine how you are perceived, who your customers see as your competitors and how you compare to those competitors on the criteria that really matter. Why do your customers choose to do business with you over the other options? As you reassess and reposition your brand, make sure it stays relevant to those who matter most.

Your employees are critical to your brand. Your company’s brand starts inside your company. Top managers need to clearly understand the business strategy and how the brand is to be positioned. But in most companies, that brand is communicated primarily through the actions and words of the company’s employees. Take the time to help every employee, regardless of position or degree of customer contact, understand what the brand stands for, and their specific role in communicating the brand or providing the brand experience to customers and potential customers.

Branding is a company-wide effort. While your top marketing guru may be in charge of managing the re-branding effort, a company-wide team effort is necessary for success. Branding may be most visible in your advertising and marketing efforts, but if it’s not integrated across the entire organization, your efforts will fall flat. Employees have to live the brand every day and they have to believe in the brand promise.

Evolution, not revolution. Rebranding well means staying relevant. Assumptions made when the brand was established may no longer hold true. When you look at what needs to change, also look closely at what should not change. Keep what matters most to your customers and to the core of your mission. Look for ways to keep the best of your brand, and evolve the rest.

This is a process, not a project. Revealing the new brand is exciting, and it’s tempting to move on to the next project after the initial applause fades. But the internal launch of the new logo, tagline, brand promise and multi-media campaign is just the start. Next is the internal brand campaign, where you make sure every employee understands the brand and their role in bringing it to life. You also need to assess brand touch points to make sure every brand experience is in line with the brand promise. There is a lot of internal work that has to be done before the external brand launch. And after the external launch, the work continues. The implementation process may require adaptation as the rebrand rolls out.

Every brand needs to be refreshed periodically to remain relevant as markets evolve. It does not have to cost a lot of money. But not paying attention to your brand will cost you a lot of money in the long run.

Lynn Manternach is brand arsonist and president at MindFire Communications Inc. ( in Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities. Contact her at