There are many reasons why a company might need to rebrand its business, and while they are all valid the most pressing—and challenging—is surely when you need to repair a damaged brand reputation.
But how does a brand reputation get damaged in the first place, and isn’t it better to leave it to recover in its own time? These are all questions companies ask before tackling a rebranding project, and the answers depend on a variety of factors.
How a Brand Gets Damaged
While it’s obvious that a brand reputation can be damaged in multiple different ways and with varying degrees of fallout, some situations are more likely to arise than others. In the small to medium-sized enterprise environment, few companies are likely to be hit with a huge scandal that destroys their brand on global scale. Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer is an exception, since his local dental practice went down the tubes after he killed Zimbabwe’s Cecil the Lion recently.
It’s much more common for a brand to sustain reputation damage caused by:
- Poor online reviews. In the world of the Internet, online reviews are essential to the survival of companies. And while they don’t all have to be positive, when the bad reviews begin to outweigh the good ones it becomes problematic.
- Product problems, such as faulty equipment. You might be able to get away with the occasional inferior product, but if your quality assurance practices aren’t up to scratch the word will spread. Sooner or later, your clients will begin talking to each other and it will become known that you have product failures. Once those get attached to your brand, it’s hard to shake off the negative perceptions in the future.
- Customer service complaints. Disinterested staff can be the downfall of the most highly-trained and HR-focused company. Customer service failure is one of the primary reasons for the well-developed “mystery shopper” industry, which sends investigators into stores for the sole purpose of evaluating the staff’s performance. Over-promising and under-delivering can give your client service a bad name that’s difficult to overcome.
- Fragmented focus, which leads to weak or diluted branding. This typically happens to companies who don’t “stick to the knitting” and who try to diversify too far, too fast. If all your product lines fall within a single brand category, you’re probably ok. But if not, then you’re trying to promote multiple brand categories simultaneously and you could be stretching your company’s resources rather thin.
Whether you’ve sustained damage to your personal or your company’s brand reputation, if it’s causing sales to drop then a rebranding might well be the best solution to your problem.
Reaping the Consequences
So what difference does it make if your brand reputation is damaged, you might be wondering? Actually, lots. First off, very few things can be “swept under the rug” as it were these days. With the arrival of the Internet and social media, it’s far too easy for the word to spread like wildfire. Whether your target audience is 300-strong or 30,000, it’s possible to shape public opinion through the delivery of information about you and your business. That can result in:
- The loss of sales
- Reduced business confidence from partners and suppliers
- Unhappy employees, and
- Losing clients to your competitors.
The consequences of any of these could be a reduction in your business’s viability, resulting in closure and / or bankruptcy.
Realizing Rebranding Benefits
Rebranding gives your damaged reputation a clean, fresh start. However, it enables you to do various other things, too:
- Repositioning: Rebranding makes it possible to completely change the way your clients think of and view your company.
- Renaming: If you have loyal clients that you want to keep, but need to get rid of your old, tarnished image, rebranding gives you the perfect chance to change the name of your company or products to attract new customers.
- Repricing: If you’ve previously operated as a discount vendor or service provider, for example, now is a good time to change your pricing policies.
- Revisiting your target market: When you’re changing everything about the way you do business, why not research and target a new audience at the same time with your revised products and marketing?
- Repacking: Rebranding goes hand-in-hand with revised logo, website and other design elements, so it’s a good time to rethink your packaging too.
- Restructuring: If you need to restructure your staff team or your organizational hierarchy, a rebrand gives you a good reason to do so.
Rebranding is a new beginning, a chance to revisit your offering, improve your services and look for a competitive advantage for your new company that differentiates you—not only from other players in your market but from your old brand personality too. And a fresh start is like a second chance – we all deserve one sometimes.