How to rebrand your company's image the right way

Some strategies to ensure the change doesn't backfire

Office workers laughing during a meeting

(Thomas Barwick/Iconica/Getty)

Get employees involved

“The starting point for us was to seamlessly transition from ING Direct to Tangerine Bank with as little disruption to our customers and to the business as possible. The internal involvement was super important, and we spent an inordinate amount of time thinking and planning for that because we knew that unless employees could get behind it and thought it was authentic, it wouldn’t translate well externally. We ensured there were different ways for employees to get involved and make their voices heard. We created a section on our site where we would provide some transparency on the process in terms of what we were doing, how things were progressing, challenges we were having and some things we wanted employees to weigh in on. I think employees felt like we tried to be as transparent as possible on the process.” 

Andrew Zimakas, chief marketing officer, Tangerine Bank, Toronto

Know what your brand is worth

“A mistake entrepreneurs can make is thinking their brand isn’t perceived the way they want it to be, and therefore they need to scrap the brand. They need to be aware of what their brand equity is and whether their brand has a certain cachet. It’s costly to establish a new brand image, but losing the one they already have could be costlier. If they don’t understand the image customers have of their particular brand, they’re more likely to launch into a rebrand that could end up losing the customers they already have. Then they have to try to regain all those customers. It’s much more expensive to get a customer back than to just try to maintain those customers in the first place.”

Jacob Brower, assistant marketing professor, Queen’s School of Business, Kingston, Ont.

Talk with customers

“It’s very important to first understand what customers think about your brand right now. Then, if you want to change it, how much would customers allow you to change it. A brand is something you create in the minds of customers. When you’re changing it, you have to co-create it with customers. It’s a good idea to engage them in a rebrand, use their feedback and then push them in the direction you want them to go. For small- and medium-size businesses, it might be easier, because they can actually have conversations with customers. Smaller businesses have an advantage of actually knowing their customers much better or, in most cases, knowing them personally. Give customers the feeling that you’re taking them along with you in this process.”

Saurabh Mishra, associate marketing professor, McGill University, Montreal 

Gain consensus

“A company needs to determine where they want to be in the future and how to make that happen. The first thing they need to do is gather the right stakeholders to plan that out. Generally, that includes senior leadership from different departments and sometimes past and present clients, government, media, community leaders, the general public, the board of directors and shareholders. It all depends on scope. But a brand is never going to be determined by a small group of people or an individual. A mistake that organizations make when they rebrand is that key decision-makers may not be aligned with where the brand is going, so they may not have the proper wherewithal or the tools or the proper messaging to support it. If they can’t support it, there’s going to be a fracture in its delivery.”

Dean Martin, creative director of branding and design, Cundari, Toronto

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