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Is It Time to Refresh? By Itani & Company’s Maya Itani

Why are so many companies turning to rebranding as a way to survive 2020? asks Maya Itani, managing director, Itani & Company Marketing Consultants.

The pandemic brought on an intense desire to refresh. People were redesigning their homes, editing their wardrobes, and brushing up on their cooking skill. For business owners, the coronavirus lockdown also gave them time to take a hard look at their brands, and many of them decided they needed a refresh, too.

At Itani & Company, we have seen an influx of clients inquiring about rebranding over the last few months. Businesses that have used the same visual elements for years are now treating rebranding with urgency in 2020, and it is a trend that follows so many others in this bizarre year. Now that we have had more time to take a breath, we begin to see the gaps in both our home life and businesses.

For the latter, rebranding is a topic that is often considered but generally deprioritized when compared with pressing day to day operational matters. The lockdown earlier this year forced so many businesses to temporarily shut their doors, giving their owners an incredible amount of stress but also much needed time to assess the status quo. And many of them did not like what they saw.

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While Covid-19 has forced many businesses to close, the ones that remain are feeling the intense heat of competition, and rejuvenated branding is a tool that some are choosing to brandish to solidify their place in the market.  This particularly applies to older companies that may never have given a second thought to the importance of their branding, but now realize how stark the differences are between their brand and those of newer, trendier competitors.

But when is it the right time to rebrand? The project is no easy feat, particularly for larger businesses that have physical outlets and numerous types of assets. Rolling out a rebranding successfully is like a beautiful, coordinated ballet that takes precision, planning, and patience. When consulting with our clients, I generally recommend re-branding as a priority in the following three scenarios:

The company has outgrown its current branding

This is the most common of all the scenarios, particularly for SMEs. When businesses are in their infancy, many owners race through the branding process in order to set things up more quickly or to cut costs. Within a few years, these rushed logos can look dated or even childish, which can cast doubt over the quality of the products or services. In these cases, we always recommend that the company not only undergo a visual rebranding but also take the time to conduct a strategic exercise to build a more solid foundation for the brand.

The branding no longer reflects the company’s products or services

This situation applies most often when a company’s name is quite literal. For example, we were approached by a company whose brand included the word “coffee”, as that was the first product that was launched. Today, the brand encompasses a multitude of food and beverages, and thus its name was limiting it in the eyes of both customers and retailers. Dunkin’ Donuts was faced with a similar scenario when it decided to rebrand in 2018, as the word “donuts” was inhibiting its growth in the coffee market, which the company viewed as essential for continued business success.

Competition has intensified

Nothing is quite as uncomfortable as being terribly underdressed at a party. This is how many brand owners are feeling when confronted by newer, fresher competitors that are focusing on the look and feel as a priority equivalent to that of product and service quality. Many of our rebranding clients have been in business for over a decade and only feel the importance of the exercise due to the arrival of a stream of new competitors. When they entered the market ten years ago, they were likely the only ones, and thus branding was not a priority. Today, they realize that consumers do place value on branding, especially when there is a multitude of options for every purchase choice.

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