How to Not Lose Existing Brand Equity in a Rebrand

Potential client: We’re interested in a rebrand, but how do we keep our existing brand equity?
Daake: We can tell you, but first— why are you considering a rebrand?

Our goal is not to answer every question with a question, especially when we’re hoping to win an organization’s business. But before we can thoughtfully answer, we need to know what lies ahead for your business.

For a bright, shiny new organization, the branding process is somewhat simple. Sure, it covers competitors, audiences, strengths, weaknesses and a host of other elements; but a rebrand for an established organization explores the past, present and future before any potential visual expressions are put on the table.

Gut check: is this a brand evolution or revolution?

This question is posed to every person Daake interviews as part of the rebranding process. This gives representatives from across the organization an opportunity to talk through how much change they feel the company should pursue.

Daake measures evolution and revolution using a simple scale rating of one through 10: one being a very slight change is needed to 10 being a drastic shift in the direction and overall feel of the organization. The numbers between further define the level of adjustment employees are anticipating as a result of the rebranding process.

Brand Evolution: slight change, could include internal strategies or simply brand updates such as fonts and color palettes. A refreshed brand promise and minor updates to the overall look, feel and tone of an organization’s brand.

Brand Revolution: strategic shift in the foundation of an organization. When a brand undergoes a revolution, this likely includes a complete overhaul of the core values, brand identity, possibly internal structure of the organization.

If an organization feels there is equity in its current brand, and it can be proven through surveys, interviews or other metrics, Daake will likely recommend an evolution of the existing brand. If there is no clear proof that a brand has moved the needle toward their strategic goals, more of a brand revolution may be needed.

In either case, the Daake team carefully guides clients to avoid causing alarm among existing customers. One way to do this is by engaging a select group of representatives of this group and engaging them in the rebranding process. This could include focus groups to test concepts or online forums to request feedback on the existing brand. Involving user groups as part of the rebranding process lends itself well to launching a rebrand successfully. These people have already given buy-in to what an organization is moving toward, and can speak on its behalf to other members of a particular “tribe”.

Capitalizing on Existing Brand Equity

If an organization has established brand equity in its marketplace, it becomes necessary to fully understand where the equity lies, and what it really means to the audience. Do they recognize the logo, the brand promise, core values… the list goes on. Daake takes a deeper dive into each element of an organization’s brand to help bridge the gap between what is working today and what needs to happen to set the organization up for future success. This is another area where the brand equity isn’t necessarily what you, as a business feels it is; it’s what they, your audience, says it is.

More often than not, brand equity is found in the brand promise or logo. These are expressions that are generally easy to remember, and are seen and heard most often in marketing and at a company’s location. When working with clients who have existing brand equity, it’s not uncommon to either leave at least some of the logo or brand promise untouched, or make slight updates to help modernize the brand without causing unease among loyal customers.

As a brand evolution, Daake works toward offering varying levels of change based on what a company’s audience is saying AND what internal change is happening. Essentially, we take the reason for rebranding and compare it to the equity you have before making a recommendation on how big or small the changes should be to move the brand forward. It’s a unique balancing act that goes well beyond fonts and colors.

For example, if your company is undergoing a merger or acquisition but has a strong presence in your marketplace, it’s necessary to start the conversation by identifying exactly where the equity lies. Is it in the name of your organization? In your iconography? What about your brand promise? After investigating where your awareness lies we can discuss just how big or how small of a change your brand needs.

This conversation always involves the name of the “new” organization. Is one organization more known than the other? Do we need to create a new name using elements of both companies? These are not easy questions to answer, but they’re necessary. Naming strategies play a significant role in designing a brand, as they set the stage for communicating growth and expansion. These strategies also lead the way in how audiences recognize and react to the change that lies ahead. Beyond naming, we use a similar process for making recommendations based on any existing iconography, colors, brand promises, and other core elements. Each of these factors help determine how much of a zag you take from where you’ve been.

In these scenarios, Daake serves as a sounding board to help internal teams, various board of directors, foundations, and others have a voice and understand how rebranding can realign or bring new energy into strategic goals.

Where There Is No Brand Equity, a Revolution Might Be on the Horizon

Sometimes, when asked if this rebrand should be an evolution or revolution, answers lean toward the eight, nine or 10 range. The reasoning for this tends to stem from a few factors: the organization may be heading toward a drastic shift in vision, operation, or something else. Other times, employees feel a revolution could solve internal culture challenges. Or, these answers could be due to losing ground (or being stagnant) in the marketplace.

When a revolution is needed, Daake still investigates whether or not any element of the existing brand should remain intact. We take a deeper dive into opportunity through a new naming strategy, brand promise, overall feel, or possibly even internal structure.

Just as in the rebranding evolution process, the Daake team serves as a sounding board throughout a more transformative rebrand, offering guidance and creating confidence in the direction of the organization.

Rebranding, especially for more complex organizations such as healthcare systems, creates an opportunity to listen to people across an organization, and beyond, to those who choose to buy or use the services it offers. Having a real, authentic sense of existing brand equity plays an important role in the decision to pursue an evolution or revolution of a brand.

Learn more about Daake’s approach to utilizing existing brand equity in our eBook: Blending Two Identities Into One: Rebranding and the Healthcare Merger.

About Daake

We are brand design experts who deliver transformative ideas to the nation’s marketing professionals and CEOs as they seek guidance, clarity and excitement for their brand.

We would love to hear more about what you have in mind for your next project. Call Greg Daake at 402.933.1094.

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