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Everyone loves the idea of a new coat of paint and a fresh start – but rebranding should signal actual changes in your business.

A New Look for an Old Story

Aug. 1, 2023
Most rebranding efforts are a waste of resources. Here’s why.

As an active marketer working with B2B businesses, I often help clients select specific outside services, such as website rebuilds and product launch campaigns. I’ve come to dread the standard agency pitch for new projects with a side of “we suggest a little rebrand”. Y’all, for B2B business that visual rebrand is almost always lipstick on a pig, without meaningful change behind it.

I get it. Americans love good renovation stories about homes, restaurants, hotels. We even love the ones that feature businesses, like Undercover Boss. The idea of a new coat of paint and a fresh start evokes nostalgia for America's promise as a place to start over and grow.

Maybe that’s why we believe the fresh wash of a rebrand will improve our sales, change our brand equity and business standing. All it takes is a change of color, a shift of shape, a new tagline – and our business challenges and results will be somehow improved.

Newsflash: Your logo isn’t the reason you sign clients and earn their business. People don’t buy because of the color, font, or size of your logo. People don’t buy from your tagline – especially not in B2B where most products and services require an educational component to understand product or service integration. People buy because your service or your product, plus associated services, solves a problem. People buy because your company will help them succeed.

To resonate with customers, a rebrand must be more than skin deep. A rebrand should signal an actual business change. But what are you changing? Have you made a change that customers need to know about?

There are many valid reasons to rebrand: Have your offerings evolved? Did you add new products or services? Has who you serve changed? Was there a change in management or ownership? Rebrands can offer a positive visual tie-in to how you will help customers.

But, if the goal of a rebrand was simply a visual refresh to trigger more interest for sales, then rebranding is an expensive way to not achieve that sales goal because on their own, new colors or a new logo does not expand your audience nor engage your potential customers. Instead of a rebrand, could that marketing investment have been better spent on collateral that supports sales with solution education, or ad materials that put your product/service in front of new audiences?

A potentially negative side effect of a rebrand is the erosion of brand equity. While long-term brand visuals can be perceived as staid, customers may also perceive that consistency as reliable, stable, and trustworthy. Rapid visual changes or a big departure from the historical brand visuals can create perceived instability. This may make current or potential customers wary.

Is a visual rebrand signaling a change in your customers the best use of resources? Consider a few other options for meaningful change that your customers would find noteworthy. Maybe ensuring your IVR (phone tree) welcomes customers be a good start. Have you considered auditing customer-service interactions to locate knowledge gaps, so you might offer better customer support? Have you had your account executives (or business development team) reach out to current customers, to check on their satisfaction and needs? Have you armed customer-facing staff with a checklist of resources for customers and prospects? Have you reviewed your website to ensure that it has resources for current customers, and showcases the advantages of your solution to potential customers? All of these chapters of customer consideration should be part of any rebranding exercise.

A rebrand is a change in story. It can signal the start of a new chapter or the closing of an era. It may reflect a modernization of mission. Your story may need to change; and a new visual direction in branding just might be the visual signal that your customers and potential customers need to notice the change. But you should reevaluate all chapters of the story before changing the cover.

Alexandria Trusov is the Global Marketing Director at Alpha Resources and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies. Contact her at [email protected] or visit www.truinsightsconsulting.com.