5 Steps to Successful Rebranding
You can’t avoid change. There is no way that a company can run the same way forever.
Take Microsoft. On August 23, the software company boasted a newly transformed logo to coincide with the opening of their 23rd store in Boston.
Departing from the solid-black, italicized typeface, the lighter sans serif seems more transparent. This is intended to “signal the heritage but also signal the future – a newness and freshness,” said Jeff Hansen, Microsoft’s general manager of brand strategy.
The iconic red, green, blue, and yellow quartered window remains to prevent old customers from straying away. Now all squared-off and simplified, the company is indicating their readiness for new growths and opportunities.
Right now, Microsoft is preparing to launch virtually every one of its products in significantly updated versions, including new server Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Xbox services, the Surface tablet, and Office 15. Marking their first major renovation since 1987, “we felt it was a good time to express newness in the Microsoft logo as well,” said Hansen.
This explains why the new logo is not as drastic a change. It is aimed to unite these various products and put them all under one identity. They need to find a way to hold these wide array of products together as the company strives to broaden its horizons.
“It’s been 25 years since we’ve updated the Microsoft logo and now is the perfect time for a change,” said Hansen in a blog post on the official Microsoft blog. “This wave of new releases is not only a reimagining of our most popular products, but also represents a new era for Microsoft, so our logo should evolve to visually accentuate this new beginning.”
As the most valuable asset in any business, building and maintaining a strong brand is the key to a company’s long-term success. However, following its developments and new demands in the marketplace, evolution needs to take place.
Most people think that rebranding is just a logo “face-lift”. The design stage may be the most glamorous part of the rebranding process, but the whole surgery can lose you big bucks if you don’t plan accordingly.
The questions is, how? Let’s take Microsoft’s rebranding efforts as a case study. Sribu breaks it all down into 5 simple steps:
1. Do your research.
Rebranding is certainly not a shallow subject. Revamping an established brand brings about a complete renovation to how a company operates and identify itself. On the other hand, efforts can also hinder a company’s plans to grow. For that reason, you need to take a closer look into the market.
Facing rivalry from the likes of Apple and Google, Microsoft has been notoriously excluded for its difficulty of use and lack of innovation. They stand behind on customer satisfaction in the midst of these changing times. To solve this underlying problem, they hired the UK-based design firm Pentagram to redesign their logo early this February.
By the looks of it, the logo is successful because it combines the old and the reinvented Microsoft. You don’t want to alienate old customers, yet at the same time you want to attract new prospects.
To achieve that outcome, talk to as many people as you can. Get an overview about your current positioning. How can your brand evolve to be more relevant?
2. Define your message.
Self-understanding is the foundation to brand trust and loyalty, so it’s essential to identify what it is that makes your brand unique. What are your core values? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Be clear about the problems you want to solve.
Repositioning a brand also creates new opportunities to retell the brand story. For Microsoft, the new logo represents the expansion of their offering. Appealing to a wider customer base has the potential to generate more sales. Even if the iPad sells more than any other tablets, Microsoft can still leverage the Surface with a foolproof touchscreen input on the Windows 8 OS. To separate itself from the image that it lacks creativity, Microsoft promises to focus on the usability and innovation of their new products.
Review your current operations and design a new system. Who is your target demographic? Do you want to attract a new audience? Craft the aptest voice for your new message according to the needs of your market. Remember to change only what is required. Do not risk losing those brand values you’ve developed over the years.
3. Create a plan.
For the most part, the goal of rebranding should be appointing your business to a new position out there in the market. This helps to differentiate your brand from competitors. However, most companies fail to deliver their new promises as a result of a poor brand implementation. In that case, you want to be careful lest you lose your focus, because the rebranding process is a long-term, large-scale project that requires you to think well and through every step of your procedure.
This calls for a new business plan. Think of a brand-new strategy to make an impression for your audience. Put it all down on paper and delegate all assignments to the respective departments of your business. When do you want to start implementing specific procedures into your system? Keep track of all changes on a timeline. Discuss your adjustments and decisions with your team members on a regular basis.
4. Execute it.
New standards demand new operations. Work your way from the inside out: The most important part of rebranding is to upgrade your internal organization according to the altered brand message. Make sure every department of your company proceed according to plan. Your employees should be as passionate about the new brand as you are. When everyone in the office is excited about the change, it will get through to the marketplace.
Do whatever it takes to get everyone talking about your new message – a fresh look, a new way of speaking, or anything else that coheres with your new brand… which brings us to the next step.
5. Communicate it.
To avoid confusion, Microsoft retains its iconic window and strips away their flag-like resemblance. The only addition is the colorful tiles that create a more user-friendly interface, hence the four squares on the new logo.
The change was subtle, but strong enough to change market perception.
A new design should always serve just that – to recreate a consistent and manageable image of your brand. When too confusing, it may discourage customer repurchase. It’s like giving mixed signals to your old customers.
To sustain the new brand message, always strive to to deliver what you promise. Set up an ongoing measurement of your employees’ complete and consistent use of your new system. When the initial excitement dies down, keeping track helps you maintain your brand integrity in the long run.
Will Microsoft’s makeover rev up more sales? We’ll just have to see. In the meantime, start exploring new horizons for your business. Post a contest on Sribu.com and get to see your new logo within 7 days!