How To: Avoid The Top Rebranding Missteps


The rebranding of a company is a major milestone event where everything is evolving: strategically, creatively, internally and externally. Companies that are rebranding typically do so because…

  • of mergers or acquisitions
  • organization goals are shifting in a new direction
  • a brand no longer resonates in an evolving marketplace
  • an organization name no longer reflects the depth and breadth of its offerings

Given the magnitude of a rebranding in terms of resources, time and commitment, here are eight missteps to avoid to ensure you realize the returns of a company rebranding.

1. Not Understanding The Makeup Of A Brand

A brand defines what a business is about in the hearts and minds of its audiences. Beyond a logo and slogan, your brand is the strategic thread that ties together purpose and story, products and services, company culture, brand strategy and brand design, communications and experience. So realize that when you’re undertaking a rebranding of a company, you’re undertaking a strategic exercise that impacts the entirety of how people in the future will perceive and experience your organization.

2. Clinging To History

One major reason for a company rebranding is to maintain your relevancy. While it’s beneficial to have a legacy to genuinely build upon, it’s dangerous to cling too tightly to your history when so much around you in the marketplace is likely changing. For example, one important healthcare-related theme in recent years is the evolution of traditional healthcare (sick care) organizations positioning themselves as more proactive well-care organizations in light of our evolving health and wellness culture.

3. Bypassing Research

With so much at stake, this is not the time to rely on gut instinct. In order to be grounded and relevant in your rebranding efforts, you must understand, at least qualitatively, current brand and business perceptions of your internal and external decision-maker and influencer audiences. In healthcare for example, there are multiple stakeholder audiences whose opinions can impact the future of your organization.

4. A Team Of One

Rebranding impacts the entire organization, across all levels of the organization. It truly is a team sport. As such, there should be a senior cross-functional team of flag bearers for the initiative outside of one internal point person tasked with oversight and implementation.

5. Not Adapting A Phased Internal Approach

Done right, a rebranding of a company will need to pass through four deliberate internal phases:

  • planning and development (research, strategy, design, stage-gate approvals)
  • initial launch (where employees hear it/feel it)
  • post-launch (where employees learn it/engage in it); and
  • ongoing (where employees live it).

A big word of caution – don’t try to shortchange the rebranding process. If you do, you’ll shortchange the result.

6. Overlooking That Brand Guides Culture

The only way to ensure that your company rebranding has the power to align your organization-wide teams is if your brand is center stage, guiding the everyday actions of those who drive your business performance. Take the time to align your new brand with all facets of the organization, across all lines of business. Make it personal for everyone.

7. Limiting To A Brand Campaign

A new advertising campaign and an accompanying new slogan do not equal a company rebranding. Brand strategy and brand building – as an extension of business strategy – should lead marketing and advertising, and not the other way around. As you would plan the rollout of a new product or service, so too should you plan the rollout of your company rebranding.

8. Sprinting Rather Than A Marathon

Prior to, and during rebranding launch, there’s anticipation, excitement and action. But after the launch, brand momentum needs to be sustained – as a rebranding is a marathon and not a sprint. Know that rebranding done right should be measured in years and not months.