Brand for Good

A Blog by McGill Buckley

When Is It Time to Rebrand?

When Is It Time to Rebrand?


As an agency that has worked on a wide range of brand and rebrand projects, we know that branding projects fall into a few categories: 

New brand

self-explanatory, a new company, product, service or cause. This type of project involves building a brand from the ground up, and that means, in our opinion, more than coming up with a name and logo

Brand refresh

an existing brand that is failing to reach its goals. These are most often a brand with gaps in brand elements, messaging, strategy, creative or execution. 


a brand is dealing with critical issues, including industry disruption, significant market shifts, declining relevance, confusion, scandal and low levels of awareness. 


What’s On The Table During A Rebrand? 

In a word, everything. A rebrand project that doesn’t examine every aspect of an ailing brand is probably in danger of falling short. A thorough look at rebranding should include evaluating the brand name, logo, messaging, strategies, tactics, audiences, marketing channels and more – as we said, everything. 

Analyzing the central elements of a brand should be done through a stringent evaluation process and with depth, sensitivity, understanding and care. 

Impulse and Waffling Can Be The Enemies of a Rebrand.

Far too often names, logos and other central brand elements are changed on the whim of leaders. Frequently they have a negligible or even negative effect on a brand’s performance. Other times critical decisions that involve significant change are kicked down the road because the shift may rub some people the wrong way.  

Both knee-jerk change and fear of change can be barriers to successful rebrand projects. In some cases, they can lead to a PR nightmare like the Gap faced a few years ago.

Why Consider a Rebrand? 

There are several reasons why an organization, product, service or cause should consider a rebrand. Here are three examples:


Lack of Differentiation

a consistent issue for brands that have embraced a me-too, copy-cat style of branding and marketing. Being viewed as the same as everyone else or being confused with another brand is eventually terminal for a brand. 

Lost Relevance

a drop in relevance usually leads to a decline in market share, revenue or other measures of performance such as fundraising, attendance and memberships. These are brands that have lost meaning to their audiences as Apple had before the return of Steve Jobs. 

Overcoming A Negative Image

often a rebrand is a result of an organization trying to shed negative perceptions intentionally. When trying to hide wrongdoings, these rebranding efforts meet with scrutiny and skepticism. In other cases, a subsidiary has is harmed by the actions of a parent company. In cases like these, a rebrand is an effective way to distance itself from a damaging association. 

Does Rebranding Work? 

How effective a rebrand is, is inevitably a by-product of how thoroughly the project is carried out. If changing a brand logo (often called a logo-swap) is the extent of the rebrand, the effects are usually short-term and negligible. However, a rebrand that considers and addresses all brand touchpoints has a much higher chance of success. 

About the Author

Stephen McGill

Unabashed words guy, branding evangelist and voracious reader of anything to do with marketing, branding, creativity and design, Stephen McGill has worked in the agency business for over three decades.

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