You Don’t Need a Rebrand.

May 2, 2024
Jeremy Wells

“Everyone ends up somewhere. Few people end up somewhere on purpose.”

Craig Groeschel

When I first heard this quote, it struck a chord with me. It got me thinking: am I purposeful in my life, in knowing where I’m headed? And, perhaps more importantly, am I unintentionally steering myself in the wrong direction?

This reflection isn’t just personal; it applies to business too. Are my brand’s actions deliberate and intentional, or are we just drifting along?

When I look at successful brands, it’s clear they’ve grown with purpose and vision. On the flip side, poorly run businesses lack this sense of direction. Yet, many leaders blame external factors rather than addressing internal issues. In our branding agency, some believe a rebrand will solve everything. But branding goes deeper than just changing logos—it requires a fundamental shift in how a company operates.

So, while rebranding can be beneficial, it’s not always the answer. Without strategic alignment, it can do more harm than good. In essence, branding is about more than just looks—it’s about aligning every aspect of the business with its values and goals. As leaders, we need to approach rebranding with caution. It’s not a quick fix, but a journey that requires careful planning and commitment.

Entrepreneurs often fall into two traps: 1) aimless wandering or 2) purposeful yet misguided strides. The latter, surprisingly, can be more damaging, as it involves investing resources in a strategy built on flawed assumptions.

Before diving into a major rebrand, consider the following:

Good Reasons to Rebrand:

  1. Strategic Shift:
    • A change in ownership or strategic direction necessitates aligning the brand with new objectives.
  2. Market Evolution:
    • Shifting market dynamics demand that brands evolve to remain relevant to consumers.
  3. Brand Misalignment:
    • If current branding fails to resonate with the target audience or causes confusion, a realignment is imperative.

Not-So-Good Reasons to Rebrand:

  1. It’s just time” Mentality:
    • Acting on a vague sense that it’s time for a change, without strategic justification. I’ve seen many businesses take this approach when their business is on a downward trajectory, and a rebrand is a last-ditch effort to save the company.
  2. Impulsive Leadership Changes:
    • Shaking things up under new leadership without substantive rationale can lead to disruptive rebranding efforts. I’ve seen many business leaders take this approach because they want to make a “splash” in their new leadership role, and it’s rooted in the fallacy of “doing something is always better than doing nothing”.
  3. Personal Preference:
    • Allowing personal tastes to dictate branding decisions overlooks strategic imperatives. This is very common, and closely related to reason number two. Many leaders care more about how their brand connects with their own personal taste, than how it connects with their ideal customer.

I’ve observed businesses undergo significant rebrands for not-so-good reasons, with seldom positive outcomes. Quite the contrary, actually. More often than not, they find themselves facing a myriad of challenges: a loss of market share as they essentially start from scratch in terms of marketing and awareness, confusion among consumers due to a rebrand that misses the mark or lacks a solid transition plan, or simply no discernible results after investing substantial time, money, and effort into a venture that perhaps wasn’t necessary in the first place.

“Doing nothing is sometimes better than doing something.”

Jeremy Wells

Conversely, when businesses undertake rebrands for the right reasons, the results can be truly transformative. Take, for instance, Slice Factory, one of our clients, which rebranded in 2016 and swiftly ascended to become a household name in the Chicago area. Their loyal customer base, dedicated team members, and expansion into multiple new locations stand testament to the success of their strategic rebranding efforts.

Similarly, consider The Ozarker Lodge, formerly known as the “Fall Creek Inn.” Upon assuming ownership, we recognized the need for a rebrand to align with shifting market dynamics and attract a different clientele. Through a comprehensive rebranding initiative coupled with substantial renovations and a change in management, we’ve already begun to reap the rewards in our first year of operation.

In short, approach rebranding with caution.

If you’re tempted to start a rebrand for one of the above “not-so-good reasons”, maybe just pause. Take some time to consider if a rebrand is necessary. Revisit your purpose, vision, and mission. Meet with your team, stakeholders, and even customers and ask them for some feedback. Maybe a rebrand isn’t the answer right now… maybe your efforts and energy are better spent elsewhere. At the end of the day, you may decide that a rebrand is, in fact, necessary but at least you’ll have spent time strategizing better reasons for why it is so.

A rebrand is a significant endeavor with very real repercussions, contingent on the soundness of your motives, strategy, and execution. Remember, a mere visual overhaul won’t suffice—true rebranding requires organizational alignment and strategic decision-making.

If you’re contemplating a rebrand, I encourage you to reach out. Together, let’s navigate the terrain of branding with clarity, purpose, and foresight.

Jeremy Wells

Partner at Longitude°

Jeremy is the author of Future Hospitality and Brand Strategist at Longitude°. As a member of the Education Committee for The Boutique & Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA) and a content contributor to Cornell University’s Hospitality Vision and Concept Design graduate program, he is a committed thought leader in hotel branding, concepting, and experience strategy.