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Think twice before you attempt to rebrand

Rose Muthoni @rosemuthoni

Too often, rebranding is done to cure an ill that might have tarnished a reputation of business or corporate image. According to BBC’s article: “Can you rebrand a bad memory?”, rebranding trick is a hard one to pull off, especially when bad memories are fresh.

Other times companies rebrand as a result of mergers, to reposition themselves or to replace an outdated image among others. Kenya Company Registration Services, an online company, almost 300 companies rebranded by changing their names last year compared to 250 that did so in 2015.

Whatever the reason for rebranding, there needs to be real business imperatives behind it because costs involved are very high. A UK research firm Millward Brown says that rebranding leads to an immediate five to 20 per cent drop in sales.

Often, companies that change names are looked upon with suspicion by their customers and even potential ones. Your clients will often wonder whether you will give them the same quality of service. According to a 2014 survey by Halmstad University, customer hesitation following rebranding is significant. It is, therefore, prudent to inform your customers in time before you change names.

Company name change means the firm loses its singularity and brand identity. There are aspects in a business that you can change without much effect to revenues . These include a new logo, new website or a new marketing campaign.

However, according to Sticky Branding, a strategic branding and business development consultancy, a company’s name is packed with meaning. Imagine if you changed your name. How would those around you react to it? How long would it take for them to adjust to the new name? Sticky Branding says that, however, boring a brand name is, it gains meaning over time.

Customer interactions with that brand build upon each other and become associated with the the name. Simply put, the name is the focal point of the brand experience. When you change the brand name you risk losing all of those past memories and experiences.

There are instances, however, that it is absolutely necessary to rebrand. A merger or acquisition will definitely require a name change. It signifies injection of new blood into the original company. Let’s face it, a hyphenated name is less than attractive.

Repositioning will also require a new company name. It signifies that the company is looking to serve a different market. The other major reason for a name change is to serve different geographic markets.

Not all names translate well across languages and cultures. You may choose to change your brand name in order to compete globally, or develop localised brands for each market you serve.

If you make the bold choice to change your brand name, Sticky Branding suggests you transition the name deliberately – over-communicate internally and externally, clearly articulate the “why” behind the name change, maintain links, especially on websites and social media platforms, to the old name and finally transition the name slowly in nine months plus.

No company should take the leap into rebranding lightly. It is a huge commitment with a fair share of risk, but if you have determined that it is the right move, then make sure you make it worth your while.

According to Entrepreneur, an American magazine and website that carries news stories about entrepreneurship, small business management, and business, rebranding is about a new identity, one that is linked to your company’s past, but without any limits or tethers for its future. A name functions as a mental reference point. Take your time before you transition.

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