If you keep your eye on tech news you’ll know that after 20 years on the job, Internet Explorer is being retired by Microsoft. While IE is one of the most common and well known browsers (when I started using computers I thought that it was the internet), it is often the object of ridicule and is hemorrhaging users to other browsers. ‘Microsoft Edge’ has recently been introduced as its replacement.
Microsoft are summoning the power of the rebrand. A marketing strategy that can be used to shrug off a negative reputation, enhance a product, or reposition within the market - as a result of a buyout, or as a means of creating corporate equity.
The visible signs of a rebrand can range from a subtle shift in colours, a new logo or fresh messaging, right the way through to a new whole new name and image.
If you’re thinking about rebranding your business, whether it’s for proactive or reactive reasons, it will take time and money to implement the changes. Provided you’re making the change for the right reasons, you’ve done sufficient research, and you have a cohesive strategy your rebrand will be well worth every penny as you’ll be investing in the future sustainability of your business.
Why are you rebranding?
Why are you really doing this? What do you want to achieve?
If you’ve received poor feedback or negative press make sure you address these issues first. Then think again about the rebrand. If you don’t fix the heart of the issue those same problems will follow you around and your rebrand will have been a big, fat waste of time.
IE is the perfect example of this. Ever since the disaster that was IE6 back in 2001, which was labelled the “least secure software on the planet” by PC World, they’ve been unable to shake off the negative impression.
Many years and many updates later the rebrand is on the table. It might be considered that for a while they attempted to outrun the jokes and memes by making a better product.
But as the IE devs mention in the Reddit AMA they eventually had to find a way to “separate ourselves from the negative perceptions that no longer reflect our product today”.
Once you’ve ascertained why you’re rebranding, you’ll have a clearer idea of your objectives and a goal to aim for. Fix the problems, don’t attempt to outrun them.
Time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted
If you’re losing business to your competition you’ll want to understand what they have that you don’t. You might even find out what it will take to get them back.
Microsoft revealed their survey results of UK users of their biggest threat, Google Chrome. They discovered that they prefered anything but ‘Internet Explorer’ as a name.
We’re yet to see whether “Microsoft Edge” will bring them back on board, or at least stem the flow.
It’s also vital to check out what your competition is offering. It's time to do a SWOT Analysis. Outline all your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business. Then do the same for each of your competitors. Here is a SWOT excel template you can download to get you started.
The more you understand about how you’re perceived within your market, the better you’ll be at making the right decisions about your brand’s direction.
Write a strategic plan
1, 2, 3 let's go! Whoa not so fast! So you’ve figured out that a rebrand is your best option and you have a clear idea of the values of your target audience. The hard work hasn’t even begun. It’s time to write a strategic plan.
If you’re changing your name you need to make sure you can nail down your social media accounts and secure your domain. Moz secured their new Twitter handle 2 years before they made the change from SEOmoz.
If you are updating your aesthetics you still need to put together a strategy that considers all the facets of your business that will be affected. Even when I changed stickers for my tiny little Etsy store I phased out the old stickers and I ordered generic stickers for the interim. That way I wasn’t losing money by ditching any perfectly good packaging materials.
For digital businesses like Moz and Wordtracker the impact is seen on our website, tool and social media accounts. Your strategy should be all encompassing and consider the opportunity to refresh your social profiles and site content so you can reemerge from your figurative cocoon like a lovely noble butterfly!
We went through this process ourselves at Wordtracker not long ago. We released our current Wordtracker Keyword Tool which introduced a new dataset, sliding filters and a cleaner, faster UI.
In line with our new tool we redesigned our website and moved from our enduring blue colour scheme to a more streamlined structure with a black background.
We also took the opportunity to consolidate our content and make the site accessible to mobile users.
The feedback we had about the tool and the site were really positive and it gave us a platform to reintroduce ourselves to our audience.
If you believe in your changes, then ride the publicity wave. When the dust settles, if you have a great product, your customers won’t be deterred.
Before taking the plunge down the rather risky and expensive rebranding road make sure:
you’re doing it for the right reasons
you thoroughly understand the values of your target audience
you’ve outlined a cohesive strategy
If you follow these steps you’ll have a clear idea of what tasks need doing and you’ll be able to manage any roadblocks. You’ll also be able to take the opportunity to refresh and update your infrastructure so your business will endure long into the future.
I hope this article has helped you to make the right decisions about rebranding your business. As always, let us know about your experiences in the comments below.