How to Use Data to Guide Your Rebranding
Companies go through rebranding all the time, especially scrappy startups that launch on the idea that “done is better than perfect”. They’ll go through choosing a business name, throw a brand together to get in front of an audience, then take an iterative approach to rebranding until it sticks.
Airbnb, like many startups, took this approach cycling through logos time and again.
But consumer relationships develop differently today. Customers expect more than just a logo and a receipt. Choosing a business name, and subsequent rebranding has evolved into creative sessions far beyond logo discussions and color schemed. 85% of rebranding doesn’t involve a name change, and 50% of the time logos remain unchanged in a rebrand.
Today’s rebranding requires a more strategic approach demanding a vision that inspires customers to see your business in a new way.
Here’s how you can use data and customer insights to guide your rebranding strategy and forge stronger customer relationships:
1. Understand your goals
When rebranding you need to identify your overarching goal and align it closely with your customers.
- What problems do they have
- Why do they choose your products and services
- What solution do you provide
- What keeps your customers coming back
The data you uncover provides a concrete understanding of your brands existing place in the market with your customers.
Dunkin’ Donuts rebrand is a prime example. While customers love the donuts, it was the coffee driving 63% of its annual revenue. The company used that data to run test rebranding, opening a number of stores simply called “Dunkin’”.
Instead of focusing on what you think customers want based on symptoms, trust the data to show you what they actually want.
Establishing goals, based on real data, gives your rebranding a customer-focused foundation or a purpose to build from that’s more likely to connect with customers.
Don’t focus too heavily on less important issues around rebranding, like “how much does a domain name cost?” or “what types of promo materials should we get to promote the new brand?” There will be time to focus on those things later in your strategy.
2. Research the competition
If your brand strategy originated with choosing a business name, then growing around the problem/solution relationship you risk disappearing in the noise of competitors branding the same way.
In any major sport, the top-tier athletes achieve success not just because of rigorous training. They take the time to learn the opponents, studying them for opportunities.
Your rebranding should include a competitive analysis (SWOT). Gather data around their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Find the gaps and use their strengths and weaknesses to differentiate yourself in the market.
3. Use a mix of past and present data
Data ages quickly and loses value fast. Historical data has far more value when used along side current customer data to see how consumer interests, market trends, and the competitive landscape have changed.
In addition to the data you have reach out to customers to learn about what is critically important to your customers, why they keep coming back, what they love, what they hate, and behaviors influencing loyalty.
Video game retailer GameStop, for example, has found that “data from loyalty programs offer the best insight on each customer’s interests, past purchases and engagement preferences,” says Rob Lloyd, its CFO. The company uses customer loyalty data to fuel its customer-focused branding and marketing strategies.
Beyond engagement data it’s important to know how customers identify your brand. Choosing a business name that’s catchy isn’t enough. Think about what makes you stand out and how that impacts brand loyalty.
In 2009, Tropicana rebranded its orange juice cartons. Customers universally hated it. The new generic branding added friction to shopping and forced customers into a paradox of choice. Loyal customers bombarded the company with criticism leading to a swift brand reversal but not before sales plummeted by 20%.
Current and historical data you can examine to help guide your rebranding toward a more user-centric approach includes:
- Topics driving the most engagement (current and historic) in social media
- Most and least effective campaigns – look specifically to the messaging and what resonated best
- Which content topics held the most attention for your audience over time
- Customer segment specific merchandising, sales, and behavioral data
Take the time to look at what worked and what didn’t. Examine past engagements and campaigns. Track what kind of content topics held the attention of your audience.
4. Find audience gaps
No matter how successful your brand, you’re not effectively connecting with all the right customers. Digging deep into customer data can reveal underserved audience segments that could have a significant impact on your brand growth.
In 2010, Old Spice discovered 60% of its men’s body washes were purchased by women. That sparked a rebranding campaign to win a larger female audience. “The man your man can smell like” campaign was born and the new brand identity resulted in a 300% lift in website traffic and a 200% YoY increase in sales.
You have a wealth of customer data. Use it to identify who your ideal customers are, if you’re connecting with them, and how to connect to those audience segments with your new brand.
5. Always use data to rebrand with a purpose
While you should always rebrand with a purpose, not each purpose is the right one.
Don’t make the mistake of rebranding without the customer in mind.
Netflix learned this the hard way in 2011 when its rebrand split the company into two services, Netflix for streaming video and Qwikster for DVD delivery. With the rebranding the company changed its model requiring current subscribers to pay more for less due to price hikes of 60%. Netflix quickly abandoned the rebranding effort just three weeks after making the announcement, but the service had already lost consumer trust, respect, and a whopping 800,000 subscribers.
GAP and Radio Shack are two more companies who took a shot at rebranding without purpose with less than favorable results.
In 2010, a GAP rebrand didn’t go so well. The company dropped its well-known font while also incorporating a much-detested gradient in the new logo. The backlash from customers was palpable and the company reversed its rebrand in just 6 days.
Radio Shack was struggling in 2009 so it made sense to attempt a rebrand and connect with a new generation. But the company rebranded without purpose. The product offerings remained the same, as well as the brand philosophy. The only thing that changed was the name and logo – “The Shack.”
The company threw away decades of brand value. Business continued to decline leading to more than 1100 store closures by 2014. By Jan, 2018 there were fewer than 30 stores nationwide and the company has made numerous attempts to restructure under bankruptcy.
Wrapping Up - Rebrand for your audience
Rebranding means change, and any kind of change can be a risk. When you’re considering a rebrand you can significantly reduce risk and avoid mishaps like some of the examples in this article by taking the time harvest data. Use that data to reassess what is most important to your customers, how to stand apart from competitors, and how best to reinvent your brand to give your customers what they want.