How to Break The Hard Shell of Your Old Brand’s Image

When I mention the brand name Walmart, what comes to mind? Their atmosphere? Logo? Shopping? Discounts? Having a strong, recognizable brand is extremely important because it evokes these kinds of feelings and experiences that pop into your head.

If I were to say that Walmart is completely rebranding and selling more expensive luxury items, it would be difficult to get the old brand image out of your head, right? Well, with the right strategy, a whole lot of research, and sprinkle of creativity, you can change the narrative around your brand.

In brand speak, we’d call this “rebranding.” It’s the process of changing the image and perceptions about your brand. For example, when Uber first launched, the brand received a bit of negative feedback. Consumers vocalized their bad experiences and Uber had a reputation of being a service for wealthy people in populated areas. The organization was in danger of going under if they didn’t adapt and evolve their image, quickly. Uber ditched their CEO, who was linked to many issues with the mobile application, and refocused their logo and creative assets to focus on mobility, accessibility, and friendliness to showing people their dedication to the customer experience.

Companies rebrand for a variety of reasons. It could be to reposition their mission, increase profits, renew their visions and brand pillars, or better align with key audience segments. Another example is Weight Watchers, who rebranded to WW to focus on overall well being instead of just weight loss. Their new tagline, “wellness that works,” aligns with the current body positivity movement. Their target audience wants to accept themselves the way they are and not have diet culture pushed onto them. The brand picked up on this and decided to rebrand and refocus on affordable, healthy meals.

WW Logo Transition

The same thing happened with Victoria’s Secret annual fashion shows. They weren’t representative of women’s bodies and set unrealistic standards that were harmful. The brand is trying to break out of the hard shell of their old image by deciding to cut the Victoria’s Secret fashion show and represent women of all colors, shapes, and sizes.

One of the more successful rebranding stories is  Target. The store used to be known as just another discount retailer and was indistinguishable from other stores just like it. The brand was in direct competition with K-Mart but that ended when Target decided to rebrand and begin selling scaled down versions of designer items and partnering with designers to create more affordable, private labels.

These private labels were a huge success and many of them sold out very quickly after their release date. Because Target decided to rebrand, it has now become the second largest discount retailer in the country.

Target Logo

Let’s Get Down To Brass Tacks

Determining when to rebrand can be strenuous and confusing. Brands should do some serious thinking about breaking the tough shell of their brand’s image if their visual identity is stale, their mission no longer aligns with their brand’s members, or if their competition is getting stronger. 

Here are five more things to consider:

Partial rebrand versus total rebrand

  • A partial rebrand helps you retain brand loyalty that you’ve already built, while updating your brand’s stale image and strategies.
  • A total rebrand is a complete identity shift, changing the brand’s mission, vision, and values.

Market repositioning

  • Depending on if you do a total rebrand and create a new target consumer, you’d need to also reposition yourself within that new market to let your new target audience know about the rebranding.
  • Researching why your brand stands out from the rest as well as your competition’s strategies is crucial when market repositioning to figure out the best strategy to push your brand’s new image

Brand strategy

  • If you’re completely changing the identity of your brand, you’ll need to also rethink and redefine your mission and values while making sure you’re still being unique and providing something new and needed to the market.
  • Creating a strong visual style can help a brand stand out from competition and the brand’s previous image.

Size of company and supporters

  • Larger companies will need to gain internal buy-in making sure they don’t alienate stakeholders
  • For smaller companies it can be beneficial to bring stakeholders into some of the decision making through surveys or interviews

Market competition

  • If you’re breaking into a new market or segment then you will need to check out the competition in the market so you can best position your brand.
  • Analyzing the competition also shows you gaps in the market and the strategies used in that specific market, which is helpful in determining which strategies you want to use.

Rebranding can be a long, complex process. But with the right strategies, it will become a massive success! Let us help you break the shell of your old image through a well planned out, strategic rebrand.

Eve McLernon's headshot

Eve McLernon

As a Marketing Intern, Eve McLernon builds branded experiences on social media and assists with email marketing, copywriting, and agency communications.

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