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It's clear that branding is crucial to a company's success, statistics show that 77% of consumers make purchases based on brand name alone. In other words, a poor or outdated brand image is almost certainly hurting your bottom line.

However, rebranding is no easy task. So to help, we asked branding experts what makes a successful rebranding strategy.

Why Rebrand?

"Branding is the cornerstone of how your customers perceive your brand," said Brandon Cook, director of marketing at Clean Origin. A company's brand is more than logos or brand statements, it's how customers feel about your products or services. It's only natural that this will need to update over the lifespan of a business, especially with today's rapid pace of digital innovation. 

"You need to help your brand evolve with the times if you want to stay top-of-mind and in the mix," said Matt Erickson, marketing director at National Positions. Some surefire signs your brand is falling out of relevance are declining sales, less website traffic and fewer social media followers. These are red flags that your company is losing touch with the modern marketplace. 

"If you're still speaking to an audience that has outgrown your brand, or you're trying to tap into a new one using your old ways — you may be wasting your time or budget," he said. Companies that have been around a long time, therefore, need to put in the effort to remain relevant in a changing marketplace. 

Related Article: Toxic Branding and How to Counteract It

Rebranding Risks

Change is hard for most businesses. "There's a good chance you'll lose some once-loyal fans, followers or customers along the way, but what you'll gain (in loyalty and sales) will hopefully far outweigh what you risk," Erickson said. The most important thing is to have a justifiable reason for rebranding before you take on the risk.

"There is risk in rebranding, particularly in confusing your existing customers," agreed Cook. The worst thing a company can do is lose its brand identity and alienate its most loyal customers. That's why Cook recommends "a gradual shift over time or the incorporation of some of the existing brand elements, designs, colors or logos."

Negotiating a Successful Rebrand

Getting your rebranding right without alienating your current customers is critical to your business' success, so it should never be entered into lightly. But if you decide to rebrand, here are three essential steps you need to take to minimize the risks and maximize the potential for success.

Related Article: 8 Considerations When Branding Your Chatbot

1. Take Inventory

"First, it's important to take inventory of your current brand's perception and where it fits in your respective marketplace," Cook said. You need to establish who you are as a brand and how customers currently relate to your products or services. For this, you can use surveys or questionnaires to get feedback from existing customers, and self-reflect on your core product offerings. These insights will reveal the gap between your existing brand image and what it needs to be.

2. Determine Your Goal(s)

"Next," Cook said, "you'll want to ask yourself, 'Who do you want to be?'" It's critical that you know what a successful outcome is before you make any drastic branding changes. Review everything you've learned from step one, and think about how you can improve your branding based on this. You don't want to rebrand too often, either, so think about how your company will look five or 10 years into the future. Knowing where you'd like to end up before you begin will help you lay out the specific changes you need to make to get there. 

"Don't just throw a few ideas to the wind and hope they catch," said Erickson, but think far in advance so you're ready for the unexpected during the transition.

3. Find the "White Space"

"Finally, look for white space." By this, Cook means an area of interaction with customers that's not currently controlled by you or any major competitors. It's essentially a gap in the market that can give your brand some breathing room, which is especially beneficial in highly-competitive industries. When looking for white space, Cook recommends you consider how you can “differentiate your brand to focus on the unique attributes of your product or service offerings." If there's an aspect of your brand that's truly unique, there won't be any competitors focusing on it. That means it's a new area or niche for your company to enter. 

"Have your entire rebrand laid out from A to Z — with backup plans, contingencies — everything you can think of to help steer you in the right direction if things don't go exactly as planned — because let's face it, when do they ever?" In the end, Erickson said, you shouldn't risk business continuity by underplanning your rebrand.