by Kevin Miller, CEO RunRev/LiveCode

Avoiding the Rebranding Pitfalls

Oct 24, 2010
CareersIT LeadershipIT Strategy

For many companies, a rebranding strategy can be an unnerving event. It’s easy for the whole thing to backfire, yet a carefully thought out rebranding can help to drive growth and improve sales. For companies where technology is a central component of their brand, there is an added pressure – ensuring the technology works. The role played by the management team, in particularly the CIO, is instrumental in maintaining the focus and direction needed to deliver a successful rebranding. We have just completed a rebranding exercise, From RunRev to LiveCode, and there are a number of factors that can determine the success or failure of the exercise.

Why rebrand? For some, it’s about reinventing the company or product line, for others it’s about making a clean break. Whatever the reason, it’s important to be clear about the message or story that the rebranding is seeking to convey, since you run the risk of alienating loyal customers and confusing the market.

A case in point is when Kellogg decided to rebrand its breakfast cereal Coco Pops to Choco Krispies in the late 1990s. There was an outcry from the public and sales fell, forcing the company to reinstate the original name. What this highlighted was a lack of research amongst the market and customer base to establish whether a change would be receptive. There has to be a reason and an appropriate opportunity for a change in the brand and that must lie at the heart of the initial consideration.

Don’t Forget the Technology When technology lies at the heart of your brand, there is the additional consideration that any rebrand will count for nothing if the technology fails to live up to the brand aspirations. Our CIO and his team were actively involved in all the discussions related to the rebranding. Their input was critical in helping us to ensure that we never got ahead of ourselves and created a brand that did not reflect the technology. For their part, the CIO had to ensure that the technology that underpins our brand not only worked but that it lived up to the aspirations and expectations that we were investing in the new brand name. As ONdigital (backed by ITV) found to its cost, the effort to re-energise itself by rebranding itself as ITV Digital was undermined by the failure of its set top box technology. The result was a negative impact on the ITV brand name.

Lessons learned As we conducted our rebranding exercise, we gained an insight into the pressures and realities that ultimately shape a constructive and focused rebranding exercise. The key factors are as follows:

  • Don’t change for the sake of change. Don’t overlap brand identities. When BT set up different mobile businesses with different names, such as Cellnet and Genie, it created consumer confusion
  • Ensure the technology is in step with the brand attributes and vice versa
  • Expand within the limits of your brand perception. Heinz may be most associated with ketchup but it has numerous other brand successes, and frequently launches new products. Heinz shows that you can extend your line as far as you want, providing you remain true to your core identity or brand perception
  • Realise that business realities have an impact on your new brand

Have you undergone a rebranding process? Let us know in the comments below