How to Retain Brand Equity During a B2B Rebrand

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How do you know when it’s time to rebrand? Does your brand need to refresh its visual identity or create more focused messaging? Or is it time for a bigger change? 

A rebranding initiative can take your brand to the next level, but it can also create certain risks. With so much at stake, it’s important to understand how to evolve your brand while protecting its core elements.

Reasons to Rebrand

Right out of the gate, you need to identify the factors that are motivating your organization’s decision to rebrand. Keep the purpose of your rebranding project top of mind throughout the process, and consider the reasons why your company is making this change. 

  • Cultural shifts: Changes in societal norms can shift the way brands are perceived in the marketplace. Consider McKinsey & Company. McKinsey has always helped its clients chart a course for organizational change. But as the business evolved, McKinsey took it a step further: the organization now works with clients to turn their ambitious goals into reality. 

    McKinsey & Company had essentially outgrown its brand and needed a new brand that better communicated its collaborative approach and the impact of its services. So McKinsey implemented thoughtful improvements to its identity, including the implementation of a brand device they called the “Partnership Mark” to symbolize the agile ways McKinsey’s teams work together and with clients.

    Many business leaders create strong brands, but neglect to stay relevant. As a leader, it’s important to evolve your business and brand to adapt to changes in the marketplace and world. 
  • New product or service: The launch of a new product or service is one of the most common reasons for a company to consider a rebrand. In many cases, the addition of a product or service changes the value proposition for the business, which requires an update to how the brand is communicated to the marketplace.

    For example, when Mailchimp expanded its services beyond email marketing, the company needed to adjust its visual identity and messaging to organize its offerings and reposition the business as the go-to digital marketing platform. While they needed to evolve, they also wanted to make sure the new brand stayed true to who they’ve always been. In a world of templated businesses, Mailchimp’s success told a story of growing up and staying weird. 

    During the rebranding process, Mailchimp created a custom and immediately recognizable illustration style to use across its marketing. The company also ran self-deprecating campaigns highlighting its expanded offerings, using headlines like “Bad at future-proof names. Good at more than mail.” The rebrand allowed Mailchimp to evolve as a brand while staying aligned to the values of its primary audience. 
  • Mergers and acquisitions: Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are a common reason to perform a rebrand, but they bring a unique set of challenges.

    The union of two or more organizations can add new products and services to the business, resulting in a disorganized product architecture. Additionally, M&A rebrands often involve a large set of stakeholders that can make shared decision-making difficult.

    Rebrands that follow M&A activity sometimes involve a new company name, which introduces a new set of challenges to the process as the organization works to retain brand equity while moving in an entirely new direction. For example, when Raytheon merged with United Technologies, they renamed the company Raytheon Technologies to retain the brand equity associated with each company.

4 Tips for Maintaining Brand Equity During a B2B Rebrand

Your organization’s brand is special and unique. It has elements that define it and make it stand out in the marketplace. But there’s always room for improvement. A rebranding initiative that retains key elements of your existing brand equity can give your business a new look that helps you achieve growth on the shoulders of your past success. 

  1. Define core elements familiar to customers

    Begin by auditing your brand. You can determine the equity of your brand by identifying the elements that are immediately associated with your brand and drive positive associations. 

    Rather than making assumptions, perform primary research by conducting customer focus groups or surveying your customers. Once you pinpoint the core elements that are valuable to customers, decide whether you want to carry them over to your updated brand and discuss ways for maintaining them as your brand evolves. 

    When Walker Sands kicked off a branding initiative with Hub Group we closely examined how the brand had grown over its 50-year history. A core element we knew we wanted to retain was the equity Hub Group had built through its green color scheme. The company owned hundreds of thousands of green shipping containers worldwide and in the existing competitive landscape they owned the color green, making their containers immediately recognizable. 
  1. Communicate the reasons for the rebrand

    Earlier we mentioned several reasons why a company may rebrand. Maybe your organization is experiencing one of these changes, or maybe you have a different motivation. Regardless, don’t leave key audiences wondering about the rationale. Instead, express how the rebrand will improve their experiences. 

    For example, Hub Group had built a reputation for its intermodal capabilities. Despite several acquisitions to expand their services, they were still not recognized as an end-to-end supply chain solutions provider. With redefined product architecture and messaging, Hub Group was able to communicate their expanded services and technologies as the catalyst for the rebrand.

    Transparency and authenticity are growing increasingly important in the relationship between brands and their customers. Although it’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing exclusively on the business during a rebrand, make an effort to keep your customers in the loop and communicate how the rebrand reflects changes that benefit them. 
  1. Engage target audiences to retain loyalty

    One way to keep customers front and center during a rebranding initiative is by encouraging them to engage with your brand. Rather than ignoring these customers throughout the process, get them involved with your rebrand and show them how much their support matters. 

    You can invite your customers to participate in the rebrand through surveys, email campaigns and social media. You’ll find there are many ways to creatively and strategically interact with your customers. But whatever form they take, these interactions signal to your customers that you care about their needs and opinions, and the process will ultimately strengthen your relationships with them.
  1. Maintain unique elements in niche markets

    As you assess your business at a high level, don’t overlook your presence in niche markets. Although you may be expanding your business’ offerings or audiences, remember that you can’t be all things to all people. 

    Protect your organization’s existing brand equity by retaining the elements that set it apart from competitors. Focus your efforts on what is ownable and where your business can succeed. And don’t give in to pressure from competitors or the marketplace. Instead, stay true to your brand and your core customers.

Were My Efforts Successful?

After your new brand identity is launched, you need to measure the success of your B2B rebrand and gauge the effectiveness of your work.

Monitor your target audience for changes in behavior, usage and purchasing habits, and compare pre- and post-rebrand results. Additionally, measure changes in audience awareness and intent in relation to your brand and its products and services.

By identifying the elements that are core to your brand and engaging with key audiences, you can evolve your brand in a way that strengthens and grows your organization’s brand equity in the marketplace.

Ready to get started? Contact us today to learn more about the B2B rebranding process and let’s start a conversation about how Walker Sands can boost your brand equity.


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