Why now is the ideal time to rebrand

What many brands and my favorite hoodie have in common.

I love hoodies. An entire cubby of my closet is dedicated to them, where roughly two dozen hoodies hang crammed together like cotton-poly blend sardines. Among them is a Triumph Motorcycles hoodie that I’ve had for as long as I can remember. Despite being faded, stretched, and riddled with holes, it sees more action than all the others combined. Why? Because it’s just so easy and comfortable. Despite the pleadings of my wife and kids, and the occasional shaming of friends, I continue to wear that hoodie like it’s going out of style—which it did, at least a decade ago.

The faded brand

At Traina, we’re seeing a lot of tattered hoodies these days. In fact, we’ve been seeing them for a few years. Brand identities that were due for a refresh 3 to 5 or more years ago are starting to look faded, stretched, and riddled with holes. It’s a trend being seen by agencies nationwide. Due to a perpetual state of economic uncertainty, companies have tightened their marketing budgets and delayed their brand investments. And for many, the postponement of key branding initiatives has become a mission-critical liability. Like my favorite top, these companies are showing their age and making questionable impressions.

For many, the postponement of key branding initiatives has become a mission critical liability.”

5 Reasons why now

If you’re one of these brands in need of a refresh, you probably know it. It may trigger a cringe when you open a presentation or share your URL, or when you see competitors who have recently refined their messaging and brand. You might assume that you can’t afford to invest in your brand right now, and instead go the “all-budget-eggs-in-the-demand-gen-basket” route—a short-sighted attempt to drive quick revenue.

But the fact is, there will never be a better time to invest in a rebrand than right now. That may sound disingenuous coming from the head of a branding agency, but below I’m going to drop five reasons why you cannot afford to let your brand identity issues continue to fester:

1. A rebrand will position you for growth now, and supremacy in the near future.
The economy will bounce back, and when it does, it will seemingly happen overnight. When morning comes, those companies that have invested in their brand will be positioned to capitalize on the wave of positive consumer and corporate sentiment. Those companies that have been actively investing in their brand, rather than ignoring it, will find instant traction with an audience starving for product.

When the pandemic devastated travel and tourism, Airbnb was on the ropes. In that scenario, cutting off all marketing dollars would have been the natural thing to do. But CMO Hiroki Asai did exactly the opposite. He saw the economic downturn as “an opportunity to reimagine Airbnb…and take a look at what the next iteration of Airbnb would be.” That iteration was about simplification, rallying the brand around its core offering, and refocusing on brand-driven campaigns. That bold decision had a tremendous impact on the brand and business, and within 24 months Airbnb reported its most profitable quarter ever.

2. Keep neglecting your brand—your competitors will thank you.
For companies that are procrastinating a desperately needed brand refresh, every day that passes is another share of the market slipping away, typically into the arms of their closest competitor. And while market share is easily lost due to neglect, it is notoriously hard to recapture. That’s because we humans are habitual creatures, and winning us back is a long, expensive, uphill battle. That’s true for even the most well-established brands. Just take a look at the soda space where some of the world’s most recognizable brands, including Pepsi, 7UP, Sprite, Fanta, and Minute Maid, have undergone a flurry of rebranding initiatives in order to stay relevant and connect with new audiences.

3. Your team desperately needs a reason to believe.
In a down economy, all employees feel some degree of job insecurity. And nothing reinforces that feeling more than an employer whose brand identity is long past the point of expiration. The rebranding process itself offers opportunities to engage employees. That was the case for Space Center Houston, NASA’s official visitors center. Space Center Houston saw an opportunity not only to reimagine their dated brand identity, but also to energize employees by getting them involved in the process. Inviting employees of all levels to play a role in the rebrand instilled a new sense of purpose and enthusiasm throughout the organization.

4. There will simply never be a better time to partner with an agency.
With so many brands pressing pause, companies that do take action are getting a level of attention and prioritization from their agency partners that they would never see under normal circumstances. But that dynamic won’t last forever.

At some point in the near future, inflation will ease, markets will rebound, sentiment will jump, and there will be an inevitable run on agencies. Those companies that have put off their rebrand will suddenly be banging on the doors of every reputable branding agency in the country, begging for a proposal. Wait until that day, and you’ll pay more and wait longer to launch your long-overdue brand refresh.

No brand is immune to the cultural shifts that have redefined our world. When a brand once considered relevant and cutting-edge starts to be perceived as traditional or generic, it can have devastating consequences.”

5. Wait too long, and it may be too late.
So much has changed in the past three years. Whether you’re a brewery, a bank, or a biotech, the ground beneath your business has moved and today you exist in a much different space than you did when your current brand identity was developed. No brand is immune to the cultural shifts that have redefined our world. When a brand once considered relevant and cutting-edge starts to be perceived as traditional or generic, it can have devastating consequences. And once that perception is given sufficient time to take root, it’s difficult if not impossible to extract.

What can you do now?

I’m not necessarily advocating a wholesale, kitchen-sink approach to your rebrand. In many cases, a simple brand refresh will do. A refinement of your messaging strategy, a modern upgrade to your visual identity, or a redesign of your website may be all that’s required. And if budgetary constraints negate a comprehensive effort, then talk with your agency about a phased approach. Through strategic planning and prioritization, a rebranding effort (and budget) can be spread out over multiple quarters, tackling discovery, strategy, messaging, visual system, digital, and activation in a phased approach.

If your fading brand identity has become a liability, there are really just two options: You can take your chances, hoping for a quick rebound and minimal damage to your image and audience. Or you can use this opportunity to strengthen your brand, expand your audience, and position your business to dominate when the floodgates open.

Let’s move things forward.