The Fallacy of “Re-Branding”

by Suzanne Tulien, an Overdrive contributor and principal and founder of the Brand Ascension Group

“Oh, you’re a brand consultant? Our company just went through a re-branding effort 6 months ago. We’ve all got new business cards, a new logo, and new ad campaigns coming out.”

I cannot tell you how many times I hear this and like statements from those I meet on a daily basis. And how frustrating it is to hear how much time and effort is wasted in creating new marketing materials, calling it ‘re-branding’, and not doing anything in terms of restructuring the internal architecture of the organization’s brand itself.

Let’s call it ‘putting lipstick on the pig’ if you will.

In fact, David Barrows, of the Design Agency says… “40% of marketing is wasted, due to ill-informed, de-motivated staff undermining the promotional promise.”

There is a continued disconnect with the true understanding between the function of marketing vs. the function of branding. So let’s get clear!

Marketing (simplistically speaking) is the act of communicating and disseminating information, i.e. the message, about the brand. [I know, it’s bigger than that, but let’s keep it simple for now].

Brand-“ing” is the process of identifying, defining, and becoming a specific, strategic and deliberate perception in the minds of your audiences (employees, customers, vendors, community).

When you truly ‘brand’ your company it means you’ve done the due diligence in defining the core attributes associated with how you want to show up and be perceived by your audience.

Unfortunately, when all we do to “re-brand” is re-design the logo, create new messaging, and hope our customers and employees ‘buy into’ the difference without re-inventing the Brand DNA architecture, customer experience, employee engagement, etc., then all you’ve done is create a new marketing campaign. Research shows a full 40% of your efforts (if not more) may go right down the drain.

True re-branding efforts start deep inside the organization at the DNA level for transformation to be sustainable. Here are a few steps:

1. The re-branding effort should come from a core brand task team made up of people representing all areas of the organization.
2. The team should flesh out key attributes and desired perceptions as well as unique differentiators that can be authentically expressed through the actions & behaviors of the entire organization.
3. Compose a powerful brand promise that positions the brand in a new light; this puts a new stake in the ground to live up to as a re-branded company.
4. All attribute outputs must be defined, and then communicated, consistently and distinctively and enlist, equip and empower the entire employee culture.
5. Ensure there are tangible actions like rolling out a new company-wide brand vocabulary, redefine the brand narrative, re-tool processes that affirm the brand attributes, and countless other internal behavioral tweaks to make up a highly effective “re-branding effort.”

This is a continuous internal process, not an external marketing event.

Now, once all the internal brand development work has been identified and defined, assess if you are ready to go to market with the new brand position. This can be based upon relevant on-brand visuals, brand vocabulary, engaged employees, elevated customer experience, and highly understood brand promise vis a vis your employees.

Are you able to truly walk your talk at EVERY customer touchpoint?

Once agreed… go to town on the marketing. Then and only then, have you truly done the due diligence of ‘re-branding’ your organization and grown your business brand exponentially, by walking your talk, and building trust.

Who’s ready to dive in?


Suzanne Tulien, Brand Elevation Enthusiast, is Principal and Founder of the Brand Ascension Group, LLC, Colorado Springs, CO. She is co-pioneer of the Brand DNA methodology and author of The 6 Myths of Small Business Branding, and co-author of Brand DNA: Uncover Your Organization’s Genetic Code for Competitive Advantage. 

Categories: Guest contributors PR/MARKETING


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