When it comes to B2B rebranding, view this as your complete guide.
From understanding why companies rebrand, to exploring when is the right time to rebrand, we’ll leave no stone unturned.
Rebranding in the B2B space can be exciting as it gives companies the opportunity to reinstate their brand image and reconnect with their audience.
All too often brands start as one thing, and then grow into something else. Your core offering might stay the same, but you might add extra services as your company expands.
For example, we grew Canny through content marketing as we published high-quality, meaningful blogs that resonated with our audience. However, a lot has changed since those early days, and we’re now a fully-serviced creative agency who does way more than just content!
We work with clients across the globe to provide branding, website development, content marketing, and video services.
Therefore, our branding needs to reflect this and encapsulate our offering. We’re no stranger to rebranding – just take a look at the Canny logos throughout the years to see our own rebranding journey!
It’s important your branding communicates your offering as this is the first thing customers will see when they hear about your company.
However your brand is a lot more than just your logo which leads us nicely onto our next section…
What is your brand?
Before you even consider rebranding, you first need to understand what your brand actually is.
Ask a few people what they think branding is, and I guarantee you’ll get the same answers.
“The name of a brand”
Whilst all of these things make up and contribute to a ‘brand’, they are not the be all and end all.
Your brand extends way beyond the way it looks, and all too often businesses get caught up in how their brand looks visually and use this as their reason for rebranding.
This is dangerous for numerous reasons, including the fact that:
- Everyone has a different opinion of what looks good
- You are designing your product for your end user, not for you
It’s super important that you try and be as objective as possible when it comes to weighing up the suitability of your brand before you engage in the rebranding process.
Always keep the needs of your target audience in mind as these are the people buying your products and keeping you in business.
Unless of course you plan on buying all of your own products!
If you decide a rebrand is necessary, it should never be because you simply don’t ‘like’ something. If your audience doesn’t like something then that’s different, as it’s their needs you need to cater for.
Basically without being brutal, it’s not about you. It’s about your audience.
To recap, your brand is …
What does it mean for a business to rebrand?
So, now that you understand what your brand is and what goes into it, you might have decided that a rebrand is necessary.
Maybe you feel as though your current branding no longer reflects what you offer, or maybe you’re being left behind because of your competitors.
Regardless of which sector you work in, whether that’s Tech and IT or recruitment, you will always have competition.
It’s important you never undersell yourself by sticking with a brand identity that is out of touch and out of date.
When businesses rebrand it often means changing their full brand identity. However in some cases, it means just giving your brand a little bit of TLC (also known as a brand refresh) but we’ll cover this in more detail below!
A full rebrand extends to each and every part of your brand, including your mission statement, values, brand message, brand positioning, logo, marketing collateral, tagline, and colour palette.
Essentially, anything that makes up the look and feel of your brand would be affected if you were undergoing a full rebrand.
What is a brand refresh?
We’ve already covered this in another post, so we’ll keep this section fairly short and sweet.
A brand refresh is basically what it says on the tin, i.e. you’re refreshing certain elements of your current brand identity.
You’re not going to the same extent as a full rebrand which virtually involves starting again, but instead, you’re improving what you’ve already got.
It’s like giving your brand a bit of a makeover.
An example of a company who underwent a brand refresh is car rental firm, Hertz.
Their logo is still instantly recognisable retaining the bold chunky letters and bright yellow colour palette, only it’s been made more modern.
What is a merger rebrand?
When two brands come together, you need to find a way to present this new offering to the world.
Previously, you both would have offered different things and had different visual styles, so it’s time to bring these elements together into a single, cohesive message.
Perhaps the two brands fit seamlessly together and you can create one unified logo with minimal hassle?
However, in some types of mergers, you will have to undergo a full rebrand, complete with a new logo and brand message.
Why do B2B companies rebrand?
There are lots of reasons why B2B companies choose to rebrand.
However, before the decision is taken, careful consideration should be given to ensure this is the right direction for the company.
Whilst B2B rebranding can be exciting, it can also be very risky. You’re changing the whole look and feel of your brand, so it’s important to understand the ‘why’ first.
Without further ado, let’s explore some of these reasons in more detail.
Confusion within your team
Aside from your customers and clients understanding what your company does and why, it’s important your internal team are all on the same page.
When you ask the question “what does our company do and why?” The answers from your team should be very similar.
If you’re getting a whole host of different answers back, then clearly there’s a problem with your strategy and purpose.
If your own team doesn’t know what your company does and why customers should invest in you, then how are they meant to sell your products/ services effectively?
The question you asked is very simple, and relates to your company’s purpose and values. If there is a lot of confusion around this, then it’s time to rebrand.
Perhaps this is a classic case of you’ve started out selling X many, many years ago, and now you’re selling X, Y, and Z. As such, your product offering has changed, and your current branding no longer reflects this.
In order to be successful, you need to have a concrete, clear vision, that all of your team are on board with.
As we touched on earlier, you will always have some level of competition from other brands.
Even if you have the most amazing product or service in the world, there will always be someone else trying to steal your customers.
Now, this isn’t a bad thing.
If anything, it gives you more drive to be innovative and think of new ways you can engage your target audience.
When it comes to rebranding, this is your opportunity to think outside the box. Of course, whatever message or design you come up with needs to work for your target consumer, but don’t be afraid to be a little different.
The tech market for example is very oversaturated with lots of brands claiming to do the same thing.
As a tech company, look at what your competitors are doing and see if you can plug any gaps that would give you a competitive advantage. This is the time to reevaluate your look, tone, and brand messaging to see if there’s anything you can do to give you the leg up on the competition.
Rebranding can help grow your customer base by showing customers why you’re different.
Whether that’s because you’ve got a quirky look compared to other brands on the market, or because you have a unique brand value, tell your audience why they should choose you.
Whenever we make a purchase, we’re buying more than just the product – we’re buying into the brand.
Essentially we’re buying into what the brand stands for and this is a conscious decision.
Take the latest Hermes brand for example.
Before they became ‘Evri’, they were renowned for poor customer service and delivering parcels late. As such, when it comes to choosing a courier service you wouldn’t choose Hermes because you knew what type of experience you were letting yourself in for.
However, by carefully rebranding and repositioning the company as ‘Evri’, they have tried to ditch these negative connotations by embracing a new look and feel.
They heavily focus on building positive customer relationships which is portrayed through their latest advertising campaigns, and even the name ‘Evri’ is meant to symbolise that the brand is here for ‘everyone’.
To find out more about this rebrand, check out the below episode of Rebrand Review:
Redefine your image
If your company has been around for a long time, it might be years since you have looked at your company’s brand identity.
A lot can change, including your consumers, and your current brand image might no longer be hitting the mark.
We’re going to be looking at some emerging rebranding trends later in the post so keep reading!
Whilst we’re not an advocate of ‘trends’ here at Canny, it’s important to understand any changes which might be affecting how people interact with your brand.
For example, did you start your company back in the 90s before the birth of the internet?
If so, then all you had to worry about was how your brand looked in printed collateral. For example, your means of communication would have involved things such as catalogues, brochures, leaflets, and magazine/ newspaper snippets.
Whilst these mediums still exist, digital marketing is absolutely huge.
It’s no longer enough to have a brand that works in printed form, it also needs to work across your digital assets. Consider how your current brand looks on your website, social media, and email campaigns.
If it doesn’t work effectively across digital platforms, then it’s time for a rebrand.
Connect with a new audience
Rebranding your company allows you to refresh the look and feel of your brand so that you can reach new customers.
When you focus on new aspects of your business and promote them correctly, people will start to take notice.
For example, if you’re a software company, have you introduced a new product that your customers need to know about?
Does this product breathe new life into your brand and give you a competitive edge? If so, then it might be a good time to rebrand so that you can communicate your full offering to your target audience.
If you’ve been around for decades, then you might have had the same, loyal customers for years who have come accustomed to what your brand looks like. However, to grow and reach new audiences, you might need to embrace change.
And this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Whilst retaining your current customer base is key, rebranding gives you the opportunity to enter new markets.
The wrong reasons for B2B companies to rebrand
Whilst there are lots of good, valid reasons why companies choose to rebrand (see above), there are also a few times when rebranding is not the right choice.
Your competitors have rebranded
Whilst being aware of what your competitors are doing is important (to ensure you’re not missing out on any big opportunities), don’t be a sheep.
Only because something is working for them, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you.
It’s important you understand your own target audience and what works for them, and then double down on this.
That’s why creating your ideal customer persona is so important.
Don’t lose sight of what’s important, by focussing too much on what other people are doing, as you would risk losing your customers in the process.
Remember, for your brand to be successful, it needs to appeal to your target audience otherwise they won’t invest in your offering.
You don’t ‘like’ your current branding
We’ve touched on this slightly above, but simply not ‘liking’ your current branding isn’t a good enough reason to rebrand.
Branding is subjective, and every one has their own opinion of what looks ‘good.’
Take some of the biggest B2B brands in the world, and someone, somewhere will think the logo is unappealing and ineffective.
Again, it’s not about what these people think; it’s about what the target audience thinks.
A brand needs to be a lot more than just pretty. It needs to be functional and serve a real purpose, otherwise it will fall flat.
When it comes to rebranding, engage in the services of a creative agency. These people are professionals and they have the added advantage of being emotionally unmatched to your brand, meaning they can make logical decisions.
If you are the founder of your business, then naturally you’ll be very close to it. This can affect your decision making process as the likelihood is you’re making decisions based on what you want, instead of understanding what your audience wants.
You’re a new CMO and you want to make your mark
It’s all well and good being a new Chief Marketing Officer and wanting to put your own stamp on things, but deciding to rebrand is a huge corporate investment.
It’s also very risky to start making changes to the brand without totally understanding it first. You need to get under the skin of the brand, and work out what’s working and what’s not.
Perhaps a full rebrand isn’t necessary and a few tweaks here and there are all that’s required. As such, engaging in a full rebrand would be a waste of time and money.
Now, you might think being an outsider is an advantage, as this allows you to see what’s ‘wrong’ but the company. However, it also leaves you unable to understand the company on a deeper level which can lead to irrational decision making.
In order to shape the brand for the future you need to understand its past.
You need to ask the questions:
- How has it evolved?
- Where does it need to go?
- What needs changing?
- What are the reasons for rebranding?
By making decisions too quickly, you run the risk of alienating both customers and staff.
A rebrand works best when it’s a consultative approach, instead of being dominated by one person.
When is the right time for B2B companies to rebrand?
Whilst there is no set answer to this question, it’s important to ask yourself whether your mission, values, and vision are still reflected in your branding.
If the answer is no, then it’s time for a rebrand.
You need to consider how you’re presenting yourself to the world, and if this brand image is still accurate.
A lot can happen over time which affects both you and your customers.
For example when it comes to your brand, your values, product offering, value proposition, and tone of voice might have changed which means your current brand identity is out of date.
Similarly when it comes to your customers, their interests, preferences, and their way of consuming information might have changed, which means your brand needs to modernise in order to keep up.
Essentially, it’s time for a rebrand when your current branding no longer works.
How to carry out a brand audit before you rebrand
Before you start rebranding, you need to carry out a brand audit first.
This allows you to look at each and every part of your brand, to evaluate what’s working and what’s not.
Essentially, you’re taking stock of where your brand currently stands before working out where you want to take it in the future.
A brand audit involves collating the below files. FYI, if you have a Brand Guidelines document, most of this should be covered in there.
- Brand Values
- Brand Story
- Tone of Voice
- Product/Service Positioning
- Logos and other brand elements
- Printed collateral, stationery, brochures, trade show materials etc
- Examples of how your brand has been used or displayed in the real world
- Social media handles and relevant design work
- Content Marketing, blog posts, white papers, content upgrades, case studies etc
- News/PR, mentions in the media and other online sources
- Testimonials, kind words from customers etc
- Videos, “Company Overview” videos, content marketing videos etc
- An overview of your companies systems and infrastructure
Digging through your different assets will also help you decide whether you need a full rebrand or a brand refresh (as covered above). Remember, engaging in rebranding can be a time consuming and costly process, so it’s important you’ve thought it through.
If your brand is in need of a few tweaks and modernisation, perhaps cleaning up your logo to make it more modern, then diving into a full rebrand is pointless.
An example of a brand who underwent a brand refresh is Brooklyn Brewery. They made a few subtle yet effective changes to their logo, to retain its originality whilst being more appealing for the modern day consumer.
Check out our Rebrand Review video below to find out more:
B2B rebranding considerations
Before jumping into rebranding, make sure you take below points into consideration to ensure this is the right direction for your company.
Your reason for rebranding/
You need to be rebranding for the right reasons.
Like we’ve mentioned above, there are lots of wrong reasons for rebranding, so it’s about weighing up whether this process is necessary for you to achieve your goals.
Or, is there a better way to get you there?
For example, if your logo doesn’t work across digital platforms, is there something you can do to the design to make it more transferable? If your current logo is 3D, chunky, and detailed, then it can be difficult to reproduce.
However, by stripping it back and making a few subtle tweaks, it can make all of the difference.
In this instance, a full rebrand isn’t necessary and would be money down the drain.
Budget is a biggie, and is something that every Marketing Manager will be thinking about when it comes to rebranding.
Everyone wants to tighten the purse strings where possible, but rebranding can be expensive if you want to achieve your goals.
It all depends on how much you’re changing and what’’s going to be involved.
For example, in the instance above where a logo just needs to be tweaked and simplified, this will be a lot cheaper than engaging in a full rebrand.
If you’re delving into each and every aspect of your business and giving it a complete overhaul, then be prepared to set aside a bigger budget.
However, the long term benefits of repositioning your brand and reconnecting with your audience, can be huge. This usually outweighs the initial cost of rebranding as you’re putting yourself in the best possible position to attract leads and generate sales.
The end goal
What are you trying to achieve as a result of your rebrand?
Do you want more customers?
Do you want to modernise your brand image?
Do you want to stand out in a busy marketplace?
Whatever the reason for rebranding, make sure you have this nailed down before you start the process.
Knowing your end goal will help steer the direction of your rebrand and give you something to work towards.
For example, if you want to stand out in a crowded market, and that’s the end goal, then all of the decisions you make should be working towards this.
Take our client, TLR, as an example.
As a cybersecurity company, they work with businesses to help them understand the importance of cybersecurity so that they can protect their most important assets.
However, cyber security has a stigma of fear as lots of people don’t understand the process, and lots of brands in this space use technical jargon.
As such, TLR wants to make cybersecurity simple and understandable so that businesses can become cyber resilient. They worked with Canny to create a new brand identity that positioned them as the clear solution to various digital security-based problems without relying on utilising fear as a tactic.
Read full case study here
Consider the consequences
Whenever a company rebrands, they’re always leaving themselves open to criticism.
It’s important to understand that not everyone is going to back your rebrand, and that some people will always prefer your original brand identity.
But, it’s impossible to keep everyone happy.
Inevitably, there will be backlash from customers who preferred the way your brand used to look, just as there will also be those who cheer the changes.
You need to be prepared to deal with these consequences and give the rebrand time to gain traction among existing customers, new customers, and even the wider public.
As well as being patient, you always need to be realistic. A rebrand isn’t going to double your sales figures overnight, or triple the amount of traffic flooding to your website.
It takes time for customers to familiarise themselves with your rebrand, and this can be a slow process. So avoid hitting that panic button, and undoing all the good work that you have achieved.
Rebranding is a daunting process, but it might be what your business needs to reach success.
B2B rebranding trends
We don’t suggest following trends at Canny.
Only because something works for someone else, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. Also, trends change all of the time so it’s impossible to keep up.
Just look at fashion as an example.
A style that is desirable now, will be undesirable this time next year. Of course, trends do come back round but you’re setting yourself up for failure if you’re constantly trying to keep up.
It’s about identifying what works for you, and doubling down on that, whilst having an awareness of what’s going on in your industry.
With that being said, it’s impossible to ignore some of the rebranding trends that we’ve seen lots of big companies adopt.
Let’s start with simplified logos.
Gone are the days of a complicated logo that’s packed with a lot of detail.
More and more brands are adopting a more minimalistic, simplified approach as this leads to less misinterpretation of what the brand is trying to represent. As we’ve mentioned earlier, your purpose and your vision should be clear.
The less confusion the better, as customers simply want to know what they’re buying and why.
Simplifying your logo also means it is easier to reproduce across various platforms including websites and social media.
Your brand needs to work in all formats, and having something that is really intricate can lead to a whole array of problems.
Take Slack as an example. The old ‘hashtag’ symbol led to a lot of misinterpretation, whereas the new ‘bubble’ like emblem clearly represents the communication aspect of the platform.
An increasing number of brands are becoming less corporate in their brand identity.
They opt for a more playful, cartoon-like approach and use a mix of animations and hand drawn symbols to add more personality to their brand.
This is particularly important in the B2B sectors as you need to build a strong relationship with your buyer. The decision making process in the B2B market is more complicated, so buyers need to feel a real sense of trust and connection with the brand.
Choosing to add a playful element into your identity can help bridge this gap and add a more personal touch.
This is a rebranding trend that you just can’t get away from!
It seems every brand from Toyota, to Nissan to Warner Brothers, is ditching their 3D emblem.
In fact, we’ve spoke about the Warner Brothers on Rebrand Review so check it out below:
So, what’s the reason behind this shift?
Similar to the trend above of simplifying your logo, 3D designs are much more difficult to reproduce in a digital format.
Furthermore, they can look quite clunky and they don’t work well on a screen which is where a lot of customers are now searching for brands.
Also, it seems the consumer of today prefers a cleaner, simpler design, which is why a lot of big brands are heading in this direction.
They are noticing the trend, and are responding to what customers want.
“I don’t see [flat design] as a new trend. I see it as the logical solution to a universal problem created by a different trend.” – Dan Beckett, lead designer of Toyota’s latest logo.
Everything You Need to Know About B2B Rebranding
So, what is B2B rebranding?
Hopefully after reading this blog post, you’ll know everything there is to know about rebranding in the B2B sector.
The most important part of this process is understanding what you are trying to achieve.
Changing your entire brand can have huge implications, and you want to make sure you’re rebranding for the right reasons.
Whilst this presents a massive opportunity for growth, you also need to retrain the loyalty of your current customers who have built your brand up to this point.
With so much to consider, it’s wise to partner with a professional rebranding agency, who can set you on the right path for the future, whilst paying homage to your past.
At Canny, we’ve worked with numerous brands from the US to Australia to create brands that help companies achieve their ambitions. Don’t try and struggle through the rebranding process alone! Get in touch with the team and see how we can help.