5 signs your brand strategy needs a refresh

Our Senior Strategist, Mike Tristram identifies the key drivers and creative strategies for brand transformation.

Words by: Mike Tristram

Senior Strategist


Pro-active not reactive. Leaders not followers. These are the characteristics of the world’s fastest-growing brands. We’ve been lucky enough to collaborate with clients during some of the biggest branding reinventions of this century. Hunter, now a global fashion icon, was once a brand with far more humble country roots. While American Eagle is the turnaround success story of the last decade. But how do you know when to rebrand and which strategy will achieve the right results?

“Brands can and should evolve as the market changes. But be sure you are rebranding for the right reasons.”
Entrepreneur Magazine, Europe

Here we look at the 5 key signs that indicate your brand is in need of a refresh. The aim is to help businesses spot when the tide is turning and support you in making an informed decision on whether you need a full-blown rebrand or some fresh creative ‘juice’.

1 – Your brand has a bad rep

Let’s start with the most extreme example. One that means that you need to act now and think big. It’s when your brand and customer perception are fundamentally tarnished. Perhaps your brand’s name is associated with all the wrongs things and you’re ‘trash-talked’ all over social media - a so-called ‘poisoned chalice’. Ouch! Not only is this not good for business but it’s also not nice for anyone working within your organisation.

For brands in this position, it’s easy to think that you should wipe the slate clean and go through a full Cinderella-style brand transformation and all your problems will be overcome. Take a look at Hermes who recently rebranded to EVRI. Given their dire customer satisfaction ratings, the announcement of a new logo very quickly become the butt of many internet memes. What is key is ensuring the solution is fit to solve your brand’s underlying problems. Here brands need a clear turnaround strategy and transformation programme which can include everything from a complete brand overhaul to internal culture change, combined with perception-shifting marketing activations. For these brands there really is no time like the present.

2 – Your brand’s value proposition has evolved

Next up is one we see all the time – organic evolution. You may have started out life as a beauty disruptor like our client FACEGYM, and over time your product and service offer has grown. While new revenue streams and expanding into new categories is great, the way your brand conveys itself needs to reflect these changes to provide credibility. Think about it - would you buy a lasagne from a toothpaste brand? (Yes, Colgate actually did this).

Our friends at Iittala underwent this very evolution. After devising an exciting new value proposition - Progressive Nordic Living - which coincided with new product offerings, we worked with their brand team to evolve how the Iittala brand was presented at retail. This is helping shift perceptions of them as a product-centric retailer to a lifestyle-centric brand. So, if you plan to broaden your role in consumers’ lives - be prepared to turn your communications strategy and brand experience on its head. Get ready to rethink and switch things up.

3 – Your brand’s internal teams aren’t innovating

This next one is hard to identify - until it’s too late. It requires business leaders who are observant, empathetic and in tune with their employees. We read about it all the time. If people feel a lack of purpose, or they’re stuck in a rut of their day-to-day with no thought about the bigger picture – they’re not going to be pushing any boundaries. It follows that your consumer offering and marketing campaigns won’t evolve with the times or wet your consumer’s appetite. As a result your brand will fade into the background.

As a business it’s your role to give your team purpose, to inspire them into action and provide an energy injection when it’s needed. Start by identifying what’s holding people back. If it’s about processes – rewrite them. If it’s lack of purpose – provide it. No doubt your teams are talented, but now and again we all need someone to reignite our spark.

4 – Your brand has lost its ‘street cred’ with consumers

This is one every brand can relate to in one way or another. You’re no longer the shiny, new kid on the block, or maybe you no longer appeal to your target consumer. If you’re a brand that people talk about with this kind of tone - ‘Oh I know them, what are they up to these days?!’ - it’s time to plan your comeback.

We get it. These days it’s so easy for brands to fall out of fashion. People say the new competition is a fad, they won’t last long. But you can’t just wait around for your turn back in the spotlight. Successful brands have to constantly reinvent themselves to remain relevant to new generations. Don’t overcomplicate it, start with a bold ambition. When we worked with high-street fashion brand Warehouse to re-affirm their fashion credentials, our brief was definitive - ‘Get us back in Vogue’.

“Don’t just romanticise about your brand’s hey-day. Keep your brand's original vision and energy alive, but make it relevant to today.”

5 – You see an opportunity that no one else is exploiting

This last one requires a leap of faith. The most innovative brands are always ahead of the curve. One step ahead of the competition. This puts them in control of their destiny instead of being at the whims of competitors, or reacting and furiously peddling to keep up.

Always look for the opportunity in everything. Be brave enough to go after a gap in the market and jump in head first. Take Facebook – yes the brand was facing backlash and being boycotted - but rebranding as Meta was a smart move when you look beyond the surface. It instantly positions the platform at the forefront of a new whole new industry. And lets not forget Red Bull. This energy drinks brand has successfully established itself as an extreme sports media company through brand-building marketing. So keep your entrepreneurial spirit alive – whether you’re a brand that’s 20 years in or 200 years old. This is the key to continuous brand transformation and sustainable brand growth.

Want to work together and unleash your brand’s potential? Email Sam at sam@checklandkindleysides.com.

We are a global branding design studio in London that re-imagines, re-invents and revolutionizes. Find out more about us, and our range of design services across; brand transformation, brand experiences, and brand campaigns & activations design.

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