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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

To Rebrand or Not to Rebrand?

Last week, Fire Enterprises (FEI) marketing maven Marka showed savvy salesperson Zoot how FEI can use press releases to spread the word about new equipment. This week, Marka tells Zoot, Org, and Numo, when (and when not to) launch a company rebranding effort. Remember, fire=print.

FEI’s Monday afternoon marketing meeting was drawing to a close. “Anything else we need to discuss?” Org asked the tribe.

“I’ve got something,” Zoot said, rubbing his oversized forehead. “I think we should consider rebranding our business,” Zoot said. “I’m tired of looking at the same logo and tagline every day.”

“Zoot, you may be on to something,” Marka said. “Although not for the right reasons. Oftentimes company leaders are the first ones to get tired of the company’s brand—after all, they’re thinking about it, hearing about it, and looking at it all the time. Before jumping into a rebranding, we have to recognize that just because we perceive our brand as stale doesn’t mean our customers do.”

“So we shouldn’t rebrand FEI?” Zoot asked, somewhat confused.

“We shouldn’t dive haphazardly into a rebranding,” Marka clarified. “Let’s ask ourselves some important questions. What exactly is driving our desire to rebrand FEI? Are we dissatisfied with our logo? Tagline? Color palette? Core messaging? Do we feel a competitor’s brand is strengthening? Or do we simply want to try something new?

“Regarding color palette, do you remember Pyro’s original logo?” Marka asked.

“Sure, it was fire-engine red,” Zoot said. “I kind of liked it.”

“Do you know why Pyro changed it?” Marka was met with silence. “Because they had a hard time working this core color into their collateral and Web materials. After struggling for years, they bit the bullet and tamed it to a darker red with more complementary color options. My point is, a problematic logo color scheme can be enough by itself to warrant a rebranding.” 

“What do we hope our new brand will communicate and are we positive our existing one isn’t already doing that?” Marka continued. “If we can’t come up with compelling reasons to change, then we should consider shelving this rebranding effort until clarity hits us like a Zeus thunderbolt. Rebranding means reintroducing our brand to the marketplace, so it shouldn’t be undertaken lightly.”

“What are some examples of good reasons for rebranding?” Zoot asked.

“Let’s see...” Marka got up and started scribbling on the conference room whiteboard:

Current brand doing damage—“If a company’s name and brand are inappropriate or confusing to your customers, then it must be changed,” Marka said. “Take Olympus Chariots, formerly known as Olympus Tires. OC started making Chariots two decades ago, but for some unknown reason stayed with their original name until a few years ago. Its old brand created a lot of confusion for potential customers who still thought of OC only for tires. Eventually, the company changed its name and logo. Today, the company’s a big-three in the chariot business.”

Marka scribbled more on the whiteboard:

New line of business or market—“When a company enters into a new line of business or market that doesn’t gel with its existing brand identity, a rebranding might be in order,” Marka said. “Remember when Grape was known as Grape O-puters? As Grape moved into other consumer electronics markets, it found the original brand name to be too restrictive, and no longer representative of where it was heading. So Grape dropped ‘Computers’ from its name and today sells O-phones, O-tablets, and lots of other different products.”

Marka scribbled more on the whiteboard:

Relevancy—“When a company realizes its brand is losing relevancy in consumers’ minds, it might be time to rebrand,” Marka explained.

“Ah ha!” Zoot interrupted. “That is the problem with FEI. Our customers associate ‘FEI’—and the logo and other brand elements around it—with Prometheus and the old guys. Maybe being tied to those industry pioneers is a good thing. But I’d argue it isn’t. Today’s fire market is rapidly evolving, and we want to be known as the company that’s leading the way. It’ll be harder to position FEI that way if we’re leaning on a name that reminds everyone of the ‘old days’.”

“Zoot, I whole-heartedly agree,” Org said. “Let’s get started on this rebranding effort today. Marka, I’m guessing you can take it from here?”

“Actually,” Marka said, “I have a good friend who’s going to help us out.”
Next week: The FEI tribe enlists branding guru Brandy to spearhead their rebranding effort.

Today’s FIRE! Point
Rebranding means reintroducing your brand to the marketplace, and isn’t a task you should undertake lightly. Three reasons why your business should be rebranded: if your current brand is hurting your ability to get new business, if you’re expanding into new lines of business or markets and your old brand is no longer appropriate, and if your old brand is perceived as stale or outdated.

FIRE! In Action: Coyne Graphic Finishing Rebrands and Prospers
This Ohio-based finishing company was once called Coyne Printing. This name and brand identity was problematic, since it caused many potential printing customers to perceive them as a competitor, not a partner. Ten years ago, the business changed its name to Coyne Graphic Finishing to more accurately reflect its capabilities and solutions. Since then, Coyne has prospered. 

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